10 Reasons NOT To Buy Costco Surveillance Kits

'Warehouse' surveillance kits, like those at Costco, have become a pretty serious player. Now one vendor has put together a list about why not to buy them.

Agree? Disagree? What would you add?

I think the warehouse kits are very compelling for people wanting basic surveillance at low, low prices.

These reasons seem to have problems with facts. Just to start, all the manufacturers Costco sells for HD IP kits, for example, have at least a 1-year warranty. I guess if they consider that "little to no" warranty, then it's true.

I’m not a fan of the Costco camera solution for the clients that I serve, but I do not see them as a threat. Different clientele. Now if your market space is purely convenient stores and residential, I could see how they would be a threat.

In response to the “Warehouse Clubs offer little to No Technical Support – They don't have the resources for this” I wouldn’t call Costco to get support on a electronics purchased through their storefront. The same way I wouldn’t call Costco if the 80” LED TV had an issue. Call the manufacture!!

I don’t know… the list seems to suggest that they are in direct competition with the Costco offerings. I would try a different approach such as building a compelling reason to use MY equipment vs. why not to use someone else. Negative selling can backfire on you.

1) Depends on the manufacturer.

2) I don't know about all warehouse clubs, but Costco has a very generous and forgiving return policy.

3) True as far as that goes, but how much technical support do modern consumer grade surveillance kits really need, anyway? I'm here to tell you, not much.

4) Many manufacturers recognize this, and have been working on ways to make their systems idiot resistant, if not idiot proof. Lorex, for example, has this new Stratus thing that makes getting your DVR or NVR online simple. Open the box, run the wires, download the app to your smartphone, scan the QR code printed on a sticker on the DVR, follow the prompts to change the default username and password, and then go make yourself a sandwhich. Done. If you can't operate a smartphone, you can't operate a DVR either no matter how simple to use it is.

5) Rarely true anymore. D1 at 30FPS is the most common resolution now.

6) Bah. Without kicking off a nerdfight over CMOS v CCD, most of these kits are used in short range, relatively well lit applications.

7) Very true, probably my biggest beef with these systems. Why cheap out on cable, of all things?

8) My other beef, especially since the box says something like "OMG 180 foot night vision range, holy cow!!!!!!"

9) You say "substandard", I say "good enough for most purposes". Potato, po-tah-to.

10) Wait a minute, we just went over this in point number six.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of the El Cheapo Guangzhou Specials, but I strongly believe that it's better than no surveillance at all, which is, realistically speaking, the other alternative.

Also, I've been installing cameras since the VCR days. I would have killed any one of you for access to cameras of this quality. Seriously. 30FPS at D1 resolution, filling the screen edge to edge? In color? Weeks and weeks of video storage? Not available at any price 15 years ago. And now you can pick up a package with camera, recorder, and cable from the same place where you can buy milk and eggs and wheel of cheese the size of a truck tire, for a couple hundred bucks. Amazing.

"7) Very true, probably my biggest beef with these systems. Why cheap out on cable, of all things?"

Ari, can you expand on this? What type of cabling do they include? How bad is it?

Just extremely thin Siamese, vulnerable to every stray RF signal, unpleasant thought, and pixie fart that crosses it's path.

I will say that the 100' Cat 5e cables that come in the Q-See kit were not my preference, either. They're smaller gauge and tangle and kink easily.

The analog kits I have seen in the past always include pre-molded COAX cables that have very thin conductors and jackets. The wire "kinks" easily and is hard to work with. I don't have any proof of the RF shielding in the pre-molded wire, but I have seen a large increase in color definition after replacing the cheap wire with traditional quad shield RG59. Also, as an installer, I have to now drill larger holes to pass the wire through walls, due to the fact that the wire is pre-terminated with a BNC and power connector. The real kicker to pre-terminated wire is that if you do damage the wire, you cannot simply re-terminate it. You have to replace the wire, due to the fact that the wire guage is too small for RG59 ends. Also, since the wire length is already pre-determined, you will likely run into issues with the cable being too long or short. Too long and you have to manage a bunch of extra wire. Too short and you have to extend an already small gauge wire. There may be other issues as well, but those are the ones off the top of my head.

It would sound to me like this might be an opportunity to partner w/the local Costco and offer installation and maintenance service - you can then also offer additional products and services - this isn;t a new idea, Home Depot has been doing this for a long time. When I needed to replace my front door, i bought it at HD and they sent one of their pre-approved contractors over to install it. After he finished installing the door, I engaged him to close-in my side porch with windows - i was very happy with both jobs.

Chuck, that's an interesting idea.

Does anyone have any knowledge or experience whether Costco, Home Depots, etc. recommend / partner with security integrators? I guess the other question would be: Do most integrators even want that business? Given that it's labor only and likely a small job?

I have a little experience with Costco partnering. We had a guy approach us to install Costco systems and we laughed him away. He partnered with a local costco and then wanted us to do the install (sub of a sub). We stayed far from him. He was a single man shop with no experience in security or construction and had no licensing (California). Also, the price he wanted to pay for our time was too low.

Brian, thanks!

"the price he wanted to pay for our time was too low."

Related, and you might enjoy this: How Much Would You Charge For This Job?

I put myself on costos contractor list years ago and lo and behold got calls from a buyer and installed systems in his chain of clothing boutiques.

I was once part of $150,000,000 project that started with a $50k purchase order. If i were a company like the one that wrote the 10 reasons, I would at least try to invest some of my BD efforts in this direction - remember what Gitomer says..."people hate to be sold, but they LOVE to buy, and they REALLY like buying from their friends." You never know...do a good job at someone's house, and they may just give you their business. r/Chuck

This is negative marketing in its purest form. The big problem I have with Rugged Cams is that they are like many online retailers: though they claim "Building The Toughest Security Cameras On The Planet, for over 20 years", in actuality they are not a manufacturer at all. In actuality, their products may be better or worse than the products sold by Costco. It's a hit or miss proposition which is very dependent on the retailer's choice of manufacturers.

Looks like mostly bullshit to me. COSTCO has excellent service(concierge they call it) on all their electronics and their 100% money back, no questions asked within 90 days for their cameras is hard to beat. I have a couple 2MP Hiks from Costco on Blue Iris that have not missed a beat. They were labeled Swann. Their market is also directed at the home user/small business client.

Carl is right on IMO.

this clip was taken this morning with my HFW2100, a Q-See from costco


Rick, thanks. Did you buy those 2MP cameras from the store or online? I am curious because the Costco physical locations near me seem only to have analog.

John, my store here in Toledo, OH also only carries analog kits from Samsung.

All of them bought online. The neat thing about returns is you can take them to the closest warehouse. I have returned one, tried to explain why and they did not even care to know.

As you can see, life is tough here in North Idaho. We were lucky enough to have a few extra 500lb bales. I just put that one out Friday. It will be gone in two more days. Late snow(for us) brought the herd down.

Here is COSTCOs current selection which will change often.

I have been called by a customer who asked if i could install his Costco system; I said sure but I had problems getting paid because he had an issue with the system and felt it was my fault

I hate it when approached to install customer provided equipment. I try my best to avoid this situation by all means. I have found that things never go well when installing gear that I am unfamiliar with. I will only make exceptions with clients that I know well enough and can trust to understand if issues arrise, it is not my fault since I didn't pick the gear.

That was an ad, not an article.

John, I don't know if its only me but the list about why not to buy them no longer seems to work.

It still works here.

Thanks, Strangely enough, it worked from my own post.