This answer is going to sound heavy-handed, and I apologize for that. It is Thanksgiving and believe it or not, I am in a decent mood despite what the following might indicate.
This topic raises its ugly head on these boards from time to time. There are plenty of threads about it, but, no one bothers to research and read previous discussions. That is one problem the entire sales channel has with selling direct. Those that want to buy direct don't bother to read (and I know plenty of integrators and installers that don't read either). If you won't read threads, you won't read instructions either, and for the most part, we know it. I have written novels on how to use the simplest things we offer and no one bothers to read them. So no matter how well versed you may say you are, and very well may be, there are plenty who aren't and don't. End users are very often their own worst enemy.
Protectionism is near the last thing on my mind to be honest. What is on my mind is that my vendors (distributors too) expect me to market and support (sales) their product. As much as I despise doing their marketing, okay, that is the deal. If I am going to put that much work into it, there has to be some reward. If not, I will stop doing it. Plain and simple. If I generate interest and you sell direct, I am through with you. Short and sweet. I hope you can see how plain that is.
We have sold lots of equipment directly to larger end-users ourselves at far less than MSRP over the years. The only requirement I have is that they go to the same schools my staff attend. I know they know how to use the product properly. That is the only requirement. You know what, we will continue that practice. Someone, somewhere has to make sure that the installer knows what they are doing. When they call with a problem, we stand behind it all the way. An ounce of integrity is worth a pound of apologies. The poster has done that, and in those cases I, his integrator would have no issues selling him what he wanted at a far reduced cost. It is just good customer service.
There are other issues that distributors have to consider. Yes, sales tax is one, so is support, relationships with their customers etc. If that distributor knows or suspects that you saw the product at a lunch-n-learn conducted by an integrator, it would be bad faith to sell to you direct. It is just not professional and breeds distrust. Sometimes they can't know where you got the idea from, so as a policy they don't sell direct. Selling direct, disrupting the supply chain might not bother you because you got what you wanted, but these two have to work together tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Selling a one-off item to you satisfies you, but it creates a mess that you don't have to stick around and clean up.
I do wonder if the OP ever once asked his integrator to supply the product at a reduced price? Did it ever even come up? Chances are it did not. If a customer of mine were to come to me and ask, I would be glad to help them.
Not that the original poster would do this, but many would: So you buy some part of your security yourself, connect it in some way to your VMS (for example), something goes wrong and you hold them responsible. How fair is that? We spend hours if not days unraveling a problem that you created all because you wanted to save a few dollars. Then you get my bill. Sometimes you even expect me to cover it under the service contract. How fair is that?
This month is Small Business month. I have read a ton of support for local businesses. Some go into detail as to what happens when you do; what the dollars mean to that business and the local community. Why does that get lost? Is it the money? Is there a price on community support?
Another question is why some think they have an absolute right to or an entitlement to disrupt an established supply chain? Earlier last week one person asked why is it so hard to find integrators that will only provide labor. Couple that with the on-going effort to cut out the perceived middle- man and what will you be left with?? I for one know full well what the market will be left with and it is not pretty.
And while I am at it, (this has nothing to do with the OP) integrators are not middle-men. We do re-sell products yes, but that is not all we do, not by a very long shot. It is but a fraction of what we do. We do not run a retail store. This is not the same as Best Buy, Target, Walmart or Sams. They have systems they sell there. Would you really ask Sams Club to lease the equipment to you? Would you expect them to refund your money because you can't make it work? I would ask you to go into a Best Buy and ask the young person working there, just starting out in life, how many days of storage the hard drive will furnish? Ask him for ideas on how to mount the camera under the eave of your house or business? Ask the person working at Target if they know why the PTZ joystick doesn't seem to work, or why the cameras freeze up? Maybe if you ask nicely the clerk at Walmart can help you pull your cable or troubleshoot your wireless for you. But I am not here to beat up on them or anyone else.
If that is what you want, by all means; there is a supply chain for that. It is out there. But when that equipment does not perform up to your expectations, please don't get into my ear about how "unfair" the system is. Better equipment performance requires knowledge. If you think I am wrong, ask why IPVM (just to name one of many) offers certification training.
Sorry, this went way over the top and lasted a lot longer than I expected.