Buying Security Cameras on the Internet: Any Savings?

We all enjoy getting a deal on the Internet.  What about buying home technology?  Can you get a good deal?  Maybe.  But is it smart?  Maybe not.  Here’s a recent email exchange with a client for whom we’re installing cameras in his 17,000 square foot home.

Client:  Pat, is your supplier high on the camera price?  Here’s what I found on the Internet.  (Link to site.)

Pat:  I will check it out with the rep. They are selling well below my wholesale.

Pat to our distributor:  Please see what this seller is doing—what’s up? They’re selling BELOW wholesale. They say they’re an authorized seller. Any thoughts? Or is this not legit?

Our distributor:  This is not an authorized reseller. We run into these guys a lot.

Zero warranty, and no factory support. That’s not competing. Just predatory.  If purchased from them, it voids all warranty. They do not purchase from the manufacturer.  They do a bait-and-switch. 

Pat to client:  I’ve had calls and emails with our distributor.  It’s what I thought.  This seller you found on the Internet takes your money, then declares that the items are backordered when you wonder why they haven’t been delivered.  Then they try to get you into a different brand to appease you.  I have seen several sites like this on the AV side of the business.  Some even call me to try to side-sell them high-end equipment.

Client:  I don't understand how Amazon can sell this stuff under your cost.  Help me feel I'm not being overcharged other than I'm taking a chance on overnight delivery.  How do these people obtain this equipment and not be distributors?  I have bought electronic devices before on Amazon and filled the warranty paperwork out (I never have had the need for warranty work though) and I never heard back from the manufacturer that I would not be covered.  It doesn't make sense they would ignore their warranty on a new product. I'm just trying to figure out how this all works.   

Pat:  Frustrating, definitely—and especially so for the manufacturers. Amazon is only as reliable as the company backing the sale, since Amazon is just a middle-man.  I’ve use Amazon, and have never had trouble, but I always do business with only major-name stores and I confirm that they are not on a list like this one, where the manufacturer is actively pursuing legal action.  I buy cameras from the factory-authorized distributor in Carrollton, TX.  They are probably charging me 5-10% markup for handling since I’m not factory direct.

After reading the information on the link about unauthorized resellers, and you feel comfortable making an online purchase, it will be a way to save money. Perhaps you could try buying a single item first (from someone not on ‘the list’) and see how it goes.  If it works, great!  Then order the rest.  Remember the warranties, if needed, would have to flow through the place you purchase them from since the manufacturer tracks serial numbers.

Hope this helps.  It's why UltraMedia and other service/labor-based companies are getting high on labor.  The margins are almost gone on the items we sell. Keep the questions coming!

Client:  Great job doing the research on this.  It’s not worth the risk, and you guys have never let me down.  Please order the cameras and recorders.  Thanks for your time and patience answering my questions.

Weeks later: the cameras and recorder were installed on the job site.  The clients have still not moved in yet.  There have been 4 attempted break-ins.  Between the alarm system, and the recorded images, nothing has been stolen from the home, and the police have excellent images from which to work.