Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Avoiding Vendor Lock In

I have another company to add to my wall of shame: HRV. Those guys who sponsor 20/20 cricket in New Zealand.

HRV offer a Heat Recovery Ventilation system. At the time that we got ours, there were two main brands - HRV and DVS. While being exactly the same thing - a fan that sits in the ceiling with outlets to the ceiling of most or all rooms of the house.

When buying it I had asked "What's your differentiation point?". Basically I don't care about the commonalities. Both companies are spouting the same benefits. So the important question, at the time, was how do they differentiate themselves?

And the answer? The filter. They use a finer filter.

Good enough for me. We brought one and had it installed. Jump forward a few years. The filter needs to be changed on a semi regular basis. I didn't realise this had been done but one winter, I seemed to be getting dripping from the outlet in my bedroom. I rang the company and told them what was happening. I got assured that their system could not do this .... yet it was happening. I ended up with a bucket just by my bedroom door with a towel at the bottom (the towel stopped the annoying sound).

It wasn't until we were doing some renovations to the place that the electrician pointed out that the HRV system, which comes in 2 parts, hadn't been put together properly (they had fallen away from each other) when they changed the filter.

Since that happened we've complained but we're stuck with the system. While we need a new filter, we're stuck with having to get HRV to install it. They won't sell us the filter to install it ourselves. No.... we have to pay full price to get HRV in to hopefully not screw it up. It all amounts to being a pretty shit way to treat people.

If I had to do it all over again, I would ask them "If you guys screw up, and we're stuck getting supplies off you, are you willing to buy the system back off us?". Sure, it would leave us with holes in the ceiling. But it also make them think seriously about the fact their screw ups should not result in them being rewarded in service fees. If the service has proven to be less than useful, then why should we or anyone else ever be stuck paying for it? And if HRV aren't able to offer anything in the way of compensation for their screw ups, then they're definitely a company to be avoided.

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