Office Equipment Awards and Accolades
"Having spent many years in the office equipment industry I can tell you from experience that these honors have more to do with marketing than actual performance"
When it is time to get a new copy machine, printer, fax, or multifunctional printer for the office the salespeople try to give you the many reasons why the product they have to offer is the best. One common technique is to show you all of the awards that their brand or model has won. If you are researching a new copier or other product, you might be shown these awards or come across some press releases about awards or even some of the websites of the authorities that give the awards. The types of accolades come in many different flavors. They could be surveys of end users, lab tests or field tests of the equipment, or sometimes a feature to price opinion of value. While you can find some that give very good copier industry analysis or good insights into other industry trends, when it comes to actually saying a product is “excellent”, they are actually pretty worthless. They are poor indicators of how the product will work for you, and they have no knowledge of how your provider will or won’t take care of you. Having spent many years in the office equipment industry I can tell you from experience that these honors have more to do with marketing than actual performance. Don’t despair because I will explain to you why these honors are worthless, but I will also let you know how you can get good objective information to help with your decision.
The Award From Test Results
One common, and thought to be compelling, type of award comes from agencies that actually test out an item before giving their seal of approval. A popular one in the office equipment industry is Buyers Laboratory. The salesman may present this company as “the consumer reports for their industry” and tell you that the company and its testing are all completely independent. They may also say that because the company picked their product as widget of the year that you should want this product above all others.
The reality is, that frequently “pick of the year” goes to the only product in that very specific segment that was submitted for testing that year. To understand this better you have to recognize that these “independent”, industry-testing companies are totally dependent on being paid to test products by manufacturers. If a manufacturer isn’t happy with the results they get over time, i.e. not getting enough awards or not getting recommended they will stop paying to have their products tested. As a result, testing companies find ways to create more awards, by creating more equipment categories and I have never seen them not recommend a product. Even the test results are suspect because the facilities and the end users are nothing like the real world. They are designed to be the ideal environment for the machine to run in and the testers are experts in how make the products run well. This is much different than an office full of people struggling to share a resource that none of them really know how to use well.
Even though the testing facilities are drastically different than your office is, you can get some good insights if you can actually see the testing review instead of just the rating. If you take the time to actually read the in depth write up that these testers put together you can see what the pros and cons are of this model vs. others like it. As long as you can take the recommendations with a grain of salt and parse through the testers review to see if good and bad apply to your needs, you can actually get some value from these awards.
Are you naive?
If a product received an award from a company you've never heard of, are you more likely to buy it?
The Award from Surveys
The awards from surveys are completely unreliable. These prizes are created via collaboration between a marketing company and a manufacturer. I can’t say that they don’t actually conduct the surveys, but the methods they use are suspect. Often times the product manufacturer will provide a list of customers that they know to be “happy customers” from their own surveys and have that list called. Another tactic that they use is to ask multiple questions that speak to different aspects of the product and only publish awards with statistics that are favorable. The only tidbit of useful information that a potential customer might be able to extract from the survey style of award is; if the award is for one aspect of the product, that aspect might be better than other aspects. Unfortunately, the only thing an honor from end user surveys means is that the company has enough money to hire a marketing company to help them.
The feature to price opinion of value award
This may be the most worthless style of accolade to listen to. There is absolutely no empirical data to support the views of the award giver, there is no proof that the product performs as advertised, and it is usually purchased or comes from a company that is associated with the creator of the product. Don’t be fooled by this award. It has absolutely nothing to do with your business or your needs and is created for the sole purpose of giving the sales person a gold star to show you
What you can do
Now that you know the awards are of little to no value, you are probably asking yourself “What should I rely on to figure out what products are best for my office?” Luckily there are still many things you can do. Do some of your own research by making some phone calls. Talk to people that have a similar business to yours and ask what product they use, how they like it and whom they get it from. Ask the salesperson for references of businesses with the same device if you can’t think of who to call. You can also ask to have the product on an extended trial before committing to buy it so that you can make sure everything is what you expected. For more information on how you can get the best deal see my other hub http://oxtrail.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Get-The-Best-Copier-Deal-For-Your-Small-Business