Lately, we've observed a rise in products that, while superficially attractive and much cheaper than most brands, generally fail to meet the legal and manufacturing standards that we have set in order to get the best quality systems to our customers. What criteria should you use when assessing whether to purchase a time-tested interpretation system or a foreign, cheaper version that purports to do the same?
You should pay special attention to:
• Manufacturing quality and durability.
• Shipping, Returns and Tech Support
• FCC and IC Certification
We understand wholeheartedly that every purchase of an interpretation system is a significant investment for your church, organization or company, and economic concerns are a reality when you’re on a budget, but in most cases if you buy cheap, you pay dear – what seems like a small, inconsequent purchase can set you back weeks (especially if you’re under time constraints) and cost you far more than the initial investment.
Let’s jump into some of the reasons why, when purchasing systems, you should try to give domestic companies a chance:
Manufacturing Quality and Durability
We've tested a wide variety of brands, foreign and domestic, and we can confidently attest that products that are manufactured up to the standards required in the US have higher durability and meet the stringent requirements of end users. The importance of having good quality hardware cannot be overstated, as it virtually ensures that factors like durability, compatibility and reliability do not hinder the user’s experience and hurt their results.
Cutting corners when designing interpretation hardware can slash prices really fast, and that can be initially attractive, but what good is a product that will only have an active usable lifespan of a year, sometimes months? What good is a product that claims to do a serviceable work but has bad reception, an unreliable coverage range, low-quality materials that will degrade and break much faster than the years (and more!) that domestic brands can ensure?
Watch out for deceptively low prices!
Shipping, Returns and Tech Support
U.S. based companies keep their companies stocked with an extensive selection of their flagship products, actively working towards customer satisfaction, quick turnaround time and fast response times when responding to technical or warranty issues.
When you purchase a cheaper, off-brand version of translation or interpretation equipment through online retail sites like Amazon, EBay or Walmart, the seller generally provides no personalized sales or tech support, and the shipping times to receive a product from a far-away location like China increase dramatically. Imagine having an important event on the weekend and ordering equipment on which the success of the whole endeavor hinges, only to find that it can only get to your location within weeks? U.S.-based companies like ourselves not only take between 3-5 business days to get your purchase to your doorstep, but we can ever offer expedited shipping solutions for your every need using renowned services like FedEx.
And that’s saying nothing of tech support! If and when a product from a foreign retailer fails or breaks, you must cover the costs of getting it back to the manufacturer in full, which may set you back substantially, and you will experience the headache of the reverse of the previous scenario, where getting your product repaired or replaced may take weeks or months while leaving you empty-handed and lacking vital equipment which you’d come to rely on!
As a local company, we provide email and over-the-phone solutions for your every request, issue or technical and warranty claims on your time, with no language barriers and with shipping periods, costs and personalized attention that befits the dollar investment of your company or organization, offering 15-day tryout periods and guaranteed repairs, replacements or even refunds, should you find a product does not work for you. We understand that you want the best, and we believe in minimizing your risk!
Lack of FCC and IC Certification
We’ve left the worst for last, and perhaps the one outstanding reason why you should carefully think about the equipment you purchase: most of the foreign systems are not built up to U.S. certifications and therefore are not certified by the Federal Communications Commision, which stipulates that simultaneous interpretation equipment can operate in the 72-76mhz or the 216mhz bands to avoid interference with extraneous equipment, like cellphones, radios or even Federal Communications equipment! Picture starting a crucial meeting, confident that your new equipment will help breach the language barrier, and finding that your new system is picking up a signal from the local news station!
To ensure the device complies with the applicable technical requirements, the Federal Communications Commission and Industry Canada require that RF devices are properly authorized. This is the principal way to ensure that RF devices used in the United States or Canada operate effectively without causing harmful interference and comply with these rules.
Heavy fines and penalties may be levied against houses of worship, companies, organizations or individuals for infringement to FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and IC (Industry Canada) regulations if your equipment does not operate within the permitted frequency range. There may even be more serious legal consequences for repeat violations.
You are the one that will shoulder the responsibility for unauthorized gear while the seller walks away unblemished without a care in the world. Their equipment might even work correctly under another countries' rules, but not in The United States or Canada. Neither can you be absolutely sure that their performance quality has been fully evaluated.
To place safe and avoid costly legal consequences, always purchase systems from US or Canadian retailers that sell FCC and IC approved equipment. Purchasing an FCC/ IC approved system within the 72-76 MHz band, does not require any additional licensing on your part. If purchasing an interpretation system from a foreign seller, always request the FCC ID for the product you intend to purchase and verify their authenticity at FCC website. The FCC ID is an alphanumeric code. For example, the Enersound TP-600 transmitter FCC Id is 2ABY4TP600.
TP-600 Transmitter with FCC ID.
Be careful about deceptively low prices! You may end up with what ends up being an expensive paperweight and letting down your congregants, your organization or trusted business associates or employees, staring down thousands of dollars in fines and, potentially, jail time by disobeying FCC or IC rules!
Always do your research and trust established local vendors!