When being "a good steward of the Lord’s money” doesn't mean buying at the lowest price
These days online shopping is more than just convenient. I've personally bought everything from printer ink to car parts to major appliances online. Not too long ago I saved $45 by ordering a part I needed for a pool pump repair online instead of from my local store. When shopping for a projector it may seem more attractive to Google search for the cheapest price. Every penny you spend on equipment is one less spent on ministry; you are spending folks’ hard-earned and entrusted donation money. It’s a big responsibility and, understandably, a difficult decision.
As a “brink and mortar” AV dealer, I may not be fully objective, but knowing the inside tricks of the industry, I would strongly caution against buying a projector from an online store. Here are my reasons:
1. You may not get a warranty.
Your receipt is the only way to prove the purchase date of a projector. The manufacturer will only recognize and honor a warranty if they can verify the legitimacy of that receipt, and they will most likely not be able to verify that a receipt from www.XWZ.com is authentic. Heck, the chance of www.XYZ.com still being in business 3 years from now is highly unlikely anyway.
2. You may not get the service and support you need.
Online stores can sell at lower profit margins because they don’t have to keep trained /experienced staff who know the product. They won't be able to help you find the proper mount or tell you how far away to mount your projector to get a 12 ft wide image.
3. You may not be getting the complete purchase.
In order to offer such low prices, many online stores remove (and sell separately) the remote, power cord, or manuals. Some even swap out the bulb for a 30 hour starter bulb knowing that you will have to call them in a few weeks to order the original bulb at a high price.
4. Beware of the “bait and switch."
I recently helped a customer who wanted to order a specific Hitachi model projector, and he'd found it online at a great price (about 15% cheaper than any other dealer). The online store listed the model as “in stock," and they gladly accepted and ran his church’s Visa card. After several days of “in process” emails, he was finally able to reach a live human being on the telephone. Only then did he learn that the unit was unavailable (they advertised it, but in reality couldn’t get that particular model from Hitachi), and they were substituting for an equivalent machine from Epson. The catch is that the Epson in this case was nowhere near the same. It was a single chip DLP and only came with a 1 year warranty. Buyer Beware!
I guess it comes down to this: you owe it to your congregation and The Lord to be so very careful when spending church money. However, this doesn’t mean finding the cheapest price. Sometimes the best deal isn’t the cheapest deal but truly is the best long term solution for the congregation.
About the blogger:
With almost 25 years of experience in the multimedia industry, Darren Macdonald has personally designed thousands of church projection systems. He is “tech geek” enough to make the system work and “real” enough to make sure that it makes sense to your volunteer operators. He truly has a passion for helping churches maximize their impact for Christ via the use of technology. Got a burning question for him? You can reach him at Darren@ShepherdMedia.com