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Shop Smart

Do some research beforehand and know what you want. Then ask lots of questions and compare prices before making a purchase. Stick to shops listed in the HKTB's free Guide to Quality Shops. Featured shops usually have the "qts" logo on their door or window.

Here are a few other considerations:

Be aware of regional differences. Although technology is moving toward multisystem capabilities, it's not quite there yet. DVDs and players might work in only a specific region. Some recording equipment still works on only NTSC (United States), PAL (Hong Kong, Australia, Great Britain, most of continental Europe), or SECAM (France, Russia). Whenever possible, ask for "region-free." Also, although most electronics now automatically convert between 110 and 220 volts, it's best to ask before you buy.

Check the paperwork. Reputable dealers should give you a one-year worldwide guarantee; however, not all guarantees and warranties cross borders. Make sure you'll have the customer service and assistance you require when you take it back home. Some of the cheapest electronics in Hong Kong are parallel imports, which rarely have international warranties. Also, make sure the instructions are in English.

Never be rushed. Don't be afraid to walk away, even if a clerk claims an item is the last one in stock. This will give you more bargaining power, as will buying several items at once.

Be wary of "great" deals. A common ploy is to lure customers in with the promise of a great deal, only to "discover" that item is suddenly out of stock. When you're offered a more expensive alternative, walk away.

Test the equipment. Be sure that the picture or sound quality is truly good. If a shopkeeper cannot oblige a test-run request, ask him or her to direct you to the manufacturer's showroom.

Watch for hidden fees. Paying by credit card may increase the final bill by 3% to 5%, even though most card companies prohibit the practice.

Don't fall for the old bait and switch. Before you leave the store, double-check that you've been given the model you selected and that everything it comes with is there, including all parts, accessories, the warranty card, and your invoice.

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