Service for the Dead and Dying

The older I get, the more often I find myself amazed by the ignorance I find everywhere I look. It seems amazing to me that after 30 years of being part of an industry and 20-plus years of training that industry, I can still be shocked by it. OK, so...

Many service contracts have cancellation clauses that will charge the end user cash penalties if they try to cancel before the allotted time. Some of these penalties are as high as 50 percent of the initial cost of the system.

Service Agreement. A service agreement is similar to a contract, but usually costs less and has fewer frills. The service agreement usually promises X number of field service calls per year with the end user paying for all repairs. The service agreement may also promise that such service calls are done within X amount of time from the initiation of the call. Watch out, though many service agreements have a markup clause for repaired equipment. That is, the service dudes and dudettes come into the field, pull a piece of equipment, send it to a qualified, factory authorized point of repair, get it back and mark up the cost of that repair as much as 200 percent before adding the cost of shipping.

Service Call. The service call is for those who do not wish to be bound to a contract or agreement. There is not much to do here. Call for help, hope it shows up, pray they can fix it, pay the bill and hope it would not have been cheaper to burn the barn down.

I personally like a combination service contract/agreement. You just have to learn to negotiate and make sure that you are not spending so much that the whole process becomes a lesson in futility.

At the end of the day, all of the above is worthless if you have an uneducated service dude or dudette show up at your door. You should negotiate minimum standards into every service contract and agreement, and even into every service call. It will throw the trunk slammers out of our industry, push the need and want for certification programs, and ensure that we maintain a minimum level of professionalism as we go.

Charlie Pierce is president of LeapFrog Training & Consulting, a company dedicated to training the professionals of the CCTV industry. Visit its Web site online at