What The ACCC Wants Consumers To Know About ‘Grey Imports’ Like The Steam Deck

What The ACCC Wants Consumers To Know About ‘Grey Imports’ Like The Steam Deck

Earlier this week, Kogan announced that it would start stocking the Apple Vision Pro, Apple’s new VR headset that is infamously not available in Australia (yet). It’s not something Kogan hasn’t done before, and last year, the online retailer began selling imported Valve Steam Decks through its website and its subsidiary Dick Smith. These imported goods are often referred to as ‘grey imports’, and because they’re not officially licenced for sale in Australia by the original manufacturer, these imports can lead to a headache when it comes to the warranty.

Australia, however, has robust consumer safeguards, defended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) – and even if these goods aren’t sold directly by Apple or Valve, consumers are still entitled to protections when they buy these products. Gizmodo Australia reached out to the ACCC to understand their stance on grey imports, and they said while consumers are well within their rights to buy these products, the retailer – not the manufacturer – is responsible for fixing any issues that may arise.

“If there is a consumer guarantee problem with a grey import product, the seller is responsible for providing a solution to the consumer. The seller can’t refuse to help the consumer or tell them to contact the manufacturer or any local authorised sellers of the product,” an ACCC spokesperson said.

Officially, the ACCC refers to grey imports as parallel imports, though the terms can be used interchangeably. Nothing prevents retailers from selling grey imports in Australia, and consumers are entitled to all the same protections outlined under Australian Consumer Law. “These include that the product is of acceptable quality and is fit for a particular purpose.”

The problem mostly lies within the realm of the manufacturer’s warranty. “If the product comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, the warranty may not apply in Australia. Check the terms and conditions of the warranty to see whether grey imports are covered,” the spokesperson added.

That means, if for example, the Vision Pro headset doesn’t fit you (which it might not, as if you’re in the U.S. and you’re buying online, you need to take measurements with your iPhone camera for specific headband and lightseal sizes), you’ll need to take the issue up with Kogan – not Apple – as again, the headset isn’t officially sold here. Regardless, we’ve reached out to Kogan to ask how it would address this particular concern. “Manufacturers and their local authorised sellers do not have to honour warranties or provide support or spare parts under warranties for grey imports if the terms of the warranty exclude them,” an ACCC spokesperson said.

Additionally, and more broadly, the ACCC has other concerns with grey imports that it believes Australian consumers should be aware of. Firstly, it may be difficult for your rights to be enforced, both practically and legally. Products may also be unfit for Australian conditions (for example, our heat), and electrical products might not work with Australian plugs and voltages (though, not to denounce the ACCC’s word, this concern isn’t as prevalent with USB-C devices, as the Power Delivery standard enforces a handshake between the cable and device). If the device you’re buying is a grey import, though, and it comes with a wall socket, it’s unlikely to work with Australian outlets without an adapter.

Finally, the ACCC also noted that some electronic products, such as gaming consoles, might not be licenced for use in Australia, and may have missing features. For example: region-locked DVDs, but also broadly speaking, imported goods might require an overseas IP address or payment information from another country to properly function.

These are the concerns the ACCC thinks consumers should have with grey imports. Nobody is saying you can’t buy them – if you want a Vision Pro, go ahead and buy one – but you should be comfortable with the legal limitations and potential device issues that your goods may have before you make a purchase.

Commenting on its ability to sell Apple’s Vision Pro headsets, A Kogan spokesperson told Gizmodo Australia, “Our global supply chain, honed over 18 years, has ensured millions of customers get their hands on the latest products first at the best possible prices. As with all products sold on Kogan.com, the Apple Vision Pro models are covered by the Kogan guarantee, so shoppers can buy with confidence that their consumer rights are protected. What’s more, the Apple Vision Pro range is covered by Kogan’s free comprehensive 1 year warranty – the same free length of time provided by Apple – giving Aussie shoppers complete local support post-purchase.”

We’re not trying to scare you out of anything, just be wary.

This post has been updated to include comments from Kogan.

Image: Gizmodo Australia


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