You’re trying to save money. You’re tiptoeing around budget constraints. That great deal on Amazon, eBay or Craigslist for the same video display or control device that your integrator quoted you at a higher price is extremely tempting.
However, there are a lot of reasons why you might regret trying to save a few bucks.
The integration channel responsible for designing B2B workplace technology, including AV, security, communication and IT solutions, is extremely protective of its product distribution model. As well it should be. Most companies are good at what they do and deserve to make a profit.
Customers, on the other hand, want a deal. Who doesn’t? It’s tempting to take a quote from an integration firm and start Googling product numbers. In many cases, tech decision makers will be able to find the same products available on third-party sites such as Amazon, eBay or Craigslist at a lower price.
At MyTechDecisions we generally think it’s a terrible idea not to purchase products that are important to your organization from a company that isn’t trained and qualified to install and service them.
Not only that, many of those so-called great deals on B2B technology products come with their own set of problems. Some of the products aren’t what they seem, whether that means being used, damaged or possibly stolen.
Sister publication Commercial Integrator recently ran down the reasons why it’s risky when dealers try to circumvent manufacturers or trusted product distributors and purchase products from third-party sites. The same words of warning apply to tech decision makers.
“Most of our true AV partners understand the importance of not going around the channel and not grabbing that little bit of extra business,” says Sam Taylor, executive VP and COO of AV integration industry product distributor Almo Professional A/V. “If there’s a product that’s priced way below what you can get through the channel, there’s probably a good reason for that.”
How to Sniff Out Fraud
Almo follows a procedure to eliminate fraud when it comes to products being sold outside the traditional channel, says Taylor.
Signs of AV fraud:
- someone calling out of the blue from a new company or someone they don’t know — often done using fake email addresses
- someone calls asking for immediate shipment of the products without much regard for how much it’s going to cost
- ordering in round numbers, since few AV projects need exactly 50 or something or exactly 25 of something else
“It used to always be projectors, because they have smaller boxes and larger value, but we’ve seen some display orders coming through now,” says Taylor. “We also can sometimes see a shopping list of things that don’t really go together.”
When these potential fraud situations come up, Almo staffers look up the delivery address on Google to figure out why the products aren’t going to the usual location.
These fraud attempts happen at least a couple of times every quarter, he says. When searching these sites, remember to also look out for small misspellings, particularly of the company or product names or packages that include products that don’t typically go together, says Taylor.
While this may not be a case of fraud, it’s a warning sign, he says.
Read the entire article on Commercial Integrator to learn more about how to avoid purchasing fraudulent products.