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Q: When is "worldwide" not worldwide?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by foto2021, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England
    A: When it's on eBay.

    I'm in the UK. I saw a m4/3 accessory that I want on eBay USA. It is exactly what I need and the price is good. The seller has very good feedback and offers shipping to "Worldwide". I'm pleased.

    What happened next:
    I tried to buy the item. I can't buy it because eBay Checkout tells me that the seller won't ship to the UK. Huh?

    Is the UK not part of "Worldwide"? Did I not just see President Obama of the USA and Prime Minister Cameron of the UK on TV emphasising the "unique and essential relationship" between our two countries?

    What I did next:
    I contacted the seller, asking why "Worldwide" did not include the UK. A terse but polite reply confirmed that the seller could not ship this item to the UK, and that the seller would not break the rule.

    What I did after that:
    I contacted the seller again, pointing out that the UK is the USA's oldest and strongest ally. After all, Obama and Cameron had just confirmed that to the world on live TV. Plus, included on the list of countries that the seller will ship to are countries that routinely stifle personal and political freedoms.

    The reply:
    We can no longer ship certain items to the UK. We used to sell to the UK but for certain items, we no longer can. The choice was not ours.

    So if it wasn't the seller's choice, whose choice was it? And why? It couldn't possibly be that a prominent m4/3 manufacturer of accessories wanted to deny cheaper US-priced goods to the higher-priced UK market, could it?

    The item I was interested in buying costs more than $100 in the USA. It sells in the UK for two and a half times the US price. After taking into account UK import duty and sales tax the item still costs slightly more than double the US price.

    I don't think this differential can be justified which is why I want to buy from the USA. In an era of free trade I don't see why I can't.

    I don't blame the seller and I appreciate the seller's honesty. I won't name the seller, the manufacturer or the specific item because I don't want to cause any problems for that seller. But I am fuming that an eBay seller is apparently being prevented by a manufacturer from selling me an item for same price my US cousins routinely pay.

    Has anyone had a comparable eBay experience?
  2. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    With such a vague post containing no details, it's hard to understand what exactly you're angry about. Does he not sell to the UK because of your import/tax laws that hold up products and are too much of a hassle to deal with? Or are you claiming that he has a subversive agreement with UK sellers of the same product? Is the product manufacturer placing shipping territory restrictions on the product? Because that is wholly within a manufacturer's rights. A manufacturer has to give trustworthy resellers incentive to sell a product.

    However, if it would help, you could always Paypal a trusted member here in the USA your money, and they could buy the product here, use it for a week so that it is most definitely a used product, and then ship it to you, potentially saving you a good bit of money. Heck, I'd do it for you if it will save you a buck, but obviously you'd have to take care of shipping and figure out what taxes or special handling hoops we'd have to jump through first.
  3. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    I'm sorry to be so vague but I don't want to give the seller a problem, because the seller is not at fault here.

    The item is made in the Far East by one of the two principal OEM manufacturers of m4/3 cameras, lenses and accessories. It is available in all major markets including US and UK, but at very different prices. Once all taxes have been removed to level the playing field, the lowest UK price I can find is more than 2.1 times the price of the item on eBay USA. That's what annoys me. What possible justification is there for a price more than double the US price for an identical item?

    I have come across price differentials before. UK prices are often anything up to 1.5 times US prices. In a world of (allegedly) free trade, I have often bought items from the US, Japan, Hong Kong or Korea to take advantage of lower prices. I have done this many, many times over the 14+ years I have been a member of eBay (since January 11, 1998).

    I have experienced US-based eBay sellers who won't post overseas, and I respect that because it is their choice. The only paperwork required is a customs declaration but it does usually involve using USPS, and many sellers don't want to do that. Their choice. Not a problem.

    But this seller has made it quite clear that this isn't his choice, it is a policy imposed by the supplier(s) of certain goods, but not others. This seller has many items advertised that can be shipped "Worldwide" including the UK, but this particular item and others from the same manufacturer cannot be sent to the UK.

    I have ordered several items from this seller before and never had any problems.

    That's a very kind offer, thank you, I really appreciate it. Fortunately, my cousin lives in New York and I can get him to buy it for me and send it by air mail. It just seems very strange that I have to resort to subterfuge - giving the impression of a US buyer - rather than just buy directly from a seller I have used before but who is being prevented from selling me this item just because I am located in the UK.

    Living in the UK isn't easy. We have a very overcrowded island, severe economic difficulties and everything is expensive here, especially energy. But we live with that. It's a British tradition to tolerate these sometimes painful things and not show any lack of contentment. Our national motto could easily be "Mustn't grumble".

    But this is something else, because a manufacturer should not dictate who a seller can and cannot ship to. These aren't defense-related items, nor do they incorporate technology that could damage the US if it fell into the wrong hands. They are simple photo accessories. It makes no sense at all.
  4. It is not confined to cameras. Free world trade doesn't exist. If you say what you are looking for someone in the UK may be able to suggest where you can buy it cheaply.

    • Like Like x 1
  5. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    It's probably not the manufacturer, but rather the official importer who has put restrictions on the import of "gray market" items. I agree with the general thrust of your post, though.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Free Trade is an Oxymoron.
  7. grantb

    grantb Mu-43 Veteran

    If you said what item you are looking for, maybe one of our ever-helpful members will know how to get it for a better price. I don't see how anybody could get in trouble, since they are following the rules.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    I also believe this to be the reason. An official importer/distributor in the UK probably has the "exclusive" right to distribute this particular product in the UK, and if anyone else tries to sell this same product in the UK through "parallel" import, the seller might get sued. It happens all the time.

    The other day, I was trying to buy a product on eBay which originates from HK, and it claims worldwide shipping, but has a long list of exclusions, including HK! This is common because the eBay price is probably lower than the local retailer price of the item, and the official distributor has the right to protect its market. I don't like it, but unfortunately for the consumers, that's how things work...
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Grinch

    Grinch Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2011
    I'm gonna hazard a guess, and you don't have to confirm...lumix 7-14. I know this lens I practically double the cost in the UK. Here in Canada it's $1200-1300 where as stateside it's $875-1000. So what is the reason? Some panny glass is on par, and others are inflated for the Canadian market and there seems to be no rhyme or reason. Fortunately, I can purchase stateside as long as they will ship USPS and normally avoid tax,brokerage fees, and other penalties for not being american. But like you I have run into deals, where my location prohibits purchase. Glad to hear you have a loophole. In my case, if oly and panny have a similar roduct I'd rather support oly, since they haven't tried to gouge me!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. hanzo

    hanzo Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 22, 2010
    A case in point is Lightroom. I bought LR3 directly from Adobe US. But when I wanted to upgrade to LR4, they locked my account to the regional distributor, and charge more. I know a lot of Australians are pissed off. :biggrin:

    Another example.. a big US online retailers won't ship my order because of manufacturers restriction. I ordered through another dealer. When the order arrived, it turns out that it was made in my own country! :mad: 
    • Like Like x 1
  11. If it is Olympus or Panasonic then they are both manufacturer and importer. You will have the same problems with Yamaha/Roland.

  12. If it is the 7-14mm then there is a respected ebayer in Scotland who sells them for less than £700 (grey import). Also, search Amazon carefully. There is a fair amount of imported stuff finds its way on there at reasonable prices. Just make sure it is VAT/duty paid.

  13. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    No, it isn't that lens. A couple of months ago I asked on here about the Panasonic 7-14mm versus the Olympus 9-18mm and, after trying the Noktor 12mm f/1.6 and Olympus 12mm f/2 I decided to buy the Olympus 9-18mm. I ordered it yesterday and it will arrive tomorrow. It has been a long wait as my wide angle desires are not well satisfied by the 14mm end of a kit zoom. :wink:

    I also ordered "the item" yesterday for selivery to my cousin in NY and I expect to receive it from him next week. Doing it that way, there is even a slight saving on shipping costs.

    A big thank you to everyone who replied with helpful suggestions and offers of assistance. This is such a great forum!
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