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Comment on Special instructions for monitoring – should you allow it
July 13,  2024
Comment on Special instructions for monitoring – should you allow it
With almost 50 years of running a Central Station I have learned that “Notes” and “Special Instructions” are mistakes waiting to happen.  With established procedures being followed the results are predictable.
 Dave Currie
Damar Security Systems
            Thanks for offering your sage advice on this; valuable advice from a central station operator.  Dave sent this in in response to a comment I made suggesting that allowing special monitoring instructions was a mistake and raised the prospects of liability, your liability.  The topic is worth a focused article on its own.
            I negotiate subscriber contracts several times a week and too often the “redlines” start with the Monitoring paragraph, maybe because it’s one of the first paragraphs in the Standard Form Agreements.  Attorneys reviewing a document love to make changes, sometimes important ones but too often nonsense issues.  It’s not hard to pick out the nitpickers; ever time frame is changed, so 5 becomes 10, 10 becomes 20, etc.  Notify once becomes twice, and twice becomes three.  The point is, these changes are, for the most part, pointless. 
            But acquiescing to these changes in the Standard Form Agreement, while seeming inconsequential, could end up being the proximate cause of the loss or breach of the contract because procedure was not followed.  And why would procedure spelled out in the contract be followed?  Because the procedure deviates from how the central station operator was trained.  The operator handles perhaps hundreds of calls a day, thousands a week.  Sure a screen might pop up containing special instructions. The operator might even see the instructions, try to figure them out and comply, or not.  Maybe the operator is too busy to make endless calls until someone on the Call List actually answers.  It’s the subscriber’s responsibility to have responsible people ready to answer their phone if they are indeed the contact on the Call List. Maybe a subscriber wants more than one person reached and notified.  The change in monitoring procedure can be as varied and inventive as the imagination of every subscriber or its lawyer can conjure up. 
            Well this is your business, not theirs, and most of the time it’s not even your business, it’s the central station’s business that you engaged to monitor this and most if not all of your other accounts.  They presumptively know how to monitor accounts, yours and everyone else’s.  They follow protocol, likely established to comply with NRTL guidelines, local AHJ requirements and their own well-established operation experience.  It’s why you choose that central station; because you trust it to properly monitor your accounts.
            Don’t be lead astray by your subscribers demanding change in procedure for them.  Even if your central station is willing to accommodate your subscribers’ whims they may be overly optimistic in their ability to deliver. 
            This is not to suggest that some subscribers may have legitimate reason to request changes to procedure.  This will be the rare exception and you will have no difficulty recognizing the need for the change.  Then you can agree but only if you are assured by the central station that compliance will not be a problem. 
            A final thought that you better not lose track of, a mistake by your central station affects your pocket first.  Only after your insurance is exhausted and all your company assets sold off to pay the injured subscriber or claimant, will the central station be out of pocket.  That’s because you’ve agreed to indemnify the central station, and if you haven’t been smart enough to get the Kirschenbaum Rider to Central Station Dealer Agreement your liability will have no limit. 
            So the proper response to a request to change monitoring procedure is “no changes in procedure are permitted because central station operators are highly trained to handle signals and calls in a specify manner and changes can only lead to mistakes”.

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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