Advice for Buying a Camera Online: Why Australian Stock Cameras are Better than Grey Market Cameras
UPDATE: As of 1 July 2018, the Federal Parliament has passed laws that will extend goods and services tax (GST) to low-value imports of physical goods imported by consumers - click here for more information.
Shopping for a camera online? Chances are you’ve come across the term “grey market” or “parallel import” and may be wondering what that really means. As always, we're here to help.
We’ve all come across this when searching for products online, (‘grey market’ doesn’t just apply to cameras but all sorts of other products) so we’ve put together a summary of all the info you need to know.
Here’s Why You Need to Be Cautious About Buying Grey Market Items:
Grey market products refer to any product that is not imported or exported through the official distribution channel. This means that the retailer does not have specific permission from the manufacturer to sell the product in the Australian marketplace. It is not illegal to purchase any grey market products; however, you do need to be aware of the risks associated with these items.
*It’s worth noting that grey market stock can be sold online, over the phone or even in person at a physical store with a shop-front.
What Is CameraPro's Approach?
CameraPro carries exclusively Australian stock products, which means that all of our products are sourced from the authorised distributor or manufacturer in Australia. For you, this means peace of mind knowing that you are fully covered by the manufacturer's warranty in Australia, as well as being covered by the Australian Consumer Law should any issues arise with your purchase.
Not to mention - all in-stock items are held in our warehouse in Brisbane, which means incredibly fast (and fully insured) delivery for our customers Australia wide!
Want more information on grey market vs. genuine stock? Read on!
What are the Benefits of Buying Genuine Australian Stock?
- Peace of mind
By buying genuine stock you know you’re getting a legitimate product and have support if anything goes awry in the purchasing process
- Customer service
Buying a genuine item from a local store means you’ve got support every step of the way – ask as many questions as you need before, during and after you’ve purchased the product. If you’re local to one of our stores, you can even come in store and spend time testing out a display model of the camera. At CameraPro, we’re all photographers so you can rely on us for honest, first-hand advice.
- Complying with Australian standards
Grey import items are intended for sale in designated countries overseas – so may not have the appropriate power outlet or voltage for use within Australia – meaning you may then need to purchase replacements for these important accessory items
- Protections under Australian Law
Goods purchased overseas may not be covered under the rights you’re entitled to under Australian Law with the ACCC – such as getting a refund for change of mind, or a repair if the product arrives damaged or faulty. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warn that “when dealing with internationally based companies, you may not be protected by Australian law.”*
- No Hidden Taxes
It’s worth noting, some grey import retailers have their warehouses overseas – so the price you pay may not include GST. When the product then arrives in Australia you may be responsible for paying the GST before customs will release the item to you. Think of it as a hidden cost.
- Manufacturer Benefits
Things such as loyalty programs (such as Nikon’s My Nikon Life), cashback promotions, and professional equipment servicing programs such as Canon’s CPS (which includes priority service, and in some cases free loan of equipment while your gear is under service) are only offered on items purchased with a full manufacturer’s warranty.
- Ability to claim TRS
Australian stock product means full eligibility for the TRS Scheme, as well as the ability to claim GST for eligible businesses. For eligible customers, this means a claim back of the 10% GST paid on purchase, which is a significant saving in cost.
What are the Risks of Buying Grey Market Products?
- No manufacturer warranty
Many grey market resellers advertise a "local warranty" on their products. It’s important to make a clear distinction between “Local Warranty” and “Genuine Manufacturer's Warranty” with the latter being exclusively available through official Australian stock resellers such as CameraPro. In the case of the former, the warranty is only supported by the grey market reseller themselves and in many situations the repair process involves your item being sent overseas to be repaired and then sent back resulting in long turnaround times and increased chances of damage, loss and other complications. Conversely, repairs on Australian stock items (with a Genuine Manufacturer's Warranty) are repaired only by authorised repairers of the particular product in Australia, ensuring that the repair is performed correctly and quickly.
- No local customer or technical support
Many grey importers will not offer local customer or technical support, meaning if you have any technical questions during or after you’ve purchased an item, it can be hard to get the answers you need accurately and on time
- Product could be fake or have fake accessories or parts
We have heard cases of customers receiving fake products from grey import retailers, or receiving fake accessories such as batteries and chargers that are from a third party manufacturer and may not work with the camera
- Not complying with Australian Standards
Batteries and chargers from overseas may not comply with Australian standards and can cause electrocution or destruction of the battery or camera as they may have a different voltage output
- Hidden Fees
Many grey market resellers charge higher shipping fees. Additionally as mentioned above, you’re obliged to pay GST and customs duty on all imported items (which is 5% customs duty + 10% GST on most products, more information on these fees can be found here).
- No Protection
Because in most cases grey-market resellers are overseas businesses that you’re purchasing from, they’re not bound by the Australian Consumer Law. This basically means they’re not legally obliged to honour an advertised warranty, supply products in new condition or supply them at all. As result there have been many cases of unlucky consumers being caught out; receiving used or refurbished products, had parts missing from the package and never receiving a purchased item at all. In these situations, the consumers have no-one to appeal to (such as the ACCC) as such entities are powerless outside the borders of Australia
- Illegitimate serial numbers
We have heard of numerous cases of customers who have bought products, and upon contacting the Australian distributor, finding that the serial number is not a genuine Serial number, within Australia or world wide.For instance, we have know of cases where Nikon DSLR bodies where there serial number actually was for a lens; and also cases where serial numbers on item packaging is different to the camera/lens inside. In the case of an insurance claim for loss or damage this will often mean a risk of the insurer rejecting the claim due to serial number issues.
What is an Example of an Authorised Camera Purchase?
Let's consider Canon for a second. Canon Inc. has an authorised distributor in Australia (Canon Australia). Canon Australia then supplies genuine stock to authorised retailers like CameraPro, who then supply the customers of Australia. This is an authorised camera purchase and the stock would come with full manufacturer's warranty from Canon Australia, as well as being eligible for cash backs and other manufacturer promotions. Plus, you get to hang out with us!
What is an Example of a Grey Market camera purchase?
Canon Inc. has an authorised distributor in China (with stock intended only for the Chinese market). This distributor in China then supplies this stock globally to retailers anywhere in the world. As such, the stock then gets sold to an Australian retailer and shipped to Australia, to be sold in an Australian retail store. The stock is then purchased by an Australian customer – meaning the stock purchased is grey stock - as it was only intended for sale within China, not overseas.
As with so many other things, the devil is in the detail. Whether it’s 18% grey or 100% grey, it’s not going to be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, and you never know what might happen if the goods arrive to you faulty, or what hidden fees and taxes you might be liable for.
Have peace of mind by shopping at CameraPro for a guarantee that you’re receiving 100% genuine stock direct from the manufacturer, at a competitive price, with customer support from our team of photographers every step of the way!
At CameraPro, we’re committed to Better advice, products, and experiences. Got questions? Feel free to send us an email, or call us on 1300 431 431.
CameraPro is an authorised retailer for the following brands:
Written by Louise Wright
*Information from the Australian Government