Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested
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.
The Amazon tech, while helpful and intelligent, had never installed an IP camera. He informed us that the overwhelming majority of install work is for physical / furniture assembly, with occasional general computer service.
The strongest plus of Amazon's install service is that Amazon now makes it easy (on select items) to get installation scheduled right in the regular buying process, with timely updates and tracking of the scheduled time. This eliminated the need to find and select one's own installer.
The biggest weaknesses were (1) clearly the tech not knowing IP cameras or video surveillance at all and (2) the relatively high price charged.
No Surveillance Knowledge
The installer we spoke to confirmed that he had no surveillance experience whatsoever. He had completed network diploma programs and was currently working in a local IT department covering helpdesk services.
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.
Tech Sign Up Requirements
In order to become an Amazon service provider, users complete an application to become a contractor, which asks for basic business information. The "company" does not need to be incorporated, have a tax ID or D&B number, etc., simply have a name and verifiable presence.
Each employee of the company must undergo a criminal background check. Amazon does not allow any installers with criminal records to perform jobs.
The "Uber" Of Services
The installer described Amazon as the Uber of installation services. Requested jobs are sent to registered installers in the area via email and a smartphone app, with the first available to accept getting the install.
Installers may select multiple categories of services, so they may choose to receive all PC/network services or only receive camera install, but not PC or printer install.
Registered installers may accept as many or as few requests as they like, with the only concern being their own time/missing appointments/arriving late, which could impact their rating and eventually lead to Amazon cancelling their registration.
Camera Install Rare
According to our installer, in 8 months of being active on Amazon services, we were the first camera request received. Most computer/network related requests in our area (eastern PA) are for wireless printers, new routers, etc., with some hardware upgrades.
But by far, labor services are more common than technical services. The installer says that furniture assembly is very popular in our area, for example.
Most Services Fixed Fee
Most of the services offered by Amazon have a fixed fee, such as $114 for "Wireless camera installation" (no mounting included) which we selected. If the installer determines that conditions require excessive time or customers request additional work, they negotiate with the customer and update pricing on the spot. This is then sent to the customer to approve (via email or app) before they may proceed.
Additionally, some services (such as electrical outlets) are not flat fee, but always negotiated. Amazon customers request estimates during checkout for these services, with the installer visiting the site to provide pricing.
According to the installer, Amazon takes a variable percentage of each install, which varies from "about 10-20%", depending on price and type. So for our single camera, this amounted to about $11-22 for Amazon and ~$90 for him. The fees are detailed below.
After the job is complete, there are two steps which must be followed on all installs:
- Customer signature: The customer must review work and sign off that it is completed to their satisfaction.
- Technician photo: Then, the installer must submit a photo of themselves to verify it was them who completed the work. This step is intended to prevent unauthorized technicians (those who haven't undergone background checks) from being on customer sites/in residences.
The installer we spoke to was unclear on whether Amazon manually verified these technician photos or if they were kept for later verification in case of complaint. Note that no photos of the completed work must be submitted.
After these steps are complete, the project is marked as complete and credited to the installer's Amazon Seller account, which is paid every 14 days.
No Threat Now
Right now, Amazon installation for video surveillance is not a threat or even close. Of course, Amazon has a long track record of scaling up their offerings. For example, these services were unavailable in our area even a few months ago.
If or when they get to the point that they have knowledgeable video surveillance installers and sufficient amount of video surveillance installation requests, Amazon could become a major challenger, at least, for the SMB and prosumer market. Best / worst case scenario, depending on one's perspective, looks to us to be years away.