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Oz Buy or Grey Imports?
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Amateur Radio Equipment
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Amateur Radio Equipment
Mood:  irritated
Topic: Oz Buy or Grey Imports?

Over the past year I have watched both of the porpular sites where amateur equipment is bought and sold. Both e-bay and VK-Ham sites have demonstrated that prices may vary wildly in relation to the amount of equipment that is offered for sale. For example, a piece of equipment will come up for sale at what most people would expect to be a fair market price, and a second seller will offer an almost identical piece of equipment at a lower price within a very short time after the first add is placed.

Now of course this is what we term a free enterprise system and this is good for the buyers. Where we seem to run into trouble is when the "Commercial" entities commence offering equipment for sale.

 I have been amazed at times at the way these "Commercial" interests word their advertisements. In some cases these advertisers really get down and dirty with borderline statements included in the advertisements that anyone with a halfway decent legal mind could quickly come up with a  case against an advertiser for the wild claims they make in regard to "other commercial sellers"

 I have watched with interest the claims and counter claims with regard to "Australian Warranty" versus "Unopened" and still I shake my head in wonder. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are spending over say AUD $1,000.00 on equipment and you are worried what will happen if "the smoke escapes" then the answer is really simple. Buy local..Doh!

If you have money to burn and are not concerned about equipment failure, then by all means take the cheapest deal. If you watch the local dealer advertisements you will soon see that the "Grey Importers" are not saving you much in the way of price, indeed they may cost you more in the long term with poor customer service and support.

A case in point is the IC-7000. Locally purchased, these units are now available for around the 1,800 to 1,600 dollar price, and you will get the Australian warranty. Same with the FT-2000 as these are now being offered for around the 3,300 dollar amount. 

 You may want to ask your prospective supplier about the warranty terms, most manufacturers will have you pay the freight to them for repair and if the repair is warranty, then they will ship the equipment back to you at their cost. One must ask the question, will Grey Importer provide this coverage?...get the answer in writing would be a good piece of advice.

 Even accessories are now coming down in price to what they used to be. Remember when you bought the radio but couldn't afford the accessories you really wanted? well beware, there are a few dealers around who will offer you an really bargain price for the main item you are buying, but the hook comes when you want to add additional accessories. A case in poiint, a dealer sold an IC-7000 for a "Good Price" and the buyer wanted the four pin Molex connector sent with the radio. The custoimer paid for the gear by credit card and was not concerned too much as Icom had already told him the plug was $10.00 from them. Well of course the credit card statement duly arrived in the mail...the plug was $34.00 plus GST...yep, that's right, $34.00 plus GST. So beware when in Townsville, ask for the price of each item, or anywhere else you may shop.

Some dealers will even go so far as to try and sell you accessories that are not required. Another case in point, a buyer went into a dealer to buy some cable and was chatting with the resident "expert" and told the dealer he was hooking up and Icom radio to a Codan 9350 antenna. The dealer then said "Oh you can't do that by direct hookup, you will need a Codan Interface, I have one here and it's on sale for $350.00". Now of course we all know there is no need for such a device (the conversion is on modsdk as we all know). So be aware that not ALL dealers are there to assist youAND save you money, they are when all said and done, there to make a profit.

 So far I have only used ionformation provided by "others" and I have not tried to colour this blog with my own experiences.

Having  said that, my personal experiences are very close to those above. I have tried the "Grey Importers" and the "Local Dealers" and at the end of the day,the best advice is to shop around and if you can get a deal local, go for it. At least you will have the peace of mind that should it all go pear shaped, you have the manufacturer in Australia who is then "obliged" to rep[air your equipment under warranty and you should not have to worry too much about the cost of repairs and possible long delays while a service facility tries to locate some obscure fault and/or part for your equipment.

We are after all a small market in Australia and all dealers and Grey Importers are sensitive to pricing and customer service and therefore you may find that although prices will vary from one dealer to the next, final bottom prices will be quite close and the decision should not be too hard to make from there.

I would like to close by stating that it has not been my intention to "ruffle any feathers" but rather I want to make the public statement that we should ALL shop around and just be a little wary at the claims made by some of the dealers we come in contact with when trying to buy that new toy we just have to have. 

I welcome any comments ( Incoming Missiles are OK, I have a bomb shelter dug out back) and the sharing of experiences etc. It would be nice to have an independant location where we could all pass along the "Good Deal" we just got so that others may save a few bob along the way to realising the dream of having that "Big Station" on the bands where we hear all and get genuine 5/9+ reports.

Till I can locate another soapbox in the future, 73's, good DX and I am off to the bush to sit in the quiet of the Grassy Knoll at the cattle station down the road where the atmosherics are calm and signals come in nice and clear.


VK4 Wild Turkey 

Posted by vk4wt at 11:26 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 10:10 PM NZT

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