If you’re one of the many throngs of shopping tourists to New York over the last few months, you are likely to have taken advantage of the price of American products compared to UK prices, not to mention the weak dollar. When prices are so cheap overseas, it is difficult not to take advantage of the differences. Just ask 20:20. Samsung has always tried to take a lead among manufacturers in fighting grey. In the past it tried to wave a clunking fist at companies who took advantage of the marketing Samsung put into the UK without buying it from official routes. Data Select was hit two years ago, and Carphone Warehouse was also confronted over its grey buying.
Since then, Samsung has shown more of a listening ear to retailers and distributors, and is willing to accommodate grey buying when stock runs dry in the UK. The impact on 20:20 from its ban appears unclear. The distributor is hoping its profits will be unaffected as it will continue to source Samsungs on the grey market, but will be unburdened by pressures from the manufacturer. The flipside is that 20:20 will be left in the cold when products are in short supply, in high demand or when new phones are launched, especially when the UK is the first to market.
20:20 will also now clash with Samsung’s own battle on grey. Samsung wants to curb grey by taking a tough no-warranty policy on grey stock outside the EU. The law states that products bought in the EU are covered by warranty, so unwitting consumers who buy Samsung phones originally from, say, Dubai, will have to take it up with the retailer. Something Samsung can also do is to standardise pricing in the EU by selling only in euros. Like so many things, it seems the consumer will be the victim.