Top Things Crooked Installers Do To Take Advantage Of Clients

Here is a list of some of the top things that ethically challenged installation companies often pull on their clients without the clients even knowing or having any say in the matter.

crooked1.  Projector selection – This is often a case where they sell you only what they normally stock, even if it is not the best fit for the room.  The higher the price tag, the better here.  I have even seen installers put in business grade projectors that have no place in a home theater environment, but was the most expensive projector they had with the largest mark up so in it went.  Too loud and too much heat and a compromised image to boot.

2. Video Equipment selection – Not all Blu-ray  players are made the same and some products will do significant harm to the video signal before the display can even see it.  I have seen budget players in the $150 to $250 range that outperform some of the high end units.  And speaking of high end units, they often have the guts of a $600 reference player, but have been marked up four fold or five fold in price.  Same performance, but what a price penalty.  And don’t forget adding additional control boxes that serve no purpose aside from being an additional thing to sell.

3. Improper installation of projector – A lazy installation can result in the projector displaying only half the detail that it should.  Those expensive $30,000+ 1080p projectors so often become those expensive 720p projectors.  Same price and half the resolution.

4. Improper wiring of speakers – The speakers are wired and sound that should come out the front somehow comes out of the back speakers.  Or worse yet, no sound comes out of the back speakers because they weren’t even wired into the system.  The client will never know as the sound is set to all channel stereo successfully masking an incompetent job.

6. Improper audio set up – Something that in this day and age, only takes five to ten minutes to improve audio leaps and bounds beyond what comes out of the box, and it is skipped.  The client will never notice.

7. The invisible video calibration – The professional video calibration that is supposed to make your images the best they can be, is not performed at all.  The client is simply told that the job was done, but nothing ever happened.  Why bother paying a calibrator to come and perform the service when all the fees can be kept to themselves.  The client will never notice.

8. Automation – The surprise for the client is usually in the real cost of automation.  There are costs much greater than the physical devices and the labor needed to install them into the home.  Programming costs can often be many times more than what the hardware costs.  It is good to know up front what you are getting into.


I just got back from a trip out east where I visited many homes of multi-millionaires to provide them with calibration services.  When you see the quality of the work, you really start to shake your head at this industry.  I swear, 4 out of 5 installers that I come upon are crooked or just really morally challenged.  It is a market where they try to squeeze as much money out of the client as they can, because they will not get a second chance.  The challenge is to find the good ones because there are some out there.

Does your installer/integrator have your best interests at heart or their own.  Granted that this is a business and businesses would like to be successful, then how about your best interests being at least on the same level as their interests.  You’d be lucky if you even got this.

Little wonder why so many of my clients tell me that they wished they knew someone like me before they started their renovation project.

Michael Chen

Michael Chen is the only THX Video Systems Instructor in Canada, and beyond these borders, is one of just two THX Video Instructors in the entire world.  He has actively consulted with Spectracal and ChromaPure and has created numerous education videos on the calibration process with still more to come.  His Video Calibration Training Series has quickly become the most comprehensive and simple to understand learning tool on the market today.  He has also taught classes for both the ISF and Spectracal as well and is now spearheading his all new TLVEXP calibration training program. Let Michael teach you Video Calibration and add that additional income stream to your installation and integration business

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