You may stumble upon deals that seem too good to be true
Technology is undergoing a cultural revolution, with many gadget fanatics moving away from state of the art, high end technology in favour of cheaper, highly competitive alternatives available on the ‘grey market’.
There are concerns, however, over the reliability of grey market websites where buyers can find high quality products at surprisingly cheap prices.
Questions over the validity of the products are not unfounded, as many user experiences have detailed the discovery of highly convincing fakes being sold as the real deal.
But users could be missing out on authentic products at significantly reduced prices. Thankfully, DESIblitz is here to guide you through the pros and cons of buying on the Grey Market.
What is the Grey Market?
Despite its etymological similarity to the Black Market, the famous off-the-grid anything goes bazaar where people can buy drugs, weapons and other illicit materials, the Grey Market is not illegal.
Rather, the Grey Market is an online channel that lets unauthorised distributors buy and sell goods that are not normally made available in the UK.
Alongside products that are exclusive to China and Asia, you can also find international products on the Grey Market at a heavily discounted rate.
While these products aren’t intended to be sold in the UK, it is not illegal to do so.
Is it a Good Idea to Buy on the Grey Market?
There are a number of questions that often crop up when talking about the Grey Market. Is this legal? Are these real products? Will my parcel make it through customs? What happens if I get ripped off?
These are valid concerns, especially with regards to the wild west that is online marketplaces, but thankfully these are questions that can be easily answered.
The issue of legality boils down to your country’s own import customs laws, but for the most part there are no legal issues when importing tech via the Grey Market.
Benefits of Buying on the Grey Market
There are two major benefits to purchasing tech this way: Price and availability.
No one could argue that getting a Smartphone or Tablet for cheaper is a bad thing, and often these products can be bought at a significant discount.
The reason for this comes down to the intended region of sale. Products sold in the US and UK appear at different prices even when you factor in exchange rates because these countries have different sales tax laws.
Tech based products in the UK are subject to a Value Added Tax at 20% of the product’s total value. India, on the other hand, has VAT that varies from region to region, anywhere from 5%-15%.
However it is important to take into account the variance in customs charges.
Customs charges depend on a number of mitigating factors, but you’ll find that a number of distributor websites, Coolicool in particular, have warehouses in EU countries, reducing the costs of customs charges.
If your distributor of choice lies outside of the EU zone expect to pay some form of import VAT on top of the cost of the goods.
Availability is another benefit, where people can gain access to products that aren’t available through domestic retail channels.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive smartphone with competitive specs, often your best option is to buy through grey market websites who have access to devices from Chinese and South Asian manufacturers like Huawei, Xiaomi and Umi.
What to Look Out for if you Buy from the Grey Market
Knock-off products are a problem for online customers. Some retailers, like Coolicool, assure that all their products are 100% authentic, but often the fakes can trick even the keenest observer.
Often you won’t be able to tell if the product is a fake until you receive it, and with the refund policy of Grey Market retailers being virtually non-existent, this could end up being an expensive mistake.
There are a number of things you should look out for when purchasing from unofficial retailers.
Price is a big one. While the main benefit of buying online is the ability to get items at a reduced price, you may stumble upon deals that seem too good to be true. Make sure you compare the pricing consensus when looking at certain deals.
The Samsung Galaxy S7, for example, usually retails for £600-£700, although you will at some point down the line find it for cheaper.
If you find a retailer charging £200-£300 for one, chances are that it is a knock off with a significantly reduced build quality.
Another handy trick is to check the listed specifications by the retailer with the manufacturers listed specs. Any discrepancies could indicate that the retailer is lying about the product in question.
Safe and Responsible Online Shopping
Ultimately grey market websites are as reliable as mainstream sites like Amazon. If you are vigilant and do some reading beforehand, you will likely be able to get an incredible deal on high level tech.
Products are generally packaged well, and while some customers will have to contend with import duties, most sites offer free shipping.
However, if you are looking for good deals and less risk, many manufacturers sell directly from their website. Chinese smartphone company Oneplus, for example, offer high end smartphones with a custom Android OS for £200-£300.
So long as you do some research, the grey market can be an invaluable tool for inexpensive tech purchases. If in doubt though, consult an expert. It doesn’t hurt to get a second pair of eyes before making a big purchase.