I recently had reason to purchase a few different 3G/4G routers and antennae and, as you'd expect, there's a number of online stores and sites dedicated to such things;
But, actually, these are all owned by Westlake Communications (although not one of the websites is compliant with the provisions of the Companies Act)
Westlake have a clear notice on (most) of their websites that states
PLEASE NOTE WE DO NOT SELL TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS OR FOR HOME USE.
Ok, fair enough, presumably they don't want to deal with the support overhead end users cost – don't really blame them. Well, luckily for me, I'm a director of two companies and work for another telecoms company, so let's try one of their antennas.
Shortly after ordering I received this from . Joanna Brons (who is listed as a Director);
Thank you for your order. Unfortunately we are unable to process your order because we only sell to business customers for business use. We do not sell to residential customers or for home use. We can only assume that you are purchasing this as a residential customer and not for business use.
We have voided your credit card transaction – NO PAYMENT HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM YOUR CREDIT CARD.
Well, nice of you to assume I can't read.
So, I called about this, and the person on the end of the phone (who misrepresented herself as a director of the company to justify refusing to escalate it to a grown-up) basically argued with me at length, refused to sell to me because it was a domestic address and seemed to have some sort of infatuation with wind turbines, repeatedly arguing that "you're not using it to monitor a wind turbine" ... no, I could be, I've got plenty of space for one!
I also do not appreciate being accused of lying, deception, or breach of contract.
So, I search for another supplier of this antenna (MIMORAD® Fullband) which seems quite decent, but it seems pretty much every site that mentions them (even those that appear to be unrelated) are actually owned by Westlake.
Then I came across this rather good article by David Gee (someone who shares my frustration of things being called 'fibre' that are not) which, amongst other things, suggests buying stuff from Westlake as a – shock – home user.
The plot thickened when I was talking to him via Twitter turns out Westlake (3G router store, 4G router, 4G router store, fullband.co.uk and any other name they fancy) will sell to a home user if they sign something "removing their responsibility beyond basic sale"
So, basically, the "we don't sell to home users" appears to be so they can avoid having to comply with Consumer Protection law.
Worse still, they will supply to consumers (presumably those less argumentative than me with the muppets on the end of the phone) if they sign something waiving their legal rights (which cannot be waived).
I'd question any company that has so much confidence in their products they put measures in place to make sure people can't return them under any statutory right.
I found another supplier of the routers I was looking at, and will post more at some point when I've had a chance to review them.
As for their antennas, I found an equivalent at a similar price from Germany, and am waiting to see how it performs.
As for Westlake Communications / 3G Router Store, I wouldn't touch them with a 40'
barge pole 4G antenna – even if you are a business customer, there's better options available.
A small disclaimer
It goes without saying that the above is my own opinion and does not necessarily represent that of my employer or any other company which I'm affiliated with.