Home Alarm Sales – Better Business Bureau Issues Warning on Company after Name Change

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You can run from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but you can’t hide – even after changing your name. That’s the hard truth leaned recently by Vivint, formerly known as APX, when the BBB called them out in a bulletin issued by the BBB’s Pensacola, FL office.

Your BBB is warning consumers to be wary of salesmen who are going door-to-door offering home security systems “at no cost.”  Vivint, Inc. has been the subject of numerous government actions and numerous complaints filed with BBB. Individuals in northwest Florida have alerted BBB that salesmen identifying themselves as being from Vivint, Inc. are offering “free” security systems if consumers pay for a monthly monitoring service.

Hard to Shake the Past

I had wondered how the BBB would treat the name change, since APX generated so many complaints and government actions over recent years. For some time prior to the name change the BBB rating for APX was not released, and I was curious if the APX complaints would follow the new name. Finally the rating reappeared, and clearly the bad news had followed the new name: C+.

Vivint, Inc., which also operates under the name APX Alarm Security Solutions, Inc., has had 1,441 complaints filed against it in the last three years, BBB’s standard reporting period.  Additionally, the BBB Serving Utah, where Vivint/APX is headquartered, reports that at least four states have filed government action against Vivint/APX for a variety of violations including operating without a license and using false or misleading sales tactics.

Ongoing History of Complaints

The “seasonal” alarm sales companies – of which Vivint is one – are often referred to as “door knockers” for the method of going door to door. They employ representatives who sometimes push (or tear) the envelope in markets all across the US. Make no mistake, this is big business. But there is a dark side (and I’ve posted on these potentially pushy types of tactics before) - there are lots of complaints. The combination of high pressure sales tactics and little time to reconsider the purchase prior to installation has resulted in fines and lawsuits against these companies all across the US.

States Take Action

The state of Arkansas fined Vivint/APX $40,850 for over 40 violations in 2009.  The state of South Carolina fined Vivint/APX $5,000 for violating South Carolina codes by having their license cancelled in another state (Louisiana).  The South Carolina order references a $50,000 fine levied by Louisiana for utilizing unlicensed employees, violation of a Cease and Desist Order and engaging in false, misleading or deceptive acts or practices.  Minnesota imposed a civil penalty of $25,000 against Vivint/APX for failure to comply with licensing requirements.  And last year, the Oregon Department of Justice announced a $60,000 settlement with Vivint/APX for misleading and aggressive sales practices.

What You Should Do

Here’s what you should do when an alarm system salesman knocks on your door:

  • Always ask for company ID – know who it is that’s trying to sell you something
  • Ask about company alarm licensing, and individual licensing – many of these sale people are not licensed, or their companies aren’t
  • Ask about safer cellular monitoring and interactive services – and what they really cost – since you want the best services, and because these companies generally charge a premium price for equipment and monthly fees
  • Tell the salesperson you want time to think about it – if you are forced to buy on the spot, it’s probably not an offer that will stand up to scrutiny and research
  • Do your due diligence – checking online reviews (and sites like BBB) can really pay off

FrontPoint has never sold door-to-door – and we don’t plan to sell that way in the future. The best home security customers are the people who are looking for a system in the first place, and with home security expanding to including to include remote video, interactive features, and even control of light, locks, and thermostats, it’s no wonder that demand is increasing. Our systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. That’s what makes FrontPoint the #1 choice in the US and Canada for interactive, wireless home alarm systems. And it also explains why we have the highest customer retention in the business. Just read the reviews!

Comments (128)

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  1. Daniel

    Wasn’t Vivint ranked number 1 from the CSAA for fastest response time in 2013? Are they not ranked in the top 50 call centers from JD Power and Associates? So, a company like frontpoint who outsources all of their equipment, monitoring, and technicians really isn’t the best choice to protect your home. Whereas Vivint who does EVERYTHING in house is clearly the choice to make.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Daniel, for your comment. The debate rages over door-knocking to this day, but the customer complaints on these companies (Vivint included) have not abated in the slightest – and nor have the government actions against these companies (just check the BBB site for the facts). And speaking of the BBB, for some curious reason they currently show Vivint with a “Not Rated” designation. We are still trying to decipher that, but it does not sound good. Of Vivint’s thousands of BBB-listed complaints over the past 36 months, almost 40% are from the last year alone: that trend does not appear to be moving in the right direction for a company that is supposed to be acting in the best interests of its customers – or building trust as a provider of home security services. What we should be doing is providing peace of mind, not forcing people top worry about whether they are being ripped off. But don’t take my word for it – we encourage everyone to read the complaints and reviews of all alarm companies, including FrontPoint, and draw their own conclusions. It doesn’t take a lot of research to find out who is doing the right things. And this is probably a good time to remind you of FrontPoint’s Core Values: Build Trust, Dream Big, and Be Awesome. If you look at our reviews, it appears we are succeeding.

      By the way, the JD Power ranking is old news – and I believe long gone. Companies pay a lot of money to advertise that ranking – and when it’s no longer advertised, one never knows if the company lost the ranking, or if the payback wasn’t there. There are certainly many differences between Vivint and FrontPoint, to be sure, but not necessarily the ones you suggest. Vivint also buys its equipment (from Linear) – and FrontPoint has no technicians because we do not need them: our 100% wireless and cellular systems are easily set up by the subscriber in a short time, with no tools and no mess – and technician in the house, either for installation, or for subsequent service. Lots of people actually prefer that approach – just as they prefer not having an overly aggressive and possibly deceitful sales rep knocking on the door.

      It is true that we outsource our monitoring – to one of only a handful of monitoring companies that is allowed to monitor commercial fire alarm systems in the five boroughs of New York City. That approval is the highest bar in the alarm industry, as alarm professionals know, and the monitoring company we use is widely regarded as perhaps the best in the business. Having your own monitoring center is no guarantee of quality – and no, Vivint’s monitoring center does not have the approval of the New York Fire Department for commercial systems. So it seems you are technically correct on only one outsourcing point – but not in the way you intended. Thanks again for your comment.

  2. robert higgins

    Looks to me like this company is trying to use the internet as a scare tactic to sell there product which I’m sure is way over priced. You forgot to tell the consumer to ask about how the system is monitored. This company probably doesn’t want them to know.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Robert – thanks for your comment. Actually we DO want our customers to know how the system is monitored, and there is information all over the FrontPoint website that explains that very thing: safer cellular monitoring. And as for how we price our product, it’s the most affordable system for both the equipment or the monthly fees that you can find from any reliable nationwide provider. Just check online, and you will see. And while you are at it, just check the reviews for us and the other companies, both good and bad. It’s hard to find a negative review on FrontPoint, but you will find tons of great ones. That’s becasue we do it better, and people want to share the great news. Thanks again.

      • Danielle

        I think he means that Front Point does not do the monitoring. Front Point contracts out the monitoring to a third party. What does Front Point do? Just sell the equipment and send it out in a box only to have another company contact you when the alarm is triggered? No thanks.

        • Peter M. Rogers

          Danielle. thanks for your comment. I wish that building a nationwide alarm company with world-class service and a sterling reputation was that easy! It’s true that FrontPoint does not do the monitoring: we have partnered with what we consider to be the best monitoring services provider in the US, Rapid Response Monitoring, for that aspect of our business model. Rapid is one of the most highly accredited monitoring companies you can find, with listings and approvals from UL, Factory Mutual, and even the New York Fire Department – commonly recognized in the alarm industry as the toughest approval in the US.

          As for what we do here at FrontPoint, a short list will give us a start:

          * Completely transparent marketing, including how everything works, what it costs, what you really need, and why it’s important – and nobody has to come into your home to explain all that.
          * Safer cellular monitoring in EVERY system we have ever sold, since 2007. We are the only nationwide alarm company that can make that claim.
          * “Pull” marketing, vs. “push” marketing – meaning we only talk to folks who are looking for home security in the first place, as opposed to knocking on doors, making robocalls, etc.
          * A highly consultative sales process, as opposed to using high pressure, deceit, and even fraud to convince an unsuspecting person to sign a contract for up to five years.
          * The convenience of a fully programmed system that you can set up yourself in about a half hour. No tools, no technicians, and no service calls later on. We can remotely diagnose system issues and send replacement parts as needed (which is rare). And when it’s time to move, you take the system with you no contract renewal required.
          * Incredibly high levels of customer satisfaction, resulting in the highest subscriber retention rate of any nationwide alarm company.

          That’s a partial list. I could go on for quite a while, but appreciate the opportunity to spell out a few of the things that make FrontPoint special in a very competitive industry.

          Thanks again.

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