Why international gadgets don’t have local warranty

I often get these types of questions from readers — why are gadgets bought in other countries (HK, SG, US) not supported for warranty repairs and replacement in the Philippines? Well, it turns out this is all about the economics of the distribution system.

There’s a supply chain that is normally followed when a product is introduced in the country. Normally, brands would not bring their products in the a region if they do not have a local distributor.

Distributors play a huge role as they are basically the ones that somewhat bank-roll the introduction of the products to the country. Oftentimes, there’s only one distributor for an entire brand. Sometimes, if it’s a huge brand or large volume, there could be two or more distributors (Nokia has two huge distributors in the country).

Remember the time when only Dell laptops are available in the Philippines but not the Dell smartphones? It’s because the distributor was only carrying the laptops. Dell had to look for another distributor for the phones before they can introduce them (ended up with MSI-ECS) locally.

Once the distributor orders in bulk and imports them from the manufacturing countries (normally it’s in Taiwan, China, South Korea or Japan), it will distribute the products to its network of dealers or resellers. Popular dealers like VillMan, PC Express, Octagon, Asianic, Complink are the ones that you see often in the malls but there are actually more in the provinces that we haven’t heard of.

Sometimes, one of the dealers will also be asked by the brands to put up a concept store. So the next time you see a concept store by Asus, Samsung, Western Digital or Sony, try to figure out who’s the dealer behind the store.

Normally, dealers that run the concept stores also get some support for their marketing budget. Some would also get 50-50 share in the construction cost of the store itself.

For warranty, the dealers also serve as the de facto service center. This is the reason why if your device has a defect, you just need to bring it to the store you bought it (along with the receipt) for warranty repairs or replacement.

The least a store can do is receive your item and then refer it to the distributor. This is the reason why sometimes it takes weeks before your product is inspected, repaired, serviced, replaced and returned. Depending on the capacity of the distributor, pick-ups and delivery to that store may only happen once or twice a week.

If the product line is already strong and the volume of units sold can justify it, the distributor will also put up its own stand-alone service center and this is where all dealers will refer customers for warranty claims.

As such, to protect the business of the distributor and dealers, they will only receive items you actually bought from them. These are the units which are eligible for local warranty. Otherwise, they might also accept grey units but you’ll have to pay for the service since it’s not covered by warranty.

The reason is now pretty clear:

* The distributor is only responsible for specific products that it actually imported and sold to dealers. This is why serial numbers, warranty cards or ORs are used to track them.

* Distributors will incur cost for warranty claims. It could be from cost of manpower for repairs, cost of shipments for returns and replacements or cost of defective parts.

* Products bought elsewhere are considered loss of sales opportunity for the distributor so not only do they not want to provide warranty for it, they also consider it competition. The brands themselves cannot also track the sales volume outside of the distributorship so it may seem that sales are slow but in fact it is very strong in the gray market. Those numbers are not considered by the regional/global office as originating from the country.

* This is the reason why gray market units or parallel imports are way cheaper than the mall prices of the devices — the prices do not account for replacement warranty and they did not invest in infrastructure for repairs and services. The only time gray market units are more expensive that the SRP is because of high demand and low supply of the units.

* So, even if your unit is still covered by international warranty, the local service center will eventually charge for repairs. This is the only way the local distributor can recoup and maintain operation of their business.

How about international warranty?

Most brands or manufacturers will offer international warranty if local warranty is not available. This means that wherever you bought your gadgets, it will be serviced, repaired or fixed by the international service center.

The international service center is usually stationed in regional hubs like Singapore, the United States or Japan.

So yes, you can have your BlackBerry Bold 9900 handset which you bought in the US or that Canon S100 camera you bought in HongKong repaired from the factory defects. Thing is, you have to send it back to the originating country to do so (the distributor there will honor it). That’s how the ball rolls.

There’s economics at play in this distribution ecosystem. Some may have a different system but based on numerous conversations we’ve had with dealers, distributors and manufacturers, this is normally how it goes (the only exception I know of is Apple). Hope this simple explanation helps.

57 Comments on this Post

  1. oliver mia

    medyo off topic lang..

    guys ano babayaran sa customs if i buy gadgets like laptop sa amazon or tigerdirect? may nabasa ako, 12% EVAT lang daw and fixed fee na less than 500 pesos.


    • Man, you’re in a big trouble, the last time I paid for customs and taxes was with a $99 iPhone 5 Case, paid around Php 1,600+


      1. Dutiable Value
      Price of Laptop (USD) + Shipment Price (USD) + Insurance (USD) = Dutiable Amount (USD)

      2. Duty Rate on Article
      Dutiable Amount (USD) x PHP to USD Exchange Rate = Dutiable Amount in PHP

      3. Customs Duty Tax
      Dutiable Amount in PHP x Duty Rate (Maximum is 10%) = Customs Duty Tax

      4. Then there are the Stamps and Process Fee

      Customs Documentary Stamp = Php 250
      Import Process Fee = Php 250
      BIR Documentary Stamp = Php 15
      = Php 515.00

      5. Then there’s EVAT:
      Dutiable Value + Customs Duty + Stamps and Process Fee x 12% = EVAT

      6. So All in all:
      Customs Duty + EVAT + Stamps and Process Fee = Total Customs Duties and Import Taxes.


      If I bought a laptop from Amazon custom $1000 then shipping is $20 then here’s the computation:

      Laptop = $1000
      Shipping = $20
      Total: $1020

      $1020 x Exchange Rate as of typing is 45.30 = Php 46,206

      Php. 46,206 x Duty Rate on Article (10% max) = Php 4,620.60 is your Customs Duty Tax

      Stamps and Processing Fee is Php 515

      Then EVAT:
      Dutiable Value = 46,206
      Customs Duty = 4,620.60
      Stamps and Fees = 515
      Total: Php. 51,341.6
      x EVAT RATE 12%
      = 6160.99


      Customs Duty = Php 4,620.60
      Stamps and Fee = Php 515.00
      EVAT = Php 6,160.99

      Total: Php 11,295.99

      If you are going to pick-up your item at post office here will be a Php 50 handling fee.

      If it will be delivered door to door by FedEx, UPS, DHL etc. you’ll just pay the Customs Duty and Taxes.

      Sucks right.

      Next time if I where you just have it delivered to a forwarding company like Johnny Air.

  2. years ago, i bought a Compaq laptop from BestBuy.com in the US

    when it got broken, i brought it to the HP Service center in Buendia. they fixed the damage for free..

    i didn’t need to ship the laptop back to the US.

    • just a side note: it happened within the 1 year “international” warranty

  3. Because of hard disk failure and mabilis na pagdrain ng battery, I bring my dell laptop (w/warranty) on a Dell concept store in SM MOA nung last 2nd week of July and paid P2500 for labor fee daw and up to now di ko pa nakukuha, mag 2 months na. When I call the Dell on SM MOA, ayos na daw and for delivery na daw sa kanila yung laptop (nung last 2 weeks pa ako tumawag). Pero pag nag-call ako sa kanila for update, wala pa rin dun laptop ko. Di pa rin daw dinedeliver sa kanila.

    Grabe sobrang tagal ng service nila. Sabi nila 2-3 weeks lang yun makukuha ko na laptop ko, until now wala pa. I’m so frustrated on their service. I miss my laptop. :(

  4. I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet viewers,
    its really really pleasant paragraph on building
    up new blog.

  5. I have lived in the Philippines for 13 year (British) there is so much corruption in this country, it would take decades to get rid of, it’s inbred with the nation, they actually think it’s normal, they have a weak sense of moral here, there are good people here, but they are far out numbered by the BAD, it’s a great shame as the few how are good are usually better than their counter parts in other countries, it’s just something we have had to endure, along with their dual standards, if your white you pay white mans tax, double what the locals pay, Pirated games can be purchased just about anywhere.

    • siraniks

      you got a point sir, it’s really difficult to change, even if you try it to change it in small ways, the results will impact only small group of people.

      have you tried travel on Mindanao sir? like in Davao?

  6. Nicole

    actually, even Apple stores here in the Philippines don’t honor the warranty. they only accepted the gadget if it’s bought in SEA coutries like taiwan, hongkong, singapore. My defective iphone 6 from dubai was not replaced. I had to send it to canada and it was replaced on the spot. No receipt even needed.

    • iPhones are NOT covered by Apple’s International warranty simply because they are a REGULATED product by the DOTC and local carriers. While it may seem like the Brand’s name will be enough to warrant a warranty, the Carriers and telcos overrule this since they are the ones the products utilize.

      It’s somewhat similar to owning a car. The brands may be part of the equation but it is the LTO who has the say-so if that car can even run on Philippine streets. The only difference is LTO does not hold the warranty privileges like the Telco.

    • Sorry, that sort of sounded wrong.

      DOTC regulates radio devices (like cell phones) that operate in the PH. Hence, you see those winded legal crap you see in your manual.

      Part of the reason why the iPhone warranty does not apply here is because it is somewhat pointless to support a product that is beyond the legal scope of the distributor and regulator for a product that was not guaranteed to work in a specific region in the first place.

      I guess the reason why Canada honored, your warranty was because they have similar if not identical legal scope for radio devices. e.g. a 4G phone that uses the same bands of networks on the antenna.

  7. How is Apple able to pull off an international warranty?

    PowerMac in the PH all the way to the Apple Store in the USA will accept my Mac with no questions asked, exclusive of iPhones. They do not charge extra. PowerMac explained that as long as it is an Apple product and NOT stolen, they are obligated to honor the warranty period.

    How does their service fit into your research? What are they doing differently than the rest?


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