Originally Posted by petemcn
I've seen you make this point a few times and while I typically agree with your comments I always am surprised when you mention this general idea. When people do buy from the internet or a big box store, it isn't that they aren't getting a warranty for the product, or at least if they aren't than they aren't comparing apples to apples. It also is very unlikely that if you buy a new TV from a reputable place, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazonm it will arrive in a non-functional condition.
When you purchase between 1-3 TV's a year it is easy to assume that it will arrive in a functional condition. But as an example.. I had a client order 2 sony LCD's from best buy. 1 failed within a week. Another client who ordered 10 pioneers and 1 failed within a year. Another client who ordered 3 runco tv's and 1 failed within a year. I had a client who purchased a sim2 c3x and the first 2 were defective. It happens quite frequently. You should have been around for Phast.
If you purchased from Best Buy then you can load it into the car and drive it over. If you purchased from amazon you now have to pack it completely up and ship it in for service and wait.
If you happen to be the unlikely person that gets a malfunctioning or damaged piece of hardware it is probable, again depending on where you bought it from, that they will pick it up from you and deliver a replacement. Yes it will be frustrating to have to wait for the situation to get resolved, but that will hold true even if you buy it from a CI. Sure they may test it in the shop first and bring you a functioning one, but all that means is if they received a malfunctioning TV they will likely delay the start date for your project so you still will be without the TV for the same amount of time, you just won't realize it was b/c of a broken TV.
The difference with the CI is that the burden is on them. Same with Best Buy. If the TV fails right away you have a person, not an address and phone number to deal with. You have a loaner TV installed until yours is repaired or replaced.
I bought most of the CE products in my house from best buy. I get the extended warranty on things over $1000. I can usually get TV's @ or under what distribution sells them to me for and i know i can get the item replaced right away if it fails. I dont usually hire a CI and even though i am one i prefer to pick my products up some place else because i dont want to have to stand in line at the distributors monday morning getting my Blu-ray player replaced.
We both agree that this example is extreme, $1400 vs. $2999, but even a smaller difference would hold true. It is a scare tactic to say "But imagine the TV arrives and you plug it in and it doesn't work, that is your headache now". You fail to say that the likelihood of that happening is probably less than 5% and even if it does happen it will just mean a phone call to the place of purchase and will be rectified, not a total loss of the purchase price of the TV.
I am not trying to create a boogie man scare tactic. I am simply stating that if you contact a CI its similar to order breakfast at a restaurant. All you have to do is pay the bill and everything is done for you. I am not saying 1 way is better than the other. Simply that just because amazon has a TV for less money.. it doesnt mean that a CI is gouging anyone.
TV's show up and fail out of the box all the time. Most distributors make you open then and check the glass to see if they are broken. We have to sign documents that they were inspected. Other CE products fail frequently also. Its difficult to imagine when you are purchasing say 3 Blu-ray players a year vs 300.
Don't misunderstand my words, I read a lot of your posts and typically agree with what you say but this point that you often make, as do others in the industry, always makes me shake my head. As I stated earlier though, if a customer is looking at this price difference and considering handling the ordering themselves, Crestron is not for them. This is coming from a Crestron customer who understands both the power and the cost of Crestron.
Its my opinion that Crestron is for everyone. I think i can bid (correctly) any distributed av or home automation system with Crestron and be @ or close to any similarly featured product. If all you want is to distribute your ipod to every room then obviously you dont need Crestron. But once you step outside of the boxed lower end products you have to use the right product. Any imagined savings on a mix of 3rd party products to achieve the same goal will end up costing you the same amount once you figure in the labor for planning and implementing the mix of products. What typically happen though.. is the dealers who recommend the Frankenstein projects usually dont know how to big a job properly and they lose money by not charging for their time. So the client ends up with a 1 off system that no one will touch for less than T&M.
The reason this point is often made by me is because i get to experience the look on customers faces a few times a year when their internet sourced hardware fails. It sucks to tell the client to get his TV serviced and then bill him to uninstall and reinstall it. I am not set up for or interested in trying to get products that i don't carry, repaired. I worked for a Phast dealer. There was so much failure we rarely made a dime and often lost money on the product. This was over 5 years ago. I have been a BIG fan of letting the client source hardware themselves so i don't have to be responsible for it. Client saves money and i dont lose money when it fails.
Unfortunately there aren't many good choices for a DIY who is looking for the level of automation that the top brands offer. I think Harmony needs to buy a competitor, URC comes to mind first, and start offering something that starts to bridge the gap between DIY and Professional.
Harmony is something i only poked fun at until this year. I had never used it or seen it in action. A new client had a crestron system installed in 2 rooms. At some point he lost touch with his dealer and decided to have someone else come in and upgrade his directv receivers... reprogram his touchpanels. New company sells him harmony and puts the crestron gear in a box. I get there and pick the remote up and it looks very slick, nice touchscreen. Then i spend 5 minutes trying to navigate it. I admit i dont know what the programming abilities of the harmony are but this thing was a nightmare. Maybe the dealer who configured it was to blame.. it was awful. I reprogrammed the crestron products with system builder. Small 1 room systems. The bill was less to reprogram and reinstall the crestron hardware than it was to put in the harmony gear.
There is a product thats bridging the gap. Its called the iPad. This is the answer to taking a product like charmed quark and getting a fully featured system for less. Initially anyway. Its my opinion that things cost what they cost. What you save on up front costs you will spend in labor making it work. Finding products that actually do what the manuals say they will do can be quite frustrating. This is why crestron has a sku for everything you can think of. As a DIY the hit on labor costs you nothing extra so its an acceptable trade off. As a dealer, interested in charmed quark or similar pc based products.. you take the hit once and after the learning curve you will be able to take advantage of it.
I am not saying "ooh you better buy from a CI or you will be sorry" i am saying "if you buy from a CI you dont have to deal with product failure". The primary reason i respond in threads like this is because of the frequent assumptions that the price posted at amazon is what things should cost everywhere. We all know that is ridiculous.. or we should anyway. It bugs me that people form these opinions with seemingly no understanding of the market place.