Parallel Import Prices, Worth The Risk?

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Parallel Import Prices, Worth The Risk?

This topic has to be one of the hottest and most inconclusive debate amongst parents, retailers, distributors and importers. It is no secret that Parallel Importing is not illegal in Singapore, yet, and a handful of consumers do prefer the cheaper price tag compared to the local counterparts carried and sold by authorised distributors and retailers.

There is a saying that goes, “Penny wise, pound foolish”.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not completely disagree with Parallel Import goods. I am totally for saving money and getting value for money items. If I could get the exact same product for cheaper, I would. But not all products are made the same, especially when it comes to any product with electrical components.

If I am in the market for a breast pump that comes with a motor unit and parts that are powered by electricity, I wouldn’t go for Parallel Import sets. Because of the simplest fact that these sets have not gone through nor pass the local safety testing and if anything goes wrong, nobody would be responsible for it (but myself). Apart from the absence of proper safety certification, there might also be voltage difference, plug incompatibility with local sockets and the possibility of short-circuiting the electrical box.

When using any electrical unit that hasn’t gone through proper safety testing to certify that it is safe to use with local plugs, we are taking a risk. Its true. Just because many people do it, doesn’t make it less dangerous. If nothing happens, great. If something goes wrong, was that money worth saving?

Local sets also come with the benefit of warranty which is a great thing to have because once I have used the item for awhile, I can take it back right before the warranty ends to get it serviced or replaced. Warranties also protect us, the consumers against defective units. Parallel Importers do not have the knowledge/capability to fix defects. What they do, if they do offer warranty, is to send your defected item back to where they bought their supply from and change it for you. Most times, you have to bear the fee of sending the item back.

Of course, there will still be a handful of consumers who feel that they are fine with purchasing import sets because of the price and the best place to do it is through e-retailers. The mistake that some consumers make is to purchase an import set at close to local price which defeats the purpose of taking all the above mentioned risks only to save a few pennies.

Feel cheated?

Take for example the baby fair that happened last week at MBS. The fair organiser had decided to partner up with a vendor who sells Parallel Import breast pumps from 2 leading brands in the market. I will just explain with simple easy to understand numbers.

Local set – $X + Free Delivery + 1 year local warranty (Authorised Distributor/Retailer)

Import set – ($X – 30%) + Free delivery (E-retailer)

Import set – ($X – 17%) + Cab/Taxi/Gas/Parking + unauthorised local warranty (MBS Fair)

So basically, consumers who bought the import sets at MBS, probably paid more for their risky uncertified products, instead of saving.

If they did their calculations, it would have been more worth it to buy the local sets and have a peace of mind knowing that their units are certified by the local distributor and Spring Singapore.

Again, I am not against parallel import goods. I order my skincare and bath products online. I also order books and clothing online. But parallel import electrical goods that don’t have to go through safety testing, think I will give that a miss.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure the things you use are safe, right?

Never too late to realize.