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Maintenance – service – membership agreements
May 4, 2024
Maintenance – service – membership agreements 
          I have observed that many trades like ours, such as the HVAC industry, are transitioning from maintenance agreements to a membership model. Is there a significant difference between calling it a membership or a maintenance agreement? What are the pros and cons of each approach?
Christopher V
          That’s a new one for me.  I haven’t heard about a membership agreement and as a consumer I haven’t been invited to be a member by any trade, unless I am a member of Nextflix and Prime and all the other entertainment services.  I sure don’t feel special about my membership.
          So offering membership to your customers would be a novel idea to me.  Would you issue them a special badge or membership card?  A secret password?  What would member entail, such as minimum payments, attendance at meetings or social events? 
          I do know what a Maintenance Agreement is, and I don’t think you offer that service if you’re a traditional alarm or security company [access control, cameras, intrusion], even fire alarm company.  What you do provide is Repair Service on request.  You offer repair service either as a Per Call upon request [if you’re smart enough to have service under your alarm contract] or Service Plan [with RMR if you’re even smarter] under your K&K All in One or other Standard Form Agreement
          I’ve written more than a few articles on Maintenance v Repair Service Plan.  In my view you don’t do maintenance, which is regularly scheduled work on the equipment to ensure continuous operation.  Rather, you offer to repair a system that fails; you repair it. 
          Maintenance is easy to confuse with Inspection Service, which you do perform, especially if you have fire alarms.  [and yes I am aware that NFPA – I think – uses the word maintenance somewhere].  Inspection is also a regularly scheduled “service” and you may agree to perform some items of work during that inspection service, though the Fire All in One makes clear that Repair Service is not included with Inspection Service.  Words matter and use of the word Maintenance can easily confuse a customer because the customer has the right to use the commonly accepted definition of maintenance, even if you re-define it in your contract in obscure fine print to a meaningless service with no obligation or liability for continued operation. 
          The Kirschenbaum Contracts™ provide for Service on Per Call or Service Plan [with RMR].  The only “membership” you should be considering, and definitely join today, is the K&K Concierge Program where you get plenty of “membership” rights, benefits and privileges that are important to you in your alarm business [new benefits were just announced yesterday - employment law advice].  I’ll think about sending you a membership card. 

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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