View Full Version : Rediculous pricing

Rodne Gold
12-02-2011, 1:46 AM
Got a quote by the local servicing agent of my GCC machines for a "refurbishment" of my 4 yr old spirits after their annual inspection..

Heres an example of pricing

Small plastic roller , need 6 per machine - Price - $30 a pop (I need 18)
skateboard assembly - I need 6 - Price $100 each!!!
Gas strut - x4 - $70 each....
Mirrors - $230 EACH
Lenses $550 EACH
Other odds and sods like AF probes , extra Y rollers, bearings ,XY belts etc at silly prices.. We dont even use the AF probe any more...

I was pretty shocked at the prices I was quoted and even more shocked that this "refurb" would actually NOT fix anything that was broken and in all likelyhood give me no better output or maybe a very small increase in thruput.

Thing is , there is a very teeny bit of movement in the X carriage from forward to aft of the machines if you rock em about the gantry beam , NO other play. Belts all seem ok..no slipping or rubber dust etc. All vectors dead smooth ,high speed vector cutting running 100% , no evidence of backlash when bidirectional rastering etc. I can understand maybe a X axis belt and rollers can wear , but not the Y axis which sees VERY light duty and only really works when Vector cutting , which is a small part of total operation.
Engraving quality is still superb , machines not making any noises and the use of chinese $15-30 "imported" ZnSE lenses is AS GOOD as a brand new OEM lens , we cut thru our test materials at EXACTLY the same speed we used when we got the machines , so losses thru lenses and mirrors cannot be at all significant. All tubes 100% ok , 30w are pushing out 35+ w. All motors , shaft encoders, electronics , motherboard , cooling fans etc all 100%

I was told , "you haven't spent any money so far on the machines - so after 4 yrs , isn't it time you do so?"

Total refurb cost , $6000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (for 3 machines - and this EXCLUDES labour , which will be at least $1300 as it involves 2 days and travel and accomodation from 1600km away)
So $2500 per machine to gain very little - another $500 and I can get a bigger more powerful Chinese machine , IE for $1500 more , I can get 3 NEW 600 x 900w 60/80w machines !!!!!

Looking at the prices for some of the parts , I cannot see how they can be justified , a small plastic roller cannot POSSIBLY cost $30. My roland guy told me that the roller assemblys used in the spirits look suspiciously like a unit they and an old epson Printer uses , will ask him prices . Would be cheaper for me to FABRICATE the rollers out of teflon than to buy em.

Dan Hintz
12-02-2011, 8:10 AM
I'll ask with a smirk on my face... "This surprises you?" ;)

Chuck Stone
12-02-2011, 8:38 AM
Small plastic roller , need 6 per machine - Price - $30 a pop (I need 18)
skateboard assembly - I need 6 - Price $100 each!!!
Gas strut - x4 - $70 each....

I know that GCC didn't design and manufacture all of their own parts, so your Roland rep
is right.. there's probably many sources for some of them. The trick is finding out
which ones and where to get them.

I need the skateboard rollers too, but have been holding off because of price.
And the gas struts? After getting hit in the head many times by the cover
coming back down, I stuck a hook in the ceiling and hung a bungee cord from
the hook. It was a pain for a day, but not as bad as getting whacked in the head..
you get used to it. Now, I don't think I WOULD replace them.

I don't know if someone like Grainger ships to SA or not, but you may have
someone similar. One of those places that seems to have every nut, bolt,
wire, motor, pulley and belt ever invented.. might be worth a check. But you'd
still need to spend some time cross referencing parts, not sure if that's possible
for you or not.

Lee DeRaud
12-02-2011, 10:44 AM
Those numbers sound like they came from the parts desk at a Porsche dealership, where individual pricing for things that are always replaced in pairs/sets is the norm. Just make sure there's not some silly screwup in communication: in your situation, "each" might mean "per machine" rather than "per part".

Failing that, as Chuck noted, a roller is a roller and a bearing is a bearing...stock parts should be available with a little research. (For that matter, a gas strut is a gas strut: $70 would buy one strong enough to hold up the hood on a Lexus.) And it sounds like you've already got a cheap alternative for optics.

Richard Rumancik
12-02-2011, 1:27 PM
Just a comment on the gas struts - it seems actually harder to find the light duty ones at reasonable prices. I have found some on eBay at reasonable prices. But you need to match the force and length reasonably well or it won't work. And gas struts DO need to be changed in pairs or the cover will not operate well. If you replace only one, the cover may tilt or open unevenly (different force, different speed), and one strut will take the majority of the load. Then it will probably fail shortly after. If anyone has a warranty repair for a failed gas strut, insist on both being replaced or you will end up buying two later.

Martin Boekers
12-02-2011, 1:32 PM
Just a thought .... maybe a pulley and a weight system for the lid. (just kidding!!)
I have had miscommunications with "Order takers" before, I may suggest a misplaced decimal

But seriously, is this just your rep having a tough month and marking everything up? even a lens from Epilog
only cost $125.00 and a mirror about $30.

The providers of service will survive.

Any GCC sellers want to explain?! (justify)

Rodne Gold
12-02-2011, 1:44 PM
They DID make a mistake on the invoice/service quote. The new one is $700 more!!!
I will DIY this time.

Lee DeRaud
12-02-2011, 2:09 PM
Just a comment on the gas struts - it seems actually harder to find the light duty ones at reasonable prices. I have found some on eBay at reasonable prices. But you need to match the force and length reasonably well or it won't work.Agreed: I just meant that there's nothing magical (apart from the price) about the ones the GCC guy is selling.

Greg Bednar
12-03-2011, 2:32 PM
Sounds like an inkjet marketing strategy: Sell the inkjet for cheap and then gouge them on the consumables. It looks like the Chinese Laser manufacturers are following that strategy. Just a thought, and of course, IMHO. One way or another USA products will reach equilibrium with those made of Chinesium; and vice versa.

Rodne Gold
12-03-2011, 9:17 PM
Greg , This is an EXPENSIVE "mainstream" RF tubed laser , GCC (laserpro) is not an el cheapo laser. Cheap Chinese laser spares are dirt cheap..

Greg Bednar
12-04-2011, 10:13 AM
Rodne, my apologies. I didn't mean to disparage your laser. I'm only disparaging the business model/strategy; e.g. planned obsolescence. One would think that for the money spent on an expensive laser, it would last a super long time, as would the components. But today it seems nothing lasts a long time. A local shoe repair shop has machines made in the 1930's and 40's that are still running strong today while only needing a little grease or perhaps a belt replacement. He tells me the manufacturer went out of business years ago. Wouldn't it be great if our machines lasted that long with so little maintenance?

But that's the way it is today. No matter how expensive the machine is, the longevity is limited, so long as wearable/consumable parts are replaced at a big price. If nothing broke, where would the companies be today? They would go the way of the old shoemaker's machines, out of business.

Perhaps my analogy is a little askew, however, I hope you understand my point.

Ross Moshinsky
12-04-2011, 11:32 AM
The parts costs are insulting enough, but when you add on their time, it's all just too much. Why exactly should I expect to pay you double my billable rate? Why do you honestly feel you deserve $100/hr to drive to my facility? Even plumbers don't have the guts to do that. The parts are ridiculous too. I can understand paying for the electronics to some degree but the mirrors, lenses, bearings, and belts are insultingly high. I also think they are way out of line with their tube prices. $3000 is just too much.

We're also at a similar 5 year mark with our laser and it's starting to show. The low end, we're looking at around $1000. High end, $5000. Even if you spend $1000, you know the tube is going to go sooner rather than later so you're just putting off the inevitable.

Scott Shepherd
12-04-2011, 11:43 AM
This isn't isolated to lasers. When you buy a car, do the tires last forever? What's the cost of new tires? $600 or more? Do you have to change the oil? Have regularly scheduled maintenance? Sure you do. So what do you expect from the laser people?

I'm often amazed at how people cry foul at laser manufacturers for their pricing, then proceed to charge $100-200 per hour for their services. I guess human nature states that it's perfectly okay to charge someone $120 per hour, but it's not perfectly okay to be charged $120 per hour.

Ross Moshinsky
12-04-2011, 12:01 PM
It's all about proportionality. $7000 laser should not cost $5000 5 years later. People complain the same way about cars. People are also known to run on bald tires or push oil changes back if they drive around in a beater. They just can't rationalize the spending.

As for labor, they wanted double our hourly rate and wanted our hourly rate just to drive here. I'm sorry, but that's too much. A plumber doesn't even have the guts to charge that much and their job is much more "uncomfortable" and their overhead is much higher.

Martin Boekers
12-04-2011, 4:44 PM
Inks and toners are the thing that kill me. Lucky my maintenance is relatively low on the lasers.

I would say lasers as a whole are expensive. $30,000 for USA 75watt with extras. I do believe you can buy a car
(a Really nice car) that is a whole lot more complex for that price. :-) Although it's the same you need a transmision an engine
a computer board your up there to.

I know I shouldn't look at it this way but if a tube cost me $3k and lasts 3yrs that;'s about $3 a day. Doesn't sound as bad that way.
It cost more for an eggmcmuffin and a coffee!

Lee DeRaud
12-04-2011, 5:10 PM
I would say lasers as a whole are expensive. $30,000 for USA 75watt with extras. I do believe you can buy a car
(a Really nice car) that is a whole lot more complex for that price. :-) Although it's the same you need a transmision an engine
a computer board your up there to.The thing is, transmissions, engines, and computers aren't usually considered "maintenance comsumables" for automobiles. I can only imagine the screaming that would ensue if Ford charged $2000 for a half-dozen spark plugs or $500 for an oil filter.

Although I suppose we can be consoled by the pricing of tires for the Bugatti Veyron: a set costs $25K-$38K (depending on who you believe), not counting the cost of shipping the wheels back to the factory to get the new tires mounted.

Scott Shepherd
12-04-2011, 5:44 PM
I suppose if my laser sat idle and didn't make us any money, then any expenses would be a thorn in my side. However, our laser makes us money. If it costs $250 for a mirror that's going to last me 2 years, and it's going to help me make our shop rate, then it doesn't bother me a bit. Our laser has made us good money over the years. It's helped pay the rent, the utilities, insurance, salaries, trips to conventions, etc, etc. If I had to pay someone $2000 to come go through it right now, to me, it would be money well invested. Not money spent, money INVESTED. Do I like the prices on parts? Not particularly, but does it cause me any grief? Not particularly.

As Martin touched on, it's way worse with large format printers. Imagine having to buy $800 worth of ink every time you need ink. Imagine spending $2,000 on print heads because one went bad. If you have work for it, it's meaningless, because a printer can make you $1,000's of dollars a day if it's running, but if you run it every so often, and you need $2,000 worth of print heads and ink is $800, then it's an anchor around your neck.

Martin Boekers
12-04-2011, 7:26 PM
The thing is, transmissions, engines, and computers aren't usually considered "maintenance comsumables" for automobiles. I can only imagine the screaming that would ensue if Ford charged $2000 for a half-dozen spark plugs or $500 for an oil filter.

I don't know I think a transmission is maintainance. If you drive your car for 5-6 (120,000 miles or so) you may be preparing for it to fail. Just like running a laser for 5-6 years it's about
time to prepare for the tube to go. Now if the laser companies started charging $1000s for an encoder strip or flat cable (I think that would be more comparable to the plugs and oil filters.) Then yes
there would be an uproar! The tube is pretty much the "engine" of the machine. I'm not happy to put out the bucks if one fails, but that's part of the business. I do try to set funds aside
sort of like insurance so when the inevidable hits, then it isn't as tramatic.

Rodne Gold
12-04-2011, 11:21 PM
The issue is not the running cost of the machine , its the outrageous price of spares. Non of these spares are MADE by the laser mnfgr , they are off the shelf sourced stuff and the price I'm being charged is no where near realistic and it is actually offensive in that it assumes I will just pay any price for common stuff that anyone in their right minds realises is pennies worth.

At any rate , most of my best business moves have been motivated by poor service , extortionate prices or a combo of both. I have found much cheaper and better sources globally. For EG , I buy acrylic sheeting at 1/2 the local price and laser engraving lams at 1/5th , I would never have changed had my local supplier from whom I bought in excess of $10k a month had they actually given me the service I deserved. Late delivery , scratched goods , wrong deliveries are the order of the day here , from a Co that is somewhat monopolistic. 6 months down the line , my purchases have dropped to maybe $500 a month , not even a call to ask why their single biggest customer has stopped purchasing..we laying odds at work that it will take em another 6 months to react - if they do...
I buy medals at 3x the weight , 2x the size and 3x the plated quality than the local offering , the local guys could never even keep up production let alone deliver decent quality and jacked prices up every time the $ exchage rate worsened but NEVER reduced prices as it softened. Quality just got worse as time went on.

Same with awards , we made and sourced our own after we discovered importers were sticking on a 400% margin , I went to china to source my own line after my Euro suppliers , whom I had been buying from for over 10 yrs and had tied up a sole distributorship with , decided to unilaterally break the agreement and supply others here and destroyed my small wholesale section. So they now supply 1/3rd of a container yearly to the "small" players and have lost my 2x 41 ft container annual order.

Same with lasers , I was charged $4k to replace a coherent tube which gave up shortly after its 6 month post replacement guarantee - vowed never to replace a tube at that price , it's cheaper to buy another machine that will last longer than 6 months and do the same job...

At the end of it all , greed , profiteering, shoddy goods , poor service and being taken for granted by any supplier , in my case, leads to a TOTAL loss of custom by me , makes me research and "make a better plan" , increases my profitabilty and allows me to give my CUSTOMER a better service and better value for money and increases my competitive edge. You can maybe sting me hard a few times and then chase me away , but I subscribe to "just pinch your customers gently a 1000x and keep em forever"

Gary Hair
12-04-2011, 11:51 PM
The issue is not the running cost of the machine , its the outrageous price of spares.

To me it's not the price of the spares, it's the markup by the mfg. That may sound like the same gripe but it's not... I just bought an X rail and guide for a bit over $500. If I could have found it quickly enough I could have paid about 2/3 that much buying it from a rail/guide dealer instead of the mfg. Where they have you over the barrel is for items that are common but have small modifications that are a pain to reproduce. The rail/guide is a good example, the size is non-standard and the hole spacing on the guide is not stock. I could have bought the one from the dealer and modified it but the 3-4 days extra it would have taken to have it modified would have cost me a couple thousand in lost revenue - not worth it for me.


Rodne Gold
12-05-2011, 12:57 AM
I have multiple machines , one down is not an issue for me , thus I'm not over a barrel when it comes to modifications or finding replacement spares. I also have access to a full "toolroom" machine shop as I partially own a "pimp your V8 ride" business. Often it's QUICKER for us to mnfgr parts than go out and buy , for EG a washer with a particular ID and OD and specific thickness is a 15 min job on the lathe vs a 2 hr "shopping expedition" (which may or may not net the correct object)
What P's me off with this is that I was told that "I havent spent any money so far , it's now time to spend etc" and the so called "repairs" and service actually cure nothing , cos nothing is really wrong. The agents also don't like me buying chinese machines and I see this quote more as "punishment" than a reasonable service fee which is designed to keep me in the "mainstream" fold. Thus it just forces me to find alternatives.. In other words , it's pretty unlikely that I will take this quote or indeed use the agents services , as I said , its cheaper to buy a new bigger and more powerful machine to replace what I have than to "refurbish" them. My lasers are tools and the ultimate determinant is what they can produce , not the machine itself - I amortise em fully over 3 years and don't treat em as an investment .. I have recently mothballed 2 of my Explorers with tube troubles , and if needs be , will scavenge em for useable parts for the remaining one and then take a sledgehammer to em to destroy em , cos I would rather do that than sell em for bogger all and let someone else refurbish em to be a competitor to me.

Scott Shepherd
12-05-2011, 8:35 AM
Just for a point of reference, your gripe might be with GCC, not all laser manufacturers. Universal has a kit that I think runs about $450, it's the belts, bearings, and pulleys. We replace ours every 12-18 months, depending on the need. $450 for belts, bearings, and pulleys isn't too bad.

paul mott
12-05-2011, 8:58 AM
Just my 2 cents but Rodney is fast proving the Chinese import glass tube machines as better value for money and only time will tell.
The RF tube machine suppliers are IMO ripping off their customers, how many times have I read there is never anything wrong with the tube until the warranty is over then it is always the tube that needs replacing. Small, individual parts are well overpriced and from reading many posts here, even the advice offered by the 'reps' is often ill-informed.
Unless the RF tube suppliers / machine manufacturers get a grip I fear their business will be lost to China and they will only have themselves to blame. The sad part, is that is us that suffers.


Sorry to go off on one but I am British and I believe we should all buy home manufactured goods, but not at any expense.

Michael Hunter
12-05-2011, 9:20 AM
Anyone bought spare parts for a washing machine or vacuum cleaner recently? The prices for these is astonishing.

I don't mind paying for a service (i.e. the distributor has it ON THE SHELF so I can have it the next day), but strongly object when all they do is order it in from elsewhere, add a huge markup and make me wait a week or more.

Those of us outside the 'States have it even worse - air freight, customs clearance charges, local distributor markup and local delivery charges.

The old Epilog dealer here (Identify) did provide the "service" as they had most of the commonly needed parts in stock. Yet to try out the new dealership!

Rodne Gold
12-05-2011, 9:32 AM
Yeh, the gripe is either with GCC or the local agents, wasn't aware the thread could be construed to apply to all lasers mnfgrs. Sorry!!

Martin Boekers
12-05-2011, 10:29 AM
It seems that the manufacturers will have to get on board sooner or later. Not sure why I can
have a tube refilled/replaced at a shop out of CA for a third of the cost that the manufacturer wanted
and with a 2 yr warrenty when the manufacturer only provided 60 days. Like Rodne and others we understand there
is a cost of doing business. It's just when things get a bit skewed in pricing that we get concerned.

Scott Shepherd
12-05-2011, 10:50 AM
Just my 2 cents but Rodney is fast proving the Chinese import glass tube machines as better value for money and only time will tell.

Value is a relative term. Rodney has a large number of lasers. Value for him is something far different than value to someone else. He has the money to fly to China, to meet with people, to spend weeks researching all of that, then the cash to bring in containers of materials to get a cost savings. I think he's probably one of the only people on the forum with the resources to do that, the work and machines to support it all.

To me, value is having an issue with a machine and having the parts to fix it in my hand the next day. That's critical to our business. Our laser cannot be down 3 days or 1 week, or 2 weeks. It simply can't. Rodney is also a very skilled technical person that can modify and fix things that are engineer level, far above what the average Mom and Pop trying to run a side business out of their basement is. For him it's nothing to rip something out of a machine and modify it to make it work. To someone else, that's far outside their expertise and they can't do it.

So it's easy to look at what Rodney's doing and say how great it is, but a whole lot of his success in all of this is because of his knowledge, knowledge the average user doesn't have.

That's not being critical of the machines, that's just saying that Rodney's not exactly the poster child for a new laser owner. He's highly skilled and advanced in all aspects of the trade and has resources few on this forum do.

If he has a machine go down and needs a part from China, then he can probably work around it for the time it takes to get it. For many people, we don't have multiple lasers, so when the machine is down, it means we're dead in the water.

paul mott
12-05-2011, 11:11 AM
Scott, what has started happening already is that (yet small) retail companies are importing the Chinese machines and spares in bulk, distributing the parts etc at reasonable prices and also providing the technical backup as required. OK it is still early days and I don't want to mention company names but there are some that are already providing excellent service to their customers. We no longer have to order the parts from China or wait for replacements - that was yesterday that you are recalling.
The Big manufacturers need to wake up and provide their customers with the service they expect and rightfully deserve before it is too late.

I am convinced I am on the right track here, but as I said earlier, only time will tell.


Rodne Gold
12-05-2011, 11:22 AM
Yeh , you can't really compare my operation with a single laser Mom and pop (tho I was there too) , I have multiple redundant systems and am production (IE making stuff for me or others to sell and larger volumes) oriented.

I understand the angst of a single laser owner and also understand the value they put on the machine and it's reliability. I do think that if you do want to be an engraver etc , you do need a good dose of technical ability. It's really not hard to learn these days , what with the internet and all. As to chinese machines , I have often maintained that they not for the faint hearted . 5 thumbed or cold start newbies - but a great deal for an experienced user.

Actually , this makes a good point for a one laser owner - For $4k or less , you can get a backup machine which could actually double the shops thruput and the capital cost is so low you don't have to protect your investment or stress about work coming in to cover it. Also extend the life and lower service costs of your more expensive machine by sharing the load.

Scott Shepherd
12-05-2011, 1:40 PM
We no longer have to order the parts from China or wait for replacements - that was yesterday that you are recalling.

No, that's still very much today. The problem is that those manufacturers will sell to anyone. So anyone that wants a laser "brand" can pay them and now have there own "product line". There probably are a couple of people that stock the stuff local, but I'd venture to guess that 95% of the other people selling them, aren't local, and don't have the parts, and the average shopper has to do a lot of homework to figure that all out, and in most cases, the novice simply doesn't know what they don't know. So they don't know all the right questions to ask.

Rodney popped in and got his lasers going, however, others have followed his path, without his skill level, and they haven't had it quite so easy, so it's not all a done deal yet. I wouldn't put the nail in the coffin of mainstream lasers quite yet. Once they have to import it here, make it have bells and whistles on it, answer tech support questions, etc, the prices are going to come up. They will come up to just below the price of a mainstream laser in a very short period of time. Then, the ball will be back in the court of the mainstream makers because they'll be able to say "You can have an air cooled, servo driven system, with all the modern features for 10% more than what you're paying for the off brand".

Scott Shepherd
12-05-2011, 1:46 PM
One more note, laser pricing from the big boys has come down a tremendous amount in the last couple of years. You no longer have to pay $20,000-30,000 for a laser. You can get into a mainstream laser for for $13,000-15,000 now. That's with a substantial warranty and free tech support as well.

For what we paid for our 45W 3 years ago, we can now buy almost twice the power in todays market for the same price.

Michael Hunter
12-05-2011, 2:16 PM
Chinese lasers don't quite meet my needs yet (perhaps next Febraury the rate things are changing!).

Paul is right however - in the UK we have several importers of Chinese machines who, for not much more than a DIY import, have machines in stock that can be checked out and delivered in just a few days and a whole raft of spares on the shelf ready for next-day delivery.
One such company runs a very helpful forum : reading some of the posts there made me understand that the company is providing as good or better backup service than some of the "big-name" brands.
Yes, the machines are "branded" by the UK re-sellers (which might make it difficult to get the right spares directly from China) but who cares when there is stock on the shelves locally?

Isn't Rabbit a similar operation in the 'States?