Home Security System Fails – ADT Security Does Not Receive Burglar Alarm Signal

Posted by , , at 4:13 pm

I’ve posted before that no alarm system – or alarm company, for that matter – is perfect. People make mistakes and devices malfunction, but it’s obviously better if the situation is found and fixed before it really matters. Unfortunately, when it comes to home security, you often don’t even know there’s a problem until it’s too late. ADT Security recently had another miss, this time at a San Antonio home where the alarm system appeared to be working just fine.

Most people put home security systems in their home for their peace of mind. But after a local man’s home was broken into, he says the thieves took more than his stuff and the security company was not giving him any support. So, he called Barry Davis and Eyewitness Wants to Know.

What Happened

Charles Fialkowski says he was at the store when he got a call from ADT Security saying his alarm siren was malfunctioning. When he got home he found it wasn’t just the alarm that was not working right. “They kicked the door, ripped the frame to pieces. You know, ripped the screws out,” says Fialkowaki.

Breaking a door is not unusual in today’s burglaries – in fact, intruders target the front door just about one third of the time. What is unusual is that the ADT monitoring center did receive a signal – but it was the wrong message. A siren malfunction is extremely rare, but even so, this story shows just how vulnerable any alarm system can be without Crash and Smash protection. In the case of ADT, that unfortunately means 100% of their systems are vulnerable, since ADT does not offer Crash and Smash.

What the Thieves Stole

Thieves broke in and stole more than $8,600 worth of electronics and other stuff. The irritating thing for Fialkowski is that ADT never called the police. He had to!  “When they called me, if they had called 911 instead, they would have probably caught the individuals that stole my items,” says Fialkowski. ADT sent a technician to look into the problem. They confirmed the system was on at the time of the burglary.

The system was on and armed, but no alarm signal was received. That’s why more and more alarm users are looking for a system that’s virtually impossible to defeat – starting with wireless cellular monitoring, and including the Crash and Smash feature.

Now it Gets Complicated

His insurance covered the loss, minus his $250 deductible. ADT advertises they will cover your deductible for any loss during a burglary at your covered home, but from here it gets sticky. Fialkowski originally signed with Brink’s Home Security that became Broadview, which was ultimately bought by ADT. But when he called, Fialkowski says he was told since he was originally a Broadview customer he does not qualify for the deductible reimbursement.

Since this consumer got a local news channel involved, chances are he will get a fair resolution. There was considerable speculation across the alarm industry when ADT absorbed Brink’s/Broadview last year – Brink’s/Broadview was famous for good service, and those of us in the know suspected that many folks would not be happy with the change. I am reminded of a prior post that featured this quote by ADT.

“We recommend that anyone with an electronic security system test their system periodically to ensure it is communicating properly with the customer monitoring center. If a customer has a question regarding their system, including instructions on how to properly test it, we encourage them to call 1-(800) ADT-ASAP.

While monthly testing is standard alarm industry advice, and is even written into most monitoring agreements, few homeowners test their system in such a disciplined manner. The best advanced systems that rely on GSM cellular monitoring are auto-tested every day, and will report any communication failure immediately. We know, because that is the way Alarm.com technology works – and Alarm.com is the cellular foundation of every FrontPoint alarm system.  

FrontPoint remains committed to providing systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable – and virtually impossible to defeat. That’s why we’re the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US, and we continue to offer greater peace of mind by providing improved wireless functionality as the technology evolves. Intrusion, fire, video, and home automation (control your lights, locks, thermostats) – FrontPoint has it all. And when your FrontPoint system detects a burglar – we will call the police.

Comments (7)

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  1. jake

    I have been an ADT customer for 5 years. Saturday night my home was broken into and the alarm system failed to notify anyone of the occurrence. The burglar was able to rip the panel from the wall before it activated and the system did not recognize that there was a problem. The burglar was able to take as much time as he needed and took whatever he wanted.
    When I just spoke to ADT they told me that is just how the system works and there was nothing they could do.
    Why would they sell an alarm system that may not be any sort of protection at all (other than protecting the ADT executives from having to live in the same neighborhood as I do)?
    5 years of monthly payments for this tough luck story?!?!?
    I will urge anyone and everyone to get this message out because our, if not even you or your, loved ones are not as safe as the salesman selling the system may tell you.
    Thank God my wife and daughter were not home at the time or who knows how this story would go.

  2. Russ H

    My ADT alarm went off last night after getting home from dinner – error on our part on keying in the password. The siren went off but we cancelled it out with the correct password. Expected a call from ADT monitoring service but it never came. Called ADT this evening – did a system test and they never received the signal. Due to circumstances ADT cannot do a service call until December 10th – there customer service is very poor. Appears that this dormant failure may be somewhat common with ADT systems.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Russ – Thanks very much for your comment. It can be very scary when you learn (the hard way) that your peace of mind was nothing of the sort. And while no system is 100% failure-proof, there are clearly some technology platforms that are better than others. But the underwhelming service component is equally disturbing: to learn that you cannot get a service technician to look at a non-working system for almost three weeks is really too much to ask. Reminds me of when ADT bought Alarmguard, my old employer, back in 1999. In the first twelve months after ADT took over, they lost about 30% of the customers, primarily for poor service. We had painstakingly built a company with over 100,000 subscriber accounts (small, by ADT standards, but a sizable company nonetheless), and we had spoiled them for years with live operators answering the phone and same-day or next-day service. Along comes ADT with the auto-attendant system from you-know-where, and service response measured in weeks, not days. People left in droves. I thought ADT had gotten better about that in the past decade, but it appears they have not completely fixed it. Sad. thanks again, and hope it works out for you.

  3. Unhappy 18 year customer

    Last night my alarm was tripped and ADT never called. I then called and was told that ADT did not receive the signal! I ran some test with the ADT tech and everything appeared to be fine. I then tripped the system and again, ADT did not call.
    This morning I called back to see if we could correct the issue and was told by ADT’s tech, they “ADT” will send a tech by but more than likely ADT will not be able to correct the issue. The tech compared my issues to bringing my car to the shop and not being able to duplicate the issue.

    Are you kidding me!!

    Why am I paying ADT??

    An 18 year customer, VERY displease and now looking for a replacement alarm company!! We had been with Brink’s from the beginning and rarely had any issues.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Hello, Unhappy – and I am sorry to hear about your experience with “that other company.” We are seeing more of these complaints and sad stories come through on Facebook, here, and on the web in general: it seems that the Internet is becoming increasingly effective as a place for folks to share their concerns and experiences. For those companies who are known to provide good service, the Internet is a good thing – and we like to think of ourselves as one of those “good” companies. If your customers are not satisfied, it’s getting harder to hide.

      As for your specific issue, my “alley neighbors” (the folks in the house behind ours, here in DC) experienced the same thing. In fact, their situation was even worse, because they were sometimes getting calls from the ADT monitoring center when there was no alarm event. Now that’s the worst of both worlds! Of course, it may come as little surprise that they now have a FrontPoint system.

      There are few things more frustrating than “intermittent” technology problems, and I am a little shocked that an ADT representative would use the car analogy to explain away your experience. I’d wonder what I was paying for, too!

      By the way, the folks at Brink’s were great – the offered some of the best customer service in the business. There are a lot of people (and I mean a LOT of people) who think the worst thing that ever happened was Brink’s/Broadview selling out to ADT. Thanks again, and good luck to you. We are here to help if you need us.

  4. Joy

    Unfortunately, ADT has failed once again. My house which has an alarm system installed and monitored by ADT was burgularized a couple days ago and no signal was transmitted to ADT. ADT sent a technician to our house to determine why they did not receive the signal. It was determined that they installed defective sensors.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Joy – We’re very sorry to hear that, and it’s truly a cautionary tale. One of the problems (limitations, really) with traditional systems like ADT is that they can “go to sleep” – and you never know. We are constantly checking not just our cellular communication path from you r home to the central station, but also the sensors themselves. The GE Security wireless equipment that we use is designed to notify you so you can be proactive. Each sensor is required to communicate to the control unit every 64 minutes. A failure to communicate by a sensor is reported by the control unit to you – and to us. This is the basis for our popular Interactive monitoring: you can receive a text or email every time a sensor is activated. What happened with your ADT system could not have happened with a FrontPoint system. We would be happy to help you with a new system, when you are ready.

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