Canon USA recently issued a statement on the gray market. Nothing in the statement should come as a surprise to our readers, we’ve been writing about this for quite some time now.
We’re not shocked to see Canon concerned about the “Gray Market”. Due to a rising dollar, falling yen, and static Canon USA prices (not to mention a strict Minimum Advertised Price), the market has been flooded with “import” models from resellers. The most poignant example was the Black Friday / Cyber Week deals, where imports were priced between $300 and $1000 less than the “full MAP” seen at authorized dealers. There’s no doubt in our minds that this was a primary motivator for the the recent price drop on select bodies and lenses.
In our opinion, though, Canon USA’s statement goes too far and demonizes gray market, describing it with terms like “illegal”, “fake”, and “counterfeit”. You do have to be more careful when buying imports, as there are unscrupulous import resellers whom we’d recommend you stay away from. But, on the whole, many readers report experiences with the major import resellers that have been very positive.
Also, many readers are concerned that “Gray Market Products may not be eligible for coverage under a U.S. warranty” — emphasis added by us. Note, this isn’t news, or a departure from their current written policy, which is to not accept grays for warranty. In practice, however, they have been honoring warranty on grays. As we always disclaim, it’s in their right to unilaterally change this practice at any time. If they do change their practice, we are sure we will hear from reader reports immediately after this change happens, and we’ll communicate it widely. Until then, it is still the status quo.
In our opinion, there is “no news” in this statement — it doesn’t strongly indicate a policy change. It shows Canon USA’s increasing concern and thus sabre-rattling towards the import/gray market forces that are invading and taking Canon USA’s market share.
Rather than disparaging the gray market and focusing on how “bad” grays are (let’s not forget, after all these are the same Canon products from the same factories), our open suggestions to Canon USA are to consider adding value to USA purchases (rather than attacking gray), be faster to respond to global price and currency changes, and eliminate the dreaded Minimum Advertised Price.