We all love that technology can make our lives more convenient, but it’s important to know that something simple and elegant on the outside often hides a lot of underlying complexity. Avoid AV people and companies who over-promise and under deliver by following some of these tips.
1. They don’t have a contractor’s license.
In the state of California, if you hire someone to do home improvement in excess of $500 they must have a valid contractor’s license. In our industry, it also would be a C-7 low voltage license. Check to see if they have a valid contractor’s license.
2. They aren’t insured.
Any company you consider should have insurance, including workman’s compensation and liability. If they damage your home you can file with their insurance company but if they don’t you are faced with suing them and then good luck trying to recoup your damages. Also, if they should happen to get injured on your property or worse and they don’t have workman’s compensation you become liable for their injuries. If in doubt, consult with your insurance agent and lawyers to determine your personal liability when hiring someone who is uninsured and unlicensed.
3. They don’t have a business license/ seller’s permit.
In the state of California, you must have a business license and seller’s permit to resale merchandise. Beyond being illegal, a “business” (using the term loosely here) that does not have a seller’s permit is buying the merchandise in their name which means when they resale it to the end user, the end user becomes the 2nd owner and factory warranty only applies to the original purchaser. If you’re concerned about a company it wouldn’t hurt to research them through Better Business Bureau.
4. They’re not an authorized dealer for the equipment they want to sell you.
Many manufacturers’ warranties are void when sold through unauthorized channels (i.e. online). You should have confidence that your equipment will be covered should it ever fail. Authorized dealers also have a relationship with the manufacturer which means they are better trained on the product and the company which makes them better prepared to advise you and install/ program the product. To find out if a company is an authorized dealer you can go directly to the manufacturer’s website and search the dealer locator.
5. It’s like they don’t exist!
They don’t have a showroom. You looked them up online and you didn’t find a website or reviews. Most importantly they need to be able to provide a list of references!
6. They have the wrong attitude.
Are they friendly? Do they have someone who will always answer the phone? Professional? Helpful? If they have all the qualifications but terrible customer service that simply won’t work either. Think about the long term relationship you’ll form with this company and ask yourself if you think it’s going to be a good one.
A final word, ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! The items above are just a few basic red flags designed to protect you but nothing does that better than your gut feeling.