Anyone had to deal with this?

JimMIT

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In my search for a company to custom install several home systems (home theater, structured wiring, security alarm, central vac, etc.) in my new-construction home, I went to several companies. For a fee + cost of material/equipment, each will assist in the design of each of these systems and will install them. It was the policy/tactic of each of these companies, however, to force me to purchase the equipment from them -- at full MSRP. They all claim that they make so little profit on the components that they can't afford to discount them at all. They say that a benefit of purchasing their components is that they will come back out any number of times for additional tweaking or to assist me in other areas, upgrading, etc. They further tell me that if I purchase my equipment/components elsewhere, they will do the initial installation, but they will be reluctant to return for tweaking or if something doesn't work properly.

I ended up selecting a company which doesn't carry the speakers I want and the owner agreed to "allow" me to purchase the speakers elsewhere. However, he insists that I purchase my receiver, DVD player, etc. from him. He is an authorized dealer for the brands that I'm interested in.

I am loathe to pay full price for some of these components when I can get them elsewhere for 10 - 15% less, but as a newbie, I may need their help later on down the road.

Questions:

1) Is this a usual and customary business practice of home theater installers?

2) Once my home theater system is installed, how likely is it that I will need additional help from the installer?

3) Do you think that the 10 - 15% premium I pay to this installer for the components is worth the peace of mind it will buy?

I wasn't sure how to conduct a search for previous strings with this topic and wasn't sure where to post it. Administrator - feel free to re-post this elsewhere.
 

David Ison

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if the dealer-installer is not willing to work with you, keep looking!
 

Jim Rakowiecki

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I feel that if you want a professional to do the work and do it right then you are going to have to pay for his services and that usually means using the materials he provides.
Did you ask the contractor building the home if you could supply the lumber because 2x4s are much cheaper at lowe's or Home Depot? Would you even consider that?
Would you expect to be able to walk into a resturaunt with a bag full of groceries and ask the cook to use your ingredients because it would be cheaper? If the answer is no then why would you expect the this company to use stuff the didn't provide?
I used to make a living as a mechanic in a small garage and several times a week people complain because my alternator was $150.00 and they could get one at the parts store for $90.00. The reality was that we got the same altenator at the same place and paid the same $90.00. The labor rate the owner charged was enough to cover his overhead and not much else he made his money off the mark up on the parts.
Occasionally he would relent and let someone supply thier own parts and it always ended up being a nightmare because inevitably something would go wrong and the cutomer would expect that we would do the job again for free because they felt we should stand behind our work and would never take into account that the alternator they supplied was at fault.
I think there is some room for compromise and the installer you have chosen was willing to make some concessions but for the most part if you want to pay do it your self prices for this stuff then you should expect to do it yourself.
I don't mean to sound like a hard nose but this guy has to eat and the reality is that he is probably working on a pretty slim margin.
 

JimMIT

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Jim - your point is well taken. I posted the same message on other audio forums and most of the respondents agree with you and cited rationale similar to yours -- only they didn't sound quite as "hard nose."
They pointed out to me that the couple hundred bucks premium that I would pay is, in the overall scheme of things, not that much. And not paying it is not worth alienating my installer. I appreciate your advice.
 

Bob McElfresh

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There is some subtle but important behavior in DVD players, televisions and recievers that make some much easier to program with a universal remote or integrate than others.

On the other hand - the electronic box's dont really take much to 'install'.

Do this: make sure that since they sell everything, you get in writing the following requirements:

- All equipment will be hooked up and tested/burned in at the installers site before it shows up at your home.

- All equipment will be installed with no exposed wires.

- All wires will be labeled at each end.

- A complete, custom wiring diagram will be part of the installation.

- A single remote control must perform all day-to-day functions.

- The install price includes programming the universal remote to provide 'one-touch' activation and switching of sources. Training will be included.

- Installation will be performed by CEDIA certified installers.

- Written proof of insurance will be provided at the time the installers arrive.

- The speakers/reciever will be level-adjusted by the installers.

If the company cannot/will-not agree to these conditions, shop elsewhere.
 

JimMIT

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Thanks, Bob, for your suggestions. I feel confident that this installer will do all of these things. He is a member of CEDIA, HANA (Home Automation and Networking Association) and ISF (Imaging Science Foundation). He has already provided his insurance information to the general contractor. He's already done a very neat job of installing the structured wiring (with an OnQ system). He has promised a single remote and an orientation for each system until I am comfortable with their operation. He has also promised that the system will be calibrated to SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture Engineers) standards.

In short, he appears, so far, to be a professional in every sense of the word. I was just initially a little taken aback by his position about purchasing equipment through him.

Thanks again.
 

Ted Lee

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another possibility is that they want to sell their gear since they're probably authorized, and more importantly, certified in how to do a proper setup/install.

i guess that alone would make it worthwhile.
 

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