What you pay for

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I have posted a few times about cheap Chinese products. One of my recent free-international-shipping purchases was a replacement for a 4-port USB hub that was compact, highly-rated on Amazon, and, for whatever reason, disappeared.

After a week, its status.

discarde cheap Chinese 4-port USB hub, Uruguay

Obviously a quality-control reject, it dropped connections. Fortunately, during its brief tenure, I did not rely on it for external drives, just keyboard and mouse.

So it’s a complete write-off, my investment of USD 0.99, delivered from China for free.


Tienda Inglesa: from class to trash

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Tienda Inglesa: Lo bueno por menos

Classy may be too strong a word, but Tienda Inglesa has been for me the best of the handful of “large” (remember, Uruguay is small) supermarket chains in Uruguay.

Back in 2012, Tienda Inglesa sold LED lights imported by Renovables S.A., a wide-ranging and impressive Uruguayan renewable energy business. The owner, Rolando Ringeltaube, told me how carefully their company monitored quality control in China. And, he told me, LED bulbs should have a life of 20 years. Which, considering the history of incandescent light bulbs, seems an unlikely prediction. Still, they have to last longer than these mercury-laden compact fluorescents that seem to last about a year, no?

So imagine my surprise when an LED light bulb I bought there died after three weeks. They have a “no refund” policy, but thought about it a couple days, and gave me another. Which also died after three weeks. Once again, they reminded me of the “no refund” policy, but gave me a credit after a few minutes. Meanwhile, I walked to the lighting section to examine the packaging. Sure enough, they are now imported from China by Tienda Inglesa. No middle man. No quality control.

LED bulbs are great (10X more efficient than incandescent), but the Tienda Inglesa LED bulbs are now officially trash. Consider yourself warned.

Extremely poor quality LED bulbs sold at Tienda Inglesa in Uruguay

Walmart wisdomcomes to Uruguay.

Update 5 January 2017: the latest Tienda Inglesa garbage LED light, acquired 3 December 2016, has started overheating and malfunctioning today, after 33 days.

Cheap Chinese shit redux

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When my second little key chain flashlight (in four years) went dead, I looked closely and realized it could be taken apart and the battery replaced. A replacement battery would cost almost as much as the flash light, but if I can keep even one little bit of plastic out of the landfill, it’s worth it, right?

Wrong. I sent this image to the eBay seller, saying the batteries they sent were either counterfeit or expired. I bought a new flashlight to make the comparison. They refunded my pocket change immediately.


I’ve been enthusiastic, amused, and reflective about my purchases of cheap Chinese shit in the past. Who knows, maybe one day my 100 LR41 batteries will arrive, and the cat be entertained to his heart’s content, once again, by the laser pointer.


Ah , the little things

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Despite some sub-optimal experiences, I remain fascinated by things such as this. The cable on the right, which just arrived in the mail from China, elegantly replaces the kluged-together mess that cluttered my desk.

New video cable from China

And, especially in overpriced Uruguay, you’ve got to love this:


Yes, USD 2.45 and free shipping … from China.


A message from Universe via cheap Chinese shit

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I saw this morning that my cheap Chinese alarm clock had died. The first battery lasted six months; its replacement more like four.


The package of five replacement batteries cost only $1.80, with free shipping from Hong Kong to Uruguay, so no big deal. I put one in the alarm clock, set about setting the time, and suddenly the thing made a strange noise and the clock face turned to gibberish.

I wanted to take a photo, but couldn’t find my camera, and realized that if I’ve lost it, I might not particularly miss it. I’ve gotten kind of tired of carrying it everywhere. I neither have nor want a smart phone.

I grabbed our older point-and-shoot camera, but it wouldn’t turn on, even though the battery was fine just a couple days ago.


Then I sat down to my desk, and the UbiRock vibration speaker which inexplicably died a few weeks ago. Oh well, I mostly use headphones anyway.


Then I remembered the indestructible Westclox Big Ben / Baby Ben windup clocks I grew up with. I wonder if they still sell wind-up clocks? Indeed they do:


When Westclox alarm clocks were made in America you couldn’t beat ’em–or sleep through their alarm! Now they’re made in China, and the Baby Bens I’ve been buying last routinely from two weeks to four months. Then they just stop ringing, and sometimes stop telling time, whether the winder is wound up all the way or just a few turns. They stop without warning & on the day they do, you sleep in–miss work, miss your appointment, miss your plane. I’ve traded them in for a new one ten or twelve times. They never last longer than four months. I’ve finally given up. Thinking of a Baby Ben? Don’t waste your money!
hen I wondered why I even need a bedside clock.

Then I remembered Chicago, from a time when I did need to wind the clock and set the alarm every day. Does anybody really care?

Buying cool things really cheap in Uruguay

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When my little bedside alarm clock died, I figured it would cost me at least USD 20 to get something here—if I could find it. So far, I have seen nothing even remotely appealing at any price.

Then I remembered dx.com, deal extreme, found a cheap little clock that had good customer reviews, and ordered it. Took a month to get here, but (drum roll, please)…


…total cost: USD 4.80 delivered from Hong Kong. Probably would cost more than that to mail it from here to Hong Kong. How do they do it? Dunno, but it’s a cool site.

Unadvertised benefit: free lesson in Chinglish.