If you find a Power Tool, or indeed any large value item, at an unusually good price then it can be very easy to accidentally purchase a grey import, rather than a legitimate product.
Grey imports, while usually genuine products that are made in the same factories as legit imports, don’t enter the UK and Europe by the usual channels.
These products are usually sold at bargain prices online through less well known, often foreign listed websites.
Buying a grey import from a foreign website can offer cost savings as the foreign registered sellers are unlikely to be registered for VAT, but this means you’ll likely end up paying the import duty and VAT to HMRC before they’ll release the package to you – this will usually negate the majority of any savings made.
If you are concerned a product is being sold as a grey import – check the manufacturers website and see if they are listed as a UK retailer.
Big brand DIY stores such as B&Q and Homebase will never sell grey imports and online retailers such as Amazon have recently stamped down on 3rd party sellers that abuse the system.
Another way to check is to look up the model numbers on the manufacturers website. Often manufacturers will have slightly different model numbers depending on what market they are intended for – if the model numbers don’t match – then avoid.
Check delivery times – UK stock should be delivered within a reasonable timeframe – a few days to a week at most – if the advertised delivery time is in stock but delivery is longer than this then it will likely be delivered from abroad. Again, this should be a warning sign.
As these are made for foreign markets, expect a random assortment of power plugs and chargers with the tools, and also check they are rated for UK 230V. If not you’ll need to source an alternative as you may end up damaging your power tool (at best) or causing a fire (at worst) by running at the incorrect voltage.
Don’t expect much warranty support either should you run into issues in the future. Manufacturers keep track of serial numbers and won’t honour a claim unless its raised in the country the device was intended for. You could end up with a very expensive paper weight on your hands.
At the end of the day it’s your own choice picking up a grey import. You may save a few pounds at the time of purchase but this is soon negated by possible import charges, the need to replacement power plugs and zero warranty.
Personally I wouldn’t bother – by being a savvy shopper you’ll soon find a better deal.
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