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Taking advantage of Free PCB Boards - Morally OK?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Maybe this belongs in the members lounge but I thought there would be more folks who understood the question here.
So the scenerio is a PCB fabricator offers free PCB's or large amounts of credit towards an order and you know you will never order from them again or "go into production" with the board. Is it morally wrong to take the offer or is there nothing wrong with it because they offered the give away in the first place and accept the risk of no future orders.

Anyone know what the "real" cost to make a say 75 sqare inch board that the fabricator has not made before?

Thanks :-)
post #2 of 29
Advanced? Been there, have taken advantage of that offer, and I plan to use them again when I start selling.

Since you are asking the question, you probably already know it would be wrong if you don't plan to ever go there again. I say keep your consience clean.

If you're lookig for a large quantity of inexpensive boards, try here. They were some of the lowest prices I found but they ship from China.
post #3 of 29
For small run, maybe look into: http://www.batchpcb.com/index.php. $2.50 per sq in.

Answer 1:
On some level, you obviously posted in hopes of hearing someone says it's okay and justify it, but your conscience isn't 100% clean and know it's going to be an issue of ethics. So listen to your inner voices.

Answer 2:
The manufacturer obviously think it's worth the potential for loss, in order to capture potential future business, and probably accounted for folks who may never order for $. If you believe that's the case, and am OK with it, then go ahead.
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
I was definately leaning towards no-go but could have been swayed.
I greatly appreciate the comments.
Unquestionably, I will go elsewhere and pay the price.
Thanks, we can close this thread :-)
post #5 of 29
Generally speaking, I am in agreement with the ethics you guys are promoting.

However, sometimes it helps to consider the perspective on the other end: gifting with the hope of obligating or inducing guilt into a potential customer is one of the best ways to make a sale. In other words, it's the proverbial foot-in-the-door, with a pretty good kick into your psyche.

Rest assured, they will have factored the loss of the onesie-twosie's into their cost for the marketing. Your conscience should be clear either way.


P.S. In fact, why go on assumptions? Why not contact them directly and explain exactly what you want to do. Be completely honest. Chances are, they'd want your business anyway - on the off-chance that you will tell others, post on a forum, display your handiwork and thus, their board quality - thereby influencing others for their business, etc., etc.
post #6 of 29
I agree with Tomb's view - tell them straight out.

Full disclosure + straight answer = ethical clarity + clear conscience

There are no real gifts in business.
post #7 of 29
Your conscience can be clean but your moral code could still be wrong. There are some that don't feel right if they accept gifts and they feel guilty for accepting them. Doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong. I agree that having a pure conscience is great (guilt really weighs you down), but you'd end up missing out on a great opportunity, such as a momentarily free lunch.

I'd go with wlai's Answer 2.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by macm75 View Post
Is it morally wrong to take the offer or is there nothing wrong with it because they offered the give away in the first place and accept the risk of no future orders.
I plan to take a freebie offer siting in my inbox with a clear conscience. But I'm in a different situation then you are. I place 2-5 PC board orders a year. Some are personal, some are for work. All are fairly low volume, low dollar orders. Largest I've ever run for work is 200. If the vendor has decent prices and a quality product, I will use them again.


Are you sure you will never make another PCB? Even if this is a hobby don't you have another project in the pipe?

I would never lie to get a freebie. For example, before ordering samples I always read the sample policy. If my use follows guidelines I'll place the samples request.
post #9 of 29
On a side note, I've used Advanced Circuits for PCB's before and was not overly impressed with the quality. So part of their offer may be a "you get what you pay for" scenario.
post #10 of 29
Really? What about them did you not like?
post #11 of 29
Comparing them side to side with boards produced but Imagineering they were no where near as well produced. The quality of the soldermask, silkscreen, etc. was clearly inferior. Granted, at the time they were less expensive so some sacrifice was to be expected but it was bad enough that some people who bought the boards (through a group buy) commented that they weren't as nice as the previous batch. That's the last time I used them, saving a dollar a board just isn't worth it and the last few times I've had them quote something they've actually been more expensive than Imagineering.
post #12 of 29
Sounds like it's just a way to get you to try their services. It's a marketing cost on their part, nothing more. How much would it cost them to get you as a paying customer to give them a small order? Maybe you'd feel better if the offer was for a single board designed for $5, one time only to new customers. It's chump change to them. The cost of getting a steady customer could be more than you think. In many small ticket item industries the cost runs in the tens of dollars. For a market like this, I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the hundreds. You've tried them. If you need more boards, and you like their services, you might go back to them. That's what they're paying for. How much would it have cost them to get you to try their services just through paid advertising? They find this route more profitable. Heck! Maybe next year you need some more boards and go back.

If it bother you, that's fine. Just move on. Ain't worth the sleepless nights.
post #13 of 29
When I am in costco on the weekend I try all the free samples they give away knowing dang well i probably wont buy any of the stuff they are giving away samples of. Am I a morally indecent person? How can I live with myself? I should really post this question to a web board on the internet and see what others think shouldnt I?
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by picklgreen View Post
When I am in costco on the weekend I try all the free samples they give away knowing dang well i probably wont buy any of the stuff they are giving away samples of. Am I a morally indecent person? How can I live with myself? I should really post this question to a web board on the internet and see what others think shouldnt I?
Sometimes I even go for seconds...
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by n_maher View Post
Comparing them side to side with boards produced but Imagineering they were no where near as well produced. The quality of the soldermask, silkscreen, etc. was clearly inferior. Granted, at the time they were less expensive so some sacrifice was to be expected but it was bad enough that some people who bought the boards (through a group buy) commented that they weren't as nice as the previous batch. That's the last time I used them, saving a dollar a board just isn't worth it and the last few times I've had them quote something they've actually been more expensive than Imagineering.
Hmm. Interesting. I can't comment on the silkscreen (my boards have none) but everythng else is spot on. Dimensions, clearances, mask registration, general finish quality is as good as anything I've seen in 15 years of electronics repair and manufacturing. Comparing my design file and the finished product, I found nothing to reproach.

And a free (already cooked) cheeze nugget at costco is different from asking someone to cater your entire wedding free of charge with a custom menu on the implication you'll call them for your next wedding (which of course might never happen)
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