Watch out for warranties of “Grey” Goods

Grey goods are unlicensed, branded imported goods that often look identical to products imported by the authorized local agents of the overseas manufacturer. Sometimes, they are adapted for use in countries outside South Africa, and may not operate properly here.

Such products are not covered by warranties and guarantees of the local authorized agent of the original manufacturer. This means that the local authorized agent is under no obligation to provide after sales service ant to maintain spare parts for such products.

Grey goods are not fake or illegal; they are authentic goods, but not designated for the South African market to be sold by the authorized dealers. These products are often cheaper than those sold at authorized dealers.  Consumers have a right to choose either to purchase grey goods or goods manufactured by authorized dealer. It is important to note that authorized dealerships have to comply with manufacturer codes and practices such as having the technical service skills, keeping spare parts, etc and this will result in increased costs of the goods.

What is a warranty/guarantee?

A warranty is an undertaking by the supplier to repair a product supplied to a consumer should the product become faulty as a result of a factory fault within a specified period of time under certain conditions.

Consumer’s right to be informed                                                                                                                         Consumers have the right to be informed upfront by the dealer that they are purchasing grey goods and they do not qualify service provided under the auspices of an original manufacturer or authorized agent. Where, appropriate, the sales receipt should also state that:
The service provider will not provide after sales service and brand support, as the dealer does not belong to the authorized importers distribution network, or,
Consumer can only bring the product to the service provider they purchase goods from for repair and services.
Also, the authorized South African distributor is under no obligation to honor the manufacturer’s warranties/guaranties for the grey good purchased elsewhere.

Exclusions in terms of warranties/guaranties                                                                                                  Consumers should have been informed about the exclusionary conditions in the appliances guaranties i.e. insect infestation, which is not covered in the terms and conditions of warranty of some products. This means that the local licensee or agent is under no obligation to provide after-sales support or to maintain spare parts for such products.

Source : Consumer fair May/June 2007