Blog: Price, quality and service – you can’t have all three.

I am sure that many readers will have heard this before but it is still the best expression of the reality of making, selling and supporting a product I have ever heard.

“I can give you the best price, the best quality and the best support”… which two do you want?

I originally started my career as a laboratory technician in the consumer electronics industry. I worked in the quality control laboratory and my main role was not testing our own products but testing those offered by developing countries as cheaper alternatives in the Australian market.

I still do this today in my time and attendance business. I purchase cheap Asian products and I run them through extensive tests to determine their suitability for inclusion in my product lines either as stand alone time clocks or in more advanced software based systems.

Quite frankly, if I could find one that made the grade I would be the first in line to place an order.

However, here are the areas where they let me down.

 

Documentation – Poor English translations and grammar, omissions etc make them difficult to set up and navigate even for my experienced staff, let alone the poor uninitiated end user.

Software – Sometimes there is none and you pay additional for software. Without exception the software is full of bugs and has poor functionality. Often the developers of these hardware products have no experience in software creation and as a result the dysfunctional software renders them useless.

Reliability – Very few of the products we have tested actually survive more than a few months without failure. Some with minor issues such as operating systems freezing and others with catastrophic failure. The reality is you can’t make very cheap reliable hardware.

Support – Even the suppliers who are keen to help are hampered by the language barrier. We are lucky, we have staff that are multi lingual but at the end of the day support is very average or non existent.

To date, only one time clock I have tested has met the standards required and only after we requested significant changes to the internal software. After 12 months the first time clock was dispatched to an existing client for testing in the field… it failed after a week.

Warranty – When you purchase a cheap time clock off the web warranty can be a real issue. If the seller is overseas you will have to return the product at your cost and wait for a replacement. If you buy through a local re-seller you run the risk of dealing with a company who has limited commitment to that product… it’s just one of dozens of time clocks they sell or worse still dozens of unrelated products they sell. Will they have a replacement unit? Do you even want a replacement?

From an end user’s perspective many of these cheap imports are purchased through re-sellers who do not have commitment to the product. They are happy to sell you a cheap time clock but they neither have the desire or ability to help you if there is an issues. Sure, they will send you a replacement but or refund your money but what happens to your lost time!

A reputable time clock provider will have a reliable product that is well documented and easy to use. They will back that products with a responsive and highly trained support team. Quality and support translates to a higher price and it’s as simple as that.

It is at this point that I would urge buyers to look at the cost of ownership rather that the price of ownership. When I sell a time clock, aside from the benefits of superior features my clients receive the following services included in the product-

  • Free automatic updates
  • Installation Assistance
  • Setup and Configuration Assistance
  • Remote Training
  • 2 Year warranty with immediate replacement.
  • 12 Month Support
  • Pay Day Priority Support
  • IT Engineer Qualified Support Staff

We provide these services not as optional extras but as part of the product because we know that implementing new systems always has challenges and the client benefits in many ways from a hands on supplier.

These services mean that the investment you make in one of our time clocks saves you and your staff time in getting the system up and running and that translates into the difference between a cheap clock and one of our clocks. The cost of ownership is less and that is the measure of a good investment.

 

Jim Courtwood