Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested

By IPVM Team, Published May 18, 2017, 05:07am EDT

In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation.

Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and scheduling integrated into the product buying process. For example, here it is when buying a Hikvision camera:

And you can tell Amazon how many cameras and if you want Amazon to do the network / programming as well as mounting them:

So we scheduled an appointment with an Amazon tech:

Inside we examine how Amazon installation techs worked, including the good and bad of the process and installation.

Executive *******

*** ****** ****, ***** helpful *** ***********, *** never ********* ** ** camera. ** ******** ** that *** ************ ******** of ******* **** ** for ******** / ********* assembly, **** ********** ******* computer *******.

*** ********* **** ** Amazon's ******* ******* ** that ****** *** ***** it **** (** ****** items) ** *** ************ scheduled ***** ** *** regular ****** *******, **** timely ******* *** ******** of *** ********* ****. This ********** *** **** to **** *** ****** one's *** *********.

*** ******* ********** **** (1) ******* *** **** not ******* ** ******* or ***** ************ ** all *** (*) *** relatively **** ***** *******.

 

No ************ *********

*** ********* ** ***** to ********* **** ** had ** ************ ********** whatsoever. ** *** ********* network ******* ******** *** was ********* ******* ** a ***** ** ********** covering ******** ********. 

*** ********* **** ****** to ****** *** ******** quick ***** ************ *** setup ** *** *** camera ** *** *******, but ***** *** **** been **** ** ****** any ******** ******* ** camera *********.

Tech **** ** ************

** ***** ** ****** an ****** ******* ********,***** ******** ** *********** to ****** * **********, ***** **** *** basic ******** ***********. *** "company" **** *** **** to ** ************, **** a *** ** ** D&B ******, ***., ****** have * **** *** verifiable ********. 

**** ******** ** *** company **** ******* * criminal ********** *****. ****** does *** ***** *** installers **** ******** ******* to ******* ****.

The "****" ** ********

*** ********* ********* ****** as *** **** ** installation ********. ********* **** are **** ** ********** installers ** *** **** via ***** *** * smartphone ***, **** *** first ********* ** ****** getting *** *******.

********** *** ****** ******** categories ** ********, ** they *** ****** ** receive *** **/******* ******** or **** ******* ****** install, *** *** ** or ******* *******. 

********** ********** *** ****** as **** ** ** few ******** ** **** like, **** *** **** concern ***** ***** *** time/missing ************/******** ****, ***** could ****** ***** ****** and ********** **** ** Amazon ********** ***** ************.

Camera ******* ****

********* ** *** *********, in * ****** ** being ****** ** ****** services, ** **** *** first ****** ******* ********. Most ********/******* ******* ******** in *** **** (******* PA) *** *** ******** printers, *** *******, ***., with **** ******** ********. 

*** ** ***, ***** services *** **** ****** than ********* ********. *** installer **** **** ********* assembly ** **** ******* in *** ****, *** example.

Most ******** ***** ***

**** ** *** ******** offered ** ****** **** a ***** ***, **** as $*** *** "******** camera ************" (** ******** included) ***** ** ********. If *** ********* ********** that ********** ******* ********* time ** ********* ******* additional ****, **** ********* with *** ******** *** update ******* ** *** spot. **** ** **** sent ** *** ******** to ******* (*** ***** or ***) ****** **** may *******.

************, **** ******** (**** as ********** *******) *** not **** ***, *** always **********. ****** ********* request ********* ****** ******** for ***** ********, **** the ********* ******** *** site ** ******* *******.

Amazon's ***

********* ** *** *********, ****** takes * ******** ********** of **** *******, ***** varies **** "***** **-**%", depending ** ***** *** type. ** *** *** single ******, **** ******** to ***** $**-** *** Amazon *** ~$** *** him. The **** *** ******** below.

Job **********

***** *** *** ** complete, ***** *** *** steps ***** **** ** followed ** *** ********:

  1. ******** *********:*** ******** **** ****** work *** **** *** that ** ** ********* to ***** ************.
  2. ********** *****:****, *** ********* **** submit * ***** ** themselves ** ****** ** was **** *** ********* the ****. **** **** is ******** ** ******* unauthorized *********** (***** *** haven't ********* ********** ******) from ***** ** ******** sites/in **********.

*** ********* ** ***** to *** ******* ** whether ****** ******** ******** these ********** ****** ** if **** **** **** for ***** ************ ** case ** *********. **** **** no ****** ** *** completed **** **** ** submitted.

***** ***** ***** *** complete, *** ******* ** marked ** ******** *** credited ** *** *********'* Amazon ****** *******, ***** is **** ***** ** days. 

No ****** ***

***** ***, ****** ************ for ***** ************ ** not * ****** ** even *****. ** ******, Amazon *** * **** track ****** ** ******* up ***** *********. *** example, ***** ******** **** unavailable ** *** **** even * *** ****** ago.

** ** **** **** get ** *** ***** that **** **** ************* video ************ ********** *** sufficient ****** ** ***** surveillance ************ ********, ****** could ****** * ***** challenger, ** *****, *** the *** *** ******** market. **** / ***** case ********, ********* ** one's ***********, ***** ** us ** ** ***** away.

Comments (27)

Great post. I can see this becoming an issue to contend with in the consumer / residential market. Lucky for us, this isn't our business vertical or focus.

 I've constantly told individuals within our industry that large businesses, government, commercial & industrial verticals are where the job security + profits are at. (IMHO)

 At the end of the day, as long as focus & knowledge on areas like access control, fire systems, large networking infrastructure projects (for security.) & Integrated security systems, are the core of one's business, targeting the previously mentioned verticals, I don't see this easily being disrupted....yet.
 Heck, I didn't see Uber coming....but then I also don't drive a taxi. ;)

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I think this is true to an extent. As an integrator with roughly 80% of our business in the commercial / utility / government market I really am not interested in ceding 20% of our business because eventually it moves upstream. The traditional model of disruption is to start at the low end and move up. All this does is force the residential players to start targeting small commercial and then mid/large commercial to make up for the loss of their revenue. People and businesses normally will seek anyway to stay afloat rather than just go out of business and be swept away by the tides of change. I can see this affecting install revenues at the higher end of things.  I would love all my customers to be gold plated fortune 500 customers but even those customers and systems are not as fat of sales as they were 5-15 years ago and have gotten considerably more competitive. 

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All this does is force the residential players to start targeting small commercial and then mid/large commercial to make up for the loss of their revenue.

Maybe, but wouldn't they have already been doing that? I've never found small, residential players not be interested in more lucrative commercial work. But they'd have to up their skillset to do it. And that is a significant investment in time, people and learning resources. Not just technical knowledge, but business knowledge, too. Because larger commercial clients are not going to invest 6 figures and more in what they perceive as a small, low end player, fair perception or not. So it may force more residential players to go after more lucrative and involved commercial plays, but not all are going to have the capabilities to do it and it won't happen overnight.

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There is a lot a low end integrator can convince a client of with a website and some professional marketing literature. I've had it more than once where a trunk slammer has pulled a large job-- so I won't completely discredit the possibility. 

I guess it all depends on how competitive your market is. I think the traditional route for a lot of players was/is to start in the residential/small commercial and grow to the point of being competent enough for the larger installations. I don't know of any companies that started with large six figure/seven figure projects out of the gate.

I think the reality is that the IP camera market is getting almost all the profitability squeezed out of it which is forcing players to target where the money is left in their market whether that be getting into access control or fire alarm etc. There are probably 3x the number of companies that sell / install cameras today in our market than there were 5 years ago. It would really help if the ticket price wouldn't have fallen so much. When IP cameras sold for 1k+ per camera not many people were willing to hire a guy over the internet they never met to install them. Now with the ticket price sub $200 they are essentially throw away commodities.

It's the same thing where I won't hire a guy over the web to service my luxury vehicle but I will find a guy off of craigslist to fix my lawn mower. If he completely wrecks the lawn mower I can buy a new one within my budget. Not so much on the vehicle.

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You know, a funny thought just came to my head...

The installer knew enough to follow the included quick guide instructions for setup to get the camera on the network, but would not have been able to answer any advanced network or camera questions.

So in this case, you could say they bought a tire off the Internet and paid for the service to have it put on the car, but the guy couldn't balance the tire or do an alignment, or check if the brakes or struts were ok.

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Does Amazon require or check if an installer has a contractor license if the camera is hard wired? 

What about insurance, if the installer gets hurt or falls off a ladder who's responsible? 

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Good question. We'll see if we can find out. I'm going to guess that Amazon leaves it to the installers to follow all local codes/permit requirements and get their own insurance. But let me see if I can get an answer.

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I expected some more hilarious dialogue between Ethan and the Amazon Installer!

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I also totally expected a TON of probative trolling!

However, to play devil's advocate, the majority of these "installers" may be as described above, but what about the ones who are competent and have made the transition to use Amazon for a steady stream of business?

Do we choose to embrace this as the new means to get out there into the field ourselves, a way to find and pick up potential talent and keep them from undercutting the market, or ultimately as an existential threat that's only just getting started?

This is just one experience that may not pass our expectations and standards, but is this standard enough for your average residential install? Will "good enough" begin to dominate? Will they really become the "Uber" of home services?

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Norm, did you OEM this joke? ;)

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#2, Norm will have to split his 21 upvotes with you or face your wrath!

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Doh! I thought it was a real sneak preview :(

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A fella's gotta stack upvotes anyway he can!

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It's very similar to the way OnForce did things when I used it for side work circa 2005'ish to 2010'ish, except I don't remember if OnForce served residential spaces or not.

I agree with Joseph, it's more of a threat for now to the trunk slammer market and those installers who work in that space. And maybe those companies that do video as an ancillary service. For example, alarm, gate and fencing companies that would also install cameras as an extra offering, but not their primary one.

(I always wondered why OnForce never got into low-voltage and CCTV categories.)

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I agree completely.  This is almost exactly the same model as Onforce, Work Market, and a few other labor commoditization services.  These services are definite threats to basic residential/small business basic IT work (including to a lesser extent commodity cameras) but are actually a tool for multi-site installs for rollout system integrators.  Those services are more evolved than Amazon simply due to the time in the marketplace, more stringent requirements, etc.

If you're requesting work done on a Dell, HP, Lenovo, or Apple computer there is a significant chance the person working on them came from one of the previously mentioned services.

(I always wondered why OnForce never got into low-voltage and CCTV categories.)

Onforce will absolutely do low voltage and system install work.  Expect a lot of management if subcontracting them.

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At my first job (an electrical/telecom contractor) we did work for a national company sort of like this. In the early 2000s, they had an online store for cable drops. Users just added the drop(s) to cart, checked out, and the national dispatched someone local to do the work.

It was horrendously priced, as in ~$300+ for a single drop, but they were consistently busy. I guess people saw the value in being able to order it up without needing to call in anyone for an estimate, find local contractors, etc. I expect people will feel the same about some of these Amazon services. They won't rock the industry, but they'll do ok.

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According to our installer, in 8 months of being active on Amazon services, we were the first camera request received. 

Was this possible to discover before actually choosing the installer?

So how long did he take?  

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the relatively high price charged.

Though 4 cameras, mounted for $75 a piece is more reasonable, no?

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The fine print makes it less so, that is restrictions on where the cameras are mounted for that price.

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Are they willing to do military bases? :)

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Most of the services offered by Amazon have a fixed fee, such as $114 for "Wireless camera installation" (no mounting included) which we selected.

One might think that a Wireless IP camera installation would require a Wireless IP camera...  Apparently not ;)

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What exactly does install include? Pulling cable? Programming? Mounting? I saw something say mounting not included.

 

I wonder if all this is clearly spelled out or if its in the fine print?

 

Our installs are so labor intensive, pulling wire, running conduit, I am not worried about Amazon.

 

 

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That install number essentially includes getting it on the network and added to whatever service it uses, e.g., EZVIZ/Hik-Connect, Nest, etc. I didn't specifically ask about port forwarding, but "remote access" is mentioned somewhere.

It does not include mounting and hiding cabling is extra. Basically you get a camera that's ready to go and then the harder install tasks are up to you.

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Yes, but what can it mean if you choose the Wireless IP Camera Setup *with mounting* on a POE wired camera, like the one you ordered?  

They mount them but don't connect them?  Only if you supply the cable?

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Just another reason to lead with access control and keep surveillance as an add on service.

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Are this installers licensed in the States they are installing in?

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How Amazon is addressing State Law that require installers of Security Cameras and Fire Alarms to be licensed?  In NYS is a misdemeanor to do installations without a license and insurance. 

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