Perception of alarm company sales people and alarm companies in general is at least related to some bad rap the alarm industry gets from its customers. While some criticism is undoubtedly warranted, some isn't. I suppose it's the same in all industries and businesses that deal with the public, consumers specifically. Here is a news article sent to me by Scott Goldfine, editor in chief extraordinaire at Security Sales and Integration www.securitysales.com; thank you Scott. This is from a real live alarm customer to his local newspaper. I have comments that follow the letter.
"We’ve all experienced buyer’s regret. Mine came two years after purchasing a home security system, and then tried canceling it after selling the home.
It has been two months since selling, $1,000 paid to the security company, multiple phone calls and two written letters, and still the system is not canceled. I am told it’s so difficult to cancel for security reasons. I think it’s just poor business practices.
Sorry to the people that bought my home. I don’t mean to know every time you open the door or turn up the heat.
To everyone who has experienced the pains of a security system company, I contacted my state legislators asking them to consider looking into the business practices of security system companies. I would ask you do the same.
If you are thinking of buying a security system, don’t. You can go to Costco and get a "do it yourself" for half the cost, and you get to be your own customer service. If you don’t heed my advice, at least read the entire contract and do some online research. You will learn there are a lot of unhappy customers. Don’t be one of them."
COMMENTS ON LETTER
The consumer sold his house. Both he and his lawyer apparently forgot to mention that there was a service contract for the alarm system. The consumer could have required the buyer to assume that contract and I am sure the alarm company would have granted permission or signed the new owner up as a customer; at least that's the way it should have played out. But this consumer may not have had a lawyer, or at least one who cared enough to do a thorough job. After all, he thinks it's better to get an alarm system at Costco. Might have handled his own closing.
Supposedly this consumer was told the alarm service could not be canceled for security reasons. That's probably not the best response. How about, "your contract term isn't up yet and we are continuing to perform our services and you are expected to continue paying for those services". Problem with that is that once the alarm company knew the house was sold and the end user who signed the contract had vacated, all alarm services should have been terminated and the subscriber sued. Monitoring should have been terminated and the communication terminated. No codes need to be given out.
I don't think the above letter need put the alarm industry in a defensive posture. Do you think car leasing or any equipment leasing company apologizes for the terms of its agreement? How about a mortgage company? How about a municipality who charges more and more taxes and fees for less and less services? So I am not sympathetic to the above consumer, and we sue many thousands a year who think the alarm contract they signed isn't worth the paper it's written on. They find out it's worth plenty.
STEALING EACH OTHERS CUSTOMERS DOESN'T BODE WELL FOR THE ALARM INDUSTRY
The true e-mails on competitors going after our accts is both distressing and angering. There is a small company in Suffolk that is knocking on doors/calling homeowners (I suspect he gets leads from our lawn signs!) and saying our companies have been bought out or folded, and he is ready to reprogram so they can continue service! Several us us other Dealers have found out who he is and called to confront him. I identified myself and was hung up on! I called back only to get an answering machine....so I left a "message of advice".
You are right in stating that little legal help seems to be available so some of us have decided to "observe" him. I sure hope his health holds up so he can "enjoy" his stolen profits. Life can be very unpredictable at times like these.
I've been lucky enough to have my accounts call me and give me his Caller ID number after suspecting a devious individual was at work! Ive spoken to a few suppliers too, and they all know who he is! We are a small and hard working bunch. We would help our fellow contractors, if in trouble, almost anytime/anywhere. But we are not to be trifled with through lies and underhanded tactics.
Please publish this only as a reminder to all that there is a certain Karma in life, even in the Security business.
Thank you Ken for all you do!
(and watching, in Suffolk)
Thanks again for your daily email. I wanted to tell you what happened in Chico, Ca. in 2013. Vision Security showed up from Orem, Utah by the bus load. Young males, highly trained in the art of deception. I received many calls from customers. They had city maps depicting my customers that got broke into with the phone lines cut and the alarm allegedly didn’t work. As the calls came in I immediately proceeded to the block they were working and accosted the individuals.
No state license, no city permission to canvass, but they did wear picture ID badges around their necks. I collected a series of individual’s names, ran them on Facebook and discovered some were educated at Brigham Young in the marketing dept.
I showed up at their rented office, followed them to their rented apartments, collecting as much info as I could. Then filed written complaints with the State of California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. The state sent an investigator up from Sacramento, he posed as potential employee at Vision’s temp office. Didn’t take long but they all disappeared almost as fast as they arrived. I lost one customer but many other innocent victims were left in the wake, with five year contracts sucked from their credit cards and afraid to contest the issue.
ADT has been here too. Door knockers. If the resident declines their offer they leave a free yard sign. The “fake” alarm systems are obvious as there never are any window decals to confirm that the premise is really protected. Most of their signs deteriorate quickly in the hot California sun, so it hasn’t been a big concern. Do the burglars know the real ones from the fakes yet?
Regarding the January 5, 2015 response by Mitch Cohen addressing the 20/20 news/entertainment piece, I say "Right On!". I didn't get much feedback from my non-industry business contacts, so the consumer impact the we all expected wasn't there but during the program there were two things that I thought about. First, what did it cost ADT to have the program aired and second was how much would this exposure have cost ADT if they had to actually pay for it. As far as the claims, I liken this to the schoolyard bully getting punched in the nose by an up and coming bully and then crying to the teacher about it. A particularly amusing section was the fellow with the Alarm dot Com ballcap who was buying leads from a telemarketer right out from under someone's nose. I guess he is just another victim, too! Such a pity.
The examples given have unfortunately become status quo by companies refusing to listen to the numerous consumer complaints and remaining silent while the behavior is practiced and passed on. Besides the unsuspecting consumers, the legitimate security dealers as well as the industry suffer from these unethical, but all too common, methods.
Keep the newsletters coming.