Shopping online for the latest gadgets can definitely save you a lot of money. Unfortunately, not all sellers of cheap goods are legitimate, authorized resellers. These so-called “gray market” vendors usually offer those gadgets for a few thousand pesos less than their legitimate counterparts, but with a few caveats. Here are 3 reasons why you should avoid them:
Some unscrupulous sellers mix in fakes with authentic items, or claim to sell authentic items but give you fakes. The same happens with defective items. As some reviews on a thread in reddit’s r/Philippines subforum said:
“Bought a pair of ‘Sony’ earphones turns out they were only class A's, broke within 3 months.”
“Also bought a ‘waterproof camera,’ but unfortunately, it got water-damaged because of a defect. :-( Well, I guess that’s what we get from buying at gray markets haha”
Gray market items are usually cheaper than those sold by authorized resellers because they’re purchased overseas and shipped here. Hence, the gadget you may get may not necessarily have the right language settings or have a different kind of plug. They may have also skipped Customs checks; those smartphones may not comply with all of NTC regulations.
As some more reviews on reddit’s r/Philippines said:
“The phone was completely in Chinese. No instructions whatsoever on their part on how to switch to English. I had to use my google-foo to figure it out…You'll need a different wall charger/adaptor though. The one they ship isn't for Philippine outlets.”
“The iMac was made for Japanese market because the keyboard layout was different and it has these Japanese characters. I didn't notice it until I got home but it really didn't matter because I hate Mac keyboards.”
Having things fixed or replaced is not always the first thing on your mind when you’re out to purchase a new gadget. But sometimes, you do end up getting a lemon unit. And that’s why full warranties with return merchandise authorization (RMA) are important.
Unfortunately, gray market sellers only offer a limited store warranty, which usually means that you have to return the unit to their store and they’ll get an in-house technician to fix it. They won’t always replace the defective unit with a new one. And you can’t go to the official service center of the brand and have it repaired for free—you may need to pay for it. Or go overseas to have it repaired at the country of purchase.
As another review on reddit said:
“From experience, their iPhones aren’t covered fully by Apple’s warranty if sent to authorized local resellers. :/ Was told I’d have to go to SG if I want it fixed/replaced for free.”
On top of that, customer service isn’t exactly priority for these sellers. Another review shares:
“I bought an LG G3 from them and they said over text that the color I wanted (Moon Violet) was available. However, when the day of the pickup came, they called me and said that only the Gold, Black, and White variants were available. I’d already gone too far to go back at that point, so I went for Gold. It also said 1 year warranty on the store page, but it turns out that it’s only a labor warranty meaning if they have to replace any parts, it’s on you. Other than that they’re pretty decent specially in terms of price.”
However, like the review above, many people just give that bad customer service in the past. As that saying goes, you get what you pay for.
As these examples illustrate, saving a few hundred or thousand pesos on a smartphone or laptop may not always be worth it. If you truly want to minimize the risk of getting a faulty gadget and avoid getting only a limited warranty, then purchasing from an authorized reseller—or one who deals with legitimate distributors, such as YouPoundit—is a must.