JooVuu X recently released the price for it’s camera and whilst in the Dash Camera community it has been well received, in the Aerial Photography community it has been less well received.
One user wrote: ‘warranty&CS* doesn’t cost anything – unless the product quality needs it’ (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=32810037&postcount=43) . We originally wanted to ignore this comment, be the bigger person, move on, focus on the future, and then we thought – fuck it. This line is really quite an offensive line and pretty short sighted – now they may have not been clear in their meaning or they may have not relayed what they wanted to say in the best of ways, but we’re going to disagree with them literally on the words they wrote.
*CS= customer service.
Warranty & customer service doesn’t cost anything. Quite possibly the most incorrect statement you will ever hear regarding retail. Customer service costs you your life, warranty costs you your money. I’m going to break this article in two sections, the first will be focussed on the warranty, the second on customer service.
A warranty costs nothing. That’s wrong. In fact that’s not just wrong, it’s inaccurate, factually ignorant, and bordering on insulting to human intelligence. The first problem with a warranty is shipping the goods back to the factory to get them repaired or replaced – this is only hard to one country really – China, which is where most electronics are made. Why is it so hard to return the goods, well sadly that’s on purpose in order to protect their manufacturers.
As soon as the good’s have left China that’s it. Literally. No replacements from the manufacturer that’s it. That’s what actually happens. What they say is usually they provide a few extra to cover any faulty ones, plus a year replacement/repair service. Sounds pretty good right? This is a complete and utter fucking fantasy (excuse my language). China essentially blocks returns for the below reasons:
1) Customs officials make a killing off the bribes, payments, and dodgey handshakes that plague Chinese customs. This is not me being bitter – this is known fact and I have spoken to 4 far more seasoned traders in China who all sadly conquer.
2) They are ‘scared’ companies will avoid paying tax and declare their goods as faulty.
3) This one isn’t really a reason but what everyone I have spoken to has said. China only wants to focus on exports, they have no interest in NOT making money. Exports = money. Imports of faulty goods = sign the products are not good and have to be replaced/repaired = less money. They literally have no interest in it, and the best thing is, they do not want that to change. Why would they? They protect their profits.
So how do they block it? Simple – they make it impossible for it to happen (and this is just the officials). I’ll come to the producer shortly.
So in China if you want to return faulty goods you will need the following:
1) A Digital Video Recorder commodity inspection certificate
2) 3C Certificate – this is for EACH return batch. So if we do 1 batch of returns per week to China, we would need 1 certificate each week
2a) Producer has to be signed up to this and endorse this
3) We need ‘trade declaring files’ (ie we have to prove we are a trading company and then hand over a lot of personal information)
4) Need an airport inspection audit document that proves our goods are faulty. Each good has to have a serial number and each good has to match exactly to the manufacturers document
5) This is where it gets even better: lets say our camera costs 20usd to produce. Even if we can prove it, they value each camera at 100USD. So if we are returning 10 cameras at 20usd that’s 200usd. But for China that’s 100usd. It’s ludicrous. On top of that we have to pay duty, taxes, VAT, inspection fees, and suddenly you’re paying about an extra 400usd.
The problem with this and what has happened in the past to us, is somewhere a long the line a customs official will want a bribe. So whilst you’ll end up losing 500usd you’ll also have to pay about 200-500usd to a customs official as well. This is so widespread that when we spoke to official brokerage and shipping companies in China, the spreadsheets they gave us actually had that sum included.
So on returning 10 camera’s and that should have cost you no more than than about 75-125usd in total you’re suddenly paying paying close to 1000usd.
But it’s not fair to just criticize the corrupt Chinese officials and the isolationist policies of the Chinese government. The camera suppliers are by far the worst.
It’s not only their complete disrespect and regard for anyone else’s circumstances but also their attitude of ‘what you gonna do?’ which as they know is nothing. There seems to be an ever creeping culture now in China that once you have bought something – that is it. Companies such as GitUp seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and companies like SJCAM seem to be the rule rather than the exception. As soon as those products have left China they know there is virtually nothing you can do. Sure you can gamble on sending the product back, and sure if they receive it they’ll fix it/replace it but that’s the best case scenario that rarely happens. Here is what usually happens.
1) We send the products back – we cannot send via DHL, UPS, Fedex etc as the customs controls on them are far to tight. So we have to send back via national postal providers. So shipping to China takes about 2 weeks.
2) The parcel gets through, however, the manufacturer says tax has been applied and unless we pay the tax they will not accept the parcel. We never get any proof, we never get anything, but we have to pay because if we do not we get the faulty product back and no replacement. The manufacturer now says, we need to pay for shipping back to us which of course is far more than what it is.
3) The parcel gets picked up by Chinese customs and they slap so many fines on it it’s just not worth it. So we lose that product, and as such it’s replacement.
Do you see where this is going yet? These minefields are what we have to navigate and take into account when dealing with China. This unfortunately accounts for such a large percentage of our markup. So please do not think we are greedy. We’re not, but we cannot afford to run the risk of making huge losses and as such have to cover ourselves. As any UK distributor/reseller/or manufacturer like ourselves will tell you, it’s virtually impossible to return items to China.
So does that not cost anything then? No of course it fucking does.
Customer service does not cost anything. Well thank god we do not have to eat or ever help our customers because our product is so perfect. Phew, avoided those awkward things there. Oh wait no we didn’t.
Customer service only costs something if it is needed, is technically a factually accurate statement. As stated in the JooVuu X Price blog in an ideal we would make about £10 a camera as we would have no overheads and happily take our paycheck. Sadly that does not happen – ever, simply because it’s impossible. The less you pay someone, the quality decreases drastically, the less likely you are to get that refund, that replacement, that reply to that email to solve a problem…simply because it is not worth their time.
Every product needs customer service, I have phoned customer service more times than I care to imagine and the best ones most of the time are where the product was not the cheapest, such as John Lewis in the UK. This is because I know I’m paying a small premium to them but when I need their help, their service is fantastic. I ordered a TV that was 2 and a half years old and just out of warranty, phoned them up, explained my problem, they said, that’s not good enough, got one sent to me the next day and picked it up for me. Now say I had bought that from a cheap seller, the conversation would have gone like: Oh you’re 6 days out of warranty, sorry mate, that’s your problem.
However, that fantastic customer service from John Lewis is allowed because of the small premium they add to each product allows them to go the extra mile more often than not. This is a philosophy I hold deeply, I would prefer to have the best customer service and a fantastic product, rather than a fantastic product and terrible customer service. Retail is a cut throat business but we refuse to race to the bottom on price and compromise on service – that is something I refuse to do, ever.
The ironic thing is that a lot of people believe customer service should be free. Look at one of the most popular cameras on RCGroups and all the customer service is for free. This is not a dig or an insult to the people who help and post, but why should the onus be on free support? This is one way to cut down on costs, but then go through that thread and you’ll see a lot of people getting irate because of lack of support – well who can you blame when it is for free?
I hate exploitation, I hate inequality, I hate difference for gain and I refuse to play the same game as the cheap manufacturers, let everyone do the shit work and they take the profit. If that’s business then I’m not playing that game. To say warranty and cs does not cost anything is insulting to the people you buy from, if you want cheap crap buy cheap crap but do not complain when things go wrong because we’ll be the first to highlight how hypocritical you are.