GREY IMPORTING: Panasonic CEO Calls For Global Pricing & Warranties

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EXCLUSIVE: The CEO of Panasonic Australia has called for global pricing and global warranties. He has also said that Australia is facing a new retail environment, one in which retailers will have no choice but to chase the lowest global price for a product.Steve Rust, a veteran of the IT and consumer electronics industry, who has a wealth of distribution and vendor experience claims that the introduction of grey marketing by JB Hi Fi is simply “the tip of the iceberg”.

Underneath the problem are a lot of issues that need to be resolved.  

He accepts that what JB Hi Fi has done by introducing the grey marketing of goods was a survival move aimed at competing against overseas online retailers as well as small Australian online traders who are bringing in branded goods from overseas distributors.

Rust claims vendors are facing a delicate balancing issue with the grey importing of branded goods due to recent changes to consumer laws. He claims that vendors could still be liable for a product along with the retailer.

“We are currently investigating our obligations relating to grey importing. If Panasonic Australia has not supplied a Panasonic product to the likes of JB Hi Fi we could still be responsible for any consumer claims.

“Consumer law has recently been strengthened, it has increased the obligations of suppliers and retailers. How do you distinguish a grey branded product from a locally supplied product because under the new laws we could still be liable for consumer claims along with a retailer?” Rust said.

“A grey product could well have the same model number as a locally supplied product, but that does not mean that the specifications are the same. The retailer selling the product has an obligation to spell out any changes to specifications so that consumers are not misled”.

 

“What I would like to see is global warranty and global pricing. You will never get perfect global pricing because of dollar fluctuations and taxes but it would go a long way to resolving a lot of issues that the industry is facing. I can accept fluctuations in pricing of 20% but not 40 and 50% which is what is happening with some products”. 

Rust said that consumers are better served buying a grey imported product from the likes of JB Hi Fi.

“They are a share listed Company who have legal and binding obligations to meet and I have every confidence that they will do the right thing by their customers. With smaller online retailers there is less scope for them to act in a responsible manner when it comes to a warranty claim”. He said.

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