Buying A Google ChromeBook In Mexico

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Samsung’s super portable Google ChromeBook selling for $249 USD. (Photo courtesy of ‘teh Googles’)

Whilst planning for our bicycle tour from Mexico to Argentina, we both agreed that we could share a single laptop for blogging and browsing. We bought an 11″ MacBook Air
with intentions to *share* it more or less equally. However, after one month on the road, it became clear that this was never going to work. I was hogging the damn thing day in and day out! We needed a second laptop muy pronto to avoid killing each other in the name of ‘teh Googles’!

We were immediately drawn towards the Google Chromebook by Samsung. It is super portable, optimised for web use and remarkably cheap! Coincidentally, we were pleased to read this post on ZDNet just this morning which supports our thoughts. It’s nice to have a recent purchase ratified ( *smug face* ).

So, how could we possibly find a Chromebook in Mexico? It didn’t seem straight forward. Modern electronics in Mexico are normally more expensive and the selection is sparse. You can buy a cheap laptop at Walmart in some big cities. However, the prices are significantly higher and we couldn’t find what we needed. So, as usual, we looked to interwebz!

Buying things on the internet in Mexico is more difficult than in the USA or UK. As far as I know, there is basically one website. It’s called MercadoLibre and it reminds me of eBay 10 years ago! Initially, we found someone selling ChromeBooks on MercadoLibre for $5,000 pesos (approximately $390 USD). That’s almost double the price in the USA! After some hunting around, I managed to find a better price of $3,800 (approximately $300 USD) through a seller called ECONO_SIN. It’s more than retail price, but still a great deal in our opinion!

How To Pay Using MercadoPago

The final stumbling block in the transaction came when we tried to submit payment by credit card on the MercadoLibre website using their MercadoPago payment system. It would not accept any of our credit cards. We contacted their support team and were informed that their system had barred our account for reasons which they would not explain! So we gave up, confused and frustrated.

We explained our story to our new friend Nic, the tech-savvy young expat and leader of the New Ruin permaculture near Rio Grande, Oaxaca. Nic explained that he’d experienced similar problems with the MercadoPago system. He said that we would probably need to make a cash payment to an escrow service like a bank. I remembered seeing an OXXO payment option on the MercadoPago payment pages, so I looked into it. I discovered that you can print out an escrow payment slip from the MercadoPago website, take it to OXXO and make a cash payment. OXXO then give you a receipt for the money transfer and charge a very small fee ($7 pesos for our purchase). It was a little unnerving to handover a significant chunk of cash without really understanding the payment process. Fortunately, we checked back with David at ECON_SIN the next day and he confirmed had received our payment.

Low and behold… now 10 days later, we received our Chromebook this morning in Mazunte, Oaxaca via Mexico City and we couldn’t be happier!

At last, we both have our own laptops and we can even play video chat together!
At last, we both have our own laptops and we can even play video chat together!

It’s worth noting that most Chromebook apps require internet connection, but there are also several offline apps which allow for offline writing, etc. Anyway, most of the time we spend at the computer these days is internet connected, so it shouldn’t really make any difference!

Having a second laptop for a bicycle tour may seem excessive and materialistic, but we can already see how it will improve our productivity in blogging. More importantly however, it will relieve massive tension in our relationship because we no longer have to fight over a single MacBook Air!

Note: If you are in the USA and you want to buy a ChromeBook, purchase using the link below and Amazon will buy us a coffee! 😉

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