Beware of Grey-Market Goods

August 9, 2006

Sony RubyBit a departure for today’s post but first some background. My goal from day one with this site has been to bring about a higher understanding of home theater related products, technology, implementation and overall knowledge for reader and writer alike.

I sell no products here nor do I work for a company that does, I feel that this puts me in the best position to offer you my honest opinion as to a products worth and the reputation behind the company offering said product.

What I want to discuss a bit today however is geared toward the later (reputation) and not the products themselves. At the risk of opening up a can of worms over whether you should support local integrators versus on-line retailers, let me just say that both options have their benefits and pitfalls, its up to you to decide how those benefits and pitfalls impact your final decision.

Often you can find home theater equipment on the internet for quite a bit less than retail, obviously no news there as we’ve all become accustomed to net-specials and the low overhead pricing found at reputable e-tailers like Amazon but that’s not my concern here today, I want to warn you of outright scams.

I know everyone is familiar with the idea of authorized dealers versus unauthorized dealers and everything that goes along with that, everything from the manufacturer having the right to refuse your warranty to unknowingly purchasing refurbished goods sold as new.

Again all of this is rudimentary but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the fervor of a good deal. For example, there happens to be a certain extremely popular video projector being “sold” online, for what I happen to know is several points below dealer cost. When retail is $9999 and this particular reseller lists it for $4200 red flags go up.

Never mind the plausibility of the price for a second, what’s more important here is with just a few minutes of investigation I was able to find out that this particular reseller is not an authorized dealer and the manufacturer is well within their rights to refuse warranty on this “deal”. Often these grey market goods  may appear to be a great deal but without a full warranty, the money saved can be lost in the event of an equipment failure.

But it gets even more convoluted than that, often times otherwise reputable retailers may buy product from distributors who themselves aren’t authorized to sell the product and by default place the reseller in the same position. So what can you do to protect yourself from potentially being stuck with a piece of gear and no recourse to have it repaired under warranty?

It might sound overly simplistic but I know first hand that many consumers don’t do this, just ask the manufacturer. If your about to drop thousands of dollars on-line for consumer electronics equipment, by all means take the minute or two it takes to write the manufacturer about the resellers legitimacy.

Now obviously you don’t have to do this with Amazon, Crutchfield or alike I’m mainly speaking to the e-tailers that offer too-good-to-be-true deals, as the old saying goes they usually are.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Commentary


Comments

  • B.Greenway

    “by all means take the minute or two it takes to write the manufacturer about the resellers legitimacy.”

    The manufacturer would have no reason to lie about the resellers legitimacy, the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the reseller is authorized; if that reseller is indeed authorized then you shouldn’t have any problems. Again I’m suggesting if in doubt ask the manufacturer, not the reseller.

  • B.Greenway

    “by all means take the minute or two it takes to write the manufacturer about the resellers legitimacy.”

    The manufacturer would have no reason to lie about the resellers legitimacy, the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the reseller is authorized; if that reseller is indeed authorized then you shouldn’t have any problems. Again I’m suggesting if in doubt ask the manufacturer, not the reseller.

  • globe

    Hi, the last few paragraph, it said ask the manufacturer or write the manufacturer about the resellers legitimacy.

    what exactly should i ask? obviously, they can lie about their legitimacy.

  • globe

    Hi, the last few paragraph, it said ask the manufacturer or write the manufacturer about the resellers legitimacy.

    what exactly should i ask? obviously, they can lie about their legitimacy.