The rise of e-commerce has given the average shopper leverage to cost compare like never before. Unfortunately, when focused solely on cost, some buyers can get into murky territory regarding product legitimacy and support. This is because various “grey market” distributors exist online, who peddle discounted products stripped of the warranties and support traditionally available through trust distribution channels.
Product from unauthorized dealers typically comes without warranty. In fact, some sellers deliberately remove identifiers like serial numbers from their products to eliminate traceback. Likewise, manufactures often honour warranties only for products sold through trusted channels, as they can be confident in said products’ handling throughout all phases of the customer cycle.
A warranty is not transferrable, so a previously used item will be unprotected in the case of malfunction. While this is a trade off some buyers take knowingly for savings, many times unauthorized distributors pawn off refurbished goods labelled as new. Sadly, the buyer seldom knows any better until it's too late and a problem arises.
Product manufactured for North America does not always share the same specifications as product made for other places in the world. Unauthorized dealers often import goods from abroad to steal a cheaper price; however, this can affect the quality of the product. For instance, hardware intended for European countries might support different voltages. Similarly, some countries have exclusive access to accessories and the product in that country might reflect as much.
Authorized resellers jump through various hoops to become authorized. There are many technical qualifications that must be met before a manufacturer partners with a distributor, and this standard benefits the buyer from a service perspective.
From sales to support, the authorized reseller will impart greater amounts of knowledge and will have access to wider resource pools than unauthorized dealers. For IT professionals supporting customer bases of their own, such service can mean a great deal.