It's a common predicament: you've seen a great deal on a pair of headphones but aren't sure whether the seller is genuine. If you risk it, you could save yourself a fortune, but at the same time, if you're buying from an unauthorised dealer you could end up with a pair of fake headphones that perform nowhere near as well as the real thing.
Not only that, you'll probably struggle to get your money back, as unscrupulous sellers aren't known for their generous refund policies.
So what do you do, you ask? How do you make sure you're getting the real deal? By reading this guide, that's how. Below we advise you how to make sure every pair of headphones you buy are 100 per cent genuine, come with a full guarantee, and provide you with many hours of listening pleasure. So, let's get to it...
Only buy from authorised dealers
Buying from authorised dealers not only ensures the product you get is genuine, it also means you get a high level of pre- and post-sales service.
When you buy from an authorised dealer, whether at a shop or online, you can be sure you're buying a genuine, factory-new product. Authorised dealers will have access to the latest product knowledge, so can better serve your needs, and can offer a full warranty in case the headphones don't work as advertised.
See the links at the bottom of this page for our recommended list of authorised dealers based on brands.
Buying safely from auction sites
While Amazon is an authorised online dealer of many headphone brands, a lot of third-party resellers who sell through Amazon are not. To make sure you're buying from an authorised reseller, make sure you check where the product is being "shipped from and sold by". This should be clearly stated on the product page.
Many headphone sellers on eBay aren't authorised resellers either. Buying from them means you won't get the warranty or the level of after-sales support that manufacturers provide.
Also check you're happy with the condition of the headphones you're buying. If you want a brand-new box model, make sure that's what you're getting as opposed to a 'Like New' or 'Used' pair.
If in doubt, ask
If you're in any doubt about the retailer you're considering buying from, check the manufacturer's recommended list below. Still uncertain? Contact the manufacturer directly before you buy.
It's well worth checking the serial number with the manufacturer to see if it's genuine, too. Many are not.
Understand the risks
If you do buy from an unauthorised dealer, it's important to know what you're getting yourself into. The headphones you buy could be faulty, fake or even stolen. Even if they are perfectly fine, you'll have no warranty to fall back on if they do develop a fault.
Headphones sold by unauthorised dealers can come from a variety of sources. They could have been bought from a 'grey' secondary market (often somewhere outside of Europe with no warranty cover). They may be damaged or defective stock (so-called 'B' grade stock). They could even be stolen, or fake (i.e. not actually produced by the manufacturer of the brand).
Many unauthorised resellers sell via sites like Amazon Marketplace and eBay, but it has also been known for some more established stores to obtain stock through these unauthorised channels.
In some cases, unauthorised resellers have changed their name, website address and location to avoid dealing with customer problems. So if you do have an issue, you're on your own.
Where to buy safely online
Before buying a pair of headphones, we'd strongly advise you to check that you're buying from an authorised dealer. Click the links below to find authorised dealers for each brand.