Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Digital Signage "Need to Know": Parts and Labor doesn't always equal warranted repairs...

-Deacon Wardlow
In the world of digital signage (DS), we need to use a lot of tools. Sometimes it's a resource for sales or perhaps the one tool you need is a simple explanation on how a complex solution will fit the need. The biggest tool we (manufacturers, resellers, integrators, and end-users) really rely on is the guarantee. The promise, verbal or (ideally) written, which states whatever goes wrong, someone will come along to ensure it's made right.

Technology makes people somewhat uneasy. When it's working properly, we're pleased and don't think about all the little +/- particles zipping around circuitry to make it work the way it's supposed to. When something goes wrong, it's rarely a simple fix. I recall seeing an owner's manual to an old Model T Ford my grandfather had on the ranch. in 10 pages the manual showed how any person could fix, repair and/or replace any part in the automobile using a small set of tools included with the car. Simple. These days, I can't even begin to guess where to start with some modern car repairs as a lot of it isn't a moving part, but rather the computer or some other piece of technology which nearly requires an engineering degree to really understand. Warranties are getting to be somewhat tricky these days as well...

Warranties shouldn't be complex. At their heart, they're simple. Something's broken? We'll fix it. Here's a basic breakdown of some warranty terms to watch for:

There's a big word which is buried deep in most warranty statements. Make sure to find out what the limitation is. With LED Signs, this often means the 5 year parts warranty DOES NOT cover the radio or other third-party components which the manufacturer sold you as someone else made it.

Parts and Labor:
This could easily be misconstrued (and has been repeatedly) as meaning parts and on-site service. Parts and labor simply mean the manufacturer will replace the part or repair it (in the factory). Depending on availability of parts, this could mean your DS solution could be down/out for a lot longer than a few hours or days... Make sure the manufacturer you're dealing with has depot parts (parts available in their factory) to send out so the end-user can be up/running as quickly as possible.

On-Site Service Warranty:
It's great when these are available. Find out if the warranty is underwritten or not (a warranty is no good if the company who sold it to you goes out of business). What protections are in place to ensure the warranty will be covered for the lifetime of the agreement and what remuneration is available (do you have to use the manufacturer's certified repair people or can you/your company be listed as the main service company)? Service is a cornerstone for relationships with the DS end-user and you don't want to lose out on an opportunity to work with the client, especially when something is going wrong and they need someone to come in and make it right ASAP.

Quick Questions to dig deeper:

1. What parts and repairs are covered by the warranty?
2. Are any expenses excluded from coverage?
3. Is the warranty just a promise or is it backed by a bond or insurance?
4. How long does the warranty last?
5. What has to be done to get a repair completed? (Check to see if the process is simple and straightforward or convoluted with a lot of hoops to jump through.)
6. Are there conditions or limitations on the warranty?
*Take a look at Scott Hofheins Blog on Warranties as well!

*For sign companies or resellers/integrators who do service, check to see how the remuneration is handled. Do they have a flat national rate or is the rate determined by location?

So much work is done on the front-end to turn opportunities into sales, make sure the back-end is covered or that great referral could turn into a nightmare...

*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at deacon@vantageled.com. Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.

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