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Duress codes and passwords / Follow up on contract update suggestions ISC meetings
March 18,  2022
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Duress codes and passwords
          Duress codes and passwords are a good idea but, in that very stressful situation when someone has a gun aimed at their head and they are told to disarm the system or give the proper passcode on the phone it has been my experience that most customers forget these passwords as they don't use them all the time. I talked with one customer that was closing up a check and cash business where an armed robber with a shot gun forced the teller back into the business and instructed him to disarm the system. He did but with his regular code. He was then forced him to drive to an ATM to withdrawal money from the tellers personal account. Then he left on foot.
          At a later date I asked the teller why he did not use the ambush code at the keypad and he said, "In that situation I could not remember my own name mush less an ambush code and thought I was about to be killed."
          I suppose we need to re-inform customers of their ambush codes and passwords on every service call so they can use them in time of need.
          Reminding customers to review and update their passcodes is a good idea.  That practice gives you the opportunity to interact with your customer with a view of updating systems and services, as well as RMR, and also assists the customer with maximizing use of the security system and services. 
          Keep in mind that you should not be creating unrealistic expectations for the customer.  Use of a duress code can have serious consequences, not just because help may not get there in time, or at all, or help may arrive only to exacerbate the situation.
Follow up on contract update suggestions from February 16, 2022

          Addendum to my comments in 2.16.22 Newsletter.   Could it also be called “bait- and- switch”?  Are we delivering the customer expectations?  Millions of new customers are originated without end-to-end responsibility marketing, sales, installation, service, monitoring, billing, collection, and everything between, now provided by highly fragmented groups of independent service specialists.  Each of the listed services can have conflicting incentives and motives and standards. 
          Millions of these RMR customers are paying extra for the credibility of the private monitoring firm to get site-response when their system sends signals for unknown reasons.  (Not the same as remote-witnessed verified). New customers have lots of expectations… the “bait”.  Then comes the contract, the “switch”. This is why some of us expect heavy attrition from deceptive business practices, and the related dilution of RMR market value.
Lee Jones
Support Services Group
          Your comment on February 16, 2022 pertained to suggestions for contract updates, among which you noted slow police response. 
          Lee, I think you need to take a breath and perhaps consider that most alarm companies do the best they can; they work within the reality they face daily.  Alarm systems, security systems, fire alarm systems, none are fail-proof; none can guarantee no loss; none can guarantee police response or fire department response, certainly not within the time frame of making much difference.
          That’s not a reason not to provide the service, and charge for it.  Is a customer better off with the service or without it?  With it is the right answer. 
          Does an alarm company really need to emphasize the short comings of the security or fire alarm systems to the customer and to what extent does that “disclaimer” have to go?  Here the answer may surprise you, because security and fire alarm companies do need to make clear the function and short comings of any form of electronic security or fire detection equipment and service, and every alarm company with a brain does exactly that when they present a Standard Form Agreement for the customer to sign, followed by the Disclaimer Notice.  Disclosure does not get any clearer than those documents, and any alarm company who doesn’t get with that program deserves what consequence may arise when a custom’s expectation is not met.
          We’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Just doing the best we can.

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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