1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Grey imports

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by Mrs_K, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Mrs_K

    Mrs_K Active Member


    as I have mentioned elsewhere, I'm going to buy Nikon D7100. I have been waiting for good few months now hoping for the price to reduce (if D7200 is released). So I keep checking online for prices and yesterday found HDew cameras selling D7100 with 18-140mm VR lense for £760.

    I understand that these are grey imports. I have looked around to understand what grey imports mean exactly. Could you please correct me if I'm wrong?
    1) Cameras manufactured at the same factory as the 'white imports' - same quality
    2) Imported to the UK 'on my behalf'
    Does it mean that the VAT would not be paid at all? Or how do these companies get the stock to the UK? As per online reviews, HDew cameras send the VAT paid invoice with the camera - so how does that work exactly? If HMRC came looking for their VAT, wouldn't that invoice suffice? And if they indeed came to me, I would 'simply' pay the 20%, which would put me at the same price level as what the cameras are being sold these days anyway, hence I would not be loosing money (but my saving would also be gone).
    3) Does it effect the warranty at all?
    Again, as per online reviews and HDew cameras themselves, the camera comes with 3 years warranty - 1 year from Nikon, 2 years from HDew. Would any Nikon service my camera within the first year or only the one from the original country?

    HDew cameras themselves seem to have a good name, very good reviews overall. I really like the price and to be honest, I've been waiting for so long, I'm getting impatient. But I don't want to make a mistake by buying a grey import unless I know exactly what I'm getting myself into.

    Thank you.
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    1) should be - I don't recall any post here on fakes
    2) I am sure that HMRC have an online guide to personal importing. VAT should be paid and if the supplier does that for you and provides a certificate that is good. I think digital cameras are zero rated for import duty but it is a long time since I looked.
    3) Camera manufacturer will likely not warranty the camera. Some grey importers have their own scheme, presumably an insurance backed product. I don't know what happens if you really personally and physically import goods - e.g. lived abroad and then moved.
  3. mikeh201355

    mikeh201355 Well-Known Member

    Grey imports are cameras manufactured in the same factory as any other, but they are intended for a different market. So (for example) a dealer in Hong Kong finds he can get a better price by selling to a dealer in UK than they can selling in Hong Kong so they ship it over here.

    Any import needs to have duty and VAT paid. Some companies that say they will pay all taxes actually don't in all cases: what they do is send the camera over as a parcel and dont declare it as a camera (no taxes) but if customs open it they will tell you to pay up, you tell the company and they pay. The profits they make on non-declared items getting through easily pays for those few that are opened and identified by customs. So when they say 'all taxes paid' or 'you pay no taxes' they are stretching the truth.

    If you have no VAT receipt you will not be able to have the camera serviced in the UK. This bit is anecdotal: I have heard that HDEW do not provide a VAT receipt a standard companies until you ask.
    Be warned though: all cameras have a serial number that tells anyone who knows which market it was intended for. Nikon in US will apparently not service any camera under warranty if it was not bought in the US and they have threatened to do the same in Europe. I think they no longer do a 'worldwide warranty' on camera bodies so check carefully, speak to HDEW and only be happy when you get a direct answer to a direct question.

    However HDEW does offer its own service/warranty which is actually covered by third party rather than HDEW itself, but always read the terms and conditions carefully because if it turns out you are buying from a company based abroad you may need to return the camera to them for service.
    And having a UK phone number (or even a UK address - check it out on Google streetview) is not proof it is a UK-based company because it may well be a 'drop box' rather than an actual company address.

    I am not saying don't buy a grey import - many people do and they are very happy with it and HDEW seem to get a better write-up than most. But you are corredct to do so 'with your eyes open'.
  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Currys sell this with a two year Nikon UK warranty for £899, buy before 4th February and you can claim a free battery grip. I'd rather pay the extra, have the grip and peace of mind personally, but each to their own. It may well be available at a lower price from another supplier selling UK stock, it was just easy to check Currys.
  5. Scphoto

    Scphoto Well-Known Member

    The reviews of these and similar importers are often skewed by the fact most people are saving 20% on the UK street price.

    20% incidentally is very similar to the VAT that apparently been paid - not that you can find any evidence of a VAT number on these sites.

    Also beware of how you pay, Some ask for Bank Transfers or use PayPal as a payment option - you are not protected by section 75 of the consumer credit act if you use these methods. You will be dealing with a Hong Kong based organisation typically with a shipping office in the UK.

    Remember the words - you are acting as an importer for the goods - usually hidden away in the small print. You are the importer, you are liable for unpaid VAT and Duty (duty is applicable for camera bodies, but not a body and lens kit).

    Check out www.camerapricebuster.co.uk if you want to support the UK camera retailers. You may pay a little more, but you have consumer protection, plus you keep the UK economy going.
  6. art

    art Well-Known Member

  7. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Another Issue which you perhaps ought to be aware of:

    Nikon, like most other manufacturers, have have various "teething problems" with several recent models (D600 oil on sensor, D7500 flare etc.) that have resulted in a recall for free repairs. A grey import camera may not be eligible for this service. This may be less significant for a camera that's been around for a couple of years, such as the D7100 - it's likely that any teething problems would have been discovered by now, and resolved before leaving the factory.

    Also, there have been some reports that, at least in the US, Nikon are refusing to supply parts to 3rd party repair centres, and authorised repair centres have been banned from doing any repairs on grey market cameras, even paid for by the camera owner. See this article by Thom Hogan last December:


    AFAIK, this only applies in the US at the moment, but who knows when Nikon UK might try a similar trick?

    Of course, your camera may well last as long as you need it without ever needing repair, and HMRC may well not look at duty and VAT in your case. So, what you need to ask yourself is, in the words of a certain movie quote, "Do I feel lucky?"
  8. DaveM399

    DaveM399 Well-Known Member

    I remember reading somewhere that you may not get a UK plug on the charger lead, and possibly no English manual, or one in another language. These are not major problems as it should be easy to source a lead and manuals can be found on-line.

    My main concern, as highlighted above, is the warranty you may or may not have.
  9. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I bought a very expensive camera and lens which may have been a grey import. :D:D

    I got a UK plug and manual. I was told that in the event of a warranty claim I would have to return it to Hong Kong - but as that can take as little as 36 hours I didn't see that as an issue.

    Nikon UK said that they would not repair it under warranty but would repair it if I paid.

    There's no difference whatever (that I can find) between 'my' spec and a UK spec.

    All in all I've been very happy with the outcome BUT BUT BUT if you go down that route be aware of all the issues that may arise and that others have mentioned.

  10. mikeh201355

    mikeh201355 Well-Known Member

    Of course, if you buy a grey import you forego all future rights to complain about Vodafone, Apple and posh nobs using tax avoidance schemes :D
  11. Mrs_K

    Mrs_K Active Member

    Thank you, you have given me plenty of food for thought.

    I don't know if I will buy it, I only just discovered it yesterday. I guess I can manage to wait few more weeks until the CP Plus show in Japan - maybe Nikon will then say if they are releasing D7200? Who knows!

    As for the free battery grip - I'm not that bothered about it to buy the camera right now. Back to waiting (and surfing the web looking for those too-good-to-be-true deals).
  12. Mrs_K

    Mrs_K Active Member

    What about buying from Europe, Germany for example? How would the VAT and warranty/service be affected then?
  13. Steve Bell

    Steve Bell Well-Known Member

    I have previously bought a Canon S110 compact from DigitalRev in HK. Their price was very good and no adverse issues.

    I considered them again before buying my Tamron 70-300mm lens. I ended up buying from a local dealer. The reason was the saving varied from product to product, and wasn't so good on this lens. Additionally I wanted the extended 5 year warranty, and I wanted it for an air show the next day. I needed more reach than my older Nikon 70-210 lens.

    Before buying any more expensive camera kit I will always check with DigitalRev and HDew and consider if the benefits are worth while.
  14. mikeh201355

    mikeh201355 Well-Known Member

  15. art

    art Well-Known Member

    Yes, as required by EU single market rules.

Share This Page