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More on trouble signals
December 6, 2023
More on trouble signals from article on November 29, 2023
          While Bart has a point to the pricing problem we have in the wholesale space this is not about that part, but it has driven a lot of what we have today.
          Monitoring centers have not increased rates much in decades if at all,  instead we have spent millions of dollars on creating efficiencies and technology in order to lower the cost to serve, it’s pretty basic economics but the side effect of that is that we have some pretty amazing tools in which to communicate to subscribers with.
          Most of the codes we live in (NFPA, IBC, UC, UL etc) were written during a time when cell phones didn’t exist, and home landlines were the predominant way we contacted people after business hours. This was supplemented with pagers but for the most part it was calling landlines which they answered back then.
          Fast forward a few decades to what we have now for technology and more importantly how society communicates or more precisely how they don’t communicate, most monitoring centers report that more than 70% of all outbound calls go unanswered. Calling and trying to leave messages is not going to solve the problem.
          The smart play is to use what works best to accomplish the mission so as to bring awareness to the problems so that action can be taken to fix a problem.  A trouble signal is a message that something is broken, it could be a wiring problem, it could be a defective piece of electronics but in either case it’s going to take someone to fix it.  Some dealers take the approach that when a trouble comes in, they will respond and fix it as part of their normal process, they have contracts in place that allow for that, others want to notify the subscribers that a trouble exists and let them figure it out and if necessary, call the dealer for service.
          Both models can work if all parties know what’s expected and what’s going to happen when a trouble comes in, where it can get complicated is how and when a subscriber gets notified.
          There are lots of different kinds of troubles on lots of different kinds of systems and some common sense should play into this. As an example, a low battery on a door sensor, that battery is low but still has days or even weeks of life left on the battery is calling a person at 2 AM to tell them about it the smart play or is waiting until the morning where service departments are available to help the better move? Which is going to get a better result, and which will have a better customer experience?
          Conversely having a Supervisory Low-Pressure event is such that it can’t wait and a way to get someone notified immediately should be in place.  Being smart about this will net a much better result vs just calling on everything every time. 
          NFPA has clarified in the past that “how” a monitoring center notifies people is not something they want or feel they need to regulate so in the end its about two things, one using technology that works, this could be phone calls from either/or people or IVR systems, sending SMS messages, Pagers, Two Way Radio Systems, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Email, Fax, Carrier Pidgeon or Two Cans and a String, as longs as it works, the second part is what did you contract for, so if you are going to provide Certificated Central Station service you better be providing the appropriate runner service for troubles and supervisory signals on the other hand if you agreed to send SMS messages in real time you need to do that.
          The key to success is that both sides need to understand what’s contracted for and how it’s going to be executed.
          Just my two cents and worth exactly what you paid for and posted by me and my opinion and not behind a please don’t post my name footer.
Morgan Hertel, VP of Technology and Innovation
Rapid Response Monitoring
Office: 877-553-4531 
Direct Cell: 909-915-8045
          I agree with your comments.  The key to a successful relationship between alarm company and customer is managing expectations.  It’s essential that the customer understand what services are being provided and how.  How signals are handled are obviously at the heart of the alarm customer relationship.
          Notice of alarm malfunction, partial [such as no communication] or complete system failure, is something the customer needs to know so service can be requested.  Alarm dealers should try to stay out of the notice loop between central station and customer when it comes to trouble signals unless the alarm company understands that it is taking on additional responsibility, duty and liability by being on notice of need to repair or take other action because the system is down in one way or another.

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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