Dealing with Manufacturers Complaints

By: John Honovich, Published on Jul 27, 2011

We get a lot of manufacturer complaints. Every week. Seemingly someone is always upset, angry, disappointed, shocked, etc. Just like we have the right to criticize, manufacturers certainly have the right to complain. Some manufacturers provide very strong feedback while others simply whine. In this note, we break down the differences and look at how the rise of the social web is changing the industry's power structure.

Manufacturer Carrots and Sticks

Historically, manufacturers have been the heart of the industry. Their money and products fuel and shape what gets said and who sells what to whom.

Ask yourself: How many times have you read a trade magazine or market analyst criticize a manufacturer? It is extremely rare. Bigfoot sightings are far more common. This is no coincidence. The mags and analysts depend almost entirely on large purchases from a small number of manufacturers. 

Integrators, too, face risks in criticizing manufacturers, especially products that have limited distribution. Manufacturers can restrict product availability, favor rival dealers, offer lower price discounts, etc.

For manufacturers, this is a good world because marketing messages can be tightly controlled. For users, not so much because problems are easily hidden.

Independence from Manufacturers

Financial independence from manufacturers is an absolute necessity. In the beginning of the site, I spoke privately with the industry 'big shots' and it was crystal clear to me that manufacturers controlled the process with their $10,000 consulting engagements, report purchases, webinar sponsorships, advertising campaigns, etc. You take that money and they can and will use it as leverage to (1) stop you from saying anything negative and (2) push you to promote their agenda. At some level, I do not blame manufacturers for this. After all, they are the ones paying the whole bill, not anyone else.

By contrast, our business model is designed to stop manufacturer influence. We have thousands of members and not one of them represents more than a fraction of 1 percent of our revenue. Whether anyone pays or does not pay a few hundred dollars for yearly membership because of the coverage we provide is irrelevant to us. Manufacturers can complain but they are financially powerless to influence us.

Good and Bad Feedback

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

While we have no interest in making manufacturers happy, we do care deeply about the technical accuracy of our reporting and analysis. As such, we welcome all feedback on the details themselves and look forward to quality input - whether from manufacturer, integrator, end user, consultant or others.

To conclude, here are recommendations on the least and most effective forms of feedback.

Bad Feedback:

  • Your emotional state: Whether you are happy, sad, angry or frustrated is irrelevant to our reporting. Manufacturers might use this as a stick to prod trade magazines on future ad purchases but we just do not care.
  • Your customers: Manufacturers like to respond by saying 'our customers love us' or we just deployed at Customer A, B or C. All manufacturers, whether good or bad, have customers. As such, it makes no difference.
  • People you talk to: Strangely, manufacturers will say things like , "I spoke with B at Organization X and he loves our product." Again, all manufacturers talk to people who say they love their product. This will not change our position.
  • Citing your marketing slogan: We often get feedback that says, "But, you don't understand, we are the choice of a new generation" or whatever the company's marketing slogan is. 
  • That we are out of touch with industry trends: Ironically, we get this frequently from people who have been in the surveillance industry for less than a year. Disagree with us in a more productive manner.

The consistent thread in all bad feedback is that it is emotive and subjective. 

By contrast, good feedback is technical and factual:

  • Your Revenue: Revenue is a much better sign than individual customers because it represents an aggregate of many customers. We know what your main competitor's revenue is, so if yours is higher it is a good sign. On the other hand, many manufacturers hide this because they know they are lagging.
  • Number of Customers in a Market Segment: If you have a mass of customers in one segment (say education), share that numbers (e.g., we have 50+ US colleges). This is a much better trend line than individual customer wins.
  • Facts on Your Products and Pricing: If our analysis includes incorrect facts or omits relevant ones, tell us. Often, manufacturer feedback ignores this points and leads us to conclude that our analysis is correct but that the manufacturer simply wants to whine about us not being more flattering. By contrast, a number of manufacturers provide excellent factual feedback. Not only will we update reporting immediately but these manufacturers gain our respect and trust as people who understand their products and can communicate effectively.
  • Roadmap and Upcoming Enhancements: Often, manufacturers are well aware of the concerns we state as their customers have raised them as well. Many times enhancements are already on the roadmap for release within 6 months to a year. Share this with us, even if it is off the record. It gives us visibility and confidence that you are working on improvements.

The Rise of the Social Web

Related Reports

Avigilon Launches 'Renewed Products Program' on Mar 19, 2019
There are lots of 'pre-owned' cars but pre-owned IP cameras? While such programs are common in other industries, in video surveillance, they are...
UK Installer CCTV Aware - Flat Pricing, No Salespeople on Apr 10, 2019
This is a different kind of company. They do flat pricing, they do not have any salespeople and 50% of their sales are sold and booked...
'Independent' Security Consultant Organization Sells Off Speaking Slots To Manufacturers on May 10, 2019
The International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) have sold numerous speaking slots to manufacturers. This is part of...
Inside Look Into Scam Market Research on May 17, 2019
Scam market research has exploded over the last few years becoming the most commonly cited 'statistics' for most industries, despite there clearly...
Verkada Favorability Results 2019 on May 29, 2019
Verkada has taken the industry by storm with the fastest growing video surveillance sales organization ever and a half billion dollar valuation....
Axis Will Not Block Resellers on Jun 10, 2019
While Axis generally has strong favorability amongst integrators, the biggest complaint is their channel model, which results in smaller integrator...
Security Dealer 'Social Media Contractor' Program on Jun 25, 2019
A $20,000 video surveillance system can be yours for free if you are willing to post on social media about the security dealer. Good deal, bad...
Beware African 50,000 IP Camera Contract Scam on Jul 12, 2019
A “Nigerian Prince” scam for the video surveillance market is going around. You, or at least we, could be lucky enough to be the single bidder for...
UTC Really Screwed Up The Interlogix Shut Down on Sep 27, 2019
UTC has made many mistakes in security over the years, however, the shutting down of Interlogix is one of the biggest screwups in industry history....
Verkada Salesman Falsely Alleges Competitor Bankruptcy on Jan 02, 2020
A Verkada salesman falsely told a large end-user that the user's VMS provider faced bankruptcy. Verkada management acknowledged the error to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hanwha Wisenet X Plus PTRZ Tested on Feb 14, 2020
Hanwha has released their PTRZ camera, the Wisenet X Plus XNV-6081Z, claiming the "modular design allows for easy installation". We bought and...
PRC Warns Against China Video Surveillance Hacks, Hikvision Targeted on Feb 14, 2020
Hackers are targeting China video surveillance manufacturers and systems, according to the PRC's main cyber threat monitoring body. The hackers...
IPVM Conference 2020 on Feb 13, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce our 2020 conference. This is the first and only industry event that will be 100% sponsor-free. Like IPVM online, the...
Bosch Dropping Dahua on Feb 13, 2020
Bosch has confirmed to IPVM that it is in the process of dropping Dahua, over the next year, as both IP camera contract manufacturer and recorder...
BluB0X Alleges Lenel, S2, Software House Are Dinosaurs on Feb 13, 2020
BluB0X is running an ad campaign labeling Lenel, S2, Software House, Honeywell, AMAG and more as dinosaurs: In a follow-up email to IPVM,...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select areas of the UK capital, sparking significant controversy. IPVM...
Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in designing video surveillance systems. Though 'convergence' was a big...
Monitoreal "Completely Autonomous" Home AI Tested on Feb 12, 2020
Monitoreal claims to allow users to "see the things you want (people, vehicles, animals) and ignore the things you don’t”, using AI to distinguish...
Cisco Video Surveillance Is Dead, Long Live Cisco Meraki Video Surveillance on Feb 11, 2020
A dozen years ago much of the industry thought that Cisco was destined to dominate video surveillance. They stumbled repeatedly, failing. Now it is...
BICSI For IP Video Surveillance Guide on Feb 11, 2020
Spend enough time around networks and eventually someone will mention BICSI, the oft-referenced but only vaguely known standards body prevalent in...