How can the same product be “perfect” and “terrible”


How can the same product be “perfect” and “terrible”

We are working on the October issue of PT where we will ask equipment manufacturers to answer questions put forth by potential buyers. As we discussed this among the staff, there was concern that some negative information about the industry may come forth. I said "don’t worry about it"  No matter what we do, or what a manufacturer does, there will always be negative and positive reports.

It works like this.

A few years ago (stop if you have heard this story) we asked our readers to report on revenue control equipment. I won’t name the company, but frankly it could have been any of them. We received a blistering condemnation of a particular brand from a hospital in the mid south. We also received an extremely favorable report about the same equipment from a hospital not 200 miles away. The size of the two operations was the same, they were both installed by local dealers, it made no sense.

So I called the two parking managers and got the story. The "hater" had taken over a design build garage. The equipment had been a part of the bid. He had wanted another brand (one he was more familiar with at another site) but the contractor selected the one he got and it was almost literally shoved down his throat. He told me that it never worked from the first day and at the earliest possible moment he was going to jerk it out and replace it with the equipment he wanted.

The other parking manager had done is due diligence. He wrote a spec, got quotes, visited factories, and the equipment he receieved was exactly what he wanted. He sent his staff to the factory for training, and was extremely pleased .

The only difference were the expectations of the owner. Everything else was the same. This brand will always receive a "no" vote from the "hater" and always receive a "yes" vote from the "lover."  This is not the manufacturer’s fault, and there is absolutely nothing they could do about it. There was no way in heaven that they were going to have a "win" at the "hater’s"site.

So what do you do as a potential buyer.  You have to do what the second manager did. Visit sites, talk to people who use the equipment, go to the factory, and get to know everyone in the process. You are the one who makes your equipment work, or stands by when it doesn’t


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. As a long-time equipment vendor, I have experienced this before. However, I bid against competitor’s specs in a New Jersey town several years ago, and I spent almost an hour on the phone after the bid opened going over every exception to the specs, about two pages of them point by point, with the city engineer. Finally, I said, “I really don’t want to try and force you to buy something you don’t want. If you really want to buy the product you specified, I think that’s what you need to do.” As it turns out, he had been given those specs and didn’t really have a preference, so they bought from me and are to this day a good customer. That is the exception to the rule, however.

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