Another Alarm Sales Scam Warning – Tennessee City Denies Door Knocking Alarm Company a Permit to Solicit

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Hot on the heels of numerous alerts from all over the US, a Tennessee city has determined that one of the largest “door knocker” alarm companies won’t be allowed to sell home security to the community’s residents. As pervasive as some of these seasonal sales programs have become, there is a growing sense that their sales tactics have gotten too aggressive – as amply indicated by a rising tide of complaints posted with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and numerous government agencies. This is a timely post, since summer is when these companies are out in force – but they won’t be selling in Oak Ridge, TN.

City Manager Mark S. Watson today said he’s denied some 20 applications for solicitor’s permits submitted by representatives of a company out of Provo, Utah. “They will not be allowed to operate in this town,” Watson said. He said an Internet search about the company revealed that numerous complaints about the firm had been filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Background on Door Knockers

It’s pretty hard to avoid these door knockers, and a remarkable percentage of US homeowners have already experienced the pushy presentation, or know someone who was. These alarm companies knock on millions of doors every summer. Unfortunately, it appears some representatives are putting those high commissions first, and ethics second. Here’s a reminder from my recent post on door knockers.

The warnings are flooding in from all across the US: attorneys general in many states, local law enforcement, regional offices of the BBB (Better Business Bureau), AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons), and even the granddaddy of them all – the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). And what are they all warning about? Door knockers, specifically the ones selling alarm systems. These companies are racking up complaints in the thousands, and some companies have even had their licenses revoked in numerous states. Here’s a snippet from the recent AARP waning on door knockers:

Some are not salespeople at all. They’re just impersonators trying to find out about any existing alarm system you have. They may ask to come inside to inspect your home. What they’re really doing is casing it for a possible burglary. But some of the real alarm salespeople who will visit millions of homes this summer are thieves as well. They will target you with high-pressure pitches, scare tactics or outright lies to try to persuade you to sign up.

Pushiness Turns Most People Off

The most common complaint about these door knockers is that they just won’t take no for an answer – and some homeowners have had to threaten to call the police to get them to leave. But the story from Oak Ridge includes a special brand of pushiness.

Watson said the company representatives are staying in adjoining Knoxville apartments and had listed each other as references on the solicitor permit applications. Photos attached to those applications showed all of the prospective salespeople wearing bright “UT orange shirts,” he said. “They were poised to scour neighborhoods,” Watson said. “I didn’t want them to show up and start soliciting residents when we know this is a company with problems.”

So, did the alarm company think it would be easier to obtain the local selling permit by dressing a bunch of employees (who happen to be mostly from Utah and Idaho) in orange University of Tennessee shirts? Guess so – but not everyone is that gullible.

Remember What to Do When You hear that Knock

Sadly, a common ploy for door knockers is to “poach” other alarm companies’ customers: we’ve already heard reports of FrontPoint customers being approached by door knockers. Don’t be fooled! If you have any questions, please call FrontPoint directly: we’ll clear up any questions. The good news is that FrontPoint subscribers are the most loyal customers there are: they pay less, get more, and love the combination of advanced features and world-class service.

  • Don’t let anyone into your house on a first call. Instead, ask for printed literature and a business card — a badge or ID can be forged — and use the information to check out the company. Make sure to look for information about it on the websites of the Better Business Bureau and your state’s attorney general. If you decide to pursue the service, call the company to come back for a second visit.
  • Ask about company alarm licensing, and individual licensing – many of these sale people are not licensed, or their companies aren’t.
  • Ignore claims that an offer is for a limited time only and that technicians are ready to immediately install the system. Reputable companies let you compare bids and engage in a comprehensive review of your security needs: if you are forced to buy on the spot, it’s probably not an offer that will stand up to scrutiny and research.
  • Ask for all procedures in writing. If the alarm sounds, does the company first notify you or the police? Will you be charged for false alarms? What’s the early termination fee?
  • Ask about safer cellular monitoring and smarter interactive services – and what they really cost – since you want the best services, and because door knocker companies generally charge a premium price for equipment and monthly fees.

FrontPoint has never sold door-to-door – and we don’t plan to sell that way in the future. That’s only part of why FrontPoint has an “A” rating with the BBB – instead of an “F,” like some door knocker companies. The best home security customers are the people who are looking for a system in the first place, and with home security expanding to include remote video, interactive features, and even control of light, locks, and thermostats, it’s no wonder that demand is increasing. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. That’s what makes FrontPoint the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. And it also explains why we have the highest customer loyalty in the business. Just read the FrontPoint reviews!

Comments (2)

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  1. Bob

    I do not open the door for anyone unless i know who they are, and this includes neighbors, meter readers, and handymen. If I have a handyman such as plumber etc. I explain to them I have a zoned alarm system with video and if they need to use the bathroom or move about to inform me so I can temporarily disable that zone. I also intentionally to have several beeps on the panel occur so they are aware of the alarm system. I actually have numerous sensors, video security, gate locks, signs and I also have a panic button in the bathroom hanging behind a towel on the rack. I also have pepper spray which may not be legal in your state. When someone enters “your zone” you have to determine the severity of that entrance and take action which is suitable for that event. You may not wish to struggle if all they want is to run away with your wallet, however in other circumstances you may wish to “fight for your life”. It is best to have FrontPoint alarm and establish a response procedure with them such as a duress code and more. It is not always required to fight an intruder which could further put your life in danger. It may be wise to let the responding agencies come to the house and take appropriate action. I have my pepper spray at strategic locations in the event the intruder does not enter and then immediately leave. However, I will be cautious about using it so that I do not further endanger myself. I also do not tell anyone where specific motion detectors are, and where all alarm contacts are. I also have the remote keypad for further protection. My sensors are also situated so that I have cross zone protection accomplished primarily by motion sensors. I would not like to see someone attempt to use pepper spray and make a mistake and have that weapon turned against them. I have had training in military and also with government agencies and I am somewhat beyond street smart. However, with self protection it is best to have FrontPoint and at times leave the other defensive measures to those trained. I cannot even count now how many times FrontPoint has informed me of an event which include several water flooding, one very serious smoke condition, one carbon monoxide condition. I have also set off many false entries myself and have disabled them. One time I was clearing out my alarm history in the panel and doing this I made a mistake and FrontPoint “alarm.com” called and asked if I was having any difficulty. They are a very friendly bunch of people to work with.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Bob – Thanks very much for your thoughtful and complete response to my post. You are a truly a “power user” of the FrontPoint system, and we appreciate your loyalty, and your willingness to share your advice and perspectives here and elsewhere. We’ll do our best to keep earning your business – every day. We believe that the more use people make of their FrontPoint system, the more they value it – and you are a great example of that concept. Thanks again!

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