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4.7.22 – CEPro

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Integrators vent about suppliers who ‘don’t give a rat’s butt,’ pushed delayed orders into new pricing, or offered minimal communication.

The supply chain crisis has brought many integrators to their boiling point. The combination of higher prices, lack of product availability, jacked up shipping costs, empty shelves and irate clients has everyone’s nerves frayed, and has integrators calling out their “worst AV suppliers.”

As part of the 12th annual CE Pro Quest for Quality Awards, we asked dealers to vent their frustrations about the manufacturers and distributors that are causing them the biggest headaches.

We actually asked a similar question last year and got a handful of responses…this year we got pages and pages of responses, revealing just how frustrated integrators are right now.

Below is a laundry list of complaints with the names of the suppliers redacted. (These complaints were all sent to the individual manufacturers or distributors so they can use the feedback as constructive criticism.)

Several respondents put all the negativity in perspective:

Every integrator has a handful of manufacturers and distributors they rely on as critical partners in the success of their business. 

  • “Can we just say the biggest frustration was COVID 19? Personally, I didn’t have any issue with AV suppliers, but the shutdown was hard for everybody.”
  • “Difficult times make things difficult for all.”
  • “I don’t think bashing another company is professional. Enough of that happens in the world today.”
  • “I believe everyone in our industry has tried their best to stay resilient and accommodating through the last year.”

Others say the frustration is not due to individual manufacturers or distributors but the entire system in which products are purchased in wonky.

  • “It’s not so much an individual manufacture or distributor. It’s more of a badly designed system having to use Reps (short for “repetitious”) who needlessly add markups and have certain wholesalers they work through because of kickbacks and the manufacturer’s share in the overage. In this day of instant information, I find I can purchase the same items out of state (in a territory not served by a greedy Rep) for less including less or no sales tax and even with the freight, and it’s still cheaper. Bad system.”
  • “Most of the distributors’ and manufacturers’ training programs are not reaching system integrators, programmers and engineers. They ignore support phone calls, respond late response, and are not taking responsibility and seriousness of the issues.”

Still others have avoided frustration by changing suppliers.

  • “We simply don’t work with vendors or suppliers who frustrate us.”

Integrators Sound Off on Worst AV Suppliers

Here is a sampling of some of the frustration dealers are facing. We hope it is therapeutic for CE pros to get these complaints off their chests. Do any of these sound familiar? If so, it might bring a level of consolation to know that you are not alone.

“When you call ____ it seems that all they know is part numbers. I have called other offices while still on hold with them to place orders. I have been told by their staff they have trouble understanding me when I order. Now ain’t that a change for sales calls”
“______ website and local office are both hard to navigate and get answers. Their local staff is not very helpful.”

“In 13 years of business, and over 20 in the industry, I have NEVER had to fight for product and pricing as much as I do with ___ . Besides the shelves being nearly empty, everything is ‘special order,’ they kill you on freight, and price ‘coding’ you had to fight for expires if you don’t buy that product again in two months. Extremely annoying! If they weren’t 1 mile from our shop, we would never go there. They served their purpose for product on-the-fly when they had product on their shelves. Those days are becoming numbered.”

“____ is brutal. Hands down they have the worst support. These guys just don’t give a rat’s butt.”

“___ has no organization, no TVs, no AVRs, and the website is terrible.”
“All vendors who need D to A chips for audio electronics have generally not done well in planning communicating or shipping.”
“____ ‘s motor shortages have been extreme. They have a lack of knowledge and push that Chinese crap. I don’t ever deviate from Somfy.”

___ is nearly impossible to get a hold of for customer service, and they are very anti-problem solving when it comes to shipping.”
 ____ never stocks enough product. Their buyer/purchaser is the worst. They can never keep a shelf stocked for longer than 2 months.”

“____ offers a poor level of attention to details on orders and follow up.”
“____ has a horrible website, horrible communication, and horrible customer service.”

“____ has difficult staff and lack of technical support. The ____ brand deserves a better distributor in Australia.”

____ has difficulty with correct pricing and very slow response times.”
“_____ has a great management team and representation, but when they were purchased the online experience became completely useless in identifying available stock and locations which leads to a painful procurement process.”

“It seems like it is always a problem they have not heard of and don’t know how to fix.”

“_____ raised prices while they were not able to fulfill the order, still raised prices and didn’t offer other alternatives. no communications. I had to work hard with reps to fix the issue.”
“____ gave incorrect information about lead times. Consistently assured dealers they would have product and did not.”
“A shipment from was missing a product. The company said we had received the material from FedEX, so they were not responsible. But it is not possible to open the box and count all the lighting while the FedEX guy stands there…. this just would never happen. I was disappointed that after receiving materials from for 3 years that they did not believe me when I said there was an error in my materials received.”
” It seems like it is always a problem they have not heard of and don’t know how to fix.”
“____ has limited product availability. The instituted a price increase for items to be shipped after a specific date (12.31.2022) when we’ve already had the products on order for several months (since late 2021) but it did not ship before the price increase date. Terrible service.”
extreme difficulty in deep shortages ‘so help us God.’”
____ currently has most of its equipment on a 3- to 5-month lead time. They have no inventory. Their supply chain issues are through the roof.”
“____ is providing zero customer support. Product delays by MONTHS when told weeks, orders being cancelled last minute, usually during week of promised delivery and worst part is WE had to reach out first. This caused a ripple effect with other subs and added labor costs, not to mention being yelled at by our clients because of last minute delays and cancellations through no fault of our own.”
_’s delivery dates keep getting pushed and they allow first-in/first-out order/shipping policies rather than working with the rep to help complete residential project so the clients can move in.”
“_____‘s backlog is ridiculous and them putting pressure on the dealers to build up inventory is wrong and makes the issue worse. I think it will backfire on them.”
______ are nice people when talking personally in front of them about stuff not relating to industry. The staff is not well trained in the AV industry. Order takers basically. Ask too much from someone, they often get overwhelmed with other calls and try to cut the call short sometimes. It just seems the cater to the alarm business more.”
“When I needed the product to sell, _____ was avoiding us small dealers and selling direct to the public. I have been a direct dealer for 25 years and could not get any product during the Christmas Season. If we were not custom installers, we would have gone out of business.”
“_____ had their heads up their ass with no clear understanding of how to manage inventory crisis. blew chunks as well.”
“____’s shipping is not calculated until you get an email a day after your purchase revealing that you paid too much. Their shipping program is not well thought out either.”

“We can never get an answer about shipping dates. We would get answers like, ‘We have a better chance to predict the end of the world.’”

______ is very frustrating because there is always something missing or the wrong parts shipped, with their product orders. It causes extra trips to the job sites and missed deadlines.”
“____ tells us nothing.”

_____ customer service is frustrating. Great product.”
“I have had receivers on order at ___since May of 2020 and they have not filled those backorders. Upon going to their online portal, I’ve seen those same models in stock and been able to order them and had them delivered.”

____ keeps telling us something will come in, then all of the sudden when that part comes in, there is another part they are waiting for. Wish they would have a better way of just letting people know a time frame and to not keep changing said timeframe. Very, very frustrating for us and our customers.”
“_____ customer service and credit department is staffed by very rude and unhelpful people.”

“____ needs to go direct and get out of the distribution field. They sell to too many trunk slammers.”
“We could never get an answer about shipping dates from ______. We would get answers like, ‘We have a better chance to predict the end of the world.”
“___ can take weeks to get us any answers.”

” ____ after the sale they don’t care anymore about the customer. They are so big it’s difficult to get answers to technical or customer issues. Not that they don’t care, it’s just that there are too many twists and turns in obtaining answers. Their tech support is the dreaded black hole. If another product gets introduced from another manufacturer that is just as good, I would really consider it.”
“____ doesn’t care about their small vendors. They are pushing out new product when they can’t fill existing orders. Six months delivery is normal.”
____ has too much turnover, and nobody seems to know anything.”
“I called with an issue and was told they haven’t heard of that issue. But when I go to their dealer forum, there are 10 to 15 other dealers having same issue.”
____ has brutal warranty policies. They are the only manufacturer I know where warranty starts at shipping, not installed or sold date, even though they can tell when a product is installed. Terrible support which takes forever to resolve issues. RMA process is painful. Terrible ordering portal and the list goes on. They send out monthly robo emails reminding you to keep your account in good standing regardless of payment history.”
“Nothing is ever correct from _____. Their product always arrives damaged or it is the wrong order. The shipping box is usually destroyed. We have never had an order go right with them in 5 years.”
“____ will no longer do deliveries to San Francisco because they said their trucks get too many parking tickets.”
“____ is the worst because of their BS shipping and illegal ‘no-returns’ policies. They were also the WORST at getting product available to their CI channel, especially when compared to the big box stores. No rewards program whatsoever and their lack of care attitude towards their dealers.”
“_____ is by far the worst for direct dealer support; it’s like calling Bermuda Triangle.”
“I have been waiting 8 months for product from _____. They are terrible at managing supply chain.”

“Nothing is ever correct. Their product always arrives damaged or it is the wrong order. The shipping box is usually destroyed. We have never had an order go right with them in 5 years.”

_______ has no receiver stock available. They are killing our installations. They truly don’t give a s%$t.”
“_____ will drop a price on a product that has about zero flexibility of demand, so the net effect is you give up income on sales you make and gain no additional business. Sometimes they top this off with no inventory on a product where you could see a sales “

“______ made several of our customers (and us) jump through hoops, attempting to get service to a customer’s out-of-warranty television. It made us look really stupid, and they didn’t really seem to care. We discontinued selling their products.”

“______ has a horrible online portal.”
“The most frustrating distributor to work with has been ______ . Their mistakes have cost me thousands. I will never recommend them to any dealer.”

It’s a tie between _____ and _______. Nobody in tech support answers the phone anymore and often call you back days later. Now we must coordinate with client to re-enter home and manufacturer to call back for support. We used to like them but they both are AWFUL now.”
“______ apparently decided to use the supply problem as a time to change all of their parts without informing the industry so we are left waiting for products that have been discontinued or replaced by a product with a different name and part number.”
“______ ’s website is rarely up to date. I always have to call for availability and pricing. I was sending multiple emails before getting a reply about orders. They seem to be constantly changing their staff and open issues are not addressed.”
“______ did not ship any receivers for over 9 months even though receivers would pop up on Amazon. To this day they cannot even tell me the month that we will get more receivers. They prioritized Amazon over independents.
“______ only selling through distribution was complete BULLS$%T!!! They let 25-year dealers down and treated us horrible. ZERO communication. Disgrace to the industry!!”
 provided no communication on backorders… none. Customers were left with no info on when or if we could expect product. We ended up buying through Costco.”