Smart homeowners make good customers. Smart homeowners do their homework, their research before making long-term home entertainment and automation purchases. Smart integrators should take the time to educate their customers about various audio, video, lighting, security, HVAC, automation and networking products, even referencing product information on the internet. However, those same smart integrators rarely appreciate their smart customers making direct product purchases over the web. Smart Web Purchases? Maybe – Maybe Not. A search on the Internet will yield a seemingly never-ending reference list for any given product, including in-depth reviews, technical information, product shots (pics) and yes, the inevitable…pricing. In scanning through some of these sites, I ask myself a few questions: Who is the internet reseller? What am I really getting for that price? Why are the prices for the same product all over the chart? How do I know this is really the right product? The average consumer could quickly drown while sitting and clicking (or die a slow death if they are only on dial-up). Their level of trust in any one reseller often waivers, but the sight of an exceptionally (often too-good-to-be-true) price tag, has them digging in wallets and purses. But after seeing some of the purchases made by our customers this past year, I again re-ask myself those very same questions. In one case, we had to send in a Denon A-V receiver for repair. Purchased off the net at a “great price”, the customer was a bit surprised to learn that the unit was sold by an unauthorized Denon reseller, who no longer existed. In case number two, a customer found the perfect discounted video distribution pieces for their home. Our on-site technician was a bit frustrated when he discovered the hardware the customer had delivered wasn’t so perfect. Case number three involved a box-o-internet-goodies sitting in a room, ready to be integrated. Words that came to mind were “obsolete”, “out-of-warranty”, and “why does this rattle when I shake it?” While the customer may have saved money on the obsolete, out-of-warranty, rattling items, he did not save the extra on-site time it took us to decide what he had and if we could integrate it seamlessly into the project. Selling boxes is easy. Buying boxes is easy. Integrating the boxes may not be so easy. Designing the right system with the right boxes is even harder, thus the reason homeowners pay integrators to engineer and install the perfect working system. If a homeowner is going to be requiring the services of an experienced integrator, they should understand that the integrator will be more enthusiastic about integrating equipment they get to to sell. Integrators provide a full-service platform, providing product and service warranties with everything they install. Homeowners hire an integrator and get to shake a hand, see a face, and share a drink. Homeowners don’t share such an intimate relationship with the express delivery driver. In summary, conclusion, wrap-up. . . keep the following in mind the next time you start to fill your e-shopping cart for home entertainment and automation goods: Research your e-reseller, their warranties and guarantees. Unless your project is purely a DIY (do it yourself), contact your integrator or design consultant as to what equipment (manufacturer and models) you require for a successful project. Remember the lowest price is not the best deal. Remember product warranties may not be valid from un- authorized resellers. Products labeled “NEW” or never used, especially on sites like e-Bay, may be new indeed, but outdated and not useable in your project. This often happens with high-end home automation gear. If the actual unit rattles or sounds like like a box of legos inside, that is considered a bad thing. Any questions about shopping, surfing, clicking or integrating stuff from e-Bay in your home, please contact David Teel, Co-founder of Avenida Network at or visit his company’s web site at