Are we being served?

Generally, I'm a happy kind of chap, I love a good joke, I tend to look on the bright side of life, I try to be upbeat about any given situation, I occasionally donate my hard earned to charity, hell, I've even laughed at getting checkmated!

However my chess chums, one thing I cannot bear is being ripped off, that really boils my piss, any form of injustice I won't tolerate, I always support the underdog, I love it when the downtrodden 'stick it to the man' and reap sweet revenge!

I drag my arse out of bed 5 days a week at 6:30am, and spend all day busting my balls on a building site in all weathers, so the money I earn, I EARN!! Now then, I'm not pleading poverty here, (I 'do' ok for myself) but we all demand, or at least hope to get value for money, and the harder you've worked for it the more you begrudge paying 'hiked up' prices!

In this country, we've paid over the odds for years, FOR EVERYTHING! Electrical goods, Cars, Fuel, Computer Technology etc. And it seems this trend continues with the chess retailers, in fact even more so! Perhaps they think its a 'large fish, small pond' scenario?

Believe it or not the majority of visitors to this site are from the USA, the country with arguably the best 'VFM' and customer service in the world. I've asked myself, would our American colleagues be prepared to pay the same extortionate prices as we do in the UK? I think I can answer that for them with a resounding NO!

The Americans would be 'up in arms' (well, more than usual anyway) if they had to fork out as much as we do in the UK. Its perhaps more of a cultural thing too, if the British are unhappy about something, we'll complain about it to each other, but more often than not end up paying for it regardless!

I will use this as an example, we are looking to buy six new digital clocks for our club, a short time spent searching the net has been an enlightening experience, we plumped for this clock, (left) the,


I already own one of the clocks and its very user friendly and sleek looking etc, (this is not an advert, I'm not on commission!) anyhow, onto the search results.

I tried four retailers, three of who are based in the UK, Chess Direct, Chess & Bridge, SAITEK and an American site called Wholesale Chess the prices in the table below include delivery VAT, and insurance.

Retailer Cost Delivery Total
Wholesale Chess £110.41 £45 £155.41
SAITEK £179.94 £3.50 £183.44
Chess & Bridge £179.77 £17.90 £197.67
Chess Direct £201.04 £8.50 £209.54

I'm fairly sure the figures above are accurate as I went through the process of 'buying' the clocks on each site to arrive at the final figure.

There may be an import TAX of 17.5% to pay for the US clocks, and even if there is its STILL CHEAPER than the best UK price! What information can we glean from my quest?

Well, first and foremost is the incredible disparity between the UK and the US. For such a relatively small amount of money, the price difference is quite frankly, alarming! If it wasn't for the obvious £45 delivery, and potential TAX charge, the US based company would be nigh on half the price!

I know nothing about business charges or the chess retail industry, what I really do want to know is this, How can a clock costing less than £19 in the USA be worth £30+ in the UK? I'm being serious here too, can those in the 'know' PLEASE, PLEASE, let me... er ... know at the most coherent answer will be added to this article.