Risks of Cheap DJI Drones from Grey Market Retailers

Risks of Cheap DJI Drones from Grey Market Retailers

Heliguy Insider have been looking into buying drones on the Grey Market. We discuss warranty issues, the lack of support and why to buy from local retailers.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2021

9 minute read

Risks of Cheap DJI Drones from the Grey Market With the huge expansion of the technology industry as a consumer market, ways to find cheaper versions of branded products was almost inevitable. It’s been ingrained in us to find the best deals on the products we buy and avoid wasting our money. With sales happening all the time, consumers are being more and more conscious about deals and getting the best price. Step in; the Grey Market. Officially produced goods by or on the order of the company you know and trust, but with a permanently low price tag. It seems like you would be stupid not to buy expensive products this way instead of direct or through an approved dealer, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Keep reading for more information on the Grey Market and why it’s best to avoid buying this way.

What is the Grey Market?

As we said, the Grey Market is products either made by the manufacturer or under their instruction and licence. However, rather than these products being sold in the brand’s intended channels and countries, they are sold in alternate markets. The most common occurrence of this with DJI drones is items being sold from alternative companies by unofficial retailers. This means the companies avoid the prices and policies of DJI and sell directly to customers or other retailers. The buying and selling of Grey Market products are not illegal, but there are a number of issues you are likely to encounter if you do buy any product this way. Keep reading to find out more about some of the problems you can face. DJI Spark in Flight at a NPE

Why avoid the Grey Market?

Buying from the Grey Market can open you up to a large number of issues that you didn’t expect to encounter. The following are just a few problems that can occur.

Drones Will Likely Be Designed for Other Countries

When buying products on the Grey Market, you’re likely to be unable to see what country the drones were intended for. This is an important factor particularly for electronics, as they are made to meet the safety and regulatory rules of their destined country. Issues such as not meeting regulations of your country for electronic and even aviation rules are common. In the worst-case scenario, your aircraft may not be suitable for general use in your country and be an expensive drone that you can’t use. A common issue with drones bought on the Grey Market from America is they have a FCC (Federal Communications Commission) radio certification rather than the requisite European CE (Conformité Européenne) approval. In the UK, the use of FCC equipment rather than CE is illegal and, in the result of an incident, would invalidate any insurance. You may also encounter more minor inconveniences such as the wrong type of charger or accessories being included with your aircraft. This will delay you getting your new drone up in the air, waiting for a charger to come that you ordered separately, as well as increasing the overall cost of the drone. Additionally, delivery times are likely to be significantly longer if your drone is coming from another country. This is particularly an issue in cases where products are sent as part of a bulk delivery, rather than to the individual customers. These concerns can be costly and time-consuming when buying from the Grey Market. DJI Mavic Pro

Warranty Issues

Warranty issues are extremely common with products purchased on the Grey Market. Neither heliguy™ or DJI honour the official warranty on goods purchased through the Grey Market. This is becoming increasingly common for companies, especially in the tech industry to ensure sales are made through approved channels and products can easily be recorded. This means, if you encounter an error with your aircraft that would usually be covered by the warranty, you will likely have to pay for your aircraft to be shipped to a repair centre, the assessment of the aircraft and its repair. Issues whilst in the warranty period can be common due to use of the drone in a country it wasn’t designed to be used in. Additionally, shipping such a delicate product like a drone, especially if not properly packaged, can easily lead to damage to the aircraft in transit. If you have to shell out for a repair that would have been covered if purchased through the legitimate market, the previously appealing price tag won’t seem so good.

Help and Support

If you do encounter any problems with your drone, be it technical or otherwise, it is almost certain that all forms of communication will be overseas. This can make it extremely difficult and even costly to contact the company, especially if you’re using the phone. Furthermore, when contact is made, there’s likely going to be a language barrier with the supplier. This can lead to confusion over your query and result in you not receiving the right advice. These contact lines are unlikely to offer any technical support for even the simplest of queries, never mind serious issues. Therefore, any problems relating to technical questions will mean you have to waste your time searching on the internet or paying a DJI repair centre to fix your aircraft. This again is a time-consuming process that can be avoided if you buy from an authorised retailer. DJI Inspire 2

Hidden Fees

The price you pay for your new drone on the Grey Markey might not be its final price. As well as the additional fees we have discussed above, there are other ways you could end up paying more on the Grey Market. When products are shipped from abroad, if a company is not VAT registered in the UK with a valid VAT number, the responsibility will fall on whoever bought the product. This would result in at least an additional 20% fee on top of what you’ve already paid for your product. If you don’t pay this fee in the allocated time slot, the product will be returned to the sender. You may also be responsible for additional import and duty fees if these have not been covered by the import company, again adding to the cost of your drone. These fees will likely put the price to that of buying a drone through a DJI approved retailer.

Missing Packages and Refunds

With Grey Market products, there is also a high number of recorded issues of products simply not arriving, being faulty when received or DOA (Dead on Arrival). Items are sometimes not sent, go missing in transit or can be seized if they breach any UK laws or legislation. When and if the companies can be contacted, there’s often blame put on the customer or little interest shown, making it difficult for refunds or exchanges to be issued. In the UK and EU, it is a consumer right for refunds and exchanges to be issued in these circumstances, however, it is slightly more difficult when buying products from out of the EU, especially if you can’t contact a company. You will have to apply through your bank or other inconvenient channels to get your money back, whilst you still don’t have the products you ordered. Even if you can get the company to issue a refund or exchange, you still might be subjected to a ‘handling fee’ or delivery charge. DJI approved retailers are covered for any damages or losses in transit including products DOA. Rather than waste your time chasing a refund or exchange, you will be sent a replacement product at the fee you agreed. DJI M600

Counterfeit Products

Although the Grey Market doesn’t include either counterfeit or stolen products, there’s a risk when buying from any unreliable and unapproved source of the equipment you will be receiving. This is especially the case if you’re new to buying on the Grey Market. Counterfeit products are illegal, can be used to fund organised crime and might be unsafe. Especially when it comes to drone, they can be dangerous things if the product isn’t genuine. Faults are rife throughout fake drones as they’re not subjected to testing like official products. This doesn’t just apply to drones. Fake batteries and chargers are more common than counterfeit drones. These products can also be defective and shouldn’t be trusted. If there’s a problem when using a fake or third-party charger, you’re likely to void any warranty, costing you a lot more than the extra money for legitimate products. Even when you’re not buying through the Grey Market, it’s recommended to avoid all third-party products to help keep your aircraft safe.


As you can see from the above, the desirable price for products you can buy on the Grey Market isn’t as good as it first seems. The monetary costs and time investment will slowly add up when problems occur. These, along with the wait time for delivery, lack of support and missing warranty, should make you question before ever buying on the Grey Market. Sure, Grey Market products may not be illegal but the cost to you can easily creep up to more than you would have paid than with that of an authorised DJI dealer. Particularly if you have to pay outstanding VAT or waste your time on the phone trying to get a refund. If you’re unsure whether a retailer is authorised by DJI, you can check their website here. DJI M210

Why Buy Local

Buying local from local companies can have some huge benefits to consumers and businesses. Here are just a few of the many positives of buying your new drone through Heliguy:
  • heliguy™ are an authorised DJI and Freefly retailer who have a wealth of experience in all things UAVs. The Sales Team will be happy to help with any queries and can be reached by phone, email or live chat during office hours.
  • heliguy™ are an approved DJI repair centre who offer technical advice, drone repairs and even builds. We also offer technical support through the heliguy™ Knowledge Base.
  • heliguy™ are also a CAA approved NQE who offer commercial drone training and an introductory day for new pilots. Not sure whether you need commercial drone training? Find out here.
  • heliguy™ offer Crash Cover on their aircraft. This means you’re covered when the worst happens. We're currently offering free Crash Cover across a range of our products.
  • You’ll earn loyalty points on your purchases and receive free delivery on all orders over £99.00.
  • We act as a go-between you and the manufacturer, so you don’t have to. Any issues will be sorted by our staff.
  • heliguy™ are a UK based company so whenever you buy from heliguy™, you help the UK economy.

To discuss anything from the above post or any DJI or Freefly product, please give one of our team a call on 0191 296 1024 or email us at info@heliguy.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

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