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View Full Version : Universal Ethernet Connectivity Kit Warning



Tim Goldstein
12-27-2006, 6:04 PM
Just got in my laser and have started to unpack it. No, I have not gotten it running yet. Wanted to let anyone that is looking at a Universal and thinking about getting the Ethernet connectivity kit to save their money. The list price from Universal is $160. I ordered it expecting it to be something that is installed into the laser like the connectivity kit on most laser printers. What you get for the money is a D-Link DP-301P add on box that you can buy from CompUSA for $49.99. I am guessing that the USB connectivity kit is about the same. So if you have need for something other than a parallel port connection (like on your new laptop that does not have a parellel port) save your money and just but it from a computer supplier instead of being overcharged by Universal.

Definitely a good way to make your customer that just spent about what it takes to buy a real nice German luxury car feel a little ripped off.

Mike Hood
12-27-2006, 7:39 PM
I know the feeling... I felt about the same when I saw the exhaust fan I bought with mine. The same unit cost $99 at Harbor Freight (and yes they're both made in China) :)

It's all good though... I love my Pinnacle ZX machine and should've known better. :)

Bill Cunningham
12-28-2006, 12:42 AM
What you get for the money is a D-Link DP-301P add on box that you can buy from CompUSA for $49.99.

Can you send it back? Even if they charge you a "re-stocking fee" you would still be ahead of the game...
When it comes to overpriced accessories, the manufac. all agree, "The Customer is Always Ripe":rolleyes:

Rob Bosworth
12-28-2006, 12:06 PM
Oh come on. You spent $10,000 and you are whining about an extra $ 100. If you had not seen the piece, what would it have cost you in time and money to buy one? What if you went out and purchased someting that should work, and it didn't, how do you troubleshoot what the problem is. We can complain about the cost of accessories charged by the laser engraving systems manufactures, but what would it really cost us to do the same thing. Just look at what these companies charge for optics. We all know we can buy optics cheaper at several places. But how long does it take you to find out how to make that buy. What do you do when you order the wrong thing? How much do you really end up saving? I should know. I have been in the laser business since 1981. I used to buy specialty components and optics for a laser system manufacture. On occassion, I will order optics from one of these other suppliers. By the time I add up my time ordering, paying, shipping and inspecting these optics, I might end up saving $25. Now, if I happen to have ordered the wrong thing, or they shipped the wrong thing, how much have I saved.

It is like the guy who calls up and says he can make a laser engraver much cheaper than what the systems manufactures charge for a system. I always say, yea. It is true. You can go out and buy all of the components to build a neat little laser engraver for maybe a 1/3 of the price of buying one built. Then you can play around with building one for 6 months to a year. In all of the years of listening to people say they can build one cheaper, I have never talked to anyone who actually got something that worked worth a hoot. OK, maybe a few have actually built a working system, but most of those guys then went into business of making systems. Are any of thse guys selling their systems any cheaper than anyone else?

Universal Laser Systems is a large corporation. They have a couple of large facilities in Scottsdale, AZ. I don't know how many, but they have a ton of people who work for them. They make a great product. They give pretty darn good technical support to thousands of machine owners. They carry a bunch of inventory to support their customers. I pay them way too much money every year. I can gripe and complain all I want, but I don't want them to go out of business because they didn't charge enough for their products and services to cover their expenses. We all need them as well as any of the manufactures who make the machines we buy and use.

I do not have any connection to ULS. We refurbish and sell their used machines as well as several other manufactures. The only reason I defended their pricing was I am hoping they forget to send me a bill because I am such a nice guy. (OK, so I am sucking up!:D )

Mike Mackenzie
12-28-2006, 1:40 PM
Tim,

The one thing I have to say here is it is our job as reps to educate you the customer. If it were me I would have told you up front what that was all about instead of ending up with this situation.

Tim Goldstein
12-28-2006, 2:29 PM
Rob,

It was $42K I just spent and not $10K. So in your mind I guess that means I should be more accepting of being gouged. In my mind that means there should have been even more reason to treat me as a valued customer. Guess this just points out that different people have different values when it comes to dealing with customers. We now know where you stand on that front.

Will the $100 or so excess hurt me, heck no. Will it hurt Univeral? Maybe, depends how many people read this post or find it in Google.

Mike,

I agree with you and once again you have shown that your philosophy on customer service and how to treat a customer is in line with how most people want to be treated.

Keith Outten
12-28-2006, 2:51 PM
I got some good advice from my salesman when I purchased my engraver. After several phone calls to tech support receiving bad information about which fan to purchase I called my salesman. He was quick to point out that I could tie in to my shop DC for exhaust and my shops air compressor for air assist. Saved me some money and got me engraving real quick.

I think it is wise to advise a customer that they have options and let them decide where to purchase accessories. Vector tables can cost $650.00 or $59.00 aftermarket if you shop a little. The lower cost table is much better quality in my case but I learned the lesson to late.

Paying premium price isn't so bad if the quality is top notch. I find that many times I receive poor quality junk after paying top dollar and I am constantly reminded not to return to vendors who provide that kind of service.

.

Tim Goldstein
12-28-2006, 7:03 PM
Paying premium price isn't so bad if the quality is top notch. I find that many times I receive poor quality junk after paying top dollar and I am constantly reminded not to return to vendors who provide that kind of service.

.

Keith,

I agree 100%. If this was a nice integrated unit that was cased in the laser with just the ethernet port exposed (even if it was the same item and they just took the time to wire it in internally) I would be more than happy with the $160 price. But it is just the D-Link print server in the D-Link box packed in with the other accessories. I have to hang it off the parallel port outside the laser and run a wall wart to it.

Dave Fifield
12-28-2006, 8:50 PM
I'm 100% with you on this one Tim.

You'd think that if you'd just spent $42K and then found you needed an Ethernet Bridge to get up and running, they'd throw the box in for free or cost price max, or at the very least, tell you which box to go buy at your local computer store, wouldn't you?

What are the marketing people at Universal thinking??? They basically undid all of their goodwill for the sake of screwing another $100 out of you!! Idiots!!

:Dave F.

Gary Hair
12-29-2006, 12:06 AM
When I bought my laser the sales rep advised against buying their blower, compressor and vector grid. He told me exactly what to buy and even sent me a link to the harbor freight blower he recommends to everyone. Will I go back and buy more from him? Absolutely! Do I trust him? Absolutely! If I was in your shoes would I answer those questions the same? Absolutely not...

I don't care how big the company is and what their overhead is, they can't possibly justify selling you a $49 part for $160 - no way, no how. If they say it's because of their overhead I would tell them that is their problem, not mine. Learn how to trim the fat.

All that said, you can't tell me that in a 42k sale they couldn't throw in that adapter! I negotiated more than that in a sale less than half that amount.

Gary

Todd Schwartz
12-29-2006, 1:51 AM
I feel the need to chirp in on this thread. As someone who sells computer/storage/tape systems that cost anywhere from $10,000 up to $1million plus I have to side on Universal's side. Often we will include memory, cables, adapters, HBA's, and drives because they have been tested and blessed in certain configurations although most of these items could be purchased seperately. This way we control the firmware load, software, rev #, exact make/model, ect. Too many times I have been caught trying to save my customer a few dollars only to feel the pain later on when they go and try to put it all together. One source, one call to get resolution to a problem.

Another example is I paid way too much for my USB wireless adapter for my TiVO. TiVO and other forums gave makes and models for third party adapters that have worked, but after reading all the hit and miss stories, I purchased my adapter from TiVO, plugged it in and presto - it worked.

That is how I want my technology to work and how my customers expect theirs to work - I am willing to pay a small percentage extra for this peace of mind.

Being the optimist that I am, I hope that is how Universal thinks as well -

Todd

Dave Fifield
12-29-2006, 6:17 AM
Yeah, but Todd, TiVO charged you only about a 50% markup on that $59.99 adapter (I know what the actual OEM cost/markups involved in these WLAN adapters are because I used to design them until very recently).

I'm sure that most of the TiVO markup is due to the extensive research and support (http://customersupport.tivo.com/LaunchContent.aspx?CID=1faa0420-0e05-4b2e-9a42-253346b15256) that they have put into making sure you pick the right adapter to work with your particular TiVO box.

I don't see a support page like this on Universal's website, so how do they justify the 200%+ markup that they charged Tim? That's by no means a "small percentage extra", I'm sure you'd agree?

:Dave F.

Tim Goldstein
12-29-2006, 8:41 AM
All that said, you can't tell me that in a 42k sale they couldn't throw in that adapter! I negotiated more than that in a sale less than half that amount.


Gary,

There was a substantially larger discount than the cost of the adapter. But to me all that shows is this industry is still in the old school sales model of seeing how much they can get out of each customer. I think it would be a VERY interesting thread to see how large a discount various people were able to negotiate on their machine and options package. Not quite sure why, but is seems that all the talk when someone asks for advise about a laser is on technical and support. I think we should include business practices and pricing in our advice. I looked at GCC, Epilog, and Universal. All offered discounts. GCC dropped off my list for a number of reasons quickly. I then negotiated between Universal and Epilog quite heavily and the discounts got to the point that what they took off would just about buy a decent 35 watt machine.

But back to the subject at hand. Regardless of the discount, putting a 3X markup on the list price of a commonly available item that a customer can easily shop is just bad business.

Neal Schlee
12-29-2006, 1:53 PM
We run a USB to Centronics cable (approx. 12') on our ULS SS X2-660, works great, faster than the Parallel port.

Neal Schlee

Tim Goldstein
12-29-2006, 3:19 PM
Neal,

Wanted the ethernet solution as I want the ability to send jobs from a couple of different work stations.

Dave Jones
12-29-2006, 8:28 PM
Just as a point of reference, Amazon shows the list price for the D-Link DP-301P+ as being $120. So the $50 CompuUSA price isn't list price, it's a heavilly discounted price. I'm not saying that makes it OK to charge $160 for it. Just that they didn't mark it up 3X over list price.

Dave Fifield
12-29-2006, 9:36 PM
The OEM cost of a print server like the D-Link DP-301P+ is about $25, so the $50 price seems like normal OEM to shelf markup to me. Amazon should not be considered the pricing standard - they mark stuff up widly sometimes too. From D-Link themselves this unit is only $64.99. The fact is that the Universal markup is about 200% - there's no getting away from it, sorry.

:Dave F.