Why international gadgets don't have local warranty

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.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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64 Responses

  1. ZAYNE says:

    Apple Has international Warranty :D just sayin’

    • IC DeaDPiPoL says:

      what good is apple’s warranty if you are asked to pay 50~60% of the price just to replace a defective ipod nano

  2. simplynice93 says:

    That why gadgets & other items not brought in the country should be given extra care. Study and inspect these gadgets very carefully before buying them or else it’s a waste..

  3. Gerard says:

    +1 great timely article.

  4. Abubot says:

    Ask ko lang po ah(please answer)
    paano po kung bumili ako ng apple product from grey market(e.g. Widget City :D) na may international warranty, ang ibig sabihin po ba nun pagka nagka sira yung laptop tatanggapin siya sa authorized service center dito sa philippines pero ipapadala siya sa bansa kung saan siya binili para ayusin? or dito na mismo sa philippines aayusin?
    sorry for the stupid question, salamat na rin po sa sasagot :D

    • jhepoyski says:

      AFAIK mga grey units doesnt have local warranty only, may international warranty meron siya pero if you check on WC kaya mura gadgets kasi walang local warranty. (please correct me if i am wrong)

    • Ben says:


      Tatanggapin yung laptop basta pasok sa warranty. Apple’s warranty is always universal. For their products, there’s no such thing as a local only warranty.

    • steve_jabs says:

      @Ben – except for iphone. You need to buy from Smart or globe. otherwise, no warranty.

    • paul says:

      where does openline iphone go for repair in our country?

  5. Hark says:

    That’s why Yugatech should stop mentioning shops that sell grey units such as Widget City. Cheaper yes but only because they don’t have official warranty.

    • nina says:

      Your logic is not valid. Mentioning the shop does not create the economy. It’s the buyers that create them. So buyer beware.

    • yuga says:

      If we follow your reasoning, then I should not be buying from Widget City, KimStore, DB Gadgets, Multiply, VirraMall, Shoppevilles, Makati Cinema Square, Park Square 1.

      But the truth is, I do. Because sometimes these are the only shops that sell them — like the Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire or the Moto Activ and many more gadgets.

      Grey market vendors are a fact of life. We here at YugaTech do not discriminate, we only inform.

    • Gerard says:

      If you’re smart enough to test your item before buying, specially for better name brands, you won’t have to go through warranty at all. So the extra price for official warranty is not that attractive. And then, if you have enough experience with warranty service locally, you know there’s very little assurance to look forward to (with perhaps a few exceptions, and on specific branches only).

      It’s up to these official distributors to prove their services worthy of the premium that they charge.

    • Martin says:

      IMO, yugatech is a blog site for review, they just review the devices and puts a link who provide it.

      buying is a matter of choice, pay-less expect a lesser warranty / Pay more if you think it is worth it. it’s your choice. it doesn’t create a market.

      in fact, you should be happy , reading articles of special devices for free at yugatech including the devices that are yet to come. without this stores/parallel imports you curse, PH will be 6months outdated with the gadget trend.

    • Kendra says:

      here’s the thing…if you’re coward to get a grey unit then DON’T BUY IT. you can’t just simply tell yuga to stop informing us about these grey units. just my two cents.

    • David says:

      Easier to tell others what they should do rather than think for yourself, huh?

  6. roiji says:

    buti na lang may shop warranty pa :D hehehe’

  7. ceegii63 says:

    ang aarte natin sa warranty pero reklamo ng reklamo mahal ang PRESYO kumpara sa ibang bansa, we pay extra for official warranty and having Grey vendors gives us the option of buying cheaper for shop warranty or buying full price with full warranty

  8. exe says:

    My IPAD had a hardware defect, i sent it to the service center and they told me apple will replace the unit. Its been with me for four months. Thing is, I have to wait for 3-4 weeks for the replacement since they have to order it abroad.. But if your IPAD has bumps or scratches or faded areas.. Say goodbye to the free replacement im talking about..

    Blackberry phones are the same.. A local distributor will acknowledge your phones and send them to sg.. And thats for 30-45 days which leaves u no phone for that waiting days.

    What I dint like about service centers here is the fact that opened units or repaired units most of the time, barubal po ang pagkakagawa, like what happened to a friend of mine with his new psvita, the shop says 1 year warranty for the unit, but fuck when problem arose with his unit he sent it to service center and boom binaboy vita nya, instead idikit ng maayos ung parts like hinang, iniscotch tape lang ung loob, parang greenhills style po ang ginawa. Natuklasan po nya un ng pinaopen na lang nya yung unit sa greenhills talaga na nagbebenta ng parts ng vita.. Imagine if that happens to your unit.. May shop warranty ka nga, ung shop ba na yun ayos gumawa? :)

  9. Silverlokk says:

    @Exe, then complain to, first, the dealer for doing such a sloppy job, then write a letter to the manufacturer if nothing happens. Visit their Facebook fan page and rant away there.

  10. Justin says:

    Indeed this is a very interesting article. However, taking into consideration everything that’s been said, can someone please explain to me HOW COME SOME AUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTORS ONLY GIVE 1 WEEK/1 MONTH/6 MONTHS WARRANTY? Honestly, even 1 year warranty doesn’t cut it for me. After all, when you purchase from an authorized distributor, you are paying a premium for it’s supposed warranty. So why is the warranty only that short? Don’t tell me that when you buy an iPod, the life of that gadget is only for a year. Ridiculous!

    You want economics? OK. Here’s the economic thinking of a typical consumer. Most often than not, the devices you purchase from an authorized distro is equally the same quality as that of grey market devices. Syermpre, pareho nga silang BRAND NEW and SEALED, eh. So when an item is used from a brand new state, and used with utmost care, 90+% of the time your device should work flawlessly. So I’d rather buy a BRAND NEW/SEALED device from the grey market (and test it thoroughly before paying for it) then take extra care of my device to make sure it works well for more than a year, than purchase it from an authorized distro, pay a premium for it, just so that I could reast easy for a few months, and if some shit happens to my device after a year, kahit na nag-bayad ako ng mahal, sasabihin lang sa akin “sorry, sir, out of warranty na po”.

    • David says:


      Because that’s how much they can afford to give, depending on their finances, risk threshold, etc. That’s why you ask yourself if X product with Y warranty is worth purchasing from Z store, or what value (if any) do you get from that.

  11. tarush says:

    In terms of warranty, nothing beats Apple, kahit san mo nabili, khit wla nang OR, basta nacheck nila sa database nila kailan approximate nabili yung item, OK yung item mo for replacement (no repair necessary) as long as di mo siya naibagsak or nabasayung Apple gadget, then you’re rest assured na may replacement kang matatangap.

    • Kendra says:

      here’s the thing…if you’re coward to get a grey unit then DON’T BUY IT. you can’t just simply tell yuga to stop informing us about these grey units. just my two cents.

    • Kendra says:

      erratum: it’s for Hark.. Sorry po.

  12. kiddd says:

    Guys can you help me out? I bought an iPod Touch from a stall in SM and not from the iStore because of the huge difference in price. After the one week “store warranty” I found out that my unit suffered the white screen of death and I managed to isolate it to be a hardware defect after restoring software. I’ve checked Apple’s website, entered the serial number, and confirmed that my unit has warranty until next year. Will the local authorized resellers honor that warranty? I’m goin to SG next month, should I have my unit exchanged there instead? Is that even a good idea? Thank you!

    • Ben says:

      If after diagnosis and they concluded it as a defect, Yes they will.

    • exe says:

      Yup. Pasok yan.. AS LONG AS.. walang gas gas, walang bumps walang kung ano mang form na maaring idahilan nila na nabagsak mo ung unit kaya nasira. Kaya lang tagal mo magwawait. 3-4 weeks sakin :(

      OH wait dint I mention that my IPAD was bought from a 2nd hand owner and he sold me a defective unit he was using for 4 months? Now apple is replacing his IPAD with a new one.. :P its like buying a brand new unit.

  13. X says:

    A very timely article! Thanks!

  14. Heorge says:

    I love grey units from grey units from grey market….

    I don’t think the tubo + VAT is included…. or if it is, it’s very minimal…


    Is a concern only
    for those careless people only.

    Anyway Is CDRKing a grey market too?

    Duh duh duh

  15. curiosity says:

    just an inquiry:
    yung offices ng samsung/lg/sony dito sa pinas ba ay hindi sila yung nagdidistribute ng smartphones (eg) nila to dealers?
    kung sila pa din, then bakit d nila tinatanggap ang isang device na binili sa labas? i mean, just how apple implements it. TIA

    humor: another lawsuit will arise :D

  16. Benchmark says:

    I do care about the warranty…but IMO, I’d rather spend it on insurance for my device.

    Well does anyone out there know regarding insuring “expensive” mobile phones?

  17. Jeric says:

    I own an ipod touch 2g way back 2009 that was given to me by my cousin from the US. After 2weeks, it got an external speaker problem. Hindi na gumagana, so as long as it’s still within the 1year warranty, its good for replacement. I’m from Bacolod, and its good that we have an authorized dealer dito, sabi nila, they would honor the repair/replacement, but i need to pay for shipping of the product back to manila (cost 600 back&forth), but good thing, a friend of mine went to manila, so i ask him a favor to drop it on power mac, they confirmed its defective and immediately gave me a refurbished one. So far so good. Also have a great experience with APC products and enigma computers, they really honor defective products within 1 year. So you have to gamble if you buy from grey markets esp. they dont have local warranties.

  18. Renan says:

    Even if you purchase an iPhone from Globe or Smart, it doesn’t have a good warranty since it still needs to be sent to SG. Just like BlackBerry phones.

  19. ASUS Philippines says:

    Hello Everyone,

    We would like to clarify in the end of ASUS that all Notebooks, Netbooks and Tablets are eligable for Global Warranty. The duration of the warranty depends on the country but here in the Philippines its 1 year warranty.

    That is including the Battery and Adapter where normally even other brands don’t cover those and categorize it as “Accessories”.

    The term “International Warranty” may still have limitations in some regions of the globe, thus we use the term “Global Warranty”. Global Warranty means that any ASUS unit purchased is eligible for *warranty repair service to any ASUS Service Center worldwide.

    *Provided that you have also registered your product online through vip.asus.com

    We hope this helps to clarify in some of your questions.

  20. rommel says:

    same thing happened to my Nintendo 3DS, had to send it to Australia for the warranty…tsk

  21. widgetcity bad servi says:

    i had my xperia bought in widget city, after a few months ng ka defect sa lcd then ni repair nila kina bukasan sira, binlk nmn tapos kinabukasan sira n nmn. dnala n lng s greenhills ngbyd ng 2.5k , ayos….

  22. VERY timely. I just bought a grey market SIII. Before I did, I spent a couple of minutes thinking about the warranty since I had very good service with my Blackberry 9900 that I bought from an official distributor. Good thing there was a Samsung service center in Greenhills and I asked them if they accept grey units for repair, and they said yes, but of course you’ll be paying, which I’m totally okay with. I’ll just have to take extreme care of my unit. :)

    Just like what Kendra said, if you’re too worried about grey units, don’t buy them. It’s really up to you, the buyer naman if you’re willing to pay for repairs in the future.

  23. meh says:

    I dont understand “grey market” if you buy a cell phone such as HTC or Samsung it shouldnt matter where you bought it. The factory warranty should still stand in any country.

    So i dont get what the grey market is, or why the philippines has trouble having normal products like other countries

    • yuga says:

      Because if there’s no money that goes thru the distributors, they will not assume the risk of supporting product they did not distribute in the first place.

    • reader says:

      The article explains quite thoroughly the whole supply chain process of goods the end up in consumer hands.

      One thing that this whole model also does is that it ‘protects’ legal distributors and retailers from said grey unit resellers. Disti and retailers alike have to invest on marketing and support. As a business owner, you wouldn’t want to spend your money only for someone else to benefit from all that work.

      Apple is one of the few exceptions wherein it has a different warranty support model. I would love to understand how they do it though. But from a production perspective an iPhone 4S only requires $188 USD to manufacture and it retails for around $700 USD. There is some leeway there to absorb the cost for warranty exchanges.

  24. reader says:

    Another thing to consider… grey units are cheaper NOT only because they don’t have local warranty BUT the plain and simple truth is that the retail price for these units in other countries is way cheaper that the retail price in the Philippines.

    Take for example a Samsung Galaxy S3 which retails for around 32k from reputable stores. In other countries, it would retail for around PHP 25k – PHP 26k.

    Assume that a grey unit importer will talk to a distributor of said unit in another country and he gets the distributor price of 21K (assume 15% retail margin) and he can also further reduce the price by removing the cost of warranty provision (assume 5%-10% allocation for warranty returns). Therefore, it is possible that grey units can be had for 20k or less in other countries by these grey unit importers.

    I will not go into the discussion of duties and taxes since I am pretty sure that these enterprising folks are quite creative on how they get the goods in. :-)

  25. Destron Commander says:

    Grey market allows the entry of models that aren’t intended for the Philippine territory.

    I have encountered people with Deskjet 1600 models that they bought from some store and because the printer is uber cheap, less than P2,000. However, the shop they bough them from do not carry the consumables and I end up having to tell them the bad news that they won’t be able to buy inks for their printers.

    According to a HP representative, it is possible for the end user to order the inks but it would end up being an expensive exercise.

  26. oliver mia says:

    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.


    • Obed says:

      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.

  27. k raid says:

    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.

  28. Marie says:

    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. :(

    • Jan says:

      Dell has home service for warranty repairs and is much faster than bringing your unit to the store. Used the service twice and so far they delivered. Got my laptop repaired in 3 days. My only gripe about it is that when you call their customer service hotline, you get transferred to call centers outside the country. You’ll either have to talk to an Indian or Chinese call center agent.

    • It happened with us as well! Personal note: My brother’s Dell laptop was not working and needed a part replacement. My mom cannot understand the Chinese person she was speaking with when she dialed the Dell hotline, so what she did is she requested to be transferred to another agent. Luckily she got to a Filipino working in Singapore so there was no barriers at that time and the situation was properly explained.

      I highly suggest that you request for a call transfer in case you cannot understand the person on the other line.

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    its really really pleasant paragraph on building
    up new blog.

  30. Keith says:

    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 says:

      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?

  31. Nicole says:

    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.

    • Chad says:

      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.

    • Chad says:

      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.

  32. Chad says:

    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?

  33. BrakkiZ says:

    I am not an apple fan. But one thing I like with apple products is their global warranty.

  34. Jay Javier says:

    DELL/Alienware honors international warranty WITHOUT having to send the units to the regional hub. You only have to transfer the warranty to your name and/or the region the unit is in. Ex. an Alienware laptop bought in the US need only have to be transferred to the South East Asian region and the warranty from the North American/US region would be carried over. Also, you do not have to carry your unit in any service center, they have home/on site service.

    • Trystan Baltazar says:

      That is wonderful to hear. I am planning to order a Customized Alienware from the US, one of their newer models. I did a live chat with their tech support and they told me that exact same thing, my warranty would be honored if I get their premium service and if I transferred the region to the Philippines. Thank goodness there are some good companies out there that would take care of you.

  35. Glenn Vincent O. Yazon says:

    Hi Folks
    I plan to go to Singapore in October and plan to buy a Microsoft Surface Pro.
    I have two questions for the group>
    1. What sort of tax will I encounter when I bring the laptop back home to the Phils
    2. In case that the unit encounters problems here, where can I bring it for repair?
    3. What sort of freight or tax will I need to send it to the US or Singapore for repair in case it can not be repaired online?

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