Grey gadget imports are ‘fair competition’

2015-09-15 11:50 - Gareth van Zyl
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(Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)


Johannesburg - A Fin24 user says grey imports of technology products help boost competition in the local market.

Unofficial, grey or parallel imports are typically cheaper than officially licensed products.

However, these imports are void of aspects such as warranties or free screen repair programmes.

On Monday, Fin24 reported that Indian phone maker Karbonn, which in July started targeting consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa with mid-range smartphones, said that grey imports are denting its business in markets like South Africa.

“These parallel importers cost us in excess of 10% of our annual turnover, which, when you consider the size of the cellular market in SA and Sub-Saharan Africa, this equates to a substantial figure,” Daryl Peel, director of Karbonn Sub-Saharan Africa, told Fin24.

Grey imports, though, are legal in South Africa. But consumer bodies do warn that customers must be aware that these products don’t carry the likes of warranties.

However, Fin24 user Gareth De Kock has explained why he thinks grey imports are good for the local tech scene.

“I have bought grey imports and I will continue to do so for many reasons. They are the exact same device, they perform better than local devices which have been pumped full of bloatware by the marketer. Also, software updates are restricted and controlled by the local monopoly operators  - which force you to buy a new device every two years just to get the latest security updated version.

For example, Galaxy S3 is running Android 4.4.4 on overseas operators whereas Vodacom and MTN have blocked the updates for here. And thereby forcing you to upgrade...

So grey import it is. Orange store is brilliant and excellent service received from them. Not network locked, and free to be updated as the manufacturer updates the device.

They must stop complaining- it's business. Deal with it. The question is how? The answer is for the manufacturer not to allow changes to the device software. Like Apple!

Are your updates restricted and controlled by the mobile company? No. Apple says- don't touch! And that's why people buy them. And that's why apple does so well. Old apple iPads are even updated to the latest. It's all about the client. Trust me on this one. I bombed Samsung out for nothing about holding back updates...”

Another Fin24 user, Richard Palmer, has said that while grey imports offer an alternative to consumers, he thinks that they do hurt local official suppliers:

“There is a large corporate with a colourful name that openly sells grey imports in SA. Their selling prices are below the cost of genuine products we sell that we purchase through proper channels. Yes, they offer better prices to the market but they hurt honest local sellers.”

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