AUSTRALIAN equipment purchasers may find themselves stuck with unusable equipment, risking their livelihoods and reputations, and with no legal recourse, due to so-called ‘grey market’ imports, according to the Construction and Mining Equipment Industry Group (CMEIG).
The CMEIG says equipment purchased anywhere other than from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is likely to be a ‘grey import’ machine, making it unlikely to be able to be used in Australia because it will not comply with Australian standards.
JCB Construction Equipment Australia (JCB CEA) national telehandler manager Greg Sealey said telehandlers were particularly popular with grey market importers.
He said the issue was a serious one that affected JCB customers every year.
“Around 100 people buy these grey market telehandlers each year, thinking they’ve purchased a genuine JCB product with all the benefits that entails, and the truth is, they haven’t,” Mr Sealey said.
“These grey importers bring in telehandlers from overseas and sell them as ‘new’, ‘unused’ or ‘low-hour’ machines, which might be true.
“But what they’re not telling their customers is that the cheap telehandler they’re buying will never be able to be used legally in this country.
“This means owners of grey market machines may be refused entry to job sites, their insurance may be invalid and they will be personally liable for any incidents or accidents.”
Mr Sealey said the machines couldn’t legally be used in Australia because they had been brought in from overseas markets where the specifications and standards were different.
“Australia has some of the most stringent safety standards in the world,” he said.
“Features like ROPS, hose burst protection, and state-of-the-art engine and hydraulic systems are pretty standard on telehandlers manufactured for the Australian market.
“In other countries, machines simply don’t have these features, putting the machine operator at risk.”
Mr Sealey said another problem for people who have purchased grey market machines was a lack of readily available parts, which could cause significant problems if the machine broke down and when it needed to be serviced.
“Often the machines either use outdated technology or parts that were never available in Australia,” he said.
“The owners come to JCB dealerships looking for parts and repairs but we literally cannot help them, which can be distressing for everyone involved.”
Another key issue for customers is their legal standing if the telehandler is involved in an accident.
“Put simply, the owner of the machine bears full responsibility. There is no legal recourse for you if you have one of these machines in operation,” Mr Sealey said.
“The importer bears no legal responsibility and insurance companies may not cover you. You may be fully liable both legally and financially if there is an accident. That’s an awfully big risk to take.”