Illegal trade hampers sale of global brands

Replicas or refurbished devices gaining popularity due to low prices


Shahram Haq July 11, 2015
Replicas or refurbished devices gaining popularity due to low prices. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

LAHORE: The increase in growth of online shopping portals has made local markets extremely competitive for global brands of electronics, home appliances and smart phones.

However, some of the globally leading brands like Samsung, Huawei, Nokia HTC, Dell, Acer, Apple, Sony and LG have been disturbed by the trade in unlawfully imported products in the country.

This trade is not only deceiving consumers but is also hurting the national economy through tax evasion by illegal importers of branded cellphones, home appliances, electronic products, TV and smart devices.

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Additionally, this is depriving the customers of a wide range of privileges such as warranties and after-sales service, which are distinguished features of genuine products produced by global giants.

These replicas or refurbished goods are usually sold and bought online and are gaining popularity because of the cost difference.

“In most cases, online companies are selling ‘grey’ products, but they claim they are selling original goods and offer good margins and low prices; this puts the consumers at a disadvantage,” said Saadul Hassan, Corporate Marketing Head of Samsung Electronics, while talking to The Express Tribune. “All major brands are suffering due to the online grey market.”

International brands deploy extensive resources for the research and development of such products. Also, they are bringing technologically advanced products that will provide convenience and comfort for the users.

The flood of illegal products has prompted the companies to ask the government to put in place a proper regulatory mechanism, which will allow the cellular market to operate and grow.

Moreover, the trends and consumer preferences in the realm of communications have transformed over the years. The launch of technologies like 3G and 4G have been revolutionary, hence, it has fuelled the expansion of cellular market, specifically the online market.

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“People never realise that they don’t get support of customer services if they purchase grey products,” said Fraz Khan, Marketing Head of Huawei Pakistan.

“Such products can put the quality of genuine products at stake, moreover, original accessories are the main issue as bigger discounts are also due to accessories that are not genuine,” he added.

“Online shopping portals are not selling anything, they are just a platform where buyers and sellers meet,” said a spokesperson for kaymu.com, a venture of Rocket Internet.

“In our case, we have more than 250,000 items on our websites and we cannot check each and every product individually, this is not our duty, this is the job of government agencies to find and curb the sale of illegal products,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.

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