On 10 June 2008 an article in Finance Week titled “Apple retailers feeling rotten” focused on an uproar by 9 technology retailers over a print ad campaign run by the Core Group naming them as “grey” importers of Apple hardware. In the ad, they pointed out that customer who purchased “grey” products are exposing themselves to various risks which include:
- “not being entitled to official warranty support and
- possibly not having access to the required level of support required by Apple for authorised resellers/retailers.”
Core also pointed out that it would not support or honour the warranties on any Apple products unless the customers could get proof from the non-authorised distributors that the non-authorised distributor had paid the relevant duties and taxes to SARS on the imported “grey” products.
It is common for many people to buy their iPods, iPhones, laptops and the like when on business trips abroad. In most instances, this is because the goods are cheaper than the same goods are in South Africa – whether from the authorised or non-authorised distributor. Non-authorised distributors often trade in “grey goods”. Grey goods (often termed “parallel imports”) are not unlawful. In fact, they can sometimes have a positive effect because they are often cheaper than the identical goods sold locally.
Grey Goods vs Counterfeit Goods
“Grey” goods must not be confused with counterfeit goods. “Grey” goods are genuine goods, sold legitimately in South Africa and are suitable for use. However, they are imported into the country by an unauthorised distributor, usually in competition with the authorised distributor.