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Audio in cameras / Comment on trouble signals / Contract Sale today

January 4, 2024
Audio in cameras
            We do a lot of camera systems. All the newer cameras recently installed have the built in microphones so we can record audio if we enable that function. Several of my clients have asked me the “legal” issues on that and I have explained that as long as you have the stickers on the entry doors stating you are recording audio and video on these premises, they should be fine. Video is always perceived because you “see” the camera, but audio is not.
            What is your legal opinion on this?
            And I have advised my clients to ask their legal counsel, but most of them don’t have one, so?
            My "forum" opinion and my "legal" opinion are really two different things, though they may reach the same conclusion.  A legal opinion is essentially a lawyer's guarantee, unless the opinion is watered down.  Opinions expressed in this forum are usually not written to express a legal opinion, but a personal opinion, perhaps guided by years of being a lawyer.  Now that we have cleared that up, I have consistently stated that signs don't establish consent for audio.  Recent articles on this forum have convinced me that courts will accept "implied" consent, but that is a slippery slope because you may not know whether you've taken sufficient steps to satisfy a judge that implied consent should be found. 
            Signs don't help if a person is blind, unable to read, simply didn't notice them, or perhaps states an objection to the audio.  Getting everyone entering a premises to sign a consent or waiver isn't particularly practical. 
            You are in the alarm business and you can install the audio because it's how the device is used that matters; the installation is permissible; it doesn't even have the caveat that you shouldn't install it in bathrooms, etc. 
            Here is my legal opinion:  You should not be giving legal advice to your customer.  The All in One and Camera form agreements all warn the customer and put the onus of legal use on the customer.  Don't mess that up by offering opinions that will later give rise to claims for fraudulent inducement or misrepresentation, or maybe worse, practicing law without a license, like our friend Bart likes to do.
Comment on trouble signals from article on December 6, 2023
            Morgan is correct about solutions working when all parties know what to expect.  But accountability is more important.  That applies to trouble, supervisory, burglary, fire, carbon monoxide, early/late opens and closes and every other conceivable signal we monitor.  Too often the right person isn’t notified or the urgency isn’t properly explained.
            Many monitoring centers assign generic maps to events that don’t adequately describe what an event is and more importantly the ultimate action that must be taken to deal with it.  In my installing business, we define low temperature alarms as high priority events that stay active until a human is reached - and it’s explained that pipes are likely to burst and cause a flood.  Similarly, we define water sensors as “flood detected” and sprinkler low pressure trouble signals as “fire protection is impaired and water will likely not be available to the sprinkler if there’s fire.”
            Remember the boy who cried wolf.  If monitoring centers call too often on unimportant events, not only does the end user become numb - the operator does too.  
            The solution?  
            Dealers: take a few hours (that’s really all it takes) and review all of the signals your panels send with your monitoring center.  Use clear, concise actionable language and pay them more for accountability.  
            Monitoring centers: require your dealers to do so.  If they refuse, segregate them from the rest of your base so operators don’t burn out.  It’s nearly impossible to train someone to work in a restaurant that serves five star cuisine and Big Macs.
Peter Goldring, SET, CFE, CAT-1
            Excellent advice for both dealers and central stations.  You must know what signals the system is going to send out, and you must know how the central station is going to respond to those signals, and the customer must also know how those signals will be handled.  Customers should be smart enough to understand that while not every call they get will be life threatening, one just might be, and that justifies all the non-essential calls. 
            Of course a faulty system sending false alarms in the middle of the night is a problem and the dealer should fix it if there is a service plan or let the customer know that it's the customer's responsibility to fix it.  If false alarms become constant or overwhelming the dealer may have to shut down monitoring.


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Receiving check from someone other than your customer
         We signed an agreement with a company under one name;
received a payment but check is from a different company.
          Any issue or anything we should do or note?
          I repeatedly and consistently counsel that you should do no work without a contract.  It should be obvious that the contract needs to be signed by the party for whom you are doing the work. 
          While your question seems common and easy enough it actually raised a few interesting legal issues, none of which you want to have to deal with.
          Let’s start with the collection side.  You’ve been collecting payment from ABC Corp or from John Doe for your services [anything from sale, installation or after install services].  Your contract is with XYZ Corp or with John Smith.  One day you get a letter from a Bankruptcy Trustee for ABC Corp or from John Doe who wants to know why you’ve been getting money.  When you produce your contract it’s not going to be with ABC Corp or from John Doe, and the Bankruptcy Trustee is going to demand the money back. 
          How about the liability angle?  ABC Corp or John Doe pay you.  Then there is a loss; ABC Corp or from John Doe or their attorney or insurance company seeking subrogation demand damages.  You produce the contract and smugly point out the protective provisions.  They however call your attention to the fact that neither ABC Corp or from John Doe signed the contract; they are not bound by the contract.
          You next comment is that since they didn’t sign the contract they aren’t the customer, contract says “no third party beneficiaries” and you owed them no duty.  Their response is, “well we paid you all these months for service and you accepted the payment and did the work, and we don’t know anything about a contract because we never signed one”.
          In either the collection or defense scenario you are the one facing the uphill battle.  You will have to prove that the paying party received adequate consideration for its payments and you will have to prove that the contract with its protective provisions binds the non-signing parties.
          It would be much easier to insist that the party paying you is the party who signed the contract or assumed the contract with your consent.  The K&K Assignment and Assumption form is recently added to the forms available at

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301