ADT Pulse Cost and Review: How Does Pulse Really Work?

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Revised with Updated Information

The online chatter continues over ADT’s Pulse product, so I did a “deep dive” on some of the more confusing aspects of the three service offerings: “Select,” “Advantage,” and “Premier.” Put aside ADT’s absolute and bewildering online silence on equipment and service pricing – it turns out that just peeling back the layers to understand the different Pulse service levels is a full-time job. The latest tip-off was a grid on the ADT Pulse web site, which shows a GSM cellular radio included with only the “lowest” service level – the least expensive one. That seemed weird, and triggered a flurry of research, resulting in my own comparison grid, based on my interpretation of the information. Comments and explanations follow the grid. Note: the grid below is NOT the grid from the ADT web site, but my own interpretation!

Pulse “Select”

This “lowest” service level includes Honeywell alarm equipment and a basic GSM cellular radio made by ADT to provide wireless monitoring (which is good!) and a smattering of interactive services. At least that is what the company’s grid says! I’m a huge fan of cellular monitoring as the only safe method, and when it comes to interactive services, consumers are hungry for them. Unfortunately, the interactive services at this level don’t hold a candle to ADT’s higher service level features, or to what other established providers have offered for years: companies like Alarm.com, who wrote the book on interactive monitoring (and they’ve already processed well over two billion signals). The Select level of Pulse is expensive for what it provides ($47.99). Want video or home management capability? Move on to the next Pulse levels!

Pulse “Advantage”

Now it gets interesting. We change from Honeywell to GE Security equipment (which is good!), but the ADT grid no longer shows the GSM radio as being included in the package. It just happens that the  primary path for your alarm system to contact the monitoring center is over a vulnerable regular phone line (which most of us are getting rid of!) or a GSM cellular radio. I was glad to learn that it’s not broadband monitoring, since that can leave you exposed to power outages, internet failure, and intruders cutting your cable (which is happening more and more). And now it appears that ADT may be including the cellular radio in this (more expensive) package: although they must think it’s acceptable to depend on a vulnerable POTS line (“Plain Old Telephone Service”) to protect your home and family. Hello, wire cutters…  originally it seemed you had the option to pay extra up front for a cellular radio and extra each month for cellular monitoring, but the web site has never spelled that out. And why make people guess?

But here’s another important point – only the actual alarm signals to the monitoring center use the POTS line or the GSM radio. All the interactive features are forced to use your broadband connection. That’s right, though it’s hard to believe: for $49.99 per month, if you lose your internet connection (or lose power at your home), you lose all those cool interactive remote services. ADT does save money, however! The best home security systems (like Alarm.com) provide interactive features over the cellular link that is not impacted by internet outages, since it relies on the alarm system’s built-in 24 hour battery, which covers the great majority of power outages. In my opinion, ADT really did not think this one through. You do pick up home management at the Advantage level, but you had better pray that your power and broadband link stay up. Oh, and by the way, you can find better services for less money.

Pulse “Premier”

Premier has the same inherent weaknesses as the Advantage level: same primary dependence for alarm signals could be a POTS line, although the best alarm companies are always using a cellular radio – and whether POTS or cellular, this channel only communicates basic alarm signals. You do pick up video services at this level, which is a nice feature. However, now you’re paying $57.99 a month, and a simple internet outage or line cut reduces you to a rudimentary level of service that some alarm companies sell for $25 or less per month. Ouch!

And remember, even at this highest level, you don’t get the important Crash & Smash protection that you should expect for this price. Even with Premier Pulse service, the intruder who breaks in can disable your alarm system before it can communicate to the monitoring center. No call to you to verify the alarm – and no call to the police. Smart crooks know this, so it’s happening more and more. In my book, another big miss.

When it comes to Crash & Smash, there’s only one technology that is virtually undefeatable, and it was developed and patented by Alarm.com, the leader in interactive alarm monitoring. And as the leader in wireless, interactive home security, FrontPoint has it. We’ll keep checking the Pulse – but it seems this patient should remain under observation!

Comments (131)

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  1. Andy

    Adt does not use broadband for communication to its monitoring stations. They use a land line or cell radio. They only use the broadband to connect the pulse to the alarm. There for in the broadband goes down the alarm will still communicate to adts monitoring stations via land line or cell radio. Think of pulse and the alarm as two diff systems. They are just tied together threw broadband. The pulse side is just the Internet side which allows you to disarm arm etc. but has nothing to do with communicating to adt.no diff then your DVr for cameras being hooked into your broadband. The broadband goes down you lose camera feed but does not affect the alarm system it self as far as dialing out.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Andy – Thanks for your comment. If you read my post carefully, you’ll see that we are in total agreement: ADT does not use broadband for communicating the alarm signal to the monitoring center – and that’s a good thing. Other companies do use broadband for alarm monitoring: Comcast, for instance, actually defaults to the broadband connection, and only uses a cellular link as a backup. My problem with Pulse is that ADT uses the broadband connection for everything else, meaning all the cool interactive services. So, if you lose power in the home, and don’t have a battery backup on your router or modem, you lose all the cool stuff (remote connectivity, notifications, mobile apps, home automation, etc.). In other words, you won’t even know that you lost power! And as for losing the broadband connection, you would be very surprised by how often that happens over the course of a day – to say nothing of a bad guy cutting that internet connection. In that case, will your alarm system’s basic functionality still be in place, sure, but then why are you paying all that extra?

      The most robust and reliable interactive services use the cellular connection – that’s what FrontPoint does. Thanks again.

  2. Happy pulse customer

    I just wanted to clear up somthing that you posted that is incorrect about the ADT pulse lite and pulse premier. The monthly monitoring includes the the cellular monitoring in the price NO INCREASE IN MONTHLY WHEN YOU ADD THE CELLULAR RADIO. Also the you posted about smash and grab the pulse select is a stand alone self contain unit so you would be correct that if it is destroyed before a signal is sent that it is no good. But the pulse lite and premier has a seperate comtrol panel that located (hidden) in a seperate area from the key pad which would be almost impossible to smash or grab before a signal is sent. Please do your due diligence before posting.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Happy Pulse Customer – we appreciate your input here. It certainly would be nice if ADT did a better job of being transparent about what exactly you do get with Pulse. But ADT has somewhat improved their “grid” on the Pulse web site, to give a little more information than they have in the past. Yes, it appears that cellular monitoring is included at no additional charge: however, this point is offset (in my opinion) by the fact that with the lowest level of Pulse (which is by far the most popular level), the carbon monoxide monitoring and water/low temperature monitoring are listed as “optional” – and that means, in my book, they ADT charges extra for these services. Why? They do not cost any more to monitor! At FrontPoint, we don’t care what kind of sensors you buy from us – we monitor them all for the same price. Amazing…

      As for Smash & Crash protection – if you think that a burglar with half a brain (and that means most of them!) doesn’t know where to look for an alarm control panel, I need to set you straight. If there is a basement, it’s almost always there – and if if no basement, it’s invariably in a first floor utility closet. ADT’s installers are trained for efficiency – can’t really blame them – so there is generally not a lot of imagination used in placing equipment. ADT is not alone in this regard, by the way – it’s the same thing that most traditional alarm companies do. I just expect more of ADT, as the largest US alarm company – and one of the most expensive. Thanks again.

  3. John

    Peter,

    How do your customers test glassbreak detectors after they are installed? Do you send a simulator out with the detector? ADT technicians test all of them to make sure they are placed for proper coverage. Or are they just supposed to hope it works? I’m working with one of your potential customers right now and the solution he has come up won’t work.

    He wants to put glassbreak detectors in hallways where there could be closed doors between the detector and the windows. He also wants to place one where a header between rooms would impede the sound being picked up.

    Is that recommended by your company? How do you know someone else won’t make that mistake without having a trained professional survey the site? If the glassbreak detector didn’t work where he installed it how would the Crash and Smash feature keep someone from disabling the system?

    Also, ADT offers a 6-Month Money Back Guarantee, $500 Theft Guarantee and relocation guarantee? Does Frontpoint?

    From what I have read Frontpoint also has limited hours for technical support. Is that still the case?

    Thank you in advance for your response.

    John

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, John (Doe!), for your comment. You actually pose a great question – and one that we are happy to answer. I actually have a lot of experience with the subject – not only becasue I have been working with glassbreak sensors for over 20 years, but also because both of my old companies were purchased by Tyco (ADT’s former parent), and I actually spent two years at Tyco with a significant amount of interaction with ADT technical staff. In the first place, you may not be aware of the sensor we use, which has an indicator light to register when the sensor hears “noise” (not just breaking glass, but noise in general). That way the homeowner knows that the sensor is “alive” and registering. Secondly, we provide careful instruction (printed and provided with the sensors, and on our web site, including an instructional video) that tells customers exactly how the sensor works, and just where to place them. The general rule, by the way, is true line of sight, with a range of 20 feet – there is actually not much in the way of rocket science here.

      What you describe relative to this customer is clearly not in keeping with the instructions that we give – and we make that abundantly clear with the information we provide. And if he were to pose the question to one of our highly trained Customer Service professionals, they would tell him the same thing – that the application he wants is not going to work. It does not take a technician in the home to support a good installation, as we know from years of experience and a very large (and growing) base of very satisfied customers.

      As for your other points – Crash & Smash has nothing to do with the operation of a glassbreak sensor: the former is an interactive monitoring feature that we offer (and ADT does not, and can not) that provides a fail-safe system. If you want a full explanation of how it works, there is a good one on the FrontPoint web site. As for ADT’s six month money-back guarantee, that is only to make the system work, which is clearly an issue from time to time, or ADT would not need to offer it. There are plenty of reviews and complaints on line that speak to the variable quality of ADT’s technical staff. It’s not really a 6 month guarantee, since if a customer does not like your service, or the fact that it’s hard to get issues resolved, or even reach a decision maker, they are stuck – after only three days. We offer a full 30-day risk free trail period to set up the system, make sure the customer loves the system, AND loves us, then during that time they can return the system for every penny they paid: we even pay the shipping back to us. It does not happen often. Since FrontPoint systems work, the theft protection has been a non-issue – but ADT clearly needs to offer these things to entice customers. FrontPoint also has 24 hour support as requested – round the clock, 24/7. And as for relocation, our customers move their systems at will, for free – and they do not have to restart their contract, as they do with ADT. We are all over that one.

      It’s good that you are loyal to ADT and the old-school business model that built the largest alarm company in the US. Unfortunately for ADT, times are changing, and ADT has been slow to evolve. At the same time, ADT’s service level has suffered – to the point that ADT now loses one in six customers a year. Just look at the growth curve of the company: once you factor out the Brink’s purchase, ADT has been growing at only 1% – 2% per year, becasue so many customers are leaving out the back door for better technology and better service – and to avoid those annoying but regular ADT price increases on monthly fees. We actually like competing against ADT – and have a lot of respect for what they have built over more than a century. But there are other approaches to home security – and some are even better than what ADT has to offer. FrontPoint is just one example, but a very good one.

  4. Chris

    Why not build a company on your own merits and letting positive feedback speak for itself vs bashing the biggest competitor by share out there?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Chris – thanks for your comment. We try to be as informative as possible so that people can make an objective decision for themselves. Transparency means a lot when you are trying to build trust – especially in this industry. It’s a shame that you need to read our review to learn things that ADT won’t tell you themselves on their web site, but that is their decision. Perhaps it’s worth noting that ADT has only achieved a 4% penetration rate for Pulse within their customer base, and they have been at this for a couple of years now – that’s a source of disappointment for them. If I were running ADT – not that I would ever want to, mind you – I would be working very hard to increase the adoption of Pulse in the existing ADT customer base. One huge benefit would be to lower attrition, since customer who use interactive services hang around longer. Attrition remains one of ADT’s biggest challenges: they currently report annual attrition at 13.8%, which is well above the industry average. Clearly bigger does not mean better – but you are right, the reviews make that abundantly clear.

      Thanks again.

  5. James

    How many monitoring stations does your company have?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      James – Thanks for your great question. We work with Rapid Response, one of the best monitoring companies in the US. Every FrontPoint account is monitored there, and has been since our inception. There are many monitoring centers that charge less, but Rapid’s quality is worth the extra that we pay to use them. Our customers are worth it!

      Rapid has two fully operational monitoring centers, and by the end of this year with have a third. On this topic, you may enjoy this recent post from the FrontPoint blog that talks about what’s important in monitoring. It’s not just about how many centers, as you will learn: other attributes can be more important. Thanks again.

      http://blog.frontpointsecurity.com/2013/03/20/whos-monitoring-your-alarm-system-247/

  6. Chase

    I work for ADT , Pulse is a great value, a great thing to have along with your alarm. Great investment for your family. And very user friendly. Very proud of protecting you!

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Chase – Thanks for your comment. Glad you are happy with Pulse – ADT has a tremendous amount of its future riding on the success of Pulse. To date, after a couple of years selling Pulse, ADT has only achieved a 4% penetration rate in their existing customer base… not great. Apparently it’s hard getting folks to change over to Pulse, and one big reason is pricing: Pulse is expensive, both for the equipment, and also for the monthly fees. Then there is the fact that ADT was very late to the game, and another platform (the Alarm.com platform that FrontPoint sells) has established the top position for robust and reliable interactive features. For one thing, Alarm.com has Crash & Smash protection, which Pulse cannot offer, since Alarm.com holds the patent. Then there is also ADT’s habit of increasing people’s monthly fees on a regular basis – one of the biggest reasons that ADT has higher cancellation rates than the rest of the industry, when they should be lower. I hope you are successfully selling Pulse to more customers – but the more research people do about technology, pricing, and service levels, the better FrontPoint looks. Thanks again.

      • Teresa

        Peter-I can appreciate your comments. It is extremely hard to compete against ADT in the market because it is a name you can trust. This goes a very long way. I’m uncertain where you gather your data from or do you just say whatever you think sounds good for you or bad for ADT. Your data is so false it’s funny. Any way the version of PULSE that is self contained is the lowest level which is called Pulse Select. Everything else above this consist of hard wired control panels. Cell communication can be added to all these packages at no additional cost per month. In the Pulse Select it is included because that is how the alarm communicates. Do you really really believe a company like ADT would just offer self contained control panels? ADT built the alarm industry and will continue to be several steps ahead of the competition because they don’t cut corners. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
        For those who are hearing about 2GIG service just imagine streaming video on a 2G cell phone. That is basically the speed of your video footage.

        • Peter M. Rogers

          Teresa – Thanks for your comment. After over twenty years in the alarm industry, I can tell you that it’s not that hard to compete against ADT – as almost any of the 13,000 US alarm companies will tell you! And I have additional insight, having worked at Tyco (ADT’s former parent) buying companies to merge into ADT. Customer cancellations always went up in these situations: after ADT bought my old company, Alarmguard, cancellations spiked to 30% in the first year, primarily for poor service from ADT. As for ADT being a name many people trust, I do agree with that: the ADT brand is well known, if for no other reason than because they have been around so long. But with annual customer attrition reported by the company at close to 14% (and even higher than that if based on number of subscribers), it’s become very hard for ADT to grow: most of the new accounts they create simply go to replace the ones they lose – roughly one out of every six customers, every year. Why is the ADT cancellation rate above the industry average? Lots of reasons: regular rate increases without any improvement in features or functions, poor customer service, and increased competition from smaller, nimbler companies – like FrontPoint.

          As for the information provided on Pulse, it’s all accurate – although you can’t get the information from ADT on their web site, sadly. These days people want complete transparency, and do not appreciate a business model where they have to put up with someone coming to their home to make a presentation. People just don’t have the time or patience, and would rather get the information they need and want on-line, so they can shop and compare competing offers, and check out the reviews. The fact that as of today Pulse only has a 4% adoption rate among ADT’s own customers should tell you something – perhaps even ADT subscribers don’t understand it, or don’t think it’s such a great deal. Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for…

          As for the details on Pulse, you are correct in that cellular monitoring of alarm signals is available with all three levels of service. However, all the Pulse interactive features require an Internet connection, which is just as vulnerable (if not more so) when compared to a phone line. That means when you lose power in the home, or lose the Internet connection, you lose ALL the interactive features – not a good choice of platform. With FrontPoint’s Alarm.com technology, the only feature using the Internet is the video service: everything else uses the more robust and more reliable cellular connection. I am not sure why you thought our video used the cell connection, but you may want to do more research on our offering. Yes, it costs us more to use the better cellular connection for interactive services (other than video), but it’s better for the homeowner, which is what we care about. Also, Pulse does not offer Crash & Smash protection – this is a patented technology, and ADT cannot provide it.

          Lastly, ADT was years late to the advanced technology game, because FrontPoint has provided interactive services since 2007, when we started. ADT is not ahead – they are behind, except when it comes to customer loyalty, and in that ADT is unfortunately in worse shape than the rest of the industry. Thanks again.

  7. home business

    Thanks for finally writing about >ADT Pulse Cost and Review:
    How Does Pulse Really Work? | Home Security Blog <Loved it!

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Our pleasure, and thanks for your comment.

    • Teresa

      Peter you are so bitter towards ADT. Sounds like you need to focus on your own business instead of attacking ADT. You crack me up :) . I’m sure your slander may help you get some new business against ADT. All I know is my interaction with them from the beginning has been great! You would have been out the door of my home immediately with your use car salesman attitude. Thanks!

      • Peter M. Rogers

        Teresa, thanks for your additional comment. We are happy for you that you have had a good experience with ADT – one would hope that with over 6 million customers, ADT would generate its share of positive reviews. I am not sure how you derive a sense of bitterness in my comments – as I have mentioned before, we actually like competing against ADT, and we especially like the advertising dollars they spend educating consumers about the kinds of services that FrontPoint sells for less and supports better. And it’s exactly because we do focus so well and so much on our business that we have grown so quickly – with such an excellent reputation. I’ll admit that we do wish that all our competitors cared as much about their customers as much as we do, since that would be better for the overall reputation of the alarm industry, but outstanding service is simply not a priority for every company. That’s more a function of disappointment than bitterness. Frankly, if ADT were doing the job they should be, they would not be losing one out of every six customers a year…

        By the way, “slander” is often confused with “libel,” and both are strong words indeed. The former is normally oral, while the latter usually refers to something that is written (and would be the correct term in this case, if it were an accurate assessment): it is quite a stretch to construe libel in anything I have written about ADT. For background, here the link below provides a good explanation of the difference between libel and slander. Thanks again.

        http://defamation.laws.com/defamation-laws/libel-vs-slander

  8. Harrison

    If you expect your alarm system to have defaults monthly at 2AM CST and expect the alarm company to monthly send someone to your door and say there is nothing they can do, ADT is the alarm company for you. Every month our alarm system from ADT starts showing defaults at 2AM CST waking everyone up. ADT customer supports indicates we must deal with this as part of their great service. I have three other homes and use other alarm companies for service and never have this middle of the night wake up call. All joking aside, ADT is the worst, buy a system from Radio Shack and install it yourself if you would like a good night sleep.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Harrison, for sharing your experiences with ADT. I wish (for your sake) they were happier experiences. It happens that before co-founding FrontPoint I worked at two large and successful alarm companies, both of which were acquired by ADT. I feel your pain, believe me, and can tell you that a big reason for ADT cancellations – which are above the industry average – are caused in part by poor service. In the case of one of mu former employers, Alarmguard, ADT managed to lose 30% of the customers they acquired in the first year – which was triple the cancellation rate that we had. Amazing… but true.

      As for self-installed systems, they really do have many advantages – but we prefer a monitored alarm system, like FrontPoint!

    • Chase

      ADT is a great company, most of the time it’s user error! Not saying that things can happen with sensors an etc! I’ve been a employee of Brinks, Broadveiw an now ADT! 5 1/2 years in the business an most of the time it’s just user errors, or not understanding the zones, an etc. radio shack alarm systems an do it your self are not the way! My friend learned that the hard way, when they cleared his house out!!!!! Now he has ADT an is Happy! Don’t listen to negative feed back. ADT here to protect you, don’t give up. ADT is truly there. If there’s any questions. Call ADT. They be more then willing to help. Have a great day

      • Peter M. Rogers

        Chase – Thanks for your second comment. I am re-posting my reply to your first comment here, since it’s equally applicable in this case.

        Glad you are happy with Pulse – ADT has a tremendous amount of its future riding on the success of Pulse. To date, after a couple of years selling Pulse, ADT has only achieved a 4% penetration rate in their existing customer base… not great. Apparently it’s hard getting folks to change over to Pulse, and one big reason is pricing: Pulse is expensive, both for the equipment, and also for the monthly fees. Then there is the fact that ADT was very late to the game, and another platform (the Alarm.com platform that FrontPoint sells) has established the top position for robust and reliable interactive features. For one thing, Alarm.com has Crash & Smash protection, which Pulse cannot offer, since Alarm.com holds the patent. Then there is also ADT’s habit of increasing people’s monthly fees on a regular basis – one of the biggest reasons that ADT has higher cancellation rates than the rest of the industry, when they should be lower. I hope you are successfully selling Pulse to more customers – but the more research people do about technology, pricing, and service levels, the better FrontPoint looks. Thanks again.

  9. Jashuh

    This is just standard ADT service which has continued since day one, nothing too shocking here! This is how ADT does it business now and always will – how do you think the pay for that continued 24 hour commercials which run. They have always milked the buyers to death, pay here, pay there. Pay everywhere and for every little thing that they offer..

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Jashuh, for your comment. It is sad that ADT continues to underwhelm with poor service, but one should expect them to deliver when it comes to responsiveness as a basic value. Like thousands of other alarm companies, we enjoy competing against ADT, since it’s not that hard to provide a higher level of satisfaction than they do much of the time. They are going to have to start delivering on their potential if they want to bring their cancellation rate under control – currently they are losing between one in six and one in seven customers every year, much of it for a combination of poor service/price increases/competitive pressure. At the same time, we do wish the largest US alarm company had a better reputation, since it would make the overall industry look better if they did. Some people just think we are all the same – whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

      Thanks again.

  10. Bryan baugh

    Does your company install this system or does the consumer install it? I would love to watch my 80 year old grandmother put a security system in! I would bet she will be real safe. I read that you can place this unit ( simon XT) on a table top. Im sure thats super secure! What if an intruder comes thru a window that is not monitored and than disables it the keypad that way. The smash and grab would not apply in that situation. The reason you pay more with ADT is because you have a professional to install it for you. And yes , ADT dealers are a little bit on the shady side. ( 100% agreed) .

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Bryan – Thanks for your comment. You would be surprised if you ever ordered a FrontPoint system at just how easy it is to set it up – but if you are genuinely interested, I suggest you at least take a look at some of the user-friendly videos on our web site to check out the process. We have seniors setting up systems all the time, and we have found them to be entirely capable of asking for a little help if needed! And remember, we remotely confirm tat all the sensors are working with the customer before the system goes on line with the monitoring center. As for placing the control panel, it can go wherever the consumer wants it. Plenty of our customers do mount it on the wall, but it’s not required, the way most panels are. And since so many of our customers (over 90%) use the interactive services to arm and disarm their system, they are seldom using the keypad on the control panel, which means they can place the control panel out of plain sight (which we recommend anyway in our setup instructions). Of course, traditional alarm companies have not gotten there with the interactive services yet, so your concerns would be especially relevant for them – if they had Crash & Smash protection, which they don’t… The reason you pay more for ADT is because they choose to charge more, and they have to support a huge organization, and a ton of advertising – to say nothing of demanding shareholders, now that they are a standalone public company. I guess a great question to ask is why ADT has an annual cancellation rate of nearly 14% if they are that good, and that cost-effective for what they offer. It seems that the one in seven ADT customers that leaves each year might not agree with your assessment. Thanks again.

      • RickvW

        Bryan Baugh, that may be one of the dumber comments so far: my 80 year old mother…
        Yes, she probably needs someone to clear the gutters too.

        Frontpoint rocks. It’s efficient, modern, affordable and high tech. Nothing like your 80 year old mom’s ADT.

        I am happy as a pup with my frontpoint and it was less than 1.5 hrs to install 3 camera’s, 3 motion sensors and 4 door sensors.

        [Minor Edits - ad hominem remarks]

        • Peter M. Rogers

          Rick – thanks so much for leaping ton our defense, and sharing your FrontPoint experience. That’s the kind of customer loyalty we appreciate, and we’ll do our best to keep earning it. And as for how easy it is to setup a FrontPoint system? Just read all the reviews… we have the only truly plug & play system in the alarm industry, and the fact that you can add to it at any time, or even move it with you, just adds to the advantages of all the interactive services. Thanks again!

  11. Jonathan

    I’m on the fence between FrontPoint and ADT, but leaning towards FrontPoint because of ADT’s reputation for overcharging and horrendous customer service. Having said that, you guys don’t do yourself a service by being unfair in your description of competitors. ADT seems like a ripoff to me, but at least their expensive systems offer TWO forms of communication. Cell jammers exist, and sometimes people live in locations with only one cell tower. Anybody with a cell phone knows that cell service is NOT 100% reliable. If I’m protecting my wife and kids, I’d like to have more than one option for the alarm signals to take. Neither phone or cell is perfect, but at least the two together increases your odds.

    Also, it’s unfair to ding ADT for lack of crash and smash. They put the brains of their system in a hidden and locked box, probably in your basement. Breaking an ADT pulse panel does NOT, as far as I can tell, disable the alarm. Contrast this to single panel solutions like FP where smash and crash is absolutely required because of how easy it is to find the transmitter.

    ANyway, I still may go with FP, but I’d feel better about the company if you were more critical of your own technology and worked harder to improve it and spent less time taking slanted shots at competitors.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Jonathan – Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. We are compared to ADT with increasing frequency, as more people do their online research and check out the reviews for both companies. When it comes to services, there appears to be little comparison:ADT’s reviews on that topic so speak for themselves, as do ours. As for the communication path for ADT systems, it helps to look back a bit on how they have provided (and priced) their services. Long after ADT recognized the benefits and advantages of cellular monitoring, they and their substantial network of roughly 450 authorized ADT Dealers continued to focus on telephone line monitoring as a default: we refer to this as “POTS,” which stands for “Plan Old Telephone Service.” You may be aware that AT&T is already petitioning the FCC for permission to decommission their POTS network of traditional hard copper phone lines across the US.All the old ADT systems that use a phone line only (and there still are millions of them) will be out of luck. So what does that leave? Cellular and Internet – and Internet is just as vulnerable to a $3 pair of wire cutters as POTS. In fact, Internet is even worse than POTS,because Internet service is not as reliable as hard copper, and a power outage can take out your modem or router, so your alarm system would not be able to communicate. In other words, the safest and most reliable monitoring path for home security is cellular – and that is what FrontPoint offers in every system we have ever sold – the only US alarm company to do so. As for cell jammers, I have been at this for over twenty years, and I have never heard of a burglar using a jammer to successfully defeat a home alarm system – possible, but so unlikely as to be almost a moot point. What is much more likely is a burglar with that $3 pair of wire cutters, going after all the wires they can find. And, while ADT has charged extra for the cellular radio and for monthly cellular monitoring ($44.99 for years), FrontPoint charges only $34.99 for basic cellular monitoring – but only a very small percentage of our customers choose that, since they can get FrontPoint’s interactive monitoring for only $42.99 – less than ADT has been charging for basic cell monitoring. And as for ADT systems using a separate enclosure to make them less susceptible to Crash and Smash, I suggest you confirm that all ADT branches are doing that all the time, and that the ADT dealers who create roughly half of ADT’s new accounts every month are doing so as well. I think you will find out that such is not the case. Thanks again.

  12. Dryoung

    Well I too fell for the ADT Pulse and am this morning wondering how in the world ADT got to be the largest in the business because their service sucks! The poor woman who called me to respond to my website inquiry was abolutely worthless and when pressed stated “i’m only doing my job” comment…beautiful! I will run from ADT! Their service and website information are equal to what my 8-yr old could put together!

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks for weighing in on ADT here. Since ADT was spun off from Tyco on October 1 and became an independent public company for the first time, there has been a lot of increased scrutiny on Pulse as the centerpiece of ADT’s strategy to achieve some real growth. After you back out the Brink’s/Broadview acquisition, ADT has only been growing at 1% or 2% per year – largely because they have such high cancellation rates (13.5%, or one out every seven customers per year!). And a big reason why people leave ADT is over service complaints – ADT just can’t seem to figure that one out. And when the lackluster approach to the customer starts to creep from service into sales, then it’s bad news for the company. Oddly enough their stock price is doing well, despite what I consider some ominous warning signs. You are also right about the lack of transparency about Pulse on the ADT web site: it’s impossible even after all this time to find out what the equipment costs, or the monthly service fees. We think people want (and deserve) more transparency these days, which is why there is so much shopping on line, and why reviews have become so important. Thanks again for your comment.

  13. Macky Manniss

    I have been an ADT customer for three years now. I have the basic service but I was interested in upgrading to Pulse. Believe me they make it VERY difficult to do so. Thank goodness because that gave me the time to do the research I should have done before even calling ADT in the first place. As a result I can tell you I will be cancelling my ADT basic service and going with one of the many other BETTER options out there for Video / Remote Alarm services. In fact one of the consumer research magazines publish an article a few months back that compares the new video based systems and one of the major complaints that got ADT rated at the BOTTOM of the pack was the fact that they do not offer Smash and Grab protection and they are the MOST EXPENSIVE for what you get and you don’t even own the equipment after a long lease. For example I have paid over 50 dollars a month for three years and I will own virtually none of the equipment after I call them to come and get their garbage the He double tooth picks out of my house. Heck even Time Warner Cables new Intelligent Home video system is cheaper and more reliable then Pulse. What a Joke ADT would be if they were not criminally incompetent. I mean really their garage has gotten people killed!

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Macky – thanks for your comment. Another sad tale of ADT not living up to expectations… We are seeing more of these in a variety of online review sites, and here as well. It’s too bad that it’s so hard for folks to learn all they want about Pulse in advance, but the ADT website is not much help: there’s no explanation of how the monitoring really works, what the equipment or monthly service level prices are, or disclosure of the fact that ALL the interactive services (except alarm signal transmission) rely on the broadband (Internet) connection. There’s a big difference when you compare Pulse to the Alarm.com platform that FrontPoint uses, because with FrontPoint, EVERYTHING (except video) uses the safer and more reliable cellular link. That means alarm monitoring, remote control of the alarm system, text and email notifications and event history, and even the home automation services are all independent of the more vulnerable Internet connection. You therefore don’t have to worry about your Internet service going up and down, or someone cutting your Internet connection (which burglars are doing more often), or losing all your interactive services when you lose power in the home.

      While I am not directly familiar with the Time Warner offering, I believe it too is based on iControl, which is the same platform as ADT’s Pulse – and therefore would have all the same downsides and vulnerabilities as Pulse.

      Thanks again, and best of luck in your search. Of course, we are here if you want to take a hard look at FrontPoint. You won’t find the same services for less, or better service anywhere. Just read our reviews!

  14. Avinash Gupta

    In june 2012 I called ADT in response to an email I received from ADT. I discussed the system and they told me someone will call me and comedown to my house. They did and after installation I saw the paper work which had a different name and I was told that they are the authorized dealer for ADT. I signed the contract for two years
    Recently I found out about that ADT Pulse and I called to upgrade. Now I am told that I can not upgrade for a year because the system was not installed by ADT.
    Why this practice I called ADT, contract is with ADT but no upgrade????

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Avinash – Thanks for your comment. You have experienced one of the more notable ADT “Gotcha” scenarios, this involving the ADT Authorized Dealer program. These Dealers are actually totally separate companies. Under the ADT name, they do the marketing, sales, and installation to “create” you as a customer. Then they “sell” you to ADT for a big check, and ADT takes over the monitoring, billing, and service. For the longest time the ADT Dealers were not even allowed to sell Pulse at all. Now they are finally allowed to sell it, but it’s not an easy process: a salesperson has to go to the home and make an in-person presentation to explain why the equipment and services cost what they do (you can’t find any of this important information out on the ADT web site). Since some ADT Dealers sell alarm systems only by phone, that can be a problem. You would think that any company would try to make it as easy as possible for you to spend more money and upgrade to higher-end services, but not ADT. This is just one more reason why people get cranky at them – some of their policies just don’t seem customer friendly. Nowadays people want transparency and common sense, which is why many are looking beyond ADT to more affordable and more customer-oriented alternatives – like FrontPoint! Thanks again.

  15. Daniel

    ADT has the worst service possible. I waited a month to get my security system fixed. They said they would be here between 11-1 pm, I waited and no one showed. I Have been on the phone with them for hours with nothing resolved. I am sooo upset and dissapointed. I have had multiple problems with them in the past about my system. There prices are outrages. It runs between 40-60 dollars per month depending on the type of alarm systme you get and it cost thousands for installment. I wish I never would of gotten set up with them in the first place.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Daniel – Thanks for weighing in here. Once again, it saddens me to hear that a customer of any alarm company (even ADT, our largest competitor) is not satisfied with the service that is offered. We know they charge more for equipment than we do, and more for the services they provide. We also know a lot about the platform they chose for interactive services, and feel strongly that ours is better. The fact is, ADT has a powerful brand, and it appears that they are more interested in attracting new customers than they are in keeping the ones they already have. For alarm companies, there are only two really important performance criteria: how much does it cost to create a new customer, and what is the rate at which your customers are leaving you? On the latter point, ADT is in a bit of a pickle – they recently reported their annual cancellation rate at over 13%, up from last year. That means they have to replace about one out of every seven customers each year, and one of the main reasons for that appears to be poor service. If only they would get their act together, they could improve that metric significantly. We only lose customers at a fraction of that rate – but then again, we try to treat every customer like the only customer we have, and it shows in our reviews. Thanks again for your comment, and I hope the situation improves for you.

  16. Mark

    ADT Pulse is the biggest mistake I ever made. I paided a lot of money for a system that was suppose to let me monitor my home when away. It was installed almost a month ago and has not worked yet. But they are still collecting their 57.99 dollars a month. First date they installed they forgot the cameras, then second date (a week later) they installed the cameras but they did not work. Two weeks later they brought lamp switches but did not now anything about fixing the cameras (which was a day after I had surgery). I got upset so they scheduled the service department to come out four days later. He gets here and works on the system for two and one half hours and can’t get it to work and lets me know who installed it did it wrong and I was missing the cellguard ( which I paided extra for), the cameras still don’t work. I have paided 1499 dollars for a system that does not work with no date on when it might work and stuck with a two year contract I can not get out of. Please stay away for them is is a ripoff.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Mark – Thanks for your comment, and I am very sorry to hear of your frustration and disappointment with “the other alarm company” out there. I’ve read a number of these stories, and the problem is often a function of the underlying structure of the Pulse product: it’s primarily Internet-based, so the tremendous variability of people’s routers, in combination with technicians who are still trying to master the products and services, has created many problems. It’s a shame, really, since ADT already is behind on technology and service reputation. But they sure beat the heck out of us when it comes to TV advertising!

      I am also surprised at the cost of these Pulse systems. We find in head-to-head price comparisons that our technology (which actually works better) costs between half and two thirds what an ADT system costs – and our monthly service charges are less.

      Again, sorry that your experience with them has not been a good one = and thanks for sharing.

  17. Brian M (Strech)

    I don’t understand why there are some many people trying to slam Peter for his comments. I took a two week research before I decided on front point. I even called ADP many times until I was passed onto there monitoring station to have some of my monitoring questions answered. THey actually confirmed to me that the triggered event is held with in the control panel. There solution to me was I could have the ADP tech change the time to a lower time so if I didn’t make it to the panel in time it would report faster to their monitoring stations.

    If anyone here that is slamming Peter did a little bit of research which includes calling ADP many many many times until you get who you want you would know how their monitoring really works. Trust me I got frustrated many times because I kept getting redirected to there sales techs.

    Here is a couple of links showing some settlements ADP setlled for. They don’t actually admit their system was to blame but if it wasn’t why would they settler for a unknown amount.

    http://www.startribune.com/local/east/130919303.html
    LInes cut and 2400 dollars spent on the system

    http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/09/30/murder-victim%E2%80%99s-family-settles-with-adt-security/

    http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/ADT-Security-settles-Contra-Costa-suit-over-fees-2892086.php

    Do your search on the patent and you will see that alarm.com actually does hold this patent. I called many alarm compaines before I choice front point and non of there customer service came close to the customer server that frointpoint security has.

    Do a little home testing when you get your system. If the sensor says it detects broken glass test it. Must Lowes or home depot will give you there old cut glass they can’t use. Put it in a bucket and see if it works. I have also called and had frontpoint put my system in a test mode so I could Arm it and set it off and he told me on the phone if he detected it.

    FYI for all you military members out there frontpoint security has the same type of customer service that USAA has. I hope some day in the future USAA will recommend frontpoint security

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Brian – Thanks so much for your excellent comment – and your great research on the topic. What really struck me about your position was that you combined two important issues: (1) ADT does not offer Crash & Smash protection, because they cannot do so – it’s a patent held by Alarm.com, and offered in every FrontPoint system with interactive services, and (2) it’s remarkably challenging to get the same level of service (and satisfaction) from ADT that you get from FrontPoint – they just don’t seem to care about their existing customers as much as they do about creating new ones. No wonder they report a cancellation rate of 13.2% per year, which is higher than the average for the entire US alarm industry.

      And on a personal level, I really appreciate that you have my back on this one, as a result of your thoughtful and informed approach to these important topics. After all, we’re talking about protecting people’s lives and property here, and peace of mind that you expect when you are paying good money for a system. Just goes to show that bigger does not necessarily mean better, in the case of ADT. Thanks again!

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