Hales warns us of greymarket electronics


I have two unrelated Hales folks who regularly post comments to me, which I always appreciate! Sorry Rebecca, I’m getting to yours soon too. Hales of Halestrom.net, which you should subscribe to, had a comment about my fake copper heatsync post. There’s enough good stuff that I’ll be splitting into a couple of posts.

(As an aside, I’m going to be quoting feed URLs directly for independent authors and bloggers going forward. I encourage everyone to do this if you publish online too… let’s get a movement going).

Today’s shamelessly-republished portion of his comment concerns greymarket electronics:

Reading your article: I’m getting some hints that you think the seller saying “Copper Tone Aluminium” will be different to the more expensive options. Beware the laws of greymarket electronics!

  1. Law of packaging inertia. If it looks the same then it is the same, just with a different label attached.

  2. Law of blind merchants. Found an item that’s the same price, but looks a bit different/nicer than the rest? There is a 50/50 chance they ran out of that stock and are too lazy to update the photos; so you get sent the same item as what everyone else is selling instead.

  3. Law of dogs howling. Many apparently independent sellers are not; they’re either the same person or they don’t hold stock themselves, instead getting their items from the same guy.

  4. Law of colour penetration. Colours and material descriptions are used interchangeably. Copper, silver, titanium, gold, crystal, glass, leather, etc.

Sources for these rules: Equals Zero for rule (1) and the rest from my experiences buying & using greymarket electronics. Fakes are fun in all forms.

These are brilliant. I replied that I had my first inkling of some of these when buying floppy emultors from eBay for some vintage computer projects. I bought a few, based on different photos and model numbers, only to get the same subpar device three times. It reminds me of Techmoan when he reviews modern cassette players, and they all use variations on the same crappy mechanism.

Author bio and support


Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

The site is powered by Hugo, FreeBSD, and OpenZFS on OrionVM, everyone’s favourite bespoke cloud infrastructure provider.

If you found this post helpful or entertaining, you can shout me a coffee or send a comment. Thanks ☺️.