You get what you pay for - Air Quality Instrument Service Contracts: by ET Customer Services Manager, Mike Smith


“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder” John Glenn, Astronaut.

I expect we’ve all grown up hearing the expression ‘you get what you pay for’ but in the world of air quality equipment servicing, its meaning is particularly apposite. Of course, everybody understands the economic pressures on budgetary allocation, from the personal choices we make with our pay through to the distribution of government taxation. It all has to be spent wisely and with so many choices, why would anyone choose to spend more than necessary on something as mundane as an air quality instrument service contract? Well, here’s why: - I’ve been managing ET’s Service Department for five years now and what I’ve seen in that time has caused me a lot of head scratching and frustration. I’ve seen customers jump ship to save £100 on a maintenance contract worth thousands of pounds; I’ve participated in many competitive tendering practices fiendishly designed to force a race to the bottom when it comes to the quality of service delivery; I’ve seen instruments in a terrible state of neglect when a contract comes back to us after a period of absence. Let me explain why these (and other such practices) are such a bad and expensive idea.

You’ve probably spent many thousands of pounds on new monitoring equipment – or conversely, you’re forced to keep much older equipment up and running due to impossible budgetary constraints. Either way, you want to keep defensible data flowing from your instruments for as long as possible. This means investing in a maintenance and repair service, so who do you trust? Do you really want the lowest bidder maintaining your expensive investment? Instead, how about placing your trust in a team of 14 x factory trained engineers with a collective instrument maintenance wisdom exceeding 250 years? Now imagine these engineers networking, so their knowledge is pooled and available to all. Imagine also that they’re regionally based to maximise response time whilst minimising environmental impact through travel. When an ET engineer arrives onsite, he’ll carry with him over £5000 in commonly used spare parts, so your instrument stands a very high chance of being up and running again the same day. Behind the engineers sits a highly evolved support network including dedicated technical support, admin and scheduling teams, remote diagnostics, a professionally staffed and equipped workshop, hot spare analysers and all of this being process driven by an ISO 9001 Quality Management System. Wouldn’t you prefer to buy into all of the above? If you choose to, you can expect your new instruments to still be running when the dedicated internal combustion engine starts disappearing from our towns and cities, meaning these could well be the last air quality monitoring instruments you’ll ever need to buy. If you don’t, I hope you have deep pockets. 

John Glenn had no choice but to trust everything he had to the lowest bidder. You do. Choose wisely.


Mike s sml

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