Grey Goods... who cares?

Theresa McCaffrey

Online Shopping

The term Grey goods can cover a few situations but it best describes when goods are bought outside of the manufacturers approved supply chain. For example buying goods from another country like the USA through a site such as eBay and then selling them in the UK.

Grey Goods can seem good value on the outside but are they really? or are they a cheap shot on the retail establishment? And as the customer should you care? There are several reasons for you to be concerned. Grey Goods are not all they are presented to be. You may be getting merchandise for a good price but there are things one should know about the Grey Goods marketplace.

Grey Goods do not come with a manufacturer warranty.
This is a huge problem if you buy an appliance or computer through the Grey Goods market and it breaks. These goods are often taken from their original packaging and stored in bad conditions. You do get what you pay for and if it is cheap then there is a reason you just might not like. The same applies to any product whether its electrical, clothing or footwear.

Grey goods condition
When you are buying grey goods especially on eBay you could be getting used goods. Now knowing this is one thing but then when you don’t know it can be tragic. Because if there is no warranty and two months later it breaks or falls apart you have no recourse.

One way to identify grey goods is manufacturer packing. These types of goods are not in their original packaging and it is a huge sign you were sold grey goods. You can also check the manufacturer lists for the model and product numbers of your items and this will tell you straight up if you have purchased grey goods.

How does this really affect you and should you care?
Yes! You should care because you are being sold cheaper items that are not really produced by that manufacturer or you buying something that you could have purchased on eBay yourself!

Genuine retailers will also abide by all the manufacturers guidelines. These cover everything from proper storage, care and training. They will also encourage the retailer to carrying a reasonable level of stock to provide good customer service.

Grey goods affect the economy because your genuine retailer is paying the real price for goods. If you believe in keeping your local markets alive and thriving, save money and buy the real items. In the long run it will pay because with Grey Goods you are gambling away money on items that aren’t under warranty.

What to look out for
Legitimate looking websites make it increasingly difficult to spot 'retailers' that are buying on eBay and then re-selling to you through their own website. You can look at manufacturers website as they will typically list their approved retailers.

You can also check the retailers website to see if they say they are an approved dealer. They can of course lie... but they tend not to be so bold as to make an outright statement that is not true.

Typically these sellers will only have 1 or 2 products from any one manufacturer. In the case of clothing and footwear there will be little choice of sizes. Genuine retailers will have invested in a range of products and sizes.