Buying from GraysOnline – Bagging Bargains, the Traps, the Fees, and Returns
In case you haven’t noticed, GraysOnline has mostly taken over Australia’s online auction scene outside of eBay which has also seen the decline of traditional in-house auctions. The auction site hosts thousands of auctions daily nationwide on everything from wine to military surplus.
What can you buy at Grays?
- Mining, Construction & Agriculture – ex-lease, ex-government, civil contractors, closure or financier repossessions. They are not the biggest in mining gear but do have a lot machinery.
- Manufacturing & Engineering – ex-lease, ex-government, closure or financier repossessions. They handle a lot of local councils equipment, ex-rental and hire company gear, plant closures etc.
- Catering, Hospitality & Gyms – This is a large category for Grays and there are auctions closing almost every day. Mostly from closures along with manufacturers who sell new factory surplus via auction.
- Warehousing & Forklifts – Mostly from closures.
- Automotive, Bikes, Trucks, Marine & Caravans – Lots of ex-lease fleet cars from smaller companies. There are also lots of high mileage cars that wouldn’t sell in yards. Pickles and Manheim remain the dominant players in auto auctions.
- Wine – A huge category with sales closing almost every hour. The auction site acts as a clearing housing for many brands.
- Home, Garden & Appliances – Occasional new stock from importers and brand name clearances.
- Computers, TV & Electronics – perhaps the most active category on Grays. Lot’s of refurbished items, seconds, ex. lease and corporate, and retail returns.
- Jewellery & Watches – new jewelry mostly
For bidding you have two options, auto and manual. You can place an automatic bid set to the maximum you want to pay which is useful for self-control and for when you are busy around auction closing time.
The auto bid system will place bids automatically, in increments according to other bids.
The downside to auto bids is that it can cause item prices to escalate quickly. If there is more than one person auto-bidding, prices ratchet up quickly thus reducing any opportunities for tactical bidding such as a last-minute high bid.
Otherwise, you can bid manually and mostly that’s what people do. Generally, you’ll find items are fairly cheap until the last day of the auction. And this is where things get a bit crazy.
I have continuously seen people pay more than retail price for items that are marked as “returns” and sold “as is” and that is before adding the item fees and freight which I talk more about further on.
Some seem to get hooked into that early bargain price and develop an attachment to the item without regard for factual research or real-world item value. In the last minutes of an auction, you can watch prices explode especially if it is a hot consumer electronics item as a biddy frenzy ensues. This is quite noticeable with retail return auctions.
An important point to note is that bidding does not end at the auction close time, it gets extended for 5 minutes every time someone bids which to be honest can be painful. When you have an item that is still great value, two people can sit there placing bids at the last minute, extending the auction for another five minutes perhaps hoping for the other person to get bored or fall asleep. There are better ways to spend time on planet earth.
Can I get a bargain on GrayOnline?
Unlikely, but it is possible, and in many cases what is a “bargain” is up to you to decide.
This especially applies to electronics and retail goods where Grays love to advertise Original Retail Price (ORP) which may have been the manufacturers suggested retail when the item was released, but it is unlikely to be what you’ll pay today in a competitive retail world.
Secondly, many items can be old superseded models and their real retail value would well below that of their ORP.
Check items on a specific item model number basis against eBay, and retailers such as JB HIFI, Office Works etc. and you may find the end difference (especially during a sale) is negligible once you total all fees.
Regardless, with some good research of items, using grouped purchases and knowing the fees, you can still get items on Grays that would be possible to resell on eBay or locally for a small gain, or a great bargain for yourself. Let’s dive into those points and what you need to know.
Per item fee, Shipping and Packing fee
This has to be the most important thing to note about Grays auctions. The Per Item Fee is not the Buyers Premium, it is a separate unlisted fee, only seen when you make the bid or click on the Shipping Calculator.
Sometimes this “item fee” can be jacked to hideous levels and while your bid price may be a bargain, the end price with item fee, shipping, and the buyers premium probably won’t be in some cases.
I can understand that some items require packaging and handling more than others, especially awkward and fragile items, but it is the speculation of this auction watcher at least, that this fee is also used on occasions to ensure a final value price above their own reserve.
Tip: Understand the full final value of an item you are bidding on including buyers premium, item fee, and shipping.
Super Tip: Take note when Grays offer “We will group your purchases from this sale to save on shipping” as seen under Shipping Calculator. Here you can buy multiple items and only pay one shipping fee, although you will still need to pay per item fee for each item.
Super Super Tip: Pay attention to “Pick Up Only Auctions” that are in your area. These are almost like traditional auctions and at least the bidding is likely reduced to locals, hopefully improving your chances of a great buy, plus, you can save on item fees and freight.
Buyers premium is a fee added to the final bid price it can range from 17.5% to 20%+. It is displayed on the sale page and item page. Please be sure to add it on when calculating your max bid.
Reconditioned / Factory Refurbished items
Grays Online offers a lot of manufacturer refurbished items including laptops, server gear, LCD’s, and more. Examples are Lenovo and Dell who push a lot of stock through the online auction platform.
Generally, these are newish models that have been returned under warranty and repaired by the manufacturer. Check the fine print closely, SOME only offer a 30-day warranty, others offer a 12-month warranty excluding any noted defects.
I have purchased several refurbished items including Dell notebooks and Lenovo Chromebooks and have had no real issues. Interestingly, one model Lenovo was not a locally available model so it makes me wonder where some of the stock comes from. Regardless, it has had no issues and came with a Grays 12 month warranty (not a manufacturer’s warranty) which I have not needed to use to date.
You need to pay close attention to some items, especially when they are “untested”. Basically this is code for junk. But for some people, junk is useful in that you use it for parts etc.
Be careful with old model electronics that may not function due to company closure. Many items today require an internet connection and a connection to the company’s servers to function. Let me use Fitbit as an example, if they closed, all those watches would be junk as they have little or no functionality without a connection to an app or website.
It has been seen in the past that Grays has no issue in offloading such products that are unserviceable due to company closure. They belong in recycling, not on an auction site.
Tip: the onus is on you. Research first.
Warranty and Refunds
My personal experiences with Grays Online warranty have been good and they have dealt with things fairly. The customer service experience is poor with most things handled by email and quite slowly.
If you have purchased an item clearly marked “No warranty” or “Untested”, please understand, there is no recourse. If you buy an item in an online auction you are not protected by Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
“Buy it now” sales are covered by the ACL. And if the seller is a business, such as Grays is, you have the ability to seek a refund. To that end, Grays states “Buy Now items that are faulty, damaged in transit, dead on arrival (not working), or incorrectly described (other than minor differences) may be returned”. Some “Buy it Now” items also offer “Change of Mind” where you can return the item.
If you believe they are not processing a claim fairly you have two options, one being contacting your relevant department of Fair Trading, or raising a claim with Pay Pal if you paid via that method.
Contacting Grays Online
Here are the contact and address details for their main and regional offices
NSW (Head Office)
376 Newbridge Road, Moorebank NSW 2170
Tel: 1300 362 536
Grays Help Centre NSW
601 Pacific Highway, St. Leonards NSW 2065
Grays Help Centre NSW (Auto)
5 Holbeche Rd, Arndell Park NSW 2148
Grays Help Centre Queensland
130 MacArthur Ave, Hamilton QLD 4007
Tel: +61 7 3015 9250
Grays Help Centre Queensland (Auto)
131-153 Main Beach Road, Pinkenba QLD 4008
Tel: +61 7 3015 9285
Grays Help Centre Victoria
140-152 National Drive, Dandenong South VIC 3175
Tel: +61 3 9427 4202
Grays Help Centre South Australia
3 Maxwell Rd, Pooraka SA 5095
Tel: +61 8 8304 6700
Grays Help Centre Western Australia
6 Spartan Street, Jandakot WA 6164
Tel: +61 8 9238 2100
Grays Help Centre Northern Territory
38 Toupein Road, Yarrawonga NT 0830
Tel: +61 458 002 138, +61 488 579 801