Free Surveillance Quote Reviews

By John Honovich, Published Jan 16, 2014, 12:00am EST (Info+)

Are you buying a surveillance system and need help determining which quote to choose? Do you want an independent outside expert to review them, pointing out potential flaws or ways to reduce the price without sacrificing quality?

IPVM is happy to announce a new service where we offer, for free, to review your quotes and provide you immediate feedback. We actually already do this routinely when users contact us but wanted to publicize it so you know it is available.

First, here's some fundamental recommendations / steps we generally take and advise.

Do This

Here are 3 key things to do, especially when you get a quote from someone you have never done business with:

  • Ask for a line item breakdown that includes the actual make and model number of the product being specified. Be careful that many integrators make up their own model numbers that cannot be traced back to the manufacturer website. You should be able to google the make and model number and immediately see the manufacturer's web page for it.
  • Ask for an itemized price break down for each camera, part and service. Do not accept lump some quotes like "$19,247" or "$12,247 for equipment and $7,000 for labor."
  • Ask for a simple diagram that shows were they are going to put each camera in your facility, including labels that note the model number in each location.

Be prepared for some pushback as many integrators do not like breakdowns, but you cannot make an informed decision without it. You are simply operating on blind faith. You need to know what specifically they are including, at what price and what location so you can determine if they are appropriate for your needs and if you should consider something less expensive or more powerful.

Watch for This

Two common patterns occur that can lead to problems:

  • All premium: Some integrators will give you end to end of one product line (Axis, Avigilon, Panasonic, Sony, etc.) regardless of what you need or whether or not is is overkill. Often, there is an opportunity to save significantly by switching to lower tier models within those brands or to other brands.
  • No name: Some integrators will give you the cheapest, no name, cameras they can find. The price will be very attractive but features are often very limited and performance issues are common.

We have seen this repeatedly, often in the same process. For example, one respondent will be at $60,000 and the other will be at $15,000. Understandably, the buyer is confused because of the huge spread but it is a result of both ends of this spectrum being presented simultaneously by two rivals.

Don't Do This

On the other hand, there are two common practices that justifiably infuriate bidders:

  • Don't ask them to match the pricing you found on eBay, craigslist, amazon, etc. The cheapest prices found are often not available or are from refurbished stock or used, etc. Even if it is new, the integrator is not simply getting you a product, the price generally includes shipping it, setting it up, dealing with any out of box problems, upgrading firmware / software and 1 year service warranty. So if the price is moderately above online prices, it tends to be a good deal.
  • Don't 'shop' for a lower price integrator: If you feel you can trust an integrator who has helped design and educate you on a system, by all means check pricing with competitors, but give them the final opportunity to close the gap on price or explain the difference in rival's offerings. There are a lot of things that can go wrong during the implementation so favor the one who you trust if they can provide a close price.

Getting a Free Quote Review

Comments (48)

Not to be facetious (but on cue with your pushback expectation), when you buy a car do you ask the reseller/dealer to itemize the cost for tires, transmission, catalytic converter, flux capacitor, etc.?? Don't most people feel like they're making an informed purchase when buying a vehicle??

When an integrator provides an itemized list of REAL part numbers with cutsheets and a site diagram and/or line diagram, he/she is taking responsibility for the system as a whole. Referrences and/or job locations are probably better questions to verify that he/she is a trusted integrator and that they stand behind their systems.

Itemized pricing only leads to bid shopping which has happened to me personally in private and public sector jobs. And if that is a sticking point, I'd rather lose the job than do the homework for the buyer/project manager to take my design and hand it to his buddy to install and get a kick back on the side ... which I know NEVER happens anywhere ever.

We've debated this extensively here: Should Quotes Include Line Item Price Breakdowns? and I am happy to continue that debate there.

As for the car analogy, a surveillance system is more like building a custom home than a car off the lot. There's lot of options / decisions that can be made to improve the quality and/or cost effectiveness of a custom home.

The challenge with references is that nearly everyone has them (including crappy companies), so it does not do much to really differentiate the best companies.

That said, thank you for sharing this as your overall position represents a common integrator approach.

I'm in agreement with John on the inclusion of itemized pricing/parts/labor in quotes. The analogy to building a house is a suitable one, although if you want to keep to a car analogy then yes, I would want to know the difference between the $24K Chevy and the $20K Toyota. What features/options are included? How much did that option add to the cost of the vehicle? Do I really need that feature or is it overkill? For example, if the Toyota includes $3K in tricked out rims but has cloth seats and manual windows, and the Chevy has plain rims but electric windows and leather seats plus a navigation system, which choice is right for me? I can't make that call if I don't have an itemized list. Etc.

We have recently begun requiring itemized quotes from all of our vendors. That protects the integrator as well. In the end, if I know exactly what I'm buying and then determine it wasn't the right set of widgets once it is in place, then I can't blame the integrator . . . as much. On the other hand, if I buy from someone and don't know what I'm getting or how much it cost ("Trust me" said the integrator to the fly), then when it is is place and isn't what I needed, who am I going to look at to make it right?

My 10 cents worth. Caveat emptor. Objects are larger than they appear. No deposit, no return.

To reinforce what John says, you could probably test-drive a car and/or read reviews in websites/magazines you trust to get a fairly good idea of what to expect, the dealer has very little to do with the product you finally get, something which is not applicable to a surveillance system tailor made for your premises to fit your specific needs.

However, the real challenge with references is that most buyers are too lazy and/or inadequately informed/educated to ask the right questions from the people they are being referred to. Most people would tend to simply ask "are you happy with the service provided by the integrator" rather than "how many complaints have you had in the last one year. How much time did the integrator take to respond to each". Since they do not ask the right questions they tend not to compare apples to apples but to only compare prices.

I think those who classify themselves as being the better ones need to educate their potential customers on the right kind of questions to ask from the competitors.


What will be the guiding IPVM policies on 'non-disclosure' be for information sent to you?

thank you,

We will not disclose anything shared without express written permission from the user. We benefit more from seeing general patterns / problems than any sharing of specific data.

So will IPVM collecting a database of dealers quotes and invoices?

We already have lots of quotes. It's not particularly a database. It's just something we use for internal reference.

Sounds like your changing business model. Going after end users while compiling a large database of quotes/invoices.

We provide an informational service that many segments of the industry use. We've had lots of end user members from the start and as more and more find out about IPVM, they find it a great resource so they do not get screwed by unscrupulous vendors who push only a single line.

they find it a great resource so they do not get screwed by unscrupulous vendors who push only a single line

John you make it seem that dealers who choose to use only one manufacturers product are a detriment to their customers and potential customer, would you elaborate on that thought?

If an integrator only ever proposes one line to a variety of customers, there's quite a high likelihood that there are inefficiencies/opportunities for better fit/lower cost from someone who offers multiple lines, seleced for the individual customer need.

cost can be kept low by offering a smaller lineup of products and solutions rather than a vast line... technicians are more effective in installing and servicing equipment they are familiar with and certified in... companies don't have to spend time and resources in training technicians across multiple manufacturers products and platforms...this benefits the customer by lowering costs of installs and service calls because it takes less time... dealers may also get price breaks due to volume purchases and pass that onto a customer...

Keefe, "dealers who choose to use only one manufacturers product" are aligning themselves with the manufacturer over the user. Period. What is so horrible about an integrator offering more than one manufacturer's products? The costs are not going to spiral out of control for a real integrator who offers a few different lines. Indeed, reality proves it, almost all integrators carry multiple lines.

No video surveillance manufacturer covers the entire spectrum of the market. If an integrator limits themself to one manufacturer, there will be many applications where the fit is poor and a less capable / more expensive product must be offered compared to market leaders for individual areas.

For highly detailed or technical tasks, I prefer specialists to generalists.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that members running a household, and certainly those with businesses, have had a seemingly straightforward effort devolve into untold hours ending in failure or compromise, because their vendor did not sufficiently understand the particulars of the hardware or software involved.

For VPN setup, I want someone who knows SonicWall, not someone who knows "all" switches and VPNs.

For posting in Quickbooks, I want someone who knows Quickbooks in particular, not just someone who knows bookkeeping.

I think I understand your criticism to be, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail (but please correct me if I really didn't get it). Are there any product lines that provide a more well rounded tool set, or would you say that customers should be universally suspicious of any quote that offers hardware and software from, say, only Axis/Milestone? or only Avigilon? or only Mobotix?


Horace, in surveillance, what frequently happens is that an end user is simultaneously picking an integrator, a design and products. To your example above, I think it would be better overall to not have these munged together but this is an unfortunate outcome of how deals are done in this industry. It is also why so many integrators are upset here because they essentially give away designs in an attempt to win installation business.

Yes, theoretically, if the products and overall design was already done, then I am with you about hiring a specialist who is great at setting up / optimizing those products in one's scenario. But what typically happens in my experience is that the design comes from the winning integrator/installer quote.


"dealers who choose to use only one manufacturers product" are aligning themselves with the manufacturer over the user. Period.

John that is a blanket statement and while it may be true for some dealers it isn't true for all of them. Thoughts?

Nothing is horrible about an integrator offering more than one manufacturer's products...

In surveillance we offer one manufacturers vms platform with several manufacturers cameras to choose from. When it comes to fire alarms, access control and intrusion it is only one manufacturer for each (not the same company). If a customer requests something different in any one of those we don't argue with them we just respectfully tell them that there is a better dealer to handle their needs. I have been down the road of all things to all people before and it never seems to end well for the customer or dealer. Obviously we lose jobs based upon converstations like that but I am honest with the customer.

Just to be clear I don't have a problem with the service you are offering to end users through proposal reviews, in fact we did a retweet on it today encouraging customers to send you proposals. Instead I choose to look at it in the way of iron sharpening iron. Does that mean that every recommendation you would make against what we have proposed is necessary? No, but there probably are some.

Having been both an integrator and a manufacturers sales representative, both direct & independent, I can sympathize with integrators trying to avoid doing a great deal of engineering & design work (typically not something they charge for) only to see a lower price bid win the deal or, the encombent wins the deal because they were allowed to adjust thier quotes based on all the other quotes received which the user has provided to them. The engineering of a good proposal (site walk, research etc) has a cost associated with it that most integrators incorporate as a cost of doing business. If this gets abused too often, it affects thier bottom line. I also agree with John that the line item detail is necessary if the user is to make an informed decision about which integrators quote will provide the best value to them and meet thier needs. That said, I strongly believe that the vast majority of end users are not that unethical and rarely share one bidders design with another. So, I like to give the benefit of doubt to the end user in the interest of educating them and provide the line item detail. If they turn out to be unethical and share your work with others, chalk it up to the risk of doing business and move on to the next opportunity where it is unlikely you'll have another unethical user to deal with. John, a suggestion would be for IPVM to not only review the quotes for the user but educate the user on the ethical and appropriate handling of each integrators submission.

Out of curiosity, is this a service you're only offering to end users? I would think many integrators would appreciate a review of thier quotes by IPVM before they submit them. Will you be offering this free service equally to all IPVM members and not just the select few who are users? If not offering it to integrator members, maybe you should consider a new membership dues model giving integrators a slight discount since they won't have access to ALL of the same services as other members?!?!?!

Meghan, we answer numerous integrator questions in our discussion group every day, from designing systems, to picking products, to troubleshooting field problems. Anyone can ask there and they can use the undisclosed feature to keep their personal details private.

I am not going to complicate membership pricing for thousands of people because of brief private advice we give to 3 people a month.

As a top tier integrator I was very happy to find IPVM as I found the unbiased testing of video surveillance equipment very beneficial. I think it is important to provide this testing data to my end users in order to provide them with the highest quality system that their budget affords. This testing is something that I try to do myself so this site allowed me to free up cycles and focus more on my clients.

It is no secret that there are many unscupulous folks in our industry that call themselves integrators. Some mean to be unscupulous, some are simply unscrupulous because they do not understand the technology. As the old line goes "You don't know what you don't know." Competing with these individuals is not an easy thing when you have a client that is uneducated as well.

Additionally, I have my coop-etition. You read that right, coop-etition. This is the manufacturers rep that I called to discuss a deal I am working and the distributer who I called for pricing. Intentional or not, there are times when information about the deal gets out to my competitors through these venues. Now a system that I have 40 hours of design and meeting time in ends up in the hands of one of these unscrupulous companies.

I already have enough issues keeping a deal quiet without a another entity like IPVM having the knowledge of the deal and pricing. And I am not keeping it quiet because I am raking the client over the coals, but we have all lost deals over less than $1000 before and furthermore we have all lost deals to companies that we know missed parts on the project and slid in under our number.

It seems to me that I may have misunderstood the intent of the IPVM website. I undertand educating end users and integrators alike, but now it seems that you have expanded into the consultant field and no matter how many time you say that you are very confidential I see it as advesarial. You have a good thing going here John, don't jeopardize your integrity by allowing the opportunity for someone to accuse you of steering deals.

I agree with Duane that you are probably opening yourself up for accusations like that AND, alienating some of your current members - integrators & security consultants - who may now see your model developing into a competitor to them and one that's providing the service for free. Hard to compete with Free. Could hurt the reputation you've created for being a neutral and reliable source for information and discussion. Disappointing but I hope you don't bann me from the site for expressing my opinion because I still find value in the information. I just might not be as quick to refer others to sign up for membership, particularly customers, as I have been in the past.


Our goal is to provide the best, most accurate information to the public. Sometimes that helps integrators, sometimes it hurts.

IPVM 'steers' quite a number of deals but certainly not because we offer direct advice to a few end users a month. We steer deals because lots of large end users read our reports and that influences what they consider and do not.

Unless we ban end users from accessing IPVM (which is not happening), this will not only continue but will accelerate.

Some very prominent integrators, for just that reason, will not become IPVM members and that is their loss, as their competitors and, increasingly their customers, will continue to use IPVM to make better decisions.

You can provide accurate information without becoming knee deep in specific deals and muddying the water. I too have referred several clients to your site because I feel you provide the same quality information I provide. That likely will not be the case moving forward because I feel that you are now starting to have a conflict of interest. If I was an actual security consulting group I would likely be even more offended as Meghan's hard to compete with free!

Duane, we have always had a conflict of interest with people who sell equipment. Period. That's why manufacturers largely hate us.

Our goal is to help people make the right decisions buying equipment. To the extent that integrators or manufacturer benefit from the testing, analysis, and discussions we provide, so be it. Our focus always has and always will be doing things that help users, not sellers.

You keep skirting the main thing I am saying which is that you are already providing that infortmation without getting into specific deals. Once you get start getting into the specifics of the deal including pricing, then you have become a consultant. There is nothing wrong with that but please dont mask it as an information service.

Are you sure you are not working for a manufacturer or distributer?

(just wanted to be the first to ask because you are going to be accused of that alot since you are consulting now) :-)

No, we do not work for any manufacturer or distributor.

Care to break out, roughly, the IPVM demographics broadly by the standard undisclosed types:

Manufacturer, Distributor, End User, Other?

A quick survey of undisclosed posts of course is one method but might be skewed by some groups needed to be undisclosed more than others.

It could go a long way in showing 'who is paying the bills at IPVM' and thereby alleviating concerns of impropriety and unseen influence...


I too feel a disturbance in the Force. Collecting proposals for general study in trends and statistics is one thing. Collecting them for consultation review with a user is another. I would love IPVM if they reviewed one of my proposals and told the customer it was the best thing since sliced bread, and I would hate IPVM if they said it was the worst idea since the Edsel. Then what if you approve a proposal and it for whatever fails miserably? By no fault of your own, but now your named in a lawsuit along with an integrator whether justly or not.

Why go there...?

We are not 'approving' anything. The type of things we say is "consider model x instead of model y, same manufacturer, lower price, might be good enough for your application" or "watch out for this quote because it seems to be junk product re-labelled for the vendor" or "compare to manufacturer z, similar feature sets, lower price" or "we tested this and it performed poorly in low light / wdr / etc." I am not concerned about lawsuits for this.

Glad to see I am not the only one that sees issues with this.

IPVM = the NSA of CCTV :)

Most end users will see that IPVM is trying to do the right thing for them, despite some integrators who want to keep them in the dark.

As an end user, IPVM has been a great tool for helping me learn to be a better CCTV system administrator, have intelligent conversations with our integrator partners, and better ensure that what those integrators are providing - parts and service - is what we need. In some cases it has even helped us open an integrators eyes to a new or different product than what they primarily sell/install. While I doubt I would take IPVM up on the offer to review a quote, it is good to know that resource is available should we need it.

And as for the review service being free? I pay a $199 annual membership fee . . . with the POSSIBILITY of being one of three monthly lucky review recipients. That ain't free. It's more than I pay for any of my association dues, even.

I'm not sure how many members IPVM has, but I would guess that 36 (12 months x 3 reviews) is a very small percentage of end users.

An uninformed end user does nobody any good. It means the integrator has not clearly laid out reasonable expectation for the system and will cost him/her in the end. I don’t think anyone is implying (at least no integrator worth their weight) that it’s their objective to keep anyone in the dark. What I was saying earlier in the discussion, is that I don’t believe that itemized prices inform the user any more about what they’re getting and how it will work.

I hope you see that what integrators (speaking for myself I guess) are worried about is that IPVM will undermine their ‘authority’ as an expert/knowledgeable in the field over something like: “try this camera instead, it could save you $x per camera”. While it might be an accurate statement, there are no absolute truths in designing systems. Integrators use and don’t use certain products also based on their own experiences not just what they read and research (see all discussions of Avigilon). If IPVM were to recommend a product I don’t support/like to use, it would instantly invalidate my design in the eyes of the end user regardless of if my design is suitable to the customer's needs/budget, complete, capable and fairly priced.

From my perspective as an end user, having a good relationship with my integrators is very important. Knowing what they (and I) are talking about is important. Building trust relationships is important. As I mentioned above, I likely would not take IPVM up on their service simply because I trust my integrators, have a strong relationship with them, and I have used tools such as IPVM to educate myself so that both parties have confidence in each other.

If someone knowledgeable said "try camera x instead of y because it is better suited to the application" I might consult with my integrator about it. If, however, it is something that the integrator isn't comfortable or familiar with or isn't able to sell (territorial issues, etc.) and their original recommendation will meet our needs, I'm not going to second guess them or badger them about it. That behavior quickly deteriorates the relationship and isn't beneficial in the long run to either party.

That being said, there are many end user organizations who simply don't have knowledge of CCTV and don't have those established relationships - or who may have been "burned" in the past. Those are the ones I would see taking advantage of the service being offered.

Kevin, thorough answer, well said.

I assume IPVM review of end user quotes / proposals will be limited to the end users based in certain areas of USA only.

Also, how would an end user believe what you are suggesting is better than the integrator quote, which would be based on actual site survey?

There's many things that can be gained from reviewing the itemized list and a map of equipment.

  • Let's say a fisheye panoramic is proposed in a large area. We would emphasize to the end user how pixel density / detail drops dramatically and how fisheye panoramic cameras frequently have very poor low light performance (reference: Panoramic Camera Shootout)
  • Let's say an integrator proposes a higher end tier of VMS software though they only have a limited number of cameras and needs. We would ask them to check with their integrator on why they cannot use a lower tier / less expensive version.
  • Let's say an integrator includes a camera that does MPEG-4 (but not H.264). We would call this out to the user and push back on the integrator to propose a more modern camera (this weirdly enough happened recently).

There's lots of things like that where we can give a second opinion that can help the user think through and talk over with their integrators.

Some integrators are great. A lot stink. If it's a great integrator, they will easily be able to explain why that is best for their situation. If they are pushing crap, this will help the user spot the inconsistencies.


You are 100% correct that an itemized list of REAL part numbers and a map detailing what is going where should be standard and I believe is with any integrator worth the paper they print their business cards on. There is an obvious benefit to reviewing a bid for technical soundness.

My point is in reference to your second “Do This” item, that a price of an item does in no way affect the quality of the design or the effectiveness of the installation even if the integrator is unscrupulous and gouging the end user. This is making IPVM sound more like a consumer advocacy group rather than the technical reference and continuing education forum I intended to sign up for.

Please don’t forget that integrators are ‘users’ as well. We might not be the “end-user” but often find ourselves on the ‘user’ side of the equation especially when dealing with unscrupulous manufacturers/distributors who don’t always keep up their end of the deal when it comes to post-sale support.

John, while I greatly value the information and help that IPVM delivers to me and my company on a regular basis, I too see some issues with your decision. Offering general information on hardware and design principles is a good idea that obviously works well. Doing case studies on a particular proposal also has its place. Picking apart individual proposals without having any involvement in the project seems like a bad idea. We are a 'value add' integrator who rarely competes on price alone, we instead offer systems/designs we can stand behind and try to educate the customer on why our solution is the best. I honestly have no doubt that I would be able to address any points you or your staff made if my proposal were being reviewed. All of that being said I still am concerned about the following points:

  • IPVM staff members would have no knowledge of the client or the location to consider.
  • You might not have enough information on the local market.
  • I know you know your stuff John but how can we be sure the staff member assigned is capable of advising the client properly?
  • What process would be in place to counter your recommendations - how far could/should the disputes go?
  • Seems like there may be a conflict of interest for IPVM. Especially if the end user and the integrator are both members?
  • I believe your existing ‘best practices’ documents etc are all that is really needed if the end user is committed to finding the right information.

These are just some quick thoughts, I am sure there are plenty of other unanswered questions that will be addressed as this service matures.

I hope that your decision to do this benefits all involved, or at least those that deserve the benefit. I guess only time will tell.

"IPVM staff members would have no knowledge of the client or the location to consider."

By definition, the 'client' has contacted us so they are they willing to share information about themselves.

"I know you know your stuff John but how can we be sure the staff member assigned is capable of advising the client properly?"

Besides me, it would be Brian or Ethan who were both integrators for years and lead our training. I do not think you realize how terrible some of these quotes are we receive and how much we help good integrators.

"What process would be in place to counter your recommendations - how far could/should the disputes go?"

As said above, our involvement is to simply point to things that should be reviewed. It is up to the end user to determine if they want to even follow up with the integrators on it.

"Seems like there may be a conflict of interest for IPVM. Especially if the end user and the integrator are both members?"

People's membership fees purchase access to information. They do not provide our allegiance in advocating or winning deals.

"I believe your existing ‘best practices’ documents etc are all that is really needed if the end user is committed to finding the right information."

The challenge for end users is that finding the few key pieces of information from our documents - like the training guide, selection guide and specification guide and our 225+ tests - takes time. Generally, our advice is simply pulled from things we say in those guides or tests. We just make it easier for them to highlight the most applicable things to their scenario.

Let me see if I can understand this…

I bust my tail to find an opportunity. I spend hours / days walking the facility looking at each potential camera location cataloging information about the scene (lighting, environmental, scene complexity etc…) considering things like future vegetation growth of the new trees that were planted last week… considering all sorts of things that go into the installation, what it is going to take to drive a lift next to a building that is surrounded by landscaping… etc..etc…

And you are going to review my proposal in your office and make recommendations to the end user about my proposal? Potentially hurting my reputation based on a quarter of the information that I have worked to obtain?

The very last entity that I would expect to get between my deal is IPVM.

Have you ever been in a sales capacity in this competitive market?

Mike, if IPVM offers a few pointers to an end user and you cannot address them, then you are not as good an integrator as you imply you are. That said, I am sure you can.

If I say to an end user, "The camera specified in this quote tested very poorly in low light in IPVM tests" and that hurts your reputation, it means you either did not do your homework or are trying to screw them over.

Given that you have been on site, you should be able to address by saying "Yes, we did a lux reading of the area and it's 5 lux which is sufficiently bright for this not to be an issue" or "Yes, we know and that's why are adding in X" or "Yes, but you told us on our Dec 14th meeting that night time monitoring is not necessary."

Remember, you have lots of crappy competitors who are fly by night companies that will install anything to make a quick buck. For those integrators who stay on top of things and are current with the state of technology through IPVM testing and their own, IPVM's advice should only help you.

Good Luck!

My thought is that if a customer is going to request line item breakdown then his plan is to shop us and get the lowest bidder. I have seen this over and over again. In order to alleviate that, I will offer the primary hardware & software components but not every item necessary to install at their location. But if requested, we can provide professional security design services at a fixed fee/rate then they will have a complete RFP ready to send out to all bidders. We pay our Security System Engineers top money to provide the best solution from end to end, and often includes custom API development for integration at the Enterprise level...most of the time this overhead is baked into the project total.

That isn't always the case, Undisclosed 1223311. I'm sure there are organizations and individuals who might do this, but that is not always the driving factor behind wanting to see the line items. We require itemization so that we can ensure the integrator is providing the equipment we requested and/or that the equipment will meet our needs. This protects us and it protects the integrator.

I will not take someone's quote and "shop it around." If our project is large enough that we want or need to request bids, we will put out a RFQ. If we need to have a system design before seeking bids, we will pay for that design or do it in house.

Many customers expect to know in advance what they are paying for. As far as seeing the installer's pricing goes, I'm not looking to see what their margin is and try to talk them down. I have no idea what the products actually cost them, and don't really care. If your cost for a piece of equipment is $1.99 and you sell it to me for $1,999, so long as your price is competitive then more power to you. Many end users/customers understand, as someone pointed out somewhere above, that while we may find a lower price on the internet for a piece of equipment, that price doesn't include installation, setup, installation warranty, etc.

In the end, it comes down to making sure you get what you pay for. We can't do that without itemized quotes . . . and good relations with the installer. I guess my long-winded point is - not everyone expects something for nothing.

How do you reckon finding out if the *price is competitive* if you don't *shop it around*? Esp with labor...

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