Gray market blues: Fuji sues more than 50 sellers for lost profits and damages
posted Monday, October 17, 2016 at 1:58 PM EST
Nearly a year ago, Canon USA sued various retailers who were selling gray-market Canon cameras in the United States. As of October 11, Fujifilm is following suit and suing over 50 sellers who are participating in the gray market. The lawsuit was recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and claims that the defendants knowingly sold gray market Fujifilm gear as genuine U.S.-market products.
Consumers are impacted negatively by gray market camera sales because gray market cameras generally don't come with the same warranty coverage or level of customer service support when compared to genuine camera equipment. Not only that, but if a reseller opens up a package and changes out components, for example switching out first-party batteries or chargers with third-party ones, any existing warranty is also voided.
In their lawsuit, Fujifilm is arguing that the sale of gray market cameras, which are almost exclusively sold at prices lower than authentic products through authorized resellers, has damaged their business: Fujifilm is seeking damages, including lost profits, costs, legal fees and punitive damages. The issue is further complicated when gray market sellers don't market their cameras as such, potentially causing headaches for customers who need warranty coverage or are sold with third-party accessories which do not always work correctly.
Fujifilm has been aware of the gray-market sales since June and considers the sales a threat to their reputation. After all, a consumer might buy what they believe to be a legitimate product, only to realize later when they need customer service, that they have been duped. In an excerpt from the lawsuit published by Digital Trends, Fujifilm argues that the "defendant's importation…and/or sale within the U.S. of gray market cameras intended for markets outside the U.S. is likely to result in consumer confusion and stymie [Fujifilm North America Corporation's] quality control efforts, causing irreparable harm to FNAC that will continue unless such conduct is enjoined."
You can follow this link to learn more about Fujifilm's warranty coverage in the U.S., and how where you purchase your Fuji gear affects your coverage. If you're unsure about whether or not you're buying from an authorized reseller or if the Fujifilm equipment you already own is genuine, Fujifilm has published a useful overview of identifying and understanding gray market products. In their primer, they state that gray market goods often come with non-UL-certified power cables and/or foreign warranty cards and user manuals. The lack of a UPC code on packaging or altered/missing serial numbers are also both red flags.
To learn more about the gray market, read Dave Etchells' excellent article from last fall about why the market exists and how it affects camera manufacturers. If you would like to avoid purchasing a gray market camera yourself, be sure to purchase any camera gear in the U.S. (or your home country) through authorized resellers. The price may be higher, but you will be getting the genuine article designed for your market and you will be ensured a higher standard of customer service.
(Seen via Digital Trends)