A while back I decided to go with Hikvision for my biggest project to date. As most of you know, the only way to aquire Hikvision USA cameras with their full 3 year warranty is through their "official" distributor network. There started my problems.
Let me preface this rant by stating that I'm a very small company (a one man army actually) and have survived just fine without going through distributors, so this is my first experience.
I immediately knew this was going to be a challenge when I realized that you could not just sign-up over the web and start ordering, even though I just wanted to make my purchases via credit card and was not seeking any credit terms. Fine, I downloaded the pdf credit account application forms for three distributors and faxed them (yes fax) to the respective accounting departments.
One week later, I hadn't heard from anybody, so I called each company. Of course, no one answered their phone, so I was forced to leave messages for all three. A couple days later, I received a return phone call from one. They said that my account had been assigned to a branch office and I should contact them. Called the branch office and had to leave message for person in charge. A couple days later, no return call, so I call again and speak to the person in charge. He said he had no record of my account or my application. I email him my original application form and wait for his call....nothing. I call again a couple days later and he had forgotten to input the information. All in all, it took two weeks from when I first faxed my application to when I was finally able to order my first Hikvision camera. Not sure about you guys, but in todays internet world, that seems a little excessive. By the way, I gave up on the other two distributors since they never bothered to process my application.
My first order was for 12 cameras, 10 being of the same model. A couple of days later, I noticed that the same model went on sale for 50 bucks less a piece which amounts to ~$500 for the ten cameras (nothing to sneeze at). I contacted my rep. and asked him about their price protection policy and of course no go, other than offering some free shipping (~$50).
My second order was for 20 DW Spectrum licenses. Those are sent out electronically, so no physical shipping. The order was placed on 8/22 and after a couple weeks still nothing. I call the distributor, but they know nothing have to get back to me. I finally receive an email with the licenses on 9/16. Not to belabor the point, but that's almost a month after the order date. To make matters worst, the email included the original email from DW which was dated 8/23, a day after I ordered the licenses. So my order sat in someone's inbox for almost a month.
My third order was for 15 cameras and that went smoothly.
However, my fourth order for 4 more cameras is what has sent me over the edge and why I am writing this in the forum. One camera I needed was a panoramic camera which was listed as a special order, so I contact my rep and ask him to check on the lead time for that item. Again, a week goes by and nothing. I call back and find that they had forgotten about my inquiry and nothing had been done. After their call back telling me that this item was in stock, I went ahead and ordered the camera along with three other of a different model. A week later I still had not received the cameras nor had I received a shipping comfirmation email. So yes, I call the distributor once again and inquire. They tell me that there was a billing issue and that the cameras were not sent out. What?! A billing issue and you don't contact me right a way to correct it? Unbelievable. This was the Monday before Thanksgiving. Today, I still have not received my order, so yes, I again call the distributor. He does not know what happened and he is currently "checking on it".
Okay, I realize this has turned into a novel, but I wanted to properly convey my frustration with this seemingly archaic system. Faxing, cash account approvals, calling, waiting. How can this be possible in the 21st century? Especially since we are dealing with hi-tech products, not Gutenberg Bibles. Actually, I bet Gutenberg Bibles are easier & less painful to purchase. ;o)
I understand that Hikvision wants to control & legitamize their products by going through only limited approved distributors, but is it working? What about all the cheap Chinese versions of their models being flooded into the market? Is my experience the norm when dealing with large distributors? Or, am I just too small for both Hikvision and their distributors to care about properly servicing my needs?
Bottom line: The only reason I haven't lost this job over all these delays is that I'm very good at planning ahead and I have a very patient client.
Thanks for reading.