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More from Jeff Zwirn on remote operators and ADT central station practices
August 29, 2022
More from Jeff Zwirn on remote operators and ADT central station practices
          Thank you for sending out my SSI article in your newsletter on August 9, 2022 about in-house monitoring.
          Kindly note, I was appointed to serve on the UL 827 Standard Technical Panel and was in fact the only person on the committee that voted no.  The so-called rationale for the change from maintaining central station operators inside the four walls of a central station to allowing them to monitor remotely from their own apartments and homes, is just not defensible but it surely is discoverable
          Why is it that Central Stations who have adopted this policy have not marketed the change and they surely have not gone out of their way to tell their existing subscribers?   
          In my experience, with both Plaintiffs and Defendants alike, generally an alarm contractor has the duty to advise/warn its subscribers of any changes that it makes to the services it provides and/or as to new subscribers regarding the services it provides and/or what it can provide. 
          By way of example I have seen ADT contracts where they state that ADT has explained the full range of equipment and services to the subscriber. Stated differently, what ADT is stating is that it allowed the consumer to make the choice(s) as to what they wanted to meet their security system needs and objectives. Who in the alarm industry believes that not explaining in-house central station monitoring compared to central station monitoring inside the four walls of the central station is not part of the full range of equipment and services being offered; and what about customers that were told they were receiving central station monitoring inside a central station and later find out that this does not exist, and they were never notified. 
          Has anyone seen marketing materials from any alarm company and/or central station that simply disclose that they have now decided to monitor all of their alarm system accounts by using operators that are located in their home or apartment? If in-house monitoring is so terrific then why keep it such a secret? 
          Furthermore, as a Certified Fraud Examiner, it is a high-risk practice to conceal the services that you fail to provide compared to what you represent that you are providing. which reasonable persons would fundamentally need to know about before they decide what they want to select for the alarm services it is contracting for.  In other words, how can any consumer make informed choices if the alarm company/central station never discloses the way in which they monitor alarm systems or as to material changes it makes in the monitoring services it provides?   At the same time, I have yet to see a central station monitoring agreement which discloses that the company has the right to materially change the way the subscribers' home or business is being monitored. I am also concerned about consumer fraud claims surrounding the practice of in-home monitoring by alarm companies. 
          There is no subscriber who I have spoken with that by default just instantly feels that they would be safer with in-home monitoring compared to monitoring within the four walls of central station, where no distractions exist such as cell phones, and the time tested redundancies within a central station are simply abandoned when using in-home, in apartment/ and/or in -dorm monitoring.    
          As I understand it, ADT is providing in-house monitoring yet it remains completely silent in all of its TV and print ad advertisements on in-house monitoring. Why? 
          Reasonable persons could surely find that this silence and/or omission was not by happenstance.  As you know, any time a claim is made discovery demands will uncover where the operator was located when he/she received the alarm. Were they on their cell phone, social media, facebook etc or is there something else in the fact pattern which reveals that the operator's conduct was the proximate cause to the damages sustained? 
          What about profitability? Does ADT save money in switching its operators out of the four walls of a central station? Of course all central stations do, so were those savings passed onto the customer, or do we have another case where profitability of the alarm company was determined to be more important than the safety and security of the subscriber? In other words, what electronic security system benefit(s) does the subscriber receive with this change of monitoring services?  Answer: Absolutely nothing and of course if there is a loss as to the way in which the system was being monitored, this dangerous change to UL-827 will likely become the centerpiece of the case and it does not matter if UL ratified it. Alarm companies have duties separate and apart from UL and as to statutory licensing regulations. 
          With regards to accelerating the balance of monitoring contracts, does the switch to in-house monitoring become a problem for alarm companies in trying to collect on the monies they claim are duly owed them? 
          Let's do a webinar on this topic? 
Jeffrey D. Zwirn, CPP, CFPS, CFE, SET, FASI&T, CHPA-IV, MBAT, NFPA 3000(PS)
         We will do a webinar on this topic.  I'd like to invite someone who supports the remote monitoring to represent that side of the issue.  Maybe someone from ADT?  [BTW I don't know if ADT has remote operators, or any other central station for that matter].  Maybe someone from the UL advisory board who approved remote monitoring.  I'd be interested in the technical precautions the central station takes when permitting remote monitoring.

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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