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Monday, March 21, 2011

A Digital Imaging Cautionary Tale

Be very careful with whom you choose to do business when buying a digital x-ray system. That's the moral to this story of a digital sale gone bad.

Towards the end of 2010, we were bidding a Sedecal digital x-ray system to a local veterinarian. We had exhibited at the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association meeting in November of 2010, met there with the local vet, and provided him a quotation for a 9 mega-pixel Vet-Ray CCD DR system from Sedecal at a great year-end price. We didn't get the order in 2010, but we held out hope that he would buy from us in 2011. Our hopes were buoyed by further requests from the local vet in 2011 to update our quotation.

We worked with the vet in 2011. We invited him to Sedecal's North American headquarters for a tour and a demonstration of the system. We arranged to have a dog available for some test shots. Anyone visiting Sedecal's North American headquarters can see that they always have digital imaging systems on the shelf, ready for installations across the continent. We refined our quote to meet the needs of the local vet's practice. He was ready to buy. That's when this story turns sad.

It seems as if this local vet had signed an order form and placed a deposit with a competitor at the end of 2010. While Sedecal was filling orders and installing systems right up to the end of 2010, all this competitor could offer was a long lead time. So when our local vet tried to cancel his order with the competitor, he was told that his order was non-cancellable. The reason given was that materials were already allocated to his order, and to cancel his order, he would have to forfeit his whole 50% deposit. That is utter nonsense as our local vet was not ordering anything but a standard system. So if he cancelled his order, the system should be ready to deliver to the next buyer of a standard system. And by the way, the competitor's "standard" system was only a 6 mega-pixel resolution system with a 2-way float top table for MUCH MORE MONEY than Sedecal's 9 mega-pixel resolution system with a 4-way float top table and MANY more features. I felt bad for our local vet, but unless he could cancel his order and get his deposit back, there wasn't much we could do.

Unfortunately, there was no way he was getting his deposit back. With a small manufacturer like our competitor is, once the deposit money comes in, it is spent on salaries, materials, etc. If our local vet had done his homework, he would have discovered that our competitor had sprung from the ashes of a bankrupt company just a few years ago. That's how some folks like to do business in the USA these days. Set up a corporation, pull a big salary, run the company into the ground, go bankrupt, and do it all over again ... all under the protection of US bankruptcy laws.

So here is where our cautionary tale ends. Our local vet is stuck with a lesser product at a higher price from a company that may or may not be in business during the length of the warranty. But there are lessons to be learned:
1) Know the history and size of the digital supplier with whom you are dealing. Make sure you won't be looking for warranty support in 2 years from a company that needs your order to last 2 more weeks in business.
2) Make sure your quotation clearly shows the specifications for what you intend to purchase. Don't get fooled by big talk about minimal specs. Have your proposed supplier put it in writing.
3) Ask for references and more than just 1 or 2. Everyone has 1 or 2 buddies that they can count on to say nice things about them.
4) Ask how your proposed supplier will support any warranty issues, especially if they are not working with a local x-ray dealer on the install.
5) Know the core competancy of your proposed supplier. Are they really a "manufacturer" of digital x-ray systems, or do they simply purchase pieces and assemble them at your location.
6) Ask about hidden costs like annual maintenance fees, seat licenses, extended warranties, etc.

One reason we represent Sedecal is because they score very high when evaluating them as a supplier. They are a global company that is the #1 choice of veterinarians for x-ray in the USA. They've been offering digital x-ray systems for about 8 years now. Sedecal quotes are very competitive and clear, with specifications spelled out in detail. Lots of references are available on the Sedecal web-site at Just click the Find a User tab. Sedecal has a network of x-ray dealers across North America that can do any warranty service work, and they are headquartered in the Chicago area. Sedecal is a true x-ray manufacturer, even making their own x-ray generators. Some competitors use Sedecal generators! With Sedecal, there are never any hidden costs and unlimited seat licenses for viewing software. Sedecal will even help with your network. A recent customer of ours who purchased a Sedecal digital x-ray system commented that their network has never worked better or faster.

Stick with solid x-ray manufacturers like Sedecal when shopping for digital x-ray and you won't find yourself stuck with a lesser product costing more money from a very small company like our local vet did.