Quality of Goods in Panama
Our experience of “buying” things has been limited. We brought so many clothes and shoes that we don’t expect we will need to do any clothes shopping for several years.
We have not had to purchase as much here as many expats do. Our home was completely furnished as well as having all the necessary things to maintain it. But we have made lots of trips to hardware stores and a couple of purchases of kitchen things for this and that. So my discussion here is limited to mostly hardware.
We immediately noticed that most things here are from China. Okay that is not unusual however we keep hearing from people that perhaps Panama as well as other countries gets the seconds from China. Several of the things we have purchased here are not made as well as the same type of item from the US. For instance, our Intex pool. We bought it at Pricesmart. Intex pools are branded by the US and Canada. However, our model number is not available in the US. So it is a pool made in China for sale outside of the US, even though the Intex company is in the US.
So what? Well, we know several people who have Intex pools. Many of these people bought them on Amazon and had them shipped here. Their pools came with accessories that you need to clean your pool. Ours did not. So we had to order from the US the necessary parts and attachments which luckily did fit our pool. This is only one instance of what we have found to be true here.
Availability of Goods
Okay, we have a cool Westinghouse Frig. It has its own water filter. The light came on indicating a new filter was needed. You would think that places that sell Westinghouse refrigerators would carry parts and filters. Wrong. We spent several days searching David for a new water filter. I came close to going to Amazon and ordering it. They sold them for $35.00. We finally found a store that did nothing but have parts for refrigerators. Did they have what we wanted? No, but they did order it from Panama City. three days later we got it and paid $75.00.
Front door lock broke. All Kevin needed was a new lock mechanism (the part inside the door). We went everywhere. If we had been back in Denver, one trip to Ace Hardware would have given us the small part we needed. But here we had to spend $60 and get an entire new door handle, both outside and in and the lock.
In one of our bathrooms, we have a three light vanity. One of the globes broke due to I guess heat. Anyway, we thought we could just buy a new globe, or three to match and reuse the fixture. I have done that before in the states. Here, no way. No one sells globes. You have to buy a entire new fixture that comes with globes. We are still using the old one minus a globe.
Back to our Intex pool. Now when you have a pool you need to maintain it with chemicals, test the water, add bromide and clean the pool. All of the hardware stores here sell tons of these pools. Do any of them carry the necessary equipment and chemicals you need to maintain the pool. No. It would seem to me an easy sell to carry the things you must have to maintain the pool. It would be a easy sell. However, no they do not sell those things. So we had to find a place that does inground pools and buy our chemicals from them. As for the cleaning part, we had to go to Amazon and have it sent here.
I could go on and on but what you need to know is that if you have anything especially electronics and may need replacement parts bring them with you. David has grown a lot over the past few years and the variety and amount of stores is constantly growing, but don’t expect that you can get exactly what you need here.
Hardware stores here sell only prepackaged whole items. They do not sell parts to fix anything. They would rather sell you a new “something” than have on hand parts to fix the old thing.
If you buy anything with pieces and parts boxed up, make sure before you buy, that you open it to see that everything is there.
Warranty’s in Panama
This is a short paragraph. There are no warranty’s in Panama. Doesn’t matter whether it is a door bell, electronic device or air conditioner. They do not have warranties here.
Returning Purchases for Credit to a Store
Prepare for an inquisition. We bought a electric frying pan. Kevin had one before and loved it. The house we have did not have one. So he bought one locally here in David. He brought it home and opened it ( it was not opened for a display at the store). See paragraph above regarding quality of goods. This thing was pure junk. Not made well. He reboxed it up, took the receipt and took it back. It took 4 people to okay the return. They acted like no one had ever returned anything before. We got the credit back but not without being questioned over and over as to why we were returning it.
I had to return an item at Novey. I love the hardware store. But when I had to return an item, I was asked questions like, why are you returning it?. Did you use it? Why did you buy it? Have you ever returned anything here before? The store manager had to see me along with the security guard and 2 employees.
Then they would only give me a store credit. That was okay, by then I just wanted out.