Grey market products: not always cheaper

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CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

It's that time of year when electronic devices feature prominently on our list of Christmas gifts and Boxing Day bargains.

(Aus currency image by Taluda, royalty free)

Grey market goods have often been a tempting alternative to buying locally-sourced stock because of their lower price points. We take a look to see if there is still a big difference in price between local and grey market products, and what you really get for your money.

What are grey market products?

Grey market products are goods that are sourced from overseas rather than through the local distributor. This process is often called parallel importing. They may be less expensive than the Australian RRP or local retail prices because they forgo the overheads associated with local business.

Often, grey market products come without the same documentation and box contents as their Australian counterparts. For example, the power adapters may be for a different country.


Warranty issues are the main source of concern for most consumers when choosing to buy local or imported stock. In general, a parallel import or grey market product is not covered by a manufacturer's local warranty. So for example, if you buy a Canon camera from a grey market retailer it will not be covered by Canon Australia under a local warranty. Instead, it generally has to be returned to the vendor for repair or replacement.

On top of local warranties, some companies are offering incentives to keep your dollar in the pocket of Australian retailers. These include cashback deals and bonus accessories to sweeten the deal.

As always, it's important to check before you buy. Some manufacturers have international warranties that apply no matter where you buy the product.

Price comparisons

If you're looking to buy a camera, smartphone or other electronics from the grey market, we have compared a few products to determine the price difference between local and overseas stock.

Product Local price Grey market price Price difference
Canon EOS 1100D single lens kit AU$348 (Big W) AU$392.99 (Kogan) AU$44.99
HTC One 4G 32GB unlocked AU$644 (JB Hi-Fi) AU$649.90 (Mobicity) AU$5.90
Canon EOS 5D Mark III body only AU$3090 (Digital Camera Warehouse)* AU$3439 (Kogan) AU$349
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 4G 16GB AU$787 (Bing Lee) AU$798.90 (Mobicity) AU$11
Nikon D610 body only AU$2038.85 (Ryda) AU$1979 (Kogan) -AU$59.85
Samsung Galaxy S4 i9505 4G 16GB AU$678 (Officeworks) AU$668.90 (Mobicity) -AU$9.10
Canon EOS 6D body only AU$1548.86 (Ryda)* AU$1843.99 (Kogan) AU$295.13

* Including AU$200 cashback from Canon Australia. Original retail price is AU$3290 before cashback for 5D Mark III and AU$1748.85 for 6D. Offer valid until 31 January 2014

Note that the prices listed from grey market retailers include shipping to postcode 2000. All prices were correct (and converted to AUD where applicable) at time of publication, and are subject to change.

In many of the examples above, the locally-sourced stock works out around the same or better value than the grey market version.

It pays to do a bit of research before grabbing that credit card, rather than assuming that the imported versions work out cheaper. In some cases this may hold true, but in plenty of these examples that small saving when buying grey in the short term might not be worth the headache later on down the track.

Add Your Comment 12

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AlanA posted a comment   

Why do you use only certain retailers and online sites?
I have bought camera from jb hi and teds at competive prices but have purchased other items from DWI, T-Dimension, Citi Wide and d-d-photographics at substantial savings and backed with great service and support.

Paint a try picture.


Seamus Byrne posted a reply   

We could have spent a month covering every single option out there. The point of this article is to challenge the assumption that you'll always do better through parallel market channels. It's not the case.

In the end it's about doing your research and finding the deal and the seller that suits your needs. I'm sure we all agree on that.


AndrewJ3 posted a comment   

Kogan is a rip off.
DWI who is also based in australia provide grey imports of the 5D Mark 3 for under $3000 delivered and provides local warranty service.
Would be better if you provide apples for apples comparison instead of using an overpriced site with rubbish service.


PeterD5 posted a comment   

not sure how kogan is "grey-market" being an Australian online store, they still follow Australian Consumer law.

It seems like the article is more focusing on proper international sales (eg Ebay/Amazon American sites)


bobbie090801990 posted a reply   

Kogan uses products that it imports from overseas and are therefore classed as "grey-imports".


plimplim posted a comment   

HTC One 4G 32GB and SGS4 i9505 16GB are both $569 at kogan at the moment.


Im Batman posted a comment   

Nice analysis, does go to show that grey imports aren't always the cheapest route, well done.

When i was buy a camera lens recently, i was comparing a canon lens and a sigma lens from an online store and at the local camera shop.
In my case the online store won out big time in both cases, but what surprised me was the price difference between the two "stores".
The sigma lens was a hundred different, but the canon was around $400 different... it was a bit of a shock to see the more 'consumer aware' brand get a much larger markup.


Kahuna posted a comment   

ATI Firepo W7000 professional video card
Retail price: $1300.
Amazon: $800 delivered

Nuf said.


AnhH posted a comment   

How about Samsung Galaxy Note 3 32g LTE. At JBHIFI it is $877 but at EGLOBAL DIGITAL CAMERAS online it is $665 including delivery. A massive saving of $212.


ivstinian posted a comment   

good examples of the cons on grey market but there are huge saving on many items. Go to kogan look at their phones and see. reliable brands and big savings. there may be some traps but there are also lots of positives too

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