Grey imports?

BrainBeatBrainBeat Posts: 54Member
edited February 2013 in General Discussions
I did notice there had been a thread on this in the old forum but I could not find one here in the new one (If I missed it I am sorry).
I have had a little discussion on this topic in the D7000 worth buying thread but thought this tpic should have its own thread.

A brief outline of why I am looking at grey imports.
As I mentioned before (in the d7000 thread) I live in Australia where we seem to be ripped off for ALL electrical products imported to Australia with our dollar currently greater than parity v the US dollar (which most trade is done in) I would hope local pricing might be similar. I am in the market some time soon for a new more pro body than my current D5000 and it seems looking at local stores pricing for official Nikon bodies the price versus the US can often be many hundred dollars more. As for Grey import version they seem to often be a few dollars cheaper than the US price.
In my case I have been looking at a D7000 as a possible upgrade option (but I am likely to get its replacement if it turns out to be good or go up to the 600) and a quick look at prices comes up with this. Local store official Nikon for body only $1,209AU (2yr warranty), grey import local website $799+29AU shipping (1 year store warranty), bhphoto (as rough US price guide) $896.95US +bonuses(1year grey?). In this example I would save about $381 going for a grey import and could add a 5 year warranty for $259 and still be over $100 better off and covered for longer. As for versus US pricing it works out only a few dollars different but shows this grey import is a good deal at least for price.

So what I would love to hear you opinions on would you or have you ever bought a grey import? Have you ever had any problems with it and needed repairing? Would you or did you buy an extended warranties from the shop to cover you better?

Comments

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I think the questions are good, but most important is who supplies the warranty. It would be a good idea to do some research here as some extended warranty paper is not worth much. If the dealer were to supply the warranty and is reliable your figures would make good sense. As I am told, the grey market product is identical to the ones imported through the distributer. But as the distributer does not make any money from this, no warranty.

    Calling customer service at a few places and asking questions might be helpful as well.
    Msmoto, mod
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    edited February 2013
    Just can't figure something out ...

    Gray market = parallel import of same goods from cheaper markets ... So which are these markets ? For such an operation to be feasible in USA after re-exports/double shipping/import duties/double dealer profits etc, there must be some countries in which Nikon DSLRs/lenses are sold at least 20-25% cheaper than it is in USA ( considering gray market products are about 10% cheaper here). So which countries sell Nikon DSLRs so much cheaper than USA ?

    It is not hard to see how the gray market works in Europe as the prices there are at least 20% higher than USA but how does it work for the North American market ?

    Another point hard to grasp is why gray market operation can't be stopped by Nikon - we aren't talking about Colgate toothpaste / Gillette or pharmaceuticals here. All Nikons have serial numbers which can easily be traced to original distributor/wholesaler in those cheap markets. If Nikon was serious about stopping gray market, it wouldn't be too hard to do it by just stopping deliveries to those buyers. Is Nikon actually not turning a blind eye ?

    Post edited by Paperman on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    edited February 2013
    Legally Nikon distrubutors have no way of stopping gray market units from being sold.

    We need to seperate "Nikon" a Japanese company, from the national distributors.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    I am not talking about distributors stopping it - just saying Nikon Inc. can stop it if they really want to.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    Nikon doesn't care, they make money either way.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    edited February 2013
    Stores selling Nikon products in the US can no longer stock Grey market items so at least from the USA, old stocks are dwindling down to almost nothing and will not be replenished. That was released per Nikon 1 year ago at the same time when they updated their "service parts are no longer for sale to dealers." If you have looked at various stores, there are not as many "grey" stock items around. I can imagine some large one's still carrying some due to their sales outside the US, as the warranty and service will not be done in the US at all.

    The only difference I have experienced is that "Grey" market equipment only comes with a 1-year warranty and warranty work has to be done outside the US and I believe it is done only in an international service center or Japan. I never had work done on the grey market stuff I have bought over the years so never looked that close at it.

    If you are from Australia - you would already be in the "came from a grey" market for us in the USA - so I'm not sure how that would work - maybe better or indifferent.

    The only one who sells Nikon gear to stores is Nikon USA which is a subdivision of Nikon Japan. I have never heard of any 3rd party distributes delivering anything to stores. When I order Nikon stuff at a local store, it always comes packaged from Nikon USA, either from California (LA suburb I believe) or from Melville, NY.
    Post edited by TaoTeJared on
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • SkintBritSkintBrit Posts: 79Member
    I've never had to ask yet, but photographers generally (and journalists particularly) by their nature, have to travel with their equipment, what happens if we are on a shoot in a country other than the one we bought the equipment in, or we have bought equipment from all over the world whilst on assignment? If something fails, would the local Nikon service centre turn you away? Are NPS given special concessions?
    D3s's D700 F100 / Trinity 2.8 Zooms & 1.4 Primes / 105 micro. SB900s with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 / Mini TT1s. Camranger remote control system.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    NPS gives you worldwide service, but some places might not have the parts. NPS also entities you to a replacement while your unit is in for repair. In some cases it is simply better to wait till you get back to your home nation before getting repairs done. There is a reason that most pros have at least one backup.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited February 2013
    In the Uk , you can avoid sales Tax (VAT) by ordering stuff from Hong Kong
    Delivery is very quick
    You may be liable to pay tax on the imported goods but I'm practice this rare
    If you need to claim under warranty, the goods have to be returned to Hong Kong
    I have bought accessories at half UK price this way but not DSLRs
    In the UK You cannot register grey goods with Nikon NPU
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    edited February 2013
    Doesn't sound worth while to me. By the time you pay for insured shipping to HK (for warranty work), you could have paid for the European model.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited February 2013
    Doesn't sound worth while to me. By the time you pay for insured shipping to HK (for warranty work), you could have paid for the European model.
    The HK model was half the price of buying in the UK
    I have never had to return any Nikon equipment under warranty


    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    edited February 2013
    I think one might notice, the USA retailers like B & H, Adorama, etc. do not carry grey market bodies, only lenses. Maybe this is what Nikon is really concerned about. And, some of the grey market lenses have large savings, enough to purchase the optional warranty and still save money, and some grey market lenses are almost the same price or only a very small amount less costly.

    For example, the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII is the same price, USA vs, Imported. And, some of the lenses, the 400mm f/2.8 and 200-400mm f/4, are available at B & H only in the USA version. This confirms what TTJ was saying about stores selling Nikon no longer carrying the imports. Only old stock is available.

    I am not certain there is any other good explanation for the apparent inconsistent pricing.

    And, the insurance option for "drops and spills" is in some cases over 10% of the lens cost for two year period....yikes.
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • DJBee49DJBee49 Posts: 133Member
    Some years ago in the UK there was a big scandal about car prices in Europe.

    It turned out that there was a huge disparity in pricing from country to country. The UK had the highest prices in Europe and there were businesses set up to import cars into the UK from Belgium and Holland, saving sometimes as much as 30% I believe. The plot thickens when you realise that there are very few cars made exclusively in one country- parts are made all over the place and then just assembled in one country. There were even tales of cars made in England being exported to Belgium as special orders for UK customers with UK specifications and then being exported back to England for sale at a much lower price than in the UK!

    Why? The bottom line was that pricing had nothing at all to do with costs but was solely what the customers in that country were actually prepared to pay! Nothing else.

    Is this the case with Nikon I wonder? There are of course differences in tax, import duties etc. but it still does not account for the disparity I think. Once again, the UK seems to be the most expensive place, certainly compared with Europe and the U.S and most UK grey imports are from Hong Kong.
  • SkintBritSkintBrit Posts: 79Member
    What is the average salary in the U.S. right now? Is it simply a case that we earn in £ and Americans earn in $? although £2000 is actually more money than $2000, maybe it equates to the same percentage of spendable income?

    Just a thought
    D3s's D700 F100 / Trinity 2.8 Zooms & 1.4 Primes / 105 micro. SB900s with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 / Mini TT1s. Camranger remote control system.
  • SkintBritSkintBrit Posts: 79Member
    NPS gives you worldwide service, but some places might not have the parts. NPS also entities you to a replacement while your unit is in for repair. In some cases it is simply better to wait till you get back to your home nation before getting repairs done. There is a reason that most pros have at least one backup.
    If that's correct, it would mean that NPS members can safely buy their equipment from anywhere in the world regardless of the local rules regarding servicing grey imports. I wonder if that is really correct.
    D3s's D700 F100 / Trinity 2.8 Zooms & 1.4 Primes / 105 micro. SB900s with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 / Mini TT1s. Camranger remote control system.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    edited February 2013
    I think the cameras/lenses have to be purchased in the nation in the NPS is registered.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    If I recall correctly from a really old thread that that was on an old site, someone who was traveling in the USA on an assignment/work and was from Canada had to send their lens back to Canada for service when something happened to it. But if you buy the USA warranty you can get it serviced anywhere you are at.
    I so rarely have had to send New/newer lenses in for work that that warranty didn't ever matter. All the lenses I have had work on were well over 5 years old.

    To help those outside the USA - In most places in the world, VAT or import duties are included in all pricing for items. In the USA it never is, and there are almost zero import duties on goods. Sales tax (VAT in the US) is added on at the end of the sale and in most circumstances not charged for internet purchases. I'm sure most price discrepancies are explained by this as they are usually within 10-20%. Nikon Controls the pricing to a large degree, and you rarely see anything that is way out of line. If you do, it is a scam.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,973Member
    That's not always the case Tao. Unless you are NPS, I know that Nikon Canada will not service a Nikon USA lens or camera.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • BrainBeatBrainBeat Posts: 54Member
    Thank you guys for you point raised so far you have given some new perspectives on the issue.

    Reading the comments above also reminded me that the only grey import I have bought so far which is a Sigma 17-50 F2.8 lens. On that occasion I bought it from an Australian website but it came to me directly from Hong Kong too. So maybe Hong Kong is one of if not the cheapest place to buy photographic items and so where grey imports do come from and seem to have good logistics setup.

    As for local prices set based on what the consumer is prepared to pay that is likely the largest factor in local pricing but at least for us in Australia it is not the only factor. In the late 90's to about pre-GFC the Australian dollar averaged somewhere between 50c and 75c versus the US. Since the GFC the Aussie dollar has risen gradually to greater than parity and been hovering around the 1 to 106c mark for the last year or so. The problem is local prices for have come down some on the way up but they have tended to not move as much as the dollar has and likely sit at what the prices should be for sub 90c resulting in 15c+/$ profit.
    Or Federal Government is said to be "looking" at the issue but who knows if anything will come from it. But as you can see this does provide a good case for grey imports to be popular.

    This is why I wanted to start a discussion to see what others felt if the risks of buying a grey import to save a few hundred dollars is worth doing risking protection from a limited warranty.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,030Moderator
    I can't help but think the answer to this is a lot simpler than all of the above.

    Modern electronic DSLR bodies and lenses are not as robust as the older film bodies and manual focus non-VR lenses, and with the current Nikon products having knocked our confidence in their out of the box quality, why take the risk of no warranty? That is basically what you are buying after all. The costs of shipping back to HK for service 'you don't know where or by whom' makes that the case.

    I doubt that the difference in price makes it that you will not be able to buy one if you pay more, it is just that you would rather pay less so the question is, given my previous paragraph, are you paying less at the end of the day? Are you feelin' lucky punk? ;)
    Always learning.
  • DJBee49DJBee49 Posts: 133Member
    spraynpray

    This has been my conclusion also. Camera bodies and complex stuff I buy from UK retailers but things that are unlikely to go wrong I do buy as grey imports or directly from the States. If you do this you risk the item being stopped and held until you pay the VAT but this has never happened to me. Yet!

    I still think that we are continually ripped off in the UK though!
  • BrainBeatBrainBeat Posts: 54Member
    When I bought my Sigma lens I did ask them how the warranty and servicing would work a and they said firstly I had a 14 day return or exchange policy so if it did not work or work well (soft focus) I could just return it to them and they would swap it. I think also in the process of shipping the lens they actually must have tried it out themselves to make sure it worked to lessen this chance. After the 14days they said it would be serviced locally and would not have to be sent back to Hong Kong (which I did not know it was coming from) so maybe at least this company does things slightly different than the UK ones?

    As for what i am likely to do I would probably be buying my next body in a real shop too as that way you can hold it ect before going out of the shop. As for lenses it will depend on price as cheaper ones I would be more likely risk a limited warranty if not all.

    One last point I was just thinking of if you are against buying a grey import would you buy a second hand item as most of those will have no warranty at all? Looking at my local ebay listings and staying on the d7000 theme most body only are around $650.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,030Moderator
    "After the 14days they said it would be serviced locally and would not have to be sent back to Hong Kong (which I did not know it was coming from) so maybe at least this company does things slightly different than the UK ones?"

    IME: What they say and what actually happens in the event of a failure within a year may be two different things....
    Always learning.
  • BrainBeatBrainBeat Posts: 54Member

    IME: What they say and what actually happens in the event of a failure within a year may be two different things....
    Maybe but we do have fairly good consumer protection laws here in Australia and the company I bought it from has been trading for over 10 years so I doubt they are going to be too far from what they said they would do.
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