(news & commentary)
Late last week CanonUSA apparently issued a one page statement about gray market products. The gist is this: gray market products won’t be covered by US warranty, US rebates won’t be honored, and technical support won’t be provided.
The warning also included a list of “hazards and difficulties associated with gray market products”:
- including in product packaging illegal or counterfeit accessories, such as batteries, chargers, and ink tanks, which can cause injury and seriously damage your Canon product;
- an incorrect power cord or adapter which was not provided, or quality checked, by Canon;
- incorrect software or illegal copies of software which may not function;
- poor photocopies of the original manual;
- a fake Canon U.S. warranty, a warranty provided by a third party, or no warranty at all; and
- a device with a serial number which cannot be registered with Canon in the U.S.
That falling yen is making arbitrage of camera products easier to do here in the US. Why? Because the Japanese aren’t always lowering US prices to fully match the yen devaluation. Thus, in some cases you can buy something even in Japan at retail and sell it for more “new” in the US.
Frankly, the real problem is the same as it is with Nikon: the way Japanese companies structure and financially manage their wholly-owned subsidiaries. Warranties aren’t worldwide anymore because they’re cost structured in the official import mechanisms. Put another way, CanonUSA (and NikonUSA, et.al.) could end up absorbing more warranty cost than would have been expected due to their actual import volume. Of course, if costs go up in one part of the overall company, they should go down in another, right? ;~)
Still, as much as I’m against the way the camera companies are handling gray market products, there is one thing that seems fairly clear to me: there’s a higher likelihood that a gray market seller isn’t looking after your best interest.
Most of the horror stories I receive about products bought don’t come from official imports bought from brick and mortar stores or reliable online sources, but rather from gray market transactions. So be careful out there this holiday season.
Canon publishes their authorized dealer list here. Nikon publishes their authorized dealer list here. Do note that some authorized dealers also sell gray market products, including this site’s exclusive advertiser, B&H. But reputable dealers make that very clear at the purchase point, and don’t try to hide that.