Because TDA Perks Supplies offers large discounts on dental supplies, TDA members often wonder if the products are gray market items. (The answer is an emphatic no.) We’ve learned that many don’t understand exactly what the gray market is. Following is some illumination on the term.
Gray Market vs. Black Market
Not to be confused with the black market—where typically counterfeit or stolen products are sold completely illegally—the gray market is where the “unauthorized” reselling of products takes place.
There are different forms of unauthorized reselling. A simple one could be a dentist selling items online. Maybe he or she bought an item at a trade show during a buy-one, get-one special; and sold the free one on an online auction site. The dentist isn’t authorized by the manufacturer to resell the product; so this would be a gray market resell.
The more common contributor to the gray market is when an authorized distributor from another country (who purchases products at a lower cost than a U.S.-based distributor) exports those products back to the United States for resale. You can easily find these on large resell and auction websites. A seller might be authorized to sell an item in Brazil, but once it’s brought back into the U.S., it becomes unauthorized for resale—and a gray market item.
Risks of Gray Market Items
The most important reason to avoid a gray market product is because the warranty on it is void. You’ll have no support from the manufacturer if a product doesn’t perform as advertised.
A second risk of gray market products is potentially poor quality control. An unauthorized reseller doesn’t have to ensure quality control of the products during storage and shipping.
Finally, black market (e.g., counterfeit, stolen) items often find their way into gray market sellers’ inventories. It can be difficult to know the difference, and impossible to know if what you’re buying is safe for you and your patients.