Don't Rent Two-Way Radios Until You Ask These 5 Questions

Asking some key questions can protect you from a radio rental nightmare.

You would expect that renting two-way radios would be an easy task. You order the radios and they send them. You use them and send them back. Simple, right? However, who you choose to order from makes a big difference because we’ve discovered that few companies in the rental industry appear to have a “customer first” credo.

The following questions were chosen based on our research and horror stories we received from customers who came to us from a competitor.

1. Do you have the radios in stock or do they come from another company?

This may sound like a strange question. After all, don’t all radio rental companies have a radio inventory? We thought they did until we discovered that there are some exceptions:

Lead Generators: These are websites whose sole purpose is to gather leads. Sometimes they do belong to a real rental company, but the website hides who the real owner is. Other times, it’s merely a marketing company that orders the radios for you and tacks a commission on to your final price.

The problem with both of these scenarios is that you don’t really know who you’re dealing with. This makes accountability an issue in case there’s a problem with your order. Also, if the real rental company with the fake site racks up too many complaints, they can always close down the site and launch a new one.

Dealer Partnerships: With this setup, the rental company may have its own inventory, but it also partners with other dealers to expand their reach and capabilities. This sounds like a good idea, but it can have the same negative outcome as the Lead Generators. After all, you did your due diligence to pick the best vendor, but that’s not really who you got. In fact, you have no idea who you hired. You put your trust in one company, but that same company is putting their trust in someone else regarding fulfillment. Who will fix the problem if something goes wrong?

2. When will I get the radios?

Some rental companies will rely too much on their delivery service for getting their equipment to you on time. Ideally, your vendor should offer to deliver the equipment one business day before your event. That means if your event is on a Monday, you should receive the radios on Friday.

That extra time is important. In addition to protecting against late deliveries, it also gives you time to test your equipment. And, yes, you should always inspect and test your equipment as soon as it arrives. Your vendor should have tested the equipment before delivery, but it’s not unheard of for a defective item to slip through.

3. What happens if a piece of equipment doesn’t work?

If the only answer you receive is, “Don’t worry, we test everything before sending it out,” you’ve got the wrong rental company. Every company should test their radios before shipping, but as we mentioned above, things happen. Giving only the “we test” answer is code for “We did our part. If something goes wrong, it’s your fault.”

Instead, a responsible radio rental company will remind you to check everything when it arrives and immediately report any problems. That will allow them to overnight a replacement radio or accessory, if necessary.

4. Are your frequencies FCC licensed?

Commercial two-way radios operate on radio frequencies that are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In order to transmit on these frequencies, you must have a license issued by the FCC.

It’s standard practice for two-way radio rental companies to have FCC licensed frequencies, so why should you ask? Anyone can buy some old walkie-talkies on eBay and call themselves a radio rental company. One way for these fly-by-night businesses to save a few bucks is to not take the extra step and file to get licensed frequencies. This may not seem like a big deal until you hear strange voices on your radios and realize you’re sharing your frequencies with someone nearby. At best, it’s a nuisance. At worst, you’re breaking the law.

5. Can you guarantee your radios will be available and delivered on time?

Of course, all rental companies will say you’ll get your radios on time, but having a money-back guarantee typically means they feel confident about their system. What do we mean by this? There’s a little known problem in the rental business, and it can leave customers in the lurch.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a construction company rented out a large number of two-way radios for a set number of days. It turns out that the project will take a week longer than expected, so the company asks to keep the equipment for the extra time. (Alternatively, they may just keep the radios for an extra week without asking.)

The rental company had been expecting the equipment back on time. In fact, they’ve already scheduled most of those radios to go out to three other companies. The rental company doesn’t want to lose their three new customers, but the construction company is a large and loyal customer. In the end, it’s the new or smaller customer that gets stuck empty-handed.

A company that offers a guarantee is more likely to include an adequate amount of buffer time between orders for the same radios. It also suggests that they keep a large inventory of radios. Inventory size is usually the more important determining factor.

In conclusion, radio rental companies aren’t about to tell you they run a shoddy business where you may or may not get your radios on time. However, by asking some key questions and carefully listening to their answers, you may be able to protect yourself from a rental nightmare.

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