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Gray Imports - Fact or Fiction

mr_goomr_goo Posts: 3,770
edited September 2012 in Road buying advice
I know when there are premium priced products on the market of any kind ie; iPADs, Golf Clubs, etc etc that there will always be copies/clones. However the conversation I had with an LBS left me thinking that virtually everything on the internet was fake! Though I cannot believe this to be the case. Everything from Shimano/Campag running gear, Mavic/Easton wheels and some framesets were all declared to be gray imports from China via Holland (why Holland ?)
Was told that even the likes of Chain Reaction and Wiggle were trading in said items.
I have read some topics some time about this, and believe that Merlin with identified as a possible culprit.
Is this really the case? or is it as I suspect that this LBS is being ever so slightly over reactive to loss of trade from the web?
Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.


  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Shouldnt this be under the thread : 'Silly things you have heard in your LBS' ?

    Clearly SOME things will be fake - but they wont be sold by Chain Reaction and Wiggle......

    Gray imports arent fake though - they're legal, but unofficial - so you may not get the full support as if you bought through official channels.
  • carrockcarrock Posts: 1,103
    this was rife in the motor trade 20 years ago- particularly with motorbikes such as Fireblades etc. Depends on the strength of the £ against the Euro. Time was when you could buy a fireblade in the UK for about £5 grand, or about Euro 6K- (about £3500 ) from a continental dealer. Thus lots of people imported them. When the exchange rate dropped, it became pointless. Suspect as the £ is strengthening against the Euro, the same is happening with bikes and parts
  • estampidaestampida Posts: 1,008
    and more automotive

    There can be issues with some foreign product that is legal for sale in the UK, I remember having cheap tyres that did not have the right premature range as Aberdeen (probably south Spain....) but they were rock hard for most of the year

    thank god I scrapped it
  • MattC59MattC59 Posts: 5,408
    Your LBS is talking horse sh*t, I suspect that they're a little sore at losing business to Internet stores, or they haven't got a clue what they're talking about.

    Grey imports are just OEM goods. For instance, Ribble supply their own range of bikes so Shimano etc. supply them with OEM parts. These are the same as retail goods, but don't have a box. Ribble are then able to sell these goods at a lower price. Merlin do the same. I've recently bought an Ultegra group set from Ribble. As expected, the components came in bags, not boxes, but otherwise it is identical to the stuff you'd buy from your LBS.

    As for Wiggle / CRC supplying Grey imports, I'd be supprised, but am open to being corrected.
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed.
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    There is absolutely nothing "illegal" or otherwise about grey imports, indeed as a consumer you should encourage and welcome it - having only one importer for a product makes it rife for price gouging. Indeed the fact that happens is the only reason grey imports make economic sense.

    Any one can import anything (legal) from anywhere, if it's from within europe then there's no duty to pay and it's very simple - so buying your shimano kit from a Dutch or German importer makes a lot of sense if they'll sell it to you cheaper than the UK importer.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff:
  • carrockcarrock Posts: 1,103
    Also goods sold within the EU are required by law to carry the same warranty according to EU law- which means a groupset bought from, say, hi-bikes in Germany must be warranted the same as one bought for 50% more from your LBS....
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Your LBS are about 20 years behind, more likely feeding you the line that their distributors use to 'justify' their high prices. EU legislation means that saying you have to buy from 'exclusive' dealers in the UK is tantamount to a barrier to trade - they come up with this bull$hit to typically justify 25% price increases. The reason that Wiggle and CRC offer good prices is that they buy in big enough quantities from the manufacturers and hence can pass on the discount. The other issue is OEM groupsets - the likes of Ribble and Planet-X who assemble their own bikes buy groupsets in bulk in OEM kits i.e. without all the packaging - its the same quality parts, just they come in placcie bags, not boxes. With the drop in the value in the Euro, I've been getting my stuff direct from Europe - I buy Castelli kit direct from Italy for less than my LBS with a 20% discount!
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • mr_goomr_goo Posts: 3,770
    Not my LBS, just dropped in when working in area, to drool over the Orcas. As one does you get talking to proprietor and he really went off on one. Not sure why he is quite so anti website ie; CRC or Wiggle, considering he has an Ebay shop. I have bought quite a bit of stuff from Merlin and had no probs, and will continue to do so.
    Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.
  • bigpiklebigpikle Posts: 1,690
    grey imports are not fakes, they are just products that have been sold into one market, usually a less developed market that can only sustain lower price levels than UK/Europe/USA, and then been imported into the UK. They come from the same manufacturers and factories but were not supplied into the UK through the usual distributors or channels.

    It happens in almost all product areas - chance the razor blades you just used or battery in your tv remote is a grey import even if you bought it in one of the big supermarkets ;)
    Your Past is Not Your Potential...
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,209
    Also, a grey import is not a copy. There is a vast difference. If the proprietor is inferring that the likes of Wiggle, Merlin etc are selling copies of genuine products, he's liable to leave himself open to a world full of law suits. However, if they are using European or USA importers to source their stock i.e. grey imports, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A grey import is a genuine item sourced from outside the UK. The sole UK importer has a captive audience and may be charging more than it costs to buy bulk from outside the UK. The sole UK importer may not be able to supply the quantities either forcing dealers to go outside the UK. A grey import carries the same warranty as a UK supplied product. Your contract is with the dealer not the manufacturer.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 16,085
    as above

    also, within the eu you are free to buy from any country, a manufacturer cannot insist you buy from, say, uk, rather than germany, italy etc.

    with the pound having gained on the euro, and the lower operating costs and vat in some other eu states, you can save a lot on some items, especially those from manufacturers that prevent retailers discounting their products
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
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