Free Surveillance Quote ReviewsAuthor: John Honovich, Published on Jan 16, 2014
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.
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.
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