ADT Pulse Continues to Raise Questions – Weighing the Cost vs. the Benefit

Posted by , , at 1:56 pm

I’ve been watching the new ADT Pulse product offering closely – you might even say “monitoring” it! Bad puns aside, there is invariably something to learn whenever a major industry player launches a significant new service platform. In the case of Pulse, ADT didn’t “leapfrog” the rest of the industry: it would be more correct to say ADT is struggling to catch up, after years of lagging behind on such key features as 100% safer cellular monitoring and advanced interactive services. And for a company as large as ADT, it’s only to be expected that they will encounter a bump or two along the way. Here’s one recent sample from Greg Dawson, consumer champion for the Orlando Sentinel. Greg’s column is aptly titled “The Last Resort:” consumers go to Greg when they have exhausted normal channels for resolving complaints.

Dear Greg: Last year I placed an order with ADT for the new “Pulse” alarm system controllable by a cellphone. However, during installation it was determined I’m in an area that does not get a signal strong enough for the “Pulse” system to work properly. I was leaving the next day for Yellowstone and was nervous about leaving without any type of security, especially for fire since I have a cat. So I agreed to have a different, less costly system installed. I was assured that nothing under 65 pounds could trip the motion sensor (my cat weighs about 8). The next morning I set the alarm, and by the time I got to Denver for a layover my phone was ringing off the hook — a great way to start a relaxing trip to the wilderness! The alarm had gone off and was waking up everyone in my building. I called ADT and said I wanted the system removed ASAP. ADT stopped billing me and credited back some monthly fees, but never removed the pulse system or returned the $500 I paid for it. I just can’t get myself to call them again. It takes a minimum of 15 minutes to get anyone that is remotely helpful. JOE PETERSON, ORLANDO

Dear Joe: For me, “wilderness” and “relaxing” do not belong in the same sentence. Anyway, I had better luck than you did finding someone with a pulse at ADT. Spokesman Bob Tucker hopped on the issue faster than you can say “indoor plumbing.” Update: Joe writes, “ADT contacted me and we worked through the issue together. They came out to remove the system, and I have been assured a refund is on the way.”

Pulse Problems at Several Levels

This consumer issue raises several issues that I’ve addressed in previous posts:

  • ADT Pulse may not be all we’re led to believe – and it seems ADT is still trying to figure out the best way to deploy Pulse, even for ADT’s existing customers. Today you still cannot get any meaningful information on the ADT web site about what it costs, how the technology actually works, or even how the system is monitored. Of course, as Joe found out, just getting to resolution on a standard ADT service problem is not exactly easy! Equally indicative of crossed wires, ADT won’t allow its Authorized Dealers (who represent about half of ADT’s residential sales volume) to sell the two higher levels of Pulse: Advantage and Premier.
  • It happens that all the interactive services with Advantage and Premier are available only over your Internet connection, so if you lose your Internet connection for any reason (not that uncommon), all the “cool” stuff goes away, including the remote control and notifications that other companies (like FrontPoint) make available 100% of the time over a safer GSM cellular connection. It pays to understand how these services work – and the best alarm companies explain their services very clearly.
  • Incredibly enough, even with the two higher levels of service (Advantage and Premier), the actual alarm monitoring can still be provided over a vulnerable, traditional phone line – easily cut by an intruder. Since we all know the main reason for having a home alarm system is to deter and detect criminals, it amazes me that for $57.99 a month (the cost of the Premier level), you would be paying for old-school monitoring over a copper phone line. And don’t forget Crash and Smash protection: Pulse costs more, but does not offer this important feature.

FrontPoint is a great example of a company that has stayed ahead of ADT on technology from the day we launched in 2007. We’re proud to partner with Alarm.com. In fact, FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that has installed Alarm.com technology in every system we sell. We are also the only US alarm company to use safer cellular monitoring in 100% of our systems – from day one. No wonder FrontPoint is ranked the #1 US alarm company for wireless, interactive home security. FrontPoint and Alarm.com: an undefeatable combination. ADT is still catching up – and still behind.

Comments (6)

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  1. Alan

    Thanks for continuing to provide updates on ADT’s lame and overpriced foray into advanced monitoring.

    Not only that, as your example points out, the customer service experience there often leaves much to be desired, as with many super big companies, but even among these, ADT tends to be on the lower end from my experience.

    You guys are a great contrast, and I’m happy to be a Frontpoint customer for 3.5 years now, with no intention of changing. Great technology, pricing, and customer service! What’s not to like. Keep up the great job and the market will surely continue to reward you guys!

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks again, Alan. We watch all the nationwide alarm trends: aggressive door knockers, technology shifts (and who is leading the transition), and service levels. It’s hard to hide these days, with the internet providing instant feedback. That’s why we think it’s so important to shop hard and read everything you can about your service provider – especially when it comes to protecting your home and family. We’ll keep working hard to earn your business, and your loyalty.

  2. Alan

    Thanks for continuing to provide updates on ADT’s lame and overpriced foray into advanced monitoring.

    Not only that, as your example points out, the customer service experience there often leaves much to be desired, as with many super big companies, but even among these, ADT tends to be on the lower end from my experience.

    You guys are a great contrast, and I’m happy to be a Frontpoint customer for 3.5 years now, with no intention of changing. Great technology, pricing, and customer service! What’s not to like. Keep up the great job and the market will surely continue to reward you guys!

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks again, Alan. We watch all the nationwide alarm trends: aggressive door knockers, technology shifts (and who is leading the transition), and service levels. It’s hard to hide these days, with the internet providing instant feedback. That’s why we think it’s so important to shop hard and read everything you can about your service provider – especially when it comes to protecting your home and family. We’ll keep working hard to earn your business, and your loyalty.