Beware that Door Knocker: Even When the Shirt Says ADT

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It’s hard enough for door knocking alarm salespeople to get a break these days: the public is wising up to their often-aggressive tactics, and more jurisdictions are clamping down on the fraudulent and deceptive practices that some companies use to get new customers. But homeowners have more to worry about than being suckered into an overpriced service agreement by a fast talking, clean cut kid. There are also bad guys out there pretending to be alarm sales reps, and they’re not just making phone calls – they’re knocking on doors, too. Here’s a warning from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Better Business Bureau is warning about a scam involving security systems. A concerned consumer reported having received a couple of suspicious calls from individuals claiming to be with ADT. The person calling asked several questions that made his internal radar go off. The questions included:

1)       Do you have a security system?

2)       Do you have animals in the house?

3)       What times are you at home and at work?

“The consumer thought twice about answering these questions, but not everyone would,” said Michael Coil, President/CEO of BBB serving Northern Indiana. “He suspected the caller might be trying to get him to divulge information, in order to rob him at a time when he would not be at home.” BBB contacted ADT and was told their representatives would not be asking such questions. The company would only call to set up an appointment for a time to meet with the homeowner.

Another Story – From Alabama

Shannon Ferrai says thieves, posing as ADT security sales reps, are breaking into homes in broad daylight in and around Copperfield Drive in Montgomery. “My side window had been busted in and they left through the side door. They’re knocking on doors, they look suspicious. They don’t look like they are really affiliated with ADT,” Ferrai said.

Ferrai says both of her next door neighbors were not so lucky. “The gentleman beside me had $17,000 worth of property stolen and so did the neighbor to the right of me,” Ferrai said.

And Finally, This One from North Carolina

Lincoln County sheriff’s investigators are warning the public of a man posing as an ADT Security worker to gain access to homes and valuables. On Wednesday, an eastern Lincoln County woman told the sheriff’s office that a man who identified himself as an ADT Security worker entered her home on Fay Jones Road, after telling the woman he needed to inventory items inside, sheriff’s Detective Mark Stamey said. When the woman allowed the man in, he asked questions about where jewelry, guns and other valuables were kept, Stamey said. The man also asked whether the home was in foreclosure.

The woman contacted ADT Security and was told no employees, whether independent dealer or not, should be walking up to homes requesting entry and asking such questions. ADT also couldn’t identify anyone with the name of “Larry” working in the Denver, N.C., area on Wednesday, Stamey said. Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Tim Johnson urged residents not to open their doors for unsolicited services. Dial 911 instead, he said.

How the Scams Work

I’ve read a number of these reports. It can start with a valid security sign posted in your yard.  This gives would-be robbers the incentive to knock on your door. The person introduces himself, and then gives a phony excuse about checking your system, often while asking very prying questions – as in the story above. Door-to-door scams involving actual thieves are growing fast.

As our customers know very well, FrontPoint has never sold door-to-door – and we are the most transparent (and most highly regarded) alarm company you can find. On-line shoppers quickly learn why we’re the nationwide leader in interactive, wireless home security: our long list of five-star reviews spells out very clearly what makes us the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.  Being on top means we have to prove ourselves in every aspect of our business – with systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to wonder if that shady person at your door is from FrontPoint – he’s not. Don’t let him in, and when in doubt, call the police immediately.

 

Comments (8)

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  1. Sean

    Peter:

    Thank you for your feedback. I knew about the dealer purchase, it happened shortly after we were spun off. I’m not sure how the Absolute name and organization will be merged in though. Often times when this kind of thing happens, the dealer becomes a company owned and operated SSO (sales and service office) with its own territory, but is bound by company policies going forward.

    Losing 14% of our customers and going up by 1% net is the strongest way the market can say “ADT charges too much”, which is the biggest reason for customer departure. Installations are highly erratic too. I happen to work for a average+ office, and I can say with authority that while our installation consistency vary’s wildly, I’ve heard about worse from other areas.

    Its a little sad b/c the marketing dollars and brand awareness are there, but the consistency isn’t.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Sean – thanks again. I really appreciate being able to carry on this dialogue with you. Interesting that you knew about the purchase of the door knocker Absolute Security. You must be right about the timing of the transaction. It would not surprise me if Absolute is kept somewhat separate, since the way they operate (marketing and sales) is so different from the rest of the company. I think ADT is figuring this approach out as they go along, since this methodology is truly uncharted water for them.

      As for the high attrition and the low net growth, I think it’s true what you say, but also may be a statement that the service level is not what it could or should be – especially when you consider ADT’s abundant resources to get it right. I still maintain that ADT’s cancellation rate should be LOWER than the industry average, not higher, as it is now. In fact, it’s almost 2% HIGHER then the average alarm company – and on the recent ADT “earnings call” we were told it could go even higher in future quarters. Ouch!

      ADT is such a well known brand, they certainly keep spending the $ o make sure that everyone has heard the name. I have maintained for years that they should take a little of that ad budget and use it on improving service – just imagine if they could lower cancellations through higher customer satisfaction, and then they would not have to allocate so many of the new accounts to replacing the one that have left. It could make a huge positive difference for the company – not just in terms of reputation, but in financial performance as well. Since ADT is the largest of the roughly 13,000 alarm companies in the US, we would rather that they look good, as their performance is to some extent a reflection on the rest of us.

      Thanks again for sharing, and good luck to you.

  2. Sean

    Peter:

    Thank you for your feedback. I knew about the dealer purchase, it happened shortly after we were spun off. I’m not sure how the Absolute name and organization will be merged in though. Often times when this kind of thing happens, the dealer becomes a company owned and operated SSO (sales and service office) with its own territory, but is bound by company policies going forward.

    Losing 14% of our customers and going up by 1% net is the strongest way the market can say “ADT charges too much”, which is the biggest reason for customer departure. Installations are highly erratic too. I happen to work for a average+ office, and I can say with authority that while our installation consistency vary’s wildly, I’ve heard about worse from other areas.

    Its a little sad b/c the marketing dollars and brand awareness are there, but the consistency isn’t.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Sean – thanks again. I really appreciate being able to carry on this dialogue with you. Interesting that you knew about the purchase of the door knocker Absolute Security. You must be right about the timing of the transaction. It would not surprise me if Absolute is kept somewhat separate, since the way they operate (marketing and sales) is so different from the rest of the company. I think ADT is figuring this approach out as they go along, since this methodology is truly uncharted water for them.

      As for the high attrition and the low net growth, I think it’s true what you say, but also may be a statement that the service level is not what it could or should be – especially when you consider ADT’s abundant resources to get it right. I still maintain that ADT’s cancellation rate should be LOWER than the industry average, not higher, as it is now. In fact, it’s almost 2% HIGHER then the average alarm company – and on the recent ADT “earnings call” we were told it could go even higher in future quarters. Ouch!

      ADT is such a well known brand, they certainly keep spending the $ o make sure that everyone has heard the name. I have maintained for years that they should take a little of that ad budget and use it on improving service – just imagine if they could lower cancellations through higher customer satisfaction, and then they would not have to allocate so many of the new accounts to replacing the one that have left. It could make a huge positive difference for the company – not just in terms of reputation, but in financial performance as well. Since ADT is the largest of the roughly 13,000 alarm companies in the US, we would rather that they look good, as their performance is to some extent a reflection on the rest of us.

      Thanks again for sharing, and good luck to you.

  3. Sean

    I’m an ADT rep, and when we are setting up an alarm system for potential install, we are supposed to ask if there are any areas of the structure (or within the protected area) that require more or increased levels of security. If the customer answers in the affirmative, we are supposed to ask why, and “dig deeper” as to the customer’s specific wants and needs. I’ve even had customer’s open their safes for me and ask specifically what I can do to secure the safe, or the room it sits in.

    In these situations I’ve always wondered what a less reputable person would do with this information… On the other hand, if you truly want to design a system with effective guards against intrusion, particularly for specific areas of the protected structure, I’d be hard pressed to do it with out the knowledge of where the valuables (be they monetary or otherwise) lie.

    Either way, the woman at ADT did not tell the truth about the interview process. We are supposed to ask about specifics with regard to safeguarding a building and its contents. Safe contacts are one of the items on the price sheets, and needless to say, cold calling and door knocking are a big part of our sales process.

    I’m not a fan of door knocking and avoid it as much as possible for the reasons you list in your articles.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Sean – Thanks again for your very lucid and constructive comment. Since you work for the “big boy” that has 25% of the US home alarm market, your contribution here carries a lot of weight. I like the way you describe the consultative approach to selling an alarm system to a homeowner – and it’s actually the same approach we take here at FrontPoint: asking a lot of questions. Why are you interested in an alarm system in the first place? Ho do you plan to use the system? How is your home laid out? Are there pets, children, or other special issues or concerns? What does peace of mind feel like? This last one is important, since it all comes down to that. Of course, newer system can do a lot more (video, interactive services, home automation, etc.) – so the decision now includes convenience as well as security. We like to think of the homeowner feeling protected and connected, when they are using all the available services we offer, which are similar to what ADT offers through the Pulse platform. We just happen to believe that our solution (Alarm.com) is a better one, since it includes Alarm.com’s patented “crash & Smash” protection.

      I completely agree with your stance on door knocking. There was a time when you could place more trust in the person coming to your door, in two respects: (1) there were fewer bad guys pretending to be good guys, and (2) door knockers were not as aggressive on as wide a scale. There have always been companies pushing the envelope (or tearing it) with door knocker scams, but the process has now been so slickly packaged (especially by the “summer” companies out of Utah) that it’s amazing to many of the traditional alarm companies. And the high levels of consumer complaints about fraud, high pressure, and deceptive sales practices are not good for the alarm industry in general.

      And as for door knocking, not sure if you are aware of this, but ADT just purchased one of its larger “Authorized Dealers” – Absolute Security. Absolute is a multi-branch door knocking operation, and ADT appears to be intent on expanding this channel by expanding Absolute into other territories. The irony here is that Absolute will compete against ADT’s own branches, as well against the Authorized Dealers operating in those markets. Many of the Dealers are not happy, as you might imagine, but ADT is willing to take the risk – they need to grow, and since they only grew the customer base by 1.1% in the past twelve months, they need to try everything. This will only get ore interesting to watch!

      Thanks again.

  4. Sean

    I’m an ADT rep, and when we are setting up an alarm system for potential install, we are supposed to ask if there are any areas of the structure (or within the protected area) that require more or increased levels of security. If the customer answers in the affirmative, we are supposed to ask why, and “dig deeper” as to the customer’s specific wants and needs. I’ve even had customer’s open their safes for me and ask specifically what I can do to secure the safe, or the room it sits in.

    In these situations I’ve always wondered what a less reputable person would do with this information… On the other hand, if you truly want to design a system with effective guards against intrusion, particularly for specific areas of the protected structure, I’d be hard pressed to do it with out the knowledge of where the valuables (be they monetary or otherwise) lie.

    Either way, the woman at ADT did not tell the truth about the interview process. We are supposed to ask about specifics with regard to safeguarding a building and its contents. Safe contacts are one of the items on the price sheets, and needless to say, cold calling and door knocking are a big part of our sales process.

    I’m not a fan of door knocking and avoid it as much as possible for the reasons you list in your articles.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Sean – Thanks again for your very lucid and constructive comment. Since you work for the “big boy” that has 25% of the US home alarm market, your contribution here carries a lot of weight. I like the way you describe the consultative approach to selling an alarm system to a homeowner – and it’s actually the same approach we take here at FrontPoint: asking a lot of questions. Why are you interested in an alarm system in the first place? Ho do you plan to use the system? How is your home laid out? Are there pets, children, or other special issues or concerns? What does peace of mind feel like? This last one is important, since it all comes down to that. Of course, newer system can do a lot more (video, interactive services, home automation, etc.) – so the decision now includes convenience as well as security. We like to think of the homeowner feeling protected and connected, when they are using all the available services we offer, which are similar to what ADT offers through the Pulse platform. We just happen to believe that our solution (Alarm.com) is a better one, since it includes Alarm.com’s patented “crash & Smash” protection.

      I completely agree with your stance on door knocking. There was a time when you could place more trust in the person coming to your door, in two respects: (1) there were fewer bad guys pretending to be good guys, and (2) door knockers were not as aggressive on as wide a scale. There have always been companies pushing the envelope (or tearing it) with door knocker scams, but the process has now been so slickly packaged (especially by the “summer” companies out of Utah) that it’s amazing to many of the traditional alarm companies. And the high levels of consumer complaints about fraud, high pressure, and deceptive sales practices are not good for the alarm industry in general.

      And as for door knocking, not sure if you are aware of this, but ADT just purchased one of its larger “Authorized Dealers” – Absolute Security. Absolute is a multi-branch door knocking operation, and ADT appears to be intent on expanding this channel by expanding Absolute into other territories. The irony here is that Absolute will compete against ADT’s own branches, as well against the Authorized Dealers operating in those markets. Many of the Dealers are not happy, as you might imagine, but ADT is willing to take the risk – they need to grow, and since they only grew the customer base by 1.1% in the past twelve months, they need to try everything. This will only get ore interesting to watch!

      Thanks again.

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