Kit deals not all they seem

Northumberland Tank Traps. Picture by Ivor Rackham

Since the pound crashed following the Brexit referendum, a lens I want costs 20 per cent more. Cameras have also increased in price, some by more than £200 in six months.

I’ve been looking at ways of buying equipment for less. Where does a photographer find a good deal?

I am very much into reusing, recycling and buying used equipment. Take care where you buy second-hand gear as stolen goods appear online, but some reputable camera shops have amazing offers on pre-owned equipment and will give a one or two-year warranty. Don’t assume it’s a good price though; compare used prices with new.

Also, moving parts wear out. Check a camera’s shutter count and look for excellent or mint condition lenses.

Why is there never a camera price war? A buyer for a retailer told me: “Almost all manufacturers of electronics goods insist on a minimum retail price. If we try to sell their products more cheaply, they’ll stop supplying them to us.”

There is one tempting apple for photographers, and that is the purchase of ‘grey goods’. Unregistered dealers outside the EU buy surplus stock. They advertise cheaply and don’t apply import duty or VAT.

Too good to be true? Yes. You may well pay those taxes on delivery and end up paying more than the shop price. Not paying is tax evasion, a criminal offence.

Furthermore, manufacturers may not guarantee goods bought in this way. Not all offer a worldwide warranty, and a serial number of a model sent to a market overseas won’t necessarily have a guarantee against failure in the UK.

Most importantly, along with the warranty card, they require a copy of the original sales receipt. That must include the date of sale, price and VAT. If you didn’t pay VAT, the warranty is not valid. Even if a retailer overseas added 20 per cent and claimed it was VAT, it does not mean they are paying British taxes.

Fakes litter the grey market too. Just as there are fake versions of watches, phones, batteries, infant formula and pharmaceuticals, there are fake cameras, lenses and accessories. These fakes are often financing the same gangs that traffic in drugs, people and arms – a good reason to avoid that market.

So when I finally save enough for my new lens, I’ll buy from a reputable dealer in the UK.

It’s not too late to join this month’s challenge, which is Guideline of Thirds and Leading Lines. This week’s keywords are East and Depend.

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