So You Think You Are Getting A Good Deal On Your Drone or Action Camera, But What Are You Not Getting?
I have to admit, I’ve jumped on Google and performed a search for a Drone, GoPro or other piece of electronic equipment based solely on price, and I’ve often been flabbergasted by the price variation for the exact some item, especially when I know that what’s in the box has been manufactured and sealed into the box by a well known and trusted brand name.
Before we get into it, it is important that we take a quick look at how geography, purchasing power, Australian import policy (in brief), so called ‘Grey Websites’ and Warrantee law (in brief) all play a role on pricing.
As we all know, Australia and China are geographically poised to trade quickly, easily and relatively cheap with each other.
China’s general population has a low purchasing power due to their low incomes and corresponding low disposable income, thus electronic equipment such as Drones and Action Camera’s are sold from Manufacturers to Chinese Wholesalers at a lower price. This price is passed onto Chinese retailers and then onto Chinese customers who can afford to purchase these items at the lower price point.
Whereas, Australia is considered fairly affluent and has a higher purchasing power due to the general population earning a higher average wage and having a higher disposable income. Manufacturers thus sell to Australian Wholesalers at a higher price point (more profit for manufacturers), who then pass the higher price point onto Retailers and finally onto the consumer… making sense.
A ‘Grey Website’ is website that looks like it based in a particular country (i.e. Australian websites domain name ends in ‘.com.au’ and New Zealand websites domain name ends in ‘.com.nz’, etc.), but in fact the domain name is owed buy a Chinese company (often a Chinese Wholesaler) and the website has been dressed up to look like it's based in Australia. The only difference is that the product prices are ridiculously cheap, and you as the consumer are thinking… WOW… I’m getting a great deal on this gear… but there is a trick and as explained in the Warrantee section, you are losing out.
Purchases made from ‘Grey Websites’ that are imported into Australia are called ‘Grey Imports’.
Australian Import Policy
As a consumer, you can purchase certain items from overseas up to a value of $1000 without incurring tax, once the value exceeds $1000, import tax is applied, although this tax is not excessive. See https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Impo/Buyi for more details.
Warranty laws vary from country to country based on the legal system and consumer laws of a particular country. Thus, when manufacturers produce goods, they assign the serial number of each item to particular warranty requirements of a particular country. This allows manufacturers to track items and know what customers in particular countries can and cannot claim under warranty when or if something goes wrong.
When a consumer from one country purchases a Drone or any other electronic gear from another country, they buy a warranty that is irrelevant to their countries consumer laws, and thus the warrantee is invalid, i.e. No Warrantee!
Please feel free to read more on this matter here: http://www.accc.gov.au/business/treating-customers-fairly/offering-warranties/warranties-against-defects
Having followed all that, let’s pull it all together…
When doing a purely price based google search for a Drone, what you will run into are these ‘Grey Websites’ that offer the lowest prices and seem to have the best deals, and thus attract online traffic and purchases, but when the item arrives on your doorstep, the delivered box is covered with courier sticks saying, “Shipped from Hong Kong”. So what does this mean… you’ve purchased a cheap Drone from a Chinese wholesale company that owns a grey website dressed up to look Australia, and the warrantee attached to your items serial number is not valid in Australia.
The end result is when your Drone fails within the Australian Consumer Law Warranty timeline, and you try contact the company you purchased the item from, you’ll most probably find they have no customer support services and the emails and phone calls you make are never responded to. So you may go to an Australian retailer that offers warrantee and repairs, but once they do a quick search on your serial number and find that the item was purchased from China, they either won’t help you or they will charge you more to fix the item than what it would have cost you in the first place to buy it locally.
In conclusion, be wary of websites (Grey Website) selling drones at extremely low prices points because buying a cheap Drone online puts you at risk of purchasing a faulty Drone that does not carry a warrantee, and wasting your precious time and money. On the other hand, buying your Drone locally is good for the consumer because you are protected by Australian Warranty Law and won’t have to suffer the headaches that come on the back end of your purchase when your item fails. Plus it's good for Australia, because the more money that is spent in Australia, the more awesome Australia becomes!