Odd Equipment Choices: False Economies

00389_00229We’ve all had experiences with customers whose decision making we didn’t agree with. Perhaps they were well-rationalized in their own minds, perhaps not. Here are a couple of examples I was just reflecting on the other day.

Way back in the ’90s one of my regular corporate clients was the sound and light technician for the city’s planetarium. One of the things that made him a regular client was that every three months he would buy one or two new $299 single-disc CD players.

Back then, the soundtracks to the Planetarium’s light shows were on CD. Consequently, these CD-players had an intense, all day, all week duty cycle.

When one of them burned out, he’d swap it out for his backup unit, and buy another one or two from me.

More than once I tried to persuade him to buy more expensive, studio or DJ-grade CD players that would last longer.

His response was always the same, that there was no money in his budget for more expensive CD players, but somehow “emergency replacements” were easier to get past the planetarium’s comptroller.

In that same general time frame another corporate client of mine was a media-watch type organization. They ran dozens of VHS VCRs at all hours, recording hundreds of hours a week of television programming, in order to document whatever it was they were documenting, and further whatever their political agenda was.

As a result, every few months they bought a lot of blank VHS tapes and VCRs from me, usually in lots of five or ten, and always near-entry level models: whichever basic units had the programming functions they required.

Bear in mind, by the way, that back then, even a base-model VCR was around six hundred dollars.

Anyway, as with my client from the planetarium, whenever I broached the subject of selling them professional-grade VHS machines the answer was the same: there was no money in the budget for more expensive gear, but somehow
buying new units to replace the burned out ones every quarter was financially feasible.

Where they didn’t economize was on the VHS cassettes. Since the stuff they were recording was being archived, they sprung for the pro-grade VHS tapes that were $20 each, and they bought them in case-lots. Dozens of cases at a
time.

Cheap VCRs, expensive tapes, go figure.

I’m sure rAVe readers have similar stories. I’d love to hear them in the comments below.