Subscriber Discussion

End User Asks: Risk In Switching Integrators?

I am curious about experiences from those changing VARs. We are migrating our cameras to a new back end, and also changing VARs. The VAR has a presence at our location doing maintenance and new installs and there will be some overlap while systems are run in parallel. How likely is it that a VAR or their technician would intentionally cause problems given that the video is potentially used for law enforcement?

I would think, unless they are crazy, that they would not tamper with the equipment, as that's likely a crime. It could happen but, overall, I doubt that is common.

However, the big practical risk is the outgoing integrator not providing any help. This is an especially big concern if there is poor documentation or the products being used have a history of reliability problems. They could stonewall and make it far harder for the new one to figure out problems, etc.

We were the VAR in exactly this type of situation several years ago. A (now) client wasn't happy with their current service provider, wanted to move up in technology for a new site, and their current integrator wasn't prepared to provide or support that technology... so we got the gig. Our predecessor was still under an FSA for existing systems, but even then, the client was more than happy to pay us for same-day or next-day support when the predecessor dropped the service ball repeatedly (three weeks to even get a response to one service call; they called us when nobody had actually attended three weeks after that).

AND the client was very understanding when it took us extra time to try to figure out and unravel some of what the last guys had done (love clients like that).

Ultimately the transition wasn't too painful - as the old systems died, they were simply replaced with our systems. It helped that a good friend of mine actually worked for the other integrator and, since he really liked the client and had worked on all their sites too, was glad to provide a little phone assistance from time to time. But I expect that's not the norm for most.

Another similar situation arose when a property management company we deal with called us in to service access controls at a condo complex they handled. The building caretaker was a really great guy, but we were told the strata council was a nightmare and that's why their previous VAR had dumped them... well, we figured, how bad can it really be? They don't want the work, we'll take it! I called the VAR to get the login info for the access control system, and they were more than happy to provide it, probably out of sympathy: it wasn't long before we too, told the strata to get bent... and the management company followed suit shortly after that.

If these guys ever get someone else to look after their access, and the new VAR calls me looking for help... I'll probably be more than happy to provide it, along with a warning.

Personally if I had a customer drop to switch from me, I would close myself in the MDF closet and pull one of these.

"VAR had dumped them... well, we figured, how bad can it really be? They don't want the work, we'll take it!"

Undisclosed Integrator: you learned the hard way that your logic statement was flawed. While integrators sometimes get fired by the customer for reasons out of the integrators control (smooth-talking competitor; perceptions that differ from the integrators, etc), the opposite is almost never true.

If an integrator walks away from a (paying) customer, and that customer approaches you..... turn and flee with great haste. No integrator 'doesn't want the work' - unless there is a very compelling reason for not wanting it.

What s The Problem , This happens ! Get used to it. Bad Salesmen Selling Product s the end user cant use or does not meet thier expected level of return. I have seen and am seeing this happen .

I cannot name the big boys out or call them out due to my position. But this happens and no amt of money will stop it. When an integrator, Salesman ,Company cross's the line with their lies & deceptive practices .

The corporate structures allow for dissolvement or change. Upgrades! I have seen a 12 million dollar system thrown out due to non achievable working status (City of Richmond , Ca.) (DoD , BAFB , Ca. ) ( At&T ) Global. Where thier technical expertiese could not make it work to the clients satisfaction .

There is no amount of money that will hold your position when found guilty.

Sean: you can do what ever , but in my 20 years in these fields, I have seen more companies go out the door due to non performance issues due to systems not working to expected levels. Larger Companies know how to handle their mistakes , take care of them before they become an issue. Others are too complacent.

Seen many get fired over the loss of a major acct. like these and heard many horror story's

Chris: it was a video of fictional movie character Tony Montana. In my less than 20 years I've been at companies who have on both sides of the coin, just trying to bring some levity...

Sean : no punn intended , I am sorry if it came across that way , im not a great writer and I get pretty passionate in the industry as far a the business side of things , as this is what i have to deal with daily .

Dont take it personnally .

I Just another day in the life of company drama and industry topics .

Thank s


We have taken over or replaced several systems and others have taken over ours. It is just a fact of life for the integrators.

The true factors are lack of functionality between systems of the same or different manufacturers, Poor training, poor communication between integrators and customers, and unrealistic customer expectations. We have all seen the commercial where the security system is armed instantly and an intruder breaks in. Immediately, a person answers and tells them the police are coming. Then it shows the intruder fleeing and the family reunited on the front lawn speaking to the policeman who is taking a report. We all know when seconds count the police are minutes away. I absolutely hate that commercial.

Christopher you sound like a brother from another mother. I too have worked for the biggies and have seen the "integration" promised by the salesman, expected by the customer, cursed by the installer and finger pointed by the manufacturers. One that comes to mind took over a year of manufacturer's reps flying back and forth from the site to figure out the problems. So many in fact when I reach that point again in a new install I always ask, "When is your flight arriving?"

The best way to handle the situation is to make a clean break and simply do not call the old VAR any longer. This is like asking an employee you just fired to stay on for one more week and train his replacement. The risks simply outweigh the benefits.

I would only caution you to go through these steps before firing your current VAR:

1. Did you identify your concerns with upper management?

a. You owe it to partners to identify service deficiencies and allow them a chance to remedy them.

2. Could the current VAR offer the same products and services you are switching to?

a. Often times a new VAR will pitch new products that "wow" you when in fact your current provider could probably give you the same product but simply assumes you are happy with your current system and doesn't want to pitch every new product to you.

I see too often the "product A doesn't do xy and z, so, we need to bring in product B", when either it has been a management or budget decision not to do xyz, or a newer version or higher license category will allow xyz with the current product vendor.

Many of the experiences you see out there in the industry, you wonder how the company keeps it s customer base .

But they do. As stated above, it is never like a handshake goodbye. Usually a never return calls, don't ever call back, wont take responsibility for decisions.

Just a quick disconnect. They Just replace you. Dont even tell why your being replaced. But on the other hand there are customers out there where you really want someone else to take.

Happy to let them go. Celebrate that their gone. Out of your responsibility. Others may wonder what happened; and it was just management changes for friendship changes ( good old Boys Network)

Licensing is very important per city, county, state, etc. Experience is more important . But not always required. Just Low bid......... Really Low bid.........