Sometimes things are too good to be true! The internet is a wonderful tool to price shop and compare different vendors and websites. That is…when you assume the product is the same thing and will be delivered in a similar manner.
Grey Market v. US Market Goods: grey-market goods are products which are intended to be sold in one area but end up imported into another and sold at a discount. For example, a camera manufactured for Japan but ends up being imported and sold in the US. Such a camera can be the same physical camera as the US model, but the firmware (the internal programming of the camera) can be different. A problem especially today with manufacturer’s issues so many firmware updates. There also could be voltage differences or connection difference between the non-US model and the US-model. All of these things must be considered. Is it worth the savings?
US Warranty not always included: one of the biggest problems with grey market goods is that they do NOT include a US warranty. If that product needs service within the warranty period, the US division may refuse to honor the warranty! They could even insist that you send the product overseas for service. Again, is it worth the savings?
Both B&H Photo and Adorama sell both US Market and grey market goods. These products are clearly labeled and there is a savings (as high as $200). I have purchased equipment from both B&H Photo and Adorama, and have never had a problem with them. Reputable companies go out of the way to stand by their customers. Just take a look at the bottom of every webpage at Abes of Maine … they list BizRate.com, NexTag and others.
The Other Guys…
Open an issue of Shutterbug or Popular Photography and look at the ads in the back. There is always some company that is obviously out of wake with the rest. For example, the June 2009 issue of Shutterbug has this ad for Broadway Photo with the Canon 5D Mark II on sale for only $2229.99. Wow, B&H and most other vendors have the same camera for $2699. That’s a big difference!
But wait, there’s an even better deal … just check Google Shopping. There’s a company called DviExpress which has the same camera for only $2125.45!! Wow, let’s buy a few of them!
Obviously something is wrong here!
Before you take out your credit card, there is another site that you MUST visit … Resellerratings.com. This site lists most vendors with customer reviews describing their transactions. I wonder how Broadway Photo did? Lifetime rating of 1.16 out of 10. The customer reviews state such tactics as call-backs to verify the order and push accessories, selling grey market items without prior notice and back-ordering items if accessories are not purchased.
I wonder how DviExpress did? No rating…even worse! A real unknown! There is no rating for DviExpress on Resellerratings.com, Bizrate.com, NexTag.com and even on Google Shopping. Dig further … if you Google “review DviExpress“, you will find forum discussions talking about bad experiences.
Before you order from a new company, do the research! Look-up the company on Resellerratings.com. Google for reviews. Do as much research as you can BEFORE you place the order. You will thank me later.