Posts Tagged ‘buffalo stampede detection’

How not to get a discount…

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Things not to say to businesses when looking for a discount:

“…this is just a prototype order.  I was hoping to get a discount or get a sample for free. When this takes off I will come back and order hundreds or thousands from you.”

Yes, we make money from giving stuff away for free. It is part of any good retail store business plan.

“…I need a quote for 50,000 units of your XYZ sensor. I’m sourcing parts for my product I’m going to invent and sell.”

Really? You are going to be a big business mogul, but you want to source your parts from a retail shop? Not the actual manufacture? Hmmmm.

We hear these lines fairly often here. People have this great idea and call up thinking everyone else will also be convinced of their genius. They want us to sit around crunching numbers for absurd quotes on orders that will never happen. These comments are often followed up with things like, “I’ll need someone to help distribute and sell. We should discuss partnering up.” Um, no, we shouldn’t. I already own a business that has turned all my hair gray. I don’t want yours.

Our floor mat switches are probably one of our greatest draws for the kooky garage inventors of the world. For whatever reason, people love these things. Which is great, because we like selling them and we see lots of cool projects with them. However, it also seems every project of a questionable or odd nature needs a floor mat switch as well and that brings in some interesting questions. We have had every question under the sun about the floor mats. One would think that you could find these distributed in applications from deep sea mining to NASA simulation rooms from what people ask. “Can it support a car?” “Can it be under water?” “Will it detect a cat or raccoon?” “Can I cut it into pieces?” Everyone else in the office knows we are on one of these calls because the response has a very clear thumbprint to any seasoned TR employee. It goes like this, facepalm plus muffled sigh, “No sir, it is not an industrial level sensor. Our products are hobby level products. We don’t know how it would handle detecting agitated cattle in a barn. I doubt it can.”

A classic often retold inquiry was the gentleman who wanted to know if the mats could handle a 120V power supply going through it. Why? We asked. Because he wanted to set up something to scare the kids on his front porch at Halloween. Seriously. He wanted to electrify a mat outside on a day infamous for rain so that every child in the neighborhood could stand on it. THIS IS WHY THERE ARE WARNING STICKERS ON EVERYTHING people. Because companies like us get calls like that.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the big idea people. My favorite was the very elderly gentleman who called up asking about the floor mats. He wanted to know what kind of discount he would get if he orders ten bazzilion of them etc etc.

“Why are you asking sir?”

“I’m going to make a product.”

“Oh, what kind of product.” My morbid curiosity kicks in, I sense a live one.

“Well, I’ll tell you but I don’t want you stealing it!”

“I can assure you I won’t sir. I have too many products behind schedule of my own.” (But I can’t promise it won’t get mocked in a blog a few years later.)

“Well, I have an idea for visitors that miss me when I’m not home.”

“Go on…”

“Well, I’m going to create a doormat that can sense when there is a visitor and then it will play a little recording telling them to leave a message and record it from them. This way when people come home they can see who visited them and listen to the messages.”

“So, like a telephone answering machine doormat?”


“And you plan to sell a few dozen of these?”

“NO!” He barked back, “I plan to sell thousands!”

At this point in these types of calls we just go for the entertainment value, because well, this is how we make it through some days.

“Oh, wow, do you really think you can sell that many?”

“Hell yes. This is a great idea.”

“I see. So do you know electronics or programming or anything?”


“So how do you…”

“Well, obviously I need to partner with someone. You guys deal with this stuff. Maybe you would be interested in working on this with me?”

Aaaaand there it is. The money shot. We have a winner.

So, the moral of the story is, if you have a crazy idea and you need a floor mat switch to pull it off. We have them. They are sturdy, but not buffalo-stampede-detecting sturdy. You are welcome to buy them, and we wish you luck on your inventing adventure, but chances are we won’t be investing. We are too busy chasing out of control robots…