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KNews Insider: The Manufacturers Warranty: An AV Integrators Nightmare

More manufacturers raising warranties to five years By DMN Staff Writer
Im not going to mention any companies by name, but another manufacturer in the ProAV market raised their warranty to 5-years just last week.

They arent alone.

A number of manufacturers seem to think the longer the warranty, the better the loyalty, thus have taken a position over the past year to make them longer -- instead of lowering prices, or giving rebates or anything that directly benefits the systems designer or salesperson.

Dont they realize this theoretical warranty actually complicates things for an AV Integrator?

I can, as much as anyone, see the value of a long warranty on consumer products and hope that one day the warranty of my computer, TV or refrigerator will break the 90-day barrier as those are stand-alone consumer boxes that, if broken, the manufacturer will either send their own technician. In fact, my refrigerator went on the fritz just last month and GE sent a technician out to my house that fixed it immediately.

But, in the ProAV systems world, thats not the way things work. ProAV dealers and contractors get stuck with the task of explaining away a complicated string of excuses why the manufacturers warranty doesnt totally support a product.

Why? Well, ProAV integrators do just that: integrate ProAV products together to make a system. The system may contain 40, 50 or even 500 different manufacturers products or components - each one with a different warranty policy ad timeframe. In addition, many of them are now installed in a rack, the ceiling or mounted in a wall or cabinet. Sure, each one still has the manufacturers warranty, but ONLY the ProAV integrator can truly warranty the system. This I where the potential chaos begins.

In a customers system, say a boardroom, if a matrix switcher stops working, a projectors RS-232 port stops communicating or the red output of a distribution amplifier cuts off, the clients system is having a problem ... thats right, the client identifies the system with the problem, not a product.

Of course, the ProAV integrator is called and hears those four painful words, "Your system is broken". They send a repair tech out to the site and discover the switcher is on the fritz. In this case, lets say the system was installed in October 1998. The client chose NOT to get a service agreement, as all the products have a long warranty. The repair technician explains that the switcher needs to be returned to the manufacturer for repair and will be out for only three days -- the manufacturer is excellent at turning around fast repairs.

Great, the customer is excited.

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