Grey Market – Buyer Beware

by Tim Farmer

Photo by Craig Skinner

Photo by Craig Skinner

The holidays are right around the corner and people are always looking for a deal. Many people go shopping online for the best price, but often times a lower price means these are grey market products. So, what is a grey market product and should you care?

Grey market falls between illegal black market goods and legitimate white market goods. They may or may not be legal depending on the product itself and other things like import laws. Grey market products are often the same product but not intended for the USA market thus they may have different power supply/power cords, non-genuine accessories, or fake software among other issues. Canon cameras and lenses will have USA on them and Nikon will indicate “Nikon, Inc. USA warranty” with their products.

The biggest concern about grey market goods for most people is warranty and support issues. Most cameras and accessories will work fine through the lifespan of the product, but if you do have a problem what little you saved by buying a grey market item will be gone in a flash. Nikon and Canon will not even accept grey market products at their repair centers. No warranties or support. If it breaks, you are on your own.

Other issues may be missing manuals or have different manuals (aka, no English instructions) or they are not eligible for manufacturer’s rebates. If you do have issues, you will have to deal with the company you bought the camera from; you cannot go into your local camera store to resolve problems. They may include counterfeit batteries and chargers that can cause damage to your camera and even harm to yourself or others.

Some of the online retailers will offer their own warranties, but they are not manufacturer’s warranties. The work covered by these warranties will probably be done in house or at a repair facility picked by that company. Also, you will not be able to call up Canon or Nikon and get direct technical support or software and firmware updates.

If you come in to Schiller’s you will not have any of these issues. We sell only USA white market products. This means we will take care of you if you have any issues with your cameras, lenses, or other products. We will even take the time to make sure you understand how to use your new product. In the case of new cameras, you will have the opportunity to attend a class to get you familiar with your camera. We want to make sure you get the most out of your new purchase and you have fun sharing memories with your loved ones.

Here are some useful links:

Canon info on Grey Market Goods

Nikon on Grey Market Goods

Fuji’s PDF on Grey Market Goods

And a Forbes article on Grey Market Cameras

And here is another good article on grey market by Craig Skinner