Beware of Gray Market Goods While Holiday Shopping


CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) — Gray market goods are those manufactured to be sold outside the U.S., but instead they’re re-imported and sold here for much less. But what you see is not always what you get.

“Merchandise that’s manufactured for export is not necessarily manufactured with the same stringent regulations that we have here in the United States, so the flame retardant properties for apparel might not be as stringent as it is here in the United States and the same is the safety requirements for electrical components,” explained Howard Schwartz, executive communications director at the Connecticut Better Business Bureau.

He says virtually any product you can find on the open market is also sold on the gray market. But there are a few ways to identify risky merchandise. First? Check the price.

“If you find a brand name item that’s expensive everywhere and you see it for an unrealistically low price, that should be a red flag for you,” Schwartz said.

Next, ask the seller if they’re selling gray market goods.

“They are obliged to mention that to us because there’s so much at stake,” he explained, adding, “It is legal to sell and to buy gray market goods here in the United States. It’s not legal to misrepresent what you’re selling.”

Gray market goods aren’t protected by a warranty.

“And the cost of repairing it will easily outstrip what you’ve saved by buying it that way,” Schwartz said.

So if you decide to make a purchase, inquire first about repairs.

“You may not be able to get it repaired at a manufacturer certified or authorized dealer, however, one of the things you can do is ask the seller if they know where it will be fixed or where you could get it fixed and whether it will be up to specifications,” Schwartz explained.

He also says your best bet is to use a credit card for online purchases.

“Because it offers you all sorts of protection, if there’s fraud, if you can’t return the item, if the item does not arrive,” Schwartz said. “If it’s a debit card, if you get your money back, it’s going to take time, and let’s not forget that money comes straight out of your bank account.”

To learn more about how to identify gray market goods, watch the video above.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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