Is the store you are considering buying your new camera an authorized reseller for that particular brand? If not, you are setting yourself up for some serious return and future warranty issues if the store is not. In a lot of cases, when a retailer is not authorized to sell a brand, their stock consists of gray market stock. They may be able to offer you an unbelievable price but once the camera leaves their door, it’s your problem and you could be stuck with it. Any retailer that is an authorized reseller of a manufacturer will be more than happy to broadcast this on their website or say so if asked. If a retailer is not an authorized retailer for a specific brand, find out everything you can about what warranty they offer as it may be the only one you have.
Gray Market Stock
For those of you not familiar with “gray market” products, here’s the low-down. Essentially a gray market product is a product being sold in a geographical market it was not designed and packaged to sell in. Through the use of freight forwarding companies, products destined for one market (say Malaysia or some other Asian country) are redirected to stores in the US. Because the manufacturer sets a lower suggested retail price for these geographies, the retailers get them for a bargain compared to product intended for the US market.
But what you also get are Asian market warranty terms, accessories, and documentation. Gray market products are not inherently evil, they are essentially the same product. But, if the terms of this product are not communicated to the consumer, you may think you are buying something you are not and that perceived bargain suddenly becomes a rip-off with no recourse once the truth is revealed.
There are those consumers out there that actively seek gray market products. Sometimes it’s a means to save a lot of cash for high-dollar items. Other times it’s to get their hands on products that have not been release for their market yet and they simply cannot wait. Those who actively seek these products though, understand what they get, foreign language documentation and no warranty (except for whatever the retailer provides on their own).
If you are simply looking for the product you want and pay a low price, be suspicious and make real sure you are not getting a gray market product if that is not what you are looking for. In most cases, the retailer will strip the box of all other materials (battery, documentation, warranty info, cables, and power charger) selling just the camera forcing you to buy all those things individually making the deal no longer so much of a “deal”. Verify with the retailer what is included with the part number they quote on their website.
If you don\'t already know, a refurbished item was an item previously purchased and returned, usually to the manufacturer under warranty, and has been judged non-defective or defects have been fixed. Online retailers can buy these from manufactures for a song compared to new, unopened product and carry that low cost over to the consumer. As with gray market products, there’s no real inherent evil here other than the fact that sometimes won\'t make its condition obvious. Make sure you know the status of what you\'re buying or expect an abbreviated “refurbished” warranty instead of the one provided with a truly new item.
Do They Have Ample Amounts of Brick and Mortar?
Just because a retailer has a legitimate store front doesn’t mean they aren’t simply ripping people of there too. And just because a business does not have a local store somewhere on the planet doesn’t automatically make them a Dishonest Daryll, either. But, there is something to be said about a business that has one or several actual store locations with some history in their respective locations, as opposed to a few guys with a website and a small warehouse full of product they need to move. The simple premise that there is a location with a manager who’s neck customers could potentially go to and wrap their unsatisfied hands around tends to make people more customer service minded. Gaining credibility in real-world retail is much harder to earn than the internet realm where it can be out and out fabricated (see my reseller rating section later).
There’s also the added bonus that if they have been in the photography game for some time, they’ve been in it before the digital revolution and therefore aware of all the things photographers like to also buy like: lenses, flashes, bags, filters, cleaning kits, adapters, etc.