Validated Manufacturer Warranty
Luxury goods manufacturers will not honor the manufacturer's warranty unless the product was purchased through an Authorized Dealer. In many cases the manufacturer will require the original purchase receipt and/or the warranty card to be stamped by the dealer. Some Grey Market Dealers will leave the warranty card out all together, will include a blank one, or will include one that was stamped by some other dealer. The manufacturer may require you to provide a copy of your receipt which matches the dealer on the warranty card. Unauthorixed "Grey Market" Dealers can NOT stamp and validate your manufacturer's warranty.
Problematic Grey Market Dealer Warranties
Because Unauthorized "Grey Market" Dealers cannot offer a validated manufacturer's warranty, they will usually offer their own warranty. These third-party warranties have several potential problems:
- Most major watch companies restrict parts distribution to authorized service centers ONLY. If a product needs a part (and every watch does eventually need service and parts), you are stuck. These companies are offering to fix watches for which they have no access to spare parts. Their guarantees are worthless.
- The warranty may not match the manufacturer’s warranty in terms of duration or coverage.
- The retailer does not use factory-certified technicians and may not know how to properly service the product.
- If the retailer goes out of business, you have no warranty at all.
Readily Available Products & Knowledgeable Customer Service
Virtually all unauthorized "Grey Market" Dealers advertise products on their websites that they do not have in stock and cannot readily obtain. Just because they show a picture and a price, doesn't mean they have that product (missing pictures are usually a clear indication they don't have the product.) When you order from them, they will either indefinitely postpone your order until they can locate a source for the product or most likely they will try to sell you a different model. They may source your product by running down the street and purchasing it with cash from another dealer. Sometimes they may purchase display models or blemished products that have been worn and are not factory-fresh. In addition, these dealers do not have the same manufacturer resources and knowledge that an Authorized Dealer does and are therefore typically not as knowledgeable about the products they sell.
Genuine, Unaltered Products
Where DO Unauthorized "Grey Market" Dealers get their products? Good question. Who knows? They won't tell you! They may have a friend who owns a watch store that is willing to part with a watch or two, just to move some inventory out the door. From here, the serial numbers are usually scratched off so the origin of the piece cannot be identified. Any authorized dealer caught "selling out the back door" risks losing its agency (the manufacturer will close their account), so they remove the numbers from the case to obscure the watch's history. Some Unauthorized Dealers may be selling replicas and may not even know it sometimes! Other Grey Market Dealers are selling old, ,refurbished or factory closeout models.
Don't get burned. Buy AUTHORIZED.