Nikon USA Official Statement on Gray Market Products

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jeremy, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    What is "Gray Market"?
    Generally, a manufacturer works with a single importer who can sell and
    support their products in a given region. The importer usually has local
    dealers and distributors who resell the imported products; this is called a
    "distribution channel". Gray Market refers to merchandise that is imported
    and sold by methods other than these normal channels.

    For local safety regulations and certifications (FCC, CE, UL, etc.) and
    government requirements a manufacturer provides special packaging (manuals
    in the appropriate language, power cables designed for the local receptacle,
    etc.) and product engineering designed to meet local codes. Manufacturers
    also have service and support agreements with the authorized importer.

    Gray Market items are not designed to be sold in a particular market and
    cannot be supported by the authorized importer because they may not meet
    mandatory safety and certification codes. Because these items are not
    designed for a particular market they may not function properly, or the
    authorized importer may not be equipped to provide service, support or

    With the opening of international borders and the use of the Internet to
    sell goods, Gray Market equipment has become extremely common in the
    photographic and consumer electronics markets. Many different types of
    equipment are brought into North America for sale without the proper
    documentation and US consumers do not always know what they are purchasing.

    Because the resellers' cost is less they can sell Gray Market items for
    less. Unfortunately this price savings is only on the initial purchase;
    because service and support is more difficult to obtain it may end up
    costing the consumer more in the long run.

    Who is the authorized importer of Nikon Equipment into the USA?
    Nikon Incorporated USA is the sole authorized importer of Nikon Corporation
    of Japan for photographic devices. Nikon Inc. USA pays shipping into the
    USA, import duties and taxes, and provides service, support and downloads
    for these products. Nikon Inc. USA ensures that the products they import are
    fully certified and safe for use in the USA market.

    Nikon Inc. USA cannot provide service, support or downloads for products
    that have not been imported by Nikon Inc. USA.

    How do I know if my Nikon product is "Grey Market"?
    If the deal was just too good to be true, it probably was. One of the first
    indicators that a piece of Nikon merchandise might be Gray Market is if the
    price is considerably less than most other resellers.

    Additionally, a genuine Nikon Inc. USA product will include an Owners'
    Manual and Warranty Registration card in English. It will also include power
    cables (if applicable) designed for US style plugs. Any other language on
    the printed material or wrong cables indicates a Gray Market item.

    Another indication of a Gray Market product would be photocopied manuals or
    manually created software CD's. Nikon Inc. USA always provides
    professionally printed or duplicated materials with genuine products.

    What does owning a "Grey Market" Nikon product mean to you?
    Nikon Inc. USA cannot provide any technical support or warranty service on
    Gray Market items. Additionally Nikon Inc. USA cannot perform any fee-based
    repair work on Gray Market items. Please do not contact Nikon Inc. USA for
    help with any Gray Market products. Please contact the reseller or importer
    of your Gray Market items for warranty and service information as well as
    software updates and downloads.

    Does owning a "Grey Market" Nikon product mean I don't have a warranty?
    No! All Nikon products come with a warranty by the manufacturer. The
    designated Nikon service center will always repair "in warranty" Nikon
    products and perform "out of warranty" repairs. If you own a Gray Market
    product it will need to be returned to the reseller or importer for service.
    Refer to your reseller or to the warranty cards included with the product
    for service contact information.
    jeremy, Nov 17, 2006
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  2. jeremy

    Jim Guest

    <big snip>
    This has been the policy of most importers for well over 40 years.
    There is nothing new here.
    Jim, Nov 17, 2006
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  3. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    I don't think it has been that long, but we won't split hairs over the
    length of time. Whenever the topic arises on the NG, there are always
    posters that express outrage over not being able to expect service from
    companies from which they never even made a purchase. What do they think
    that they get (or, rather, don't get) when they go the gray market route?
    jeremy, Nov 17, 2006
  4. jeremy

    TheDave© Guest

    I fully understand Nikon's desire about warranty work, and agree with
    it 100%, but if the customer is willing to pay for service, then I
    think Nikon's attitude is unnecessarily punitive and, well... bitchy.

    What about people who buy used? They may or may not know it's a grey
    market item when they buy it. Mahy buyers, through no fault of their
    own, may be new to photography and may not yet be informed enough to
    know that it's even an issue. Even if it's not grey market, they
    technically didn't buy it from Nikon to begin with, either.

    Personally, I've never bought grey market, but if I should ever end up
    with a grey market piece, it's nice to know that Canon will at least
    work on it. I ended up going the Canon route for entirely different
    reasons, but in hindsight, this issue is one of a couple that makes me
    glad I did. I don't mind paying for service, I just don't want to
    catch any unnecessary crap over it.
    TheDave©, Nov 17, 2006
  5. jeremy

    Jim Guest

    At one time, a US owned importer could restrict who could or could not the
    products that they imported.
    For example, in the 1960s, Bell & Howell was the official importer for
    Canon, and EPOI was the official importer for Nikon.
    I don't know if that law is still in effect, but as both importers are now
    owned by the parent organizations, the issue has gone away.
    Now, anybody can import either brand at will.

    In 1968, I bought a Canon FT-QL from a company in Hong Kong at a substantial
    saving over the NY price. The camera arrived with an international
    warranty. This meant that getting warranty service required send the camera
    back to Japan.

    Thus I have been aware of the policy you cited since 1968.

    Jim, Nov 17, 2006
  6. I object to your use of the term, "designed" in the above. These cameras and
    lenses were not designed any differently than the others....Only the serial
    numbers are recorded and given to their repair shops with instructions to
    not work on selected ones.....Which means, if you buy any of the equipment
    used, you have absolutely no way of knowing whether it is, "gray market" or
    not, so you are taking a chance that you might not get any support from
    Nikon when you need it worked on, repaired, modified, whatever. This
    effectively destroys the used market for all their stuff forever.
    Fortunately, there are independent repair shops who will work on anything
    they think they can fix, and I deal exclusively with good people like this.
    William Graham, Nov 17, 2006
  7. Had I known that there was such a thing as, "gray market" stuff, I would not
    have gone with the manufacturer I did go with, (Nikon) and would have found
    another camera system.....Unfortunately, it's too late now, so I just make
    sure I deal with independent repair facilities, and never buy a Nikon
    warrantee with anything I purchase. If I buy any item second hand, or on
    eBay, I automatically assume it will be "gray market" and I will have to get
    it repaired without the overt help of Nikon USA. Fortunately, most repair
    shops can order parts under assumed serial numbers, without having to ship
    the items back to the parts depot first....:^) (And therein lies one of the
    reasons why I detest the gray market system....It is yet another example of
    an unenforceable law) It doesn't really prevent anyone from buying gray
    market, it just makes life a bit more difficult for them. In a way, it's a
    good thing, because it gives the independent repair shop a little more
    business, and, because I was a repair person myself most of my working life,
    I sympathize with those people.
    William Graham, Nov 17, 2006
  8. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    It is clearly designed to discourage buyers from leaving Nikon USA and going
    to gray market importers instead. No secret about that.

    Official importers have the right in the US to thumb their noses at the
    customers of their competition. Nikon chooses to exercise that right. They
    may lose a few potential customers, and they have decided that they will
    take that small loss, rather than risk big losses in making gray market
    goods more favorable. Anything Nikon does to help gray market buyers will
    probably hurt Nikon in the long run. The prospect of receiving no support
    is a powerful incentive for buyers to stick with the genuine importer.
    jeremy, Nov 17, 2006
  9. jeremy

    jeremy Guest

    Now the Supreme Court ruling has opened things up a bit. When they gave
    gray market importers the right to invade what was formerly the exclusive
    territory of the official importer, they also gave the official importers
    the legal right to decline to have any dealings with goods that they did not
    import. The Court tried to strike a balance.

    There is still the matter of trademark protection. Mamiya USA is the
    registered trademark holder for cameras badged Mamiya that are imported into
    the US, and Mamiya has been very aggressive in pressing Customs to keep out
    any Mamiya cameras and lenses that Mamiya USA did not import. (Honeywell
    did the same with Pentax equipment back in the 70s). I am uncertain if an
    individual can even order a Mamiya camera from abroad and have it shipped to
    him in the US, for personal use, without running the risk that it will be
    seized by Customs.

    I understand that Mamiya cameras sell for a substantial premium in the US
    over prices in other countries.

    Mamiya USA apparently uses their registered trademark as the basis for
    seizure. I know of NO gray market importer of Mamiya equipment in this
    jeremy, Nov 17, 2006
  10. jeremy

    Jim Guest

    Nikon was quite willing to work on my F3. I bought it used, and I have no
    idea whether it came in here through Nikon USA or somebody else.
    Jim, Nov 18, 2006
  11. jeremy

    TheDave© Guest

    I think that's a reasonable legal balance. And I believe a company
    should have that ability. I just think it's short-sighted on the part
    of the company. It shuts out otherwise legitimate buyers of used
    equipment. It may seem like a small loss of business, but pissed off
    customers and word-of-mouth can grow beyond what is really fair and it
    could come back to bite them in the butt.
    Would Mamiya be able to stop a person who is physically in another
    country from buying their equipment and bringing it back?

    I would seriously doubt it. When I was in the service, and stationed
    overseas, I bought alot of stereo equipment at far cheaper prices than
    the same stuff was selling for here... and the government shipped it
    back for me for free.
    TheDave©, Nov 18, 2006
  12. jeremy

    TheDave© Guest

    Most buyers probably have no clue about the policy, I would imagine.
    TheDave©, Nov 18, 2006
  13. jeremy

    TheDave© Guest

    When I first got back into photography and had to get a new system, I
    had no idea what was what. I was not up on what was currently good,
    etc. I was at the mercy of the salesman. I told him what I had done,
    what types of features I wanted, how I like to "grow into" a camera,
    and so on, and he steered me toward Canon. They sold Nikon, also, so
    he did have a choice. Anyway, in hindsight, I'm glad he did.
    Precisely for this reason, and one other... availability of lenses and
    accessories when I want/need them.

    As far as quality and results of my work, I know I would have been fine
    either way.
    And that's exactly it. I know I could get a grey market item fixed
    somewhere (if I owned one), but I don't need anymore dunb-ass hassle in
    my life, and any company that is going to throw hurdles in my way is
    not a company that I want to deal with.
    TheDave©, Nov 18, 2006
  14. jeremy

    W Paul Mills Guest

    Hash: SHA1

    Personally, I don't own any Nikon gear, but I have no problem with
    their policy. If I was buying Nikon, I would probably buy officially
    imported items. Many importers consider repair services a cost center
    and not a way to make money. If they don't want to service grey market
    items, who cares. And by all means, if you have a good independent
    repair service available, use it for out of warranty repairs. But
    don't do it to get even with Nikon.

    I have never had to supply serial numbers to buy parts for any product,
    unless serial number was necessary to determine what parts were used
    sometimes parts do change without model # change).

    Think Nikon USA is unreasonable. Look at this:

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    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
    W Paul Mills, Nov 18, 2006
  15. Well, either your serial number told them that it was one they imported, or
    they have changed their policy.....I would like to think it's the
    William Graham, Nov 18, 2006
  16. This is true....I had no clue, and all I did was buy at the lowest possible
    price, which (of course) was the, "gray market" price. But, in general, I
    have always liked to not bother with warrantees and deal with independent
    repair shops whenever I needed service, so I might very well have bought
    gray market anyway......
    William Graham, Nov 18, 2006
  17. jeremy

    TheDave© Guest

    I had no clue at that time, either. It was just the "luck of the
    draw", if you will, why I went with Canon instead.

    I like using small independent shops, too, but if I can get it for free
    while still under warranty I'll go for free every time. :)
    TheDave©, Nov 18, 2006
  18. jeremy

    Mark² Guest

    Canon USA provides full warranty coverage for grey market items...right up
    to, and including, their priciest bodies and lenses. This is why B&H sells
    grey market CANON items for nearly identical prices to the USA-boxed
    versions. In fact, once you figure in various rebates, the grey version is
    often a bit MORE expensive!
    Mark², Nov 18, 2006
  19. jeremy

    TheDave© Guest

    Even without rebates, the USA items are generally only about $10 more
    than grey market (for items in the $500-ish range, at least). For $10,
    I have always opted to go with the USA item, just because I felt it was
    the right thing to do. Only a $10 difference isn't enough to make a
    significant difference.

    Now, if grey market were a 40% discount...
    TheDave©, Nov 18, 2006
  20. jeremy

    niceparking Guest

    The confusion lies in the fact that we see Nikon USA as Nikon itself,
    and that confusion is understandable, because they both are and they
    niceparking, Nov 18, 2006
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