Are Grey Market Sellers Bad for Retailers and Consumers in Australia ?

Posted: November 28, 2011 in Android, Apple, Tablet Computing
Tags:

Buying a Cheaper Unique Mobile Phone or Tablet for Less Might Cost you More in the Long Run

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By mr_internet
28 November 2011
Melbourne, Australia

When I bought my new Canon Camera Recently (the lovely 7D) I was shocked to find out the RRP was $2300 in Australia, $1600 in the USA and $1300 in Hong Kong. The result is I bought it from a grey or parallel importer in Melbourne (ironically across the street from Canon Australia’s head office.

If I have a problem with the camera I have to send it not to Canon, but the grey importer, a risky business at best.

I am personal friends with a buyer from Harvey Norman that was unable to price match the camera as my buy price of $1500 for the imported model in Melbourne is  less than Harvey Norman’s own buy price. Canon is well aware of this but there is nothing they can do. Here the consumer benefits but the retailer loses out. Luckily for retailers the volume for these sorts of purchases is still the exception rather than the rule.

However, when a device is not supported in Australia, and the company  is grey importing a device (like a mobile phone or tablet ), then the issue gets a bit riskier for the consumer. What happens when you need support and the device is not supported in Australia. Usually a mess and the consumer can suffer.

A good example of this model is Expansys UK Doing business as Expansys Asia for Australia.

They will sell you a mobile phone that is either not available in Australia (due to legal issues perhaps) but may also not be supported by the manufacturer in Australia. This can be a real problem for tablets and mobile phones, unlike cameras where there are no updates.

I good example is I have the Samsung 10.1 P7510 tablet, one of 3 Samsung 10.1 models with only the 10.1V being supported in Australia. Currently there is a problem getting support and updates in Australia.

Smaller companies like Expansys a company many are not aware of in Australia are not doing consumers a great service as many do not know the device they are buying is a grey import and updates and when service is likely to be a problem.

All you have to do is Google, ‘Problem Expansys’  to see some of the problems companies like Expansys are offering consumers and one to definitely be aware of in 2011 and 2012

Companies like Expansys should let consumers know when items are being grey imported and support may (and likely will) be an issue. Worse still if / when they quit doing business in Australia the consumer can be left high and dry with no support and no warranty.

This is not in the long run good for the retailer that cannot service the customers or the consumer that is not aware of their likely challenges

Update / Disclosure : 
Firslty there are other grey selling sites other than Expansys.
I have not used Expansys asia so do not know if they are good or not.
I chose Expansys Asia  they offered to send me something they did not, and it messed me about.

I used Expansys UK when I lived there and was a delighted customer and even set up a corporate account.
I wanted to review a phone, and offered to buy it (before they told me they were shipping me one and did not (they said that on multiple occasions).
This is NOT about their customer service/delivery. This is about the issue of buying grey products when consumers do not know know they are grey.

However, as time goes on I do now have concerns if they treat a fan-boy this way, once they offered a product, how must their customer service be to the rest of their customers.

I have said on a few occasions I am pro grey market buying, but for the uninitiated to can be a mine field and I am more concerned by the tweet.
I told Expansys about some negative press and questions that were out there, as they were kind enough to send me a phone, I was not going to run the story.
Had they told me they were not interested I also would not likely run the story.
But they said they were going to send me a unit, and it messed up by reporting time when they did not but also removed the conflict of interest I would have had otherwise, and it shows to be deceit by them (slopiness or both) .

Anyone else would have said yes (and meant it) or said no and meant it.

Saying yes and meaning no could be confusing and what Expansys did here, 

Have I got my facts wrong?

Expansys claims yes, but refuses to address a single specific, but instead choose to attack a now once loyal customer, geez

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    Good article.
    I have seen the problems with the like of Expansys as well on whirlpool.net.au
    The issue for me is that when I buy an item that is in Australia already, I do not know when I am getting a grey import. If they are getting a device that is not available in Australia any other way it is obvious I guess but also a problem. Thanks

  2. Hello Loren,

    This is an interesting article + there are plenty of inaccuracies….. etc.

    • mr_internet says:

      Editor Comment:

      If expansys would like to comment on any my opions, I am happy to update the story and correct any inaccuracies that resulted. Yes I attempted a few times to have a relationship with expansys to no avail.
      I am a pretty fair journalist as well as a tech reviewer, and in balancing this it is not always compatible.
      I mentioned to expansys early on there was a grey market issue raised in the media (not raised by me) but another respectable tech journalist. I offered one side to that story, pro-grey market.. (which I still am) but had yet to offer a counter view in response to the positive side.
      In parallel unfortunately Expansys lack of dialogue and lack of action here though promised, spoke volumes, and I have deadlines. Therefore I have no further conflict of interest and ran the story addressing the other perspective.

      I am more than happy to edit the story with expansys views on the grey market.

    • mrinternet says:

      Happy to be corrected on any inaccuracies

  3. @mr_internet says:

    Getting quite a few queries into my social media, about this.

    Specifically would I recommend Expansys or not. The easy answer is NO I cannot recommend them at this time, and suggest folks use the like of Oz Digital (online and in Sydney) or Mobi City (I have heard good things but not a customer myself). Oz Digital I have used and referred at least a dozen times maybe twice as many.

    I have tried to do business with Expansys but besides assurances and promises for a review device (only needed for 1 week), nothing appeared (I even offered to pay for the device and get a credit later) but they said no need, but again nothing appeared, and I had a deadline I mentioned to them a few times. How that translates into customer service I do not know.

    If you have had a great experience with expansys asia and live in Australia let me hear from you.
    here or at twitter @mr_internet

  4. Hello Loren,

    Please note that you contacted Expansys Australia and not the other way around and to re-iterate, you approached Expansys Australia with an offer to ‘positive PR the brand’ if the brand provided you with a Samsung device for review on your terms.

    How can your followers trust your reviews when you are offering etailers like Expansys positive PR write-up offers, as a swap out for review devices? Then when things don’t go to your play, you change your tact?

    I note that only weeks ago you were promoting Expansys Australia’s Samsung products to your followers in Twitter, as a recommended ‘buy-from’ etailer. This was prior to asking the business to follow you in Twitter, so that you could make contact to discuss a device supply relationship.

    I also note that you have deleted our earlier reply back to a singular liner, so the meaning of the post is somewhat diminished. This could be deemed as being misleading to your readers in terms of the relationship that you have been trying to secure with Expansys Australia over recent weeks.

    Expansys Australia does not feel the need to comment on your post above pertaining to content inaccuracies in any level of detail and certainly does not need you to edit it. Please note however that the tablet mentioned is one of their most popular items being bought by Australian customers currently and the feedback from buyers has been very positive, some returning to buy more for other family members and friends over this last month especially. Expansys Australia is simply providing Australian buyers with greater choice. If customers have questions, or doubts, Expansys AU will happily clarify the situation at that point.

    Expansys Australia values freedom of speech, customer feedback and reviews online and has recently taken great effort to learn from online posts to improve the services provided to customers over the recent year. Recent surveys to buyers have confirmed that service levels and customer experience have dramatically increased YOY.

    Whilst Expansys Australia does not profess to be perfect, customers are now happier than ever before with their purchasing experience, whilst being able to purchase items that work in Australia, that may not be readily available via local Australian purchasing channels.

    We ask that you do not send Expansys Australia anymore business proposals. Please feel welcome to hide / edit this post as you see fit, as by hiding / editing this post we understand that you have read this message and understand Expansys Australia’s position relating to this matter.

    Best Regards,
    Rep for
    Expansys Australia.

    • mrinternet says:

      Firstly, thank you for addressing your view of things.

      • However, in the interest of your company I thought it would be better for you to take this offline and via email rather than in this fashion, considering you have my email address. But happy to go with the flow.
      • I am also surprised you believe this warrants this much attention, all but publically. I am sorry things are where they are, but though you seem sincere in your words, they truly are incorrect, and I will give you the timeline to prove it.
      • Your own comment mentions the facts just leaves out the timeline.
      ME: Firstly, I am an early adopter, this means I do what it takes to try and fairly review new technology as soon as I can. Good or Bad (more on that later). This means I buy, or borrow hardware; I like to think I will fairly review.
      7 November 2011- 14:09 Expansys sends me (and others) an email announcing you have the Galaxy Note in Stock in Australia. I tweet this at 14:37 Hey folks Galaxy Note 5.3″ ‘Phonelet’ in stock from my friends at @Expansys_AuNZ $740 Expansys then comes back to me at 14:52 Expansys_AuNZ Expansys Au_NZ – @mr_internet – thx for ur mention 😉 Actually we’re running a promo: ~$736 AUD right now. Enjoy!
      9 November – So based on your contact of me, I then contacted you to see about a loaner for a week. I hear nothing for a week and conscious there is a time window of interest on this that if I can review a unit soon could be really good for all.
      14 November -12:55 I am contacted by Expansys apologising for the delay but asking I am still keen, I reply yes, . 14 November – 16:30 Contacted by expansys, – again, now asking about usage patterns etc, IP that I thought would come out of relationship, not a request to review a handset, so I was a bit uncomfortable with offering who my previous customers were as
      1) they would be on my blog site
      2) it is no business of expansys
      3) Plus I am trying to hit a deadline. So I decide the heck with it and tell Expansys to forget about it. IF there was a trust issue I was happy to pay for a phone.

      14 November 18:57 – Contacted by Expansys to say I miss under stood, and I over re-acted . But let me know if still interested and the decision was made to send me a device either way.

      “The decision had already been made to send you a device”

      15 November 12:50pm In Good Faith- Personally I feel I was being mess even at this point, but always the professional, I apologised in case it was my fault, and spend quite some time producing some very stats and opinions, observations etc. market info bad press about expansys, that I was actually asked about, as you folks showed some interested in social media flow, I did all of this in good faith.
      16 Nov to 24 Nov – Nothing- I chase expansys to no avail, after exchanging emails, and being asked for IP, I hear nothing. After mentioning there was a timing issue, and after suggesting I would pay for a phone if that was the issue, I spend a week not hearing anything. Mentioned early to Expansys was the timeline they never suggested was an issue.
      25 November 2011 – I get an email said sorry been busy form expansys
      26 November – This is silly and un professional, will do the review without the handset, Expansys has promised, now after defending Expansys on twitter and blog (covering about 30,000 viewers, I am again asked about grey selling, and decide to go with the story about expansys.

      Ethics:
      Though I am not a journalist, I try to be fair. But my goal is reviewing new tech nothing else, and hopefully well and before everyone else does.
      • It just so happens I play around with social media and have a few followers as a result, and have fine tuned how best to use it.
      • All I suggested to Expansys was I review the galaxy note for a week (not made by Expansys), and with its expected favourable review, I mention the phone was courtesy of Expansys. Why would it be negative ?
      • I assumed your service would not be band, otherwise I would not mention it anyhow (more to that below).
      • I was not reviewing Expansys I was reviewing the phone. Assuming Expansys service was not bad, it would address this good bits, and assuming it was bad I would ask Expansys how they wanted to handle it. I was not in the business to trash a customer/supplier.
      • On other suggestions on how Expansys could address their negative publicity that is showing up on line especially on service issues, around grey buying, I suggested they apologise to the customers and work to address the issue with the customer, and own the issue.

      Most Recent Story: – On hearing nothing more after being told a unit was forthcoming, it has not, and this I believe this would not necessity fall from the customer service tree. That is treat a biased and favourable reviewer unprofessionally and poorly, and guess what it would skew their perspective about recommending you to others. Oh, there is a surprize.
      This is nothing different than make a customer happy they will tell 5 people, I tell 10,000 at a time.

      Note: Social Media has created a new dynamic in BTL (below the line) media / online vs. ABL (above the line) traditional media like print. The social media dynamic, is more of a marketing exercise than anything else. A review would not be biased for you unless you have a lot of problems. I assumed (perhaps wrongly) this was only a rumour.

      What About Bad Reviews – I am a professional product manager and do not tend to review hardware I do not like, so rarely have given bad reviews. I do offer reviews on bad customer service, but when hardware fails, I have nothing to gain by doing a bad review, plus I tend to be positive also.

      Summary

        Expansys – So far I have not been impressed by any of your service, or communication. Further I am concerned about grey selling from companies that also offer poor customer service. Prove me wrong, impress me.
  5. Steve Wright says:

    Good Story,-
    Expansys now concern me with their attitude, keep up the good work

  6. Richard says:

    was not aware of this grey market, thank you

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