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Home Technology Rescue: The Bad and The Ugly

September 18, 2018

NOT ALL INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES ARE MADE EQUAL.

When we met the client featured in this blog, they were frustrated, angry and resentful. Thankfully not with us!

They were at breaking point.  It was Christmas time and having invested around £40,000 on their ‘luxury’ home technology over a year ago with another ‘installer’, they couldn’t even turn the TV on.  Hardly a relaxing Christmas break.

The blank screen was the straw that broke the camel’s back after a year of frustration and feeling ‘ripped off’ with a supposedly ‘integrated home’ that didn’t work.  The phone-calls, the daily frustration of technology that didn’t perform, the cost of trying to fix it… they’d had enough.

A TV that won’t turn on is frustrating enough but when you have paid thousands of pounds for a so-called ‘luxury’ system, it’s enough to make your blood boil.

We are the first ones to admit that sometimes, tech goes wrong.  However the way we deal with that gives our clients peace of mind.  Not answering your phone and avoiding client emails, is hardly reassuring for the client.

 

Home Technology Rescues

Below are just a selection of some of the mess you can find from companies who don’t know what they are doing.  Below are just 3 pictures from 3 homes that SONA have been called in to save over the last couple of years!

The Cost

The Client’s Story

The client told us the system had never been quite right, or worked the way they wanted it to.  They had spent nearly a year backwards and forwards with the installer – a ‘friend’ of their builder – who had now gone completely dark and was not returning any phone-calls.  They were completely stuck, and after asking around were recommended to contact SONA.

Upon initially assessing the existing installation our first reaction was utter disbelief.  It’s no wonder that such a large number of consumers are disillusioned by the home technology industry when companies are pro-porting to be ‘experts’ and then delivering systems like this.

Even more frustrating for them is that we were the 3rd company to work on this system.  In between the original installer and us, there was another party who had come in, advised that they buy £4,000 worth of kit (which they did) which allowed them to watch TV again, but there were still a plethora of issues.

We were the ones put in the unfortunate and painful position of telling them that the £4,000 they recently spent on kit was completely unnecessary.  More bad news.

Our Solution

Rather than walk away (the easier option for us!), we took this opportunity as a challenge to reset the customer’s expectations and aspirations. Part of SONA’s aspirations are to restore confidence in how beneficial technology can be and the positive effect it can have on an entire property and family (when done right!).

The pressure was on…hugely!

 

Spend With Us

SONA’s works on this particular project cost under £20,000 to completely rip out and re-install the system and install something that made life at home enjoyable again. Originally they spent around £35,000 – 45,000.

After trying to cut corners first time, and second time around, by this time, the clients were happy to spend this money.  They knew that they would see every penny in value, during day to day life at home.

 

Ironically We Cost Less!

Below shows how we put this system right.  Ironically this actually cost the client LESS than the original installation…

Our Approach: Essential Infrastructure

After a client consultation to establish what their requirements were, we designed a completely new system around them.

The Problem:  The internet was painfully slow and dropped out continually.

Connectivity

We installed a brand new wired network to provide robust and reliable connections to all TVs around the property and the new devices we were to install.  A completely new, managed wireless network was added, as the current system was frustrating both from a speed and usability perspective. It was cheap, nasty and totally unreliable!

 

Data Network

Our data network additionally included a remote monitoring system that enables us to pro-actively monitor all network devices.  Combined with managed power distribution units, our engineers can also remotely reboot equipment in the main rack. Very handy when technology can (and often does!) go wrong – we’re thinking Sky boxes specifically!  This means we can respond to any issues that crop up remotely – less inconvenience for the client, and quicker resolutions.

 

Cable Terminations

Previously, all cabling from the rooms in this property were simply presented through a hole in the plant room ceiling, hung across the wall and connected directly to panels. Not the way SONA do it!

We installed a cable termination panel which presented all this cabling through a low-profile panel where every cable is individually labelled.  This means that any updates, upgrades or changes in the future can be accommodated easily, and less time is spent on site (therefore less time charged to you the client!).

Our Approach: Audio & Video

Multi-Room Audio

The Problem: The property had an existing multi-room music system that the clients simply weren’t using.  It included additional rooms that weren’t required and didn’t give them access to the music sources they actually used, such as Spotify and Apple Music.  A complete waste of money and not in any way bespoke to that family.  A typical issue we come across where unnecessary kit has been specified.

Our new proposal utilised the existing amplification (properly rack mounted rather than stuck on a shelf as we found it) with new SONOS players to provide an intuitive system which meant the family could enjoy music the way THEY wanted to.

 

Video

The Problem: Apart from the TV which didn’t work at Christmas, there were other issues.  The family wanted to watch different things in different rooms at the same time – often from different sources.

The client’s requirement for Sky and Apple TV in key rooms led us to develop an extremely simple video distribution system, utilising SkyQ receivers and Apple TVs physically mounted to the rear of TVs.  Each room now has it’s own dedicated Sky and Apple TV ‘stream’.

We were also able to utilise the clients existing 4×4 HDMI matrix to provide video to some less used rooms and therefore make the most of equipment which had already been invested in.

Our Approach: Equipment Rack

The Problem:  Utter mess, chaos and complete lack of care.  Someone who installs systems in this way, can have no plans to come back and work on this system again (in our view!)  Otherwise, they would take more care to ensure the next time they returned to site, they could work effectively and efficiently.

Organised Racks

To house the new data network, music system, CCTV recorder and video equipment we supplied a brand new equipment rack featuring uninterruptible power supply and full power, cabling and ventilation management.

As with all our award-winning equipment racks – this unit was pre-built in our custom rack-build facility offsite, then brought to site for the least disruptive installation in the clients home.  At the end of the day, we build ALL our systems with the view that we will be looking after them for the lifetime of that system.  We like to work efficiently, effectively and in an organised manner, so that’s how we build our racks!

Home Technology Rescues

SONA are coming across issues like this over and over again. Client’s who have paid an arm and a leg for a home automation system, that hasn’t even been designed to meet their most basic requirements.

For us, it’s frustrating to work on projects like these because we’d rather do things properly from the outset.

Buy Cheap Buy Twice

Clients who initially believe that all home technology companies offer the same level of service and installation are left in the terrible position of paying for two systems – one that doesn’t work, and then one that does.

SONA have on a number of occasions been ‘price-matched’ or ‘undercut’ by other companies.  Later on, we have been contacted to come back and put right everything – they are shocked at how reasonable our prices are, and how reassured they feel (despite having to invest AGAIN!)

We urge all consumers to do their due diligence when it comes to home technology companies – we are not all created equally!   We’ve created a blog for you to help when vetting home technology companies, but our biggest advice would be to speak to existing clients.

There are many, many excellent true luxury home technology companies about.  There are many intricacies and differing details about they way we work, the kit we recommend and our reasons behind it.  The bottom line on the quote is usually always varied for a reason.  Discover those reasons before making your decision.

If you have had an Existing System installed that is giving you nightmares, feel free to call us for a chat 01625 54 14 42 and we’ll do our best to assist you.