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Thread: "Grey" Imports

  1. #1
    Member bobc163's Avatar
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    "Grey" Imports

    Hi All,

    Don't know what sort of reaction I will get to this but here goes.

    After spending a considerable amount on equipment from local suppliers i have elected to purchase from the "grey" market for several reasons

    1. After considerable research both here and overseas I cannot find any difference in the branded products being offered

    2. The price difference on most items is considerable, sometimes up to 40%

    3. The warranty's being offered both by the manufacturer and the supplier state that they have local authorised repair agents to handle any warranty issues (local suppliers of the product?)

    I have heard all the scare stories from local suppliers stating that "sometimes the products appear to be the same but use inferior components". They are refurbished ( I have found that where this is the case itis stated as such)

    I have to date not been given a reasonable answer as to why we in Australia are paying a premium for what is essentially the same item obtainable overseas

    I know we should support our local retailers but at what price should we be supporting them or the local distributors (who are in all reality just another middle man)

    I do not begrudge paying a little more to purchase from a local supplier but when this "liitle more" is upward of 15% or more on a product in the 1K$ or more price range it is a lot of money to pay for the "local" product

    I await the answers
    Surely if one is purchasing from a known reliable merchant (and this can be easily checked via the web) the goods are of a merchantible quality and are as stated

    Would not the "local" suppliers be speaking up loudly if the "grey" items were not genuine and be enforcingg strict rules re:- warranty repairs etc

    I was informed by one US supplier that if a product was purchased in Australia and taken to the US it would be considered a "grey import" and hence the local supplier would not warrant it locally but would still repair the product.

  2. #2
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Choice! It's all about choice!
    What choice do you have?
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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobc163 View Post
    Would not the "local" suppliers be speaking up loudly if the "grey" items were not genuine and be enforcingg strict rules re:- warranty repairs etc
    The local suppliers are speaking quite loudly on the subject, one only has to look at their distributorship web sites to see that they will not offer warranty support on "grey" imports.
    When the "grey" sellers assure you of warranty support through "authorised repairers" they will in most cases be using repair facilities that are independent to the official distributors and simply paying the bill for any repairs. You may also need to check closely with overseas "grey" sellers to see if they insist on the good being returned to them in their country as most of the time you will be paying for freight and insurance to return it to them. That figure can add a lot to the cost of the item if it needs to be returned.

    Yes, there are some very reputable "grey" suppliers based in both Australia and overseas but their prices are usually not as cheap as the slight less reputable sellers that have a less than desirable reputation.

    This is one time where you really need to remember the old "buyer beware" adage and to to do extreme research into "grey" sellers reputations. Ausphotography has quite a few threads dedicated to the reputation etc of various grey sellers and they can be found using the search function within the site.

    The thread linked is a recent example of such discussion ----- http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...purchased-from
    Andrew
    Nikon, Fuji, Nikkor, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and too many other bits and pieces to list.



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    Member shakes's Avatar
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    I've seen this across several industries. One in particular I've spent several years working in.

    I can buy bicycle parts from the UK cheaper than I can at wholesale price from the local distributor (and I know the UK shop has the items in stock)

    This has just as much to do with the current retail model and the parent company seeing australia as 'little fish' rather than having the same price for each distributor. I'm going to assume photography gear isn't too much different.

    I try and support local as much as I can - I'll drop in to a few stores, I purchase hobby farm milk rather than the $2 milk - but where it is significant savings or obvious price wroughts I will almost always purchase online (pending my need for a local warranty etc)

  5. #5
    I like my computer more than my camera farmmax's Avatar
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    If I had to pay the local price, I would never have a camera. At the time I bought my 50D, I could almost buy two grey ones for the price of one local one, so I thought I'd risk it. Of course, that was a few years ago now, and I've never regretted the decision. From payment time to the time it arrived at my front door was around 48 hours! The people I dealt with did have service places in Australia, but I never needed them.

    The price difference is not quite so large now, but I wouldn't hesitate buying grey again if the price was right. There is no local supplier here for purchasing such equipment. There is a Hardly Normal in a nearby town, but it probably would have taken weeks for them to get the camera in (6 weeks order time they wanted on a washing machine!), and I would never dare hand it over to them for servicing from friends experiences .

  6. #6
    Photo Bizarro nimrodisease's Avatar
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    I'd definitely buy grey. I have bought all of my gear grey except for my D800E body. Everything I've ever bought grey market has been delivered within a week, but somehow I waited 6 weeks for that D800E body...
    My name is John.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Buying grey you might also run the risk of paying but not actually getting. Have a look at PhotoBuff and D D Photographics. Both grey importers who closed up shop, leaving quite a few people having paid for things and never getting them

    Photobuff just shut up shop and disappeared. D D Photographics changed owners and the old owners did a runner with people's deposits and payments etc. The new owner had not included those in the business purchase and people were left with no money and no goods as completion of those orders was the responsibility of the previous owners.

    Whatever you choose, just do some research before buying

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2179442

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1091454
    Last edited by ricktas; 13-11-2014 at 10:49pm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Buying grey you might also run the risk of paying but not actually getting.
    Pay by credit card and you have 6 months time to file a complaint with the CC company.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

  9. #9
    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    I really cannot understand how retailers have the right not to service / guarantee a grey market product. I mean what is the definition of "grey" market. I live in Europe and work in the USA, yet still a resident of Australia. I travel with my camera all the time. If i buy a lens in the US when I am there, then it is grey market when i visit Australia or return home to Belgium. My camera bag is full of equipment I have bought all around the world including an "L" lens bought from an authorised canon dealer in Cambodia (yet still classed as grey market in Australia). My 6D come from HK. We live in a very global world and international travel is now a normal part of most peoples lives.

    If I ever have to put in a warranty claim, or I am refused service on a "grey market" canon product I will cause so much noise they wish they had never sold me a Canon in the first place.
    www.kjbphotography.com.au

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    Ausphotography Regular agb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Buying grey you might also run the risk of paying but not actually getting. Have a look at PhotoBuff and D D Photographics. Both grey importers who closed up shop, leaving quite a few people having paid for things and never getting them

    Photobuff just shut up shop and disappeared. D D Photographics changed owners and the old owners did a runner with people's deposits and payments etc. The new owner had not included those in the business purchase and people were left with no money and no goods as completion of those orders was the responsibility of the previous owners.

    Whatever you choose, just do some research before buying

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2179442

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1091454
    True, but D-D were also a bricks and mortar shop in Sydney. I bought from them when they were bricks and mortar in Brisbane. Not quite the same as buying grey off the net I would have thought.
    Last edited by agb; 14-11-2014 at 2:00pm.
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  11. #11
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agb View Post
    True, but D-D were also a bricks and mortar shop in Sydney. I bought from them when they were bricks and mortar in Brisbane. Not quite the same as buying grey off the net I would have thought.
    Not the same, but they still parallel imported and thus items did not have a true Australian warranty.

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    I purchased my trusty little 550D from a local store, I paid maybe $600 more on top as I would have, had I bought it from a grey importer. My mates GF at the time bought the "Kiss X4"(?) model online. Hers, last I heard, is still going strong and had no issues. As with mine!

    My Sony Nex-5N was bought "grey", and so was my 5D Mark 3. My Canon 24-70 lens was an import from Japan.

    Only problems I've had? My lens needed a fix a few months ago, after a bump and very active life damaged the "runners".



    In regards to other industries, for spare parts on my BMW I ordered them from an American distributor of genuine parts.

    The savings?

    50% of the price.

    BMW Australia wanted $1000 for a water pump, $900 for a 'third party/unbranded' part from another Australian distributer. Or $500 for both the Water Pump and Thermostat from the USA distributor + $60 postage to Australia.
    They also wanted $1100 for a high pressure fuel pump, which I purchased for around $500 and got it delivered to my hotel when I was in the USA for a holiday.



    It's not only the camera market that is affected by such ridiculous price hikes.

    Decided to "shave" my signature ;]
    Now mostly shoots with: Canon 5D MK3 & Canon 24-70 f/2.8/50mm f/1.8 (also have a 550D with a variety of lenses/goodies and a Sony Nex-5N)
    PP with: Lightroom only, Photoshop is merely a 9-5 work tool for me.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Australia Post has also setup a warehouse in the US so you can get your things delivered to an US address, then Aussie Post will send them to Aus for you, at a much cheaper rate than some shipping options from US stores.

    A bit off-topic, but probably relevant.

    http://www.9news.com.au/national/201...arehouse-in-us

  14. #14
    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    I think you also need to differentiate between goods bought "grey market" and those bought via "the web". Shopping via the web is not always grey market goods. I think Amazon are now open in Australia and hence are only mail order goods with a money back guarantee for shopper satisfaction etc

    I was in NY earlier this year and bought some gear from B&H (probably one of the most reputable Canon dealers in the world), yet when I travel with those goods back into Australia they are considered "grey market".

  15. #15
    Ausphotography Regular agb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Not the same, but they still parallel imported and thus items did not have a true Australian warranty.
    Wasn't the warranty that they were concerned about in the thread that you linked on Whirlpool about D-D, just the loss of money, which happened to a bricks and mortar shop, Grey or not,any store can go bust.

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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    My first DSLR the 400D Twin lens kit was bought from a local store, everything else in my kit has been purchased on eBay with PayPal, the only problems I have had have been with a few small items and I have had no problems with refunds. One item, a usb3 card reader which would not work in a USB3 port but is OK in a USB2 port I was given a full refund and as with all other items was not required to return them. The only item that has needed any repairs was my 150-500 Sigma but after 3.5 years was not covered by any warranty anyway. If a shop goes bust before delivery you have most likely lost your money if you paid by cash or you will have a long wait to get your money back through credit card. I purchased a portable fridge through eBay a few months back and it appears the seller had gone bust, I was unable to contact them and after contacting eBay re my concerns the money was back in my account
    in under7 days
    Keith

    Canon 400D Gripped, Canon 7D LCD Timer Gripped, Canon 70-200 f2.8L is ii. Canon 2X iii Extender, Canon 50mm 1.8, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 18-250, Sigma 17-50 F2.8, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 90mm Macro, Yonguno YN460 & 460ii Speedlights and a Hanimax TZ 1 Flash, Wireless Triggers ,LED Macro Ringlight, Extension Tubes, 3 tripods, 2 monopods, PS Elements 5 & 10, PSP9 and canon s/ware, various filters and other photographic paraphernalia all packed in a computrecker backpack + 3 smaller bags and an aluminium case.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    For me the choice and decision to buy grey is simply down to whether the possibility of any service claim is worth the savings.

    A saving of only 15% of $1000 is not really worth the effort, but as that saving reaches closer to say 30%(ie. $300, as opposed to $150) then I'd start considering the grey alternative.

    My overall outlook is along the lines of:
    Support the local industry as much as possible(even it that means those idiots at Nikon Australia!) .. but more so the local stores
    Will I, or did I get good value for money from the product purchased!
    Saving X amount of money is always important, but (for me) not anywhere near as important as the value that the product has provided me with.

    As an example: I paid just over $300 more for my D800E at the local store, as opposed to a reputed grey retailer had them, but that additional $300 is now a long faded memory(and only thought of again after 2 years due to this thread!).
    The D800E has provided me with a fantastic experience save for a very few annoyances on it's limitations(shooting speed, and whatnot).
    i.e. The money saved is of little importance compared to the joy or experience or performance or financial return .... etc provided by the product.

    Quote Originally Posted by nimrodisease View Post
    I'd definitely buy grey. I have bought all of my gear grey except for my D800E body. Everything I've ever bought grey market has been delivered within a week, but somehow I waited 6 weeks for that D800E body...
    Strangely, I went into a reputable local store here in Melb(Vanbar) and they didn't have any stock of the D800 for weeks, I was put on a contact list for them to notify me of when they did have stock, but never got back to me.
    I went in every now and then during this time, and when I did get my D800E, it was only because they didn't have stock of the D800(non E) .. and they had one E left in the store.(approx mid 2012). Again, and additional cost over the non E version, plus my hesitation of the possibility of seeing moire from the E.
    However, the salesman did assure me that if I didn't like the E, I could bring it back and they'd get me a non E if I really wanted .. with the final comment that he was sure I wouldn't be doing that, as the possibility of moire from the E wasn't such a fuss that many made it out to be(including myself!).

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian500au View Post
    I really cannot understand how retailers have the right not to service / guarantee a grey market product. I mean what is the definition of "grey" market. I live in Europe and work in the USA, yet still a resident of Australia. I travel with my camera all the time. If i buy a lens in the US when I am there, then it is grey market when i visit Australia or return home to Belgium. My camera bag is full of equipment I have bought all around the world including an "L" lens bought from an authorised canon dealer in Cambodia (yet still classed as grey market in Australia). My 6D come from HK. We live in a very global world and international travel is now a normal part of most peoples lives.

    If I ever have to put in a warranty claim, or I am refused service on a "grey market" canon product I will cause so much noise they wish they had never sold me a Canon in the first place.
    I have to say .. I can't see any issue in that a local supply chain refusing to warrant the product of a foreign supply chain!
    It would be nice if they did, but the fact they say they won't seems perfectly legitimate really(IMO).

    The issue will almost certainly be along the lines of maintaining a balance in the profitability of each regional distribution network.
    Part of this would take into account transportation costs, currency fluctuations(look at where our dollar is currently sitting at, and try to remember where it was a year ago!) .. plus fixed regional costs(HR and property outgoings).

    In can imagine that HR and property costs in the HK region will be far lower than they will be for Australia, as well as shipping costs on a per unit basis.
    That is for each item sold by the HK distributor, the fixed costs are far lower. They would easily sell more units than the Aussie distributor did, so costs will be lower.
    Therefore warranty costs will be a much lower factor to take into account too.
    So what of the poor Aussie distributor then!
    They would sell nothing, because you would all purchase your gear from the HK distributor ... but you expect the Aussie distributor to pay for the warranty on the gear.
    This would effective cause Aussie <insert camera brand here> run at or close to a loss as they have to take up the costs of warranty of a product they didn't make any money on.

    How long do you reckon the local distributor would stay in business for?

    Like I said, I see no issue in one distribution chain refusing warranty claims for products that originated from another distribution area!

    In your situation tho, the assumption is that because you travel regularly all over the world that you still travel regularly around the world!
    So that if you purchased an item from Cambodia and were living in Belgium, that you were still traveling to Cambodia again at some point(or regularly) .. and hence, you would get any warranty service done there again.
    If this is not convenient, then you would have to plan where you purchased your goods from to take warranty/service considerations into account.

    Of course the ideal situation is that the corporate headquarters would simply assume the overall responsibility of warranty and service on a global level and simply pay for all the expenses of every regional distribution centre.

    An issue I do have is in repairs for which the consumer is willing to pay for, irrespective of the source of the product.
    AFAIK, Nikon Aus, have made the claim that they will not repair grey market Nikon gear. (I could be mistaken, but I think this is the case)
    To me this is an unacceptable and self deprecating philosophy to have for the corporation as a whole!
    If this is still the situation, then the Company HQ (in this instance Nikon HQ) really should make it a point to the regional arm of the company (again in this instance, Nikon Aus) that it's our product and out corporate image may be damaged due to such practices.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
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    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


  18. #18
    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Of course the ideal situation is that the corporate headquarters would simply assume the overall responsibility of warranty and service on a global level and simply pay for all the expenses of every regional distribution centre.

    An issue I do have is in repairs for which the consumer is willing to pay for, irrespective of the source of the product.
    AFAIK, Nikon Aus, have made the claim that they will not repair grey market Nikon gear. (I could be mistaken, but I think this is the case)
    To me this is an unacceptable and self deprecating philosophy to have for the corporation as a whole!
    If this is still the situation, then the Company HQ (in this instance Nikon HQ) really should make it a point to the regional arm of the company (again in this instance, Nikon Aus) that it's our product and out corporate image may be damaged due to such practices.
    I Agree with you wholeheartedly on this point Arthur. If you buy a new car in Hobart and on a trip to Broome you have problems there you can take it a local dealer for warranty repairs. The manufacturer should cover any warranty irregardless of where it was purchased. Canon cover the warranty on my grey eBay purchased printer even though when I purchased it Canon Australia told me there was no such model when I contacted re more details on the unit. It was about 4-5 weeks after the printer was delivered before canon even recognized the model number and another couple of weeks before the specs. were on their website. It did come with the full Australian warranty paperwork which checked out OK. If they can do this with printers and scanners why cant they do the same with cameras???
    Cheers
    Keith.

  19. #19
    Ausphotography Regular crafty1tutu's Avatar
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    I have bought most of my gear grey market and never really had any problems with the quality of the gear and I don't really know about warranty as I have never had to try it out thank goodness. I think that DD Photographics is still trading - now in North Sydney, as I bought a Tamron 150-600 lens off them this week and it was delivered in two days.

  20. #20
    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedway View Post
    I Agree with you wholeheartedly on this point Arthur. If you buy a new car in Hobart and on a trip to Broome you have problems there you can take it a local dealer for warranty repairs. The manufacturer should cover any warranty irregardless of where it was purchased.
    Keith, trying not to labour a point here but this is the exact same scenario as a camera purchase. If you buy a camera from a dealer that is part of the official distributorship chain in Australia and take it on a trip from Hobart to Broome you will be covered by warranty in the case of a malfunction if that problem occurs within the warranty period the same way as your car would be covered.

    If you ( parallel / grey ) import a car ( for arguments sake ) direct from Japan and then take that car on a journey from Hobart to Broome and suffer a malfunction 3 weeks after you have owned it ------ best of luck getting the distributor here in Oz to give you any warranty service.

    A GREY import is a GREY import whether it was bought from the largest camera retailer in the world located in New York or from a back alley drop shipper in Hong Kong. If it wasn't delivered through the official distribution network in Australia they simply don't want to know about it. Yes, there are certain cases where an Australian citizen working / living o/seas and buying gear in a foreign country will be given latitude when they return to Aus but compared to the massive amount of Internet / bricks and mortar purchasers of grey camera gear they are in the extreme minority.

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