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Poor Manufacturer Support = New Manufacturer Partner

Why it pays to only support the companies that support our businesses and our channel.

We’ve all been there. A client is having an issue with hardware we have installed and configured, and we are a little stumped on what the problem is. Sometimes we reach out to our network for a quick answer, but often, when time is of the essence, we contact the manufacturer’s (and in some cases distributor’s) technical support team. With professional-grade products, that support is usually superb — Crestron, Control4, Lutron, Snap One, Blackwire Designs, etc. all have great support. However, sometimes we have to re-learn the lessons we preach and only support the companies that support our businesses and our channel.

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We had been using a lot of eero products, particularly in Manhattan, where running retrofit wires is often impossible (apartments with no basements, no attics, and solid block walls). eero had been a game changer when it came out. By putting them in bridge mode and using an Araknis router and switches, we had been having very good luck. The problem with eero is that it is, at its heart, a consumer-grade product with limited configuration options. The bigger problems that I got bitten by is that they automatically push firmware updates, and their support infrastructure is not up to supporting our channel.

Related: Need to Know — Home Mesh Networks

We had a situation with a network going offline regularly and requiring a reboot. Snap One technical support helped us eliminate any router or switch issues. I also personally checked every cable and switch port to ensure we did not have any network loops. I then reached out to eero support. When it became clear after 20 minutes or so that Tier 1 was not able to help, I asked to be escalated to Tier II. Well, Tier II support is only available via a scheduled call, not on demand. And then the back and forth is all over email. So, after my 20-minute call in which we went over all of the ports and wires and ensured nothing was looped, the email from Tier II, sent days later, hypothesized that we have a network loop and to check all of our cables and ports. It is like they never read the case notes and just sent a standard email. Our reputation has been called into question by the client and our manufacturer partner is of no help.

After several back-and-forth emails, it came down to a firmware update the eero pushed that had a bug impacting a small percentage of systems. Why didn’t Tier II now about this early on? Why did I waste hours and hours of time and have an upset customer for days?

Also by Todd Anthony Puma: The Ups and Downs of Technology Advancements

We will no longer be selling eero. Mark Feinberg swears by Ruckus APs and he has put me onto Blackwire Designs and Access Networks. I’m getting a couple of APs from Mark to test out and will soon be moving all our business to Ruckus.

This is a great example of support being the difference in winning our business. And remember that not only for where you spend your money, but also where you customers spend theirs. I can’t tell you how many projects we have taken over because the client could not get reliable, timely, and professional support from the prior dealer.

Todd Anthony Puma is the founder and CEO of The Source Home Theater, based in Matawan, NJ and serving the greater New York Metro area. He often co-writes blogs for Residential Systems with Mark Feinberg.