Stop Careless Mistakes

Author: John Honovich, Published on Oct 06, 2014

Careless mistakes are a big problem, especially among inexperienced people who naively scan, skip or assume.

Whether you are reading a quote, contract, specification, review or recommendation, you need to properly interpret the words / language presented.

In our experience, two causes of carelessness are common:

  • Assume related words are the same: Sophisticated, and often manipulative people, will choose words or groups of words that sound ordinary but mean something completely differently.
  • Skip / omit key qualifiers: Complicated language, especially in technology and engineering, are typically heavily qualified by experts, to be exact. Haste or inexperience often drives people to miss them.

Sometimes people flat out lie and sometimes they are dead wrong. But, most of the time, the correct answer can be found by reading carefully and unpacking the words used.

Examples

(1) Consider:

"Our company is engaged in over $200 million in sales."

Many people simply assume the company sold $200 million, as they focus on the word 'sales' but the really important part of that sentence is the 'engaged in' qualifier.

The company is not going to 'marry' money so they are using 'engaged' to most likely mean 'in the process of'.

The reason for this is that most people who puff themselves want to do it without directly lying. This company likely did engage in 'over $200 million in sales' but perhaps they only closed / booked / recognized $1 million of that. And, if called on this, they could retort by saying we never said we 'sold $200 million', we just said we were 'engaged in' it. 

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

(2) Consider:

"The camera has a 5MP imager."

Many people assume that this is a 5MP camera, ergo that the camera can deliver a 5MP stream. But notice that the manufacturer qualifies it with the noun 'imager'.

Typically, when this phrase / sentence structure is used, it means the camera outputs less than a 5MP stream, e.g. a 3MP or a 1080p stream is commonplace.

In this case, did the manufacturer intend to mislead? Does the reader simply not have the technical background to distinguish between imager and camera? This is harder to tell.

Regardless of where the fault lies, an experienced professional should spot the qualification and understand the limitations therein.

(3) Consider:

"I want to see 100 feet away. What resolution camera do I need?"

Many people will immediately retort with an answer - HD, 5MP, 10MP, etc. But you need at least one piece, and more likely two, to give an accurate answer.

The most critical is how wide an area one needs. If it is 5 feet wide, the answer is much different than 100 feet wide.

Yet, we have seen this time and again, people jump to conclusions on questions like this. Make sure that you have all the information you need. If you do not, ask for it specifically. Don't say something stupid like 'it depends on the application'. Respond with pointed questions like, "Tell me how wide an area you need to cover and how much details you want to capture?"

(4) Consider:

"Our product reduces storage costs by up to 90%."

Many people will assume that the product reduces storage costs 90%. They simply ignore the qualifier here - "up to"

This has become such a common problem, proved by studies, that the US Federal Trade Commission has stepped in to regulate this. Marketers, in particular, realize the power and therefore see the benefits of using 'up to' claims. The typical benefit may be negligible or minimal, but the careless reader will take away the eye popping up to number as typical.

(5) Consider:

"This camera can replace 10 traditional cameras" or "This camera gives you the same resolution as 10 traditional cameras."

Key in on the verb 'can' in the first sentence and the qualifier 'resolution' in the second.

'Can' typically mean to 'be able to do' something. Many readers will immediately conclude that they will be able to do this, i.e., replace 10 traditional cameras in their scenario. But that is not what the statement is saying. They are not guaranteeing you will be able to do it nor that this will always happen (notice: those qualifiers are not included). In fairness, using the word 'can' like this is similar to the misleading marketing of 'up to' claims but the careful, experienced professional is immediately aware of such concerns.

Secondly, notice that the second sentence includes the qualifier 'the same resolution'. The sentence could have been written "This camera is the same as 10 traditional cameras." However, the added qualifier is key to be 'truthful' yet still trick the careless reader. This also requires some technical knowledge, because amongst surveillance manufacturers resolution is defined as pixel count, not image quality

(6) Consider words like:

"typically", "in general, "most scenarios"

Describing how things work or how things are used can be challenging. Since the world is complex and not everyone uses things in the exact same way, it is important to qualify descriptions with limitations (typically, in general, etc.). Some will skip the qualifier and assume everyone does it this way. Others will find one counter case and conclude the entire statement is wrong. Make sure to note those qualifiers and consider the limitations and application of them.

(7) Consider words like:

"everything", "mandatory", "guaranteed"

To the contrary of point 6 above, sometimes statements include strengthening qualifiers. When these occur, the burden is much higher and the reader should be extra careful that there are no exceptions (especially if they are responding to such statements). Often, inexperienced readers will skip these words, simply assuming 'good enough' or 'close enough' is acceptable. However, when these strengthening qualifiers are included, make sure there are no exceptions.

Stop Being Carelessness

Carelessness is the number #1 problem we have found with inexperienced people. The details, especially in word choice, can make a huge difference in outcomes. Read statement carefully, spot the qualifiers and consider how those impacts what is being asked or claimed.

Comments (17): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Sales

Anixter CEO Admits Price Deflation and Non-Exclusive Integrator Sales on Apr 26, 2017
Anixter's CEO has admitted to (1) price deflation impacting IP camera sales and (2) not always being 'exclusive' with security integrators. In...
Axis Posts Strong Q1 2017 Financial Results on Apr 24, 2017
Axis posted strong numbers for Q1 2017, after having some challenges in 2016 (Q1 2016, Q3 2016). Inventory levels and overall spending show...
Dell EMC Surveillance Division Profile on Apr 20, 2017
With revenue growth from traditional IT customers slowing, Dell has set a focus on the security industry as a market where the company can offer...
Top Selling Video Surveillance Distributors on Apr 17, 2017
These are the top selling video surveillance distributors in North America, as reported by 150 integrator survey respondents. In this report, we...
Hide or Show Models on Quotes - Integrator Statistics on Apr 13, 2017
Customers like to know what they are buying, but they might use an integrator's detailed quote to shop the system designed. This is a challenge...
Hikvision Major OEM LTS Now Distributing Hikvision on Apr 12, 2017
In a rare move, one of Hikvision's top North American OEMs, LTS, has become a Hikvision distributor, as demonstrated in LTS' ISC West booth: In...
Best and Worst - ISC West 2017 Show Report on Apr 10, 2017
IPVM went to Las Vegas, examining what vendors are showcasing and what is new. Attendance was up, according to the show, and was certainly well...
2Gig Intrusion Megatest (GC2 & GC3 Panels Tested) on Mar 28, 2017
2Gig is one of the most widely used intrusion systems, with two product lines that are the main offering of many alarm companies, huge national...
Anixter Favorability Results on Mar 28, 2017
Anixter's direct sales and integrator anger about it has been in the news recently: Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon Anixter Touts...
Dahua Distributor Bad Breakup on Mar 27, 2017
A Dahua distributor in Europe claims that Dahua took over his top customers, revoked his distributorship status, and left him with a large amount...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Last Day - IP Networking Course May 2017 on Apr 27, 2017
Today is the last day to register for the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Hikvision EZVIZ Amazon Scam Revealed on Apr 26, 2017
Hikvision is violating US Federal Trade Commission guidelines and Amazon rules with a "Honest" Review Program scheme that provides gift cards to...
Anixter CEO Admits Price Deflation and Non-Exclusive Integrator Sales on Apr 26, 2017
Anixter's CEO has admitted to (1) price deflation impacting IP camera sales and (2) not always being 'exclusive' with security integrators. In...
Xandem Next Gen Intrusion Tested on Apr 26, 2017
Xandem's "full coverage motion tracking technology" is unlike any intrusion technology we have seen. We bought their new system and tested it...
Tri-Ed Favorability Results on Apr 25, 2017
Tri-Ed, owned by Anixter, far outranked Anixter, the lowest ranked company in our distributor favorability series. Still, Anixter's ownership did...
Eagle Eye Exec On Mountain Of Servers - VSaaS Growth Analysis on Apr 25, 2017
Eagle Eye VP of Operations, Hans Kahler, posted a picture of himself sitting on top of a shipment of new servers, as a testament to the companies...
Chinese 'Attacking Us From Every Direction', Says US FBI on Apr 25, 2017
"Chinese eating our lunch. Attacking us from every direction" said the US FBI's Deputy Director Andrew McCabe at the ASIS 2017 CSO Summit. .@FBI...
Axis Posts Strong Q1 2017 Financial Results on Apr 24, 2017
Axis posted strong numbers for Q1 2017, after having some challenges in 2016 (Q1 2016, Q3 2016). Inventory levels and overall spending show...
Axis Lowest Cost Outdoor IR Camera M2025-LE Tested on Apr 24, 2017
Axis has lagged offering low cost IR cameras while their Asian competitors have made IR standard even in their most entry level cameras. Recently,...
IPVM First Dean's List W2017 - Thomas Atkinson, Matt Hurly and Fredrik Lundqvist on Apr 24, 2017
IPVM is happy to congratulate and celebrate our first "Dean's List", the top students in our courses. For the Winter 2017 IP Networking course...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact