Door Knocker in Trouble Again, This Time in Kansas, Plus Canada BBB Issues Warning

Posted by , , at 7:50 am

Spring comes later in Canada – snows are still melting in some spots – but the door knockers are already out in force north of the border. And they are up to their usual tricks: pushing alarm systems on unwary homeowners. The companies that employ these high-pressure hucksters are routinely in trouble, as you can tell from checking their poor reviews, complaints, and the fines, lawsuits, and other government actions reported against them. Even the Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about these folks. And a recent warning from a BBB office in Canada tells the story clearly.

Pat Heffernan is warning Saskatchewan consumers to rationally think their purchases through this spring, particularly when it comes to home security systems being sold door-to-door. Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Better Business Bureau (BBB), Heffernan says with each spring comes a rise in complaints against the salespeople — and this year is no exception. “It’s a very competitive industry and … our phone is already ringing,” he said.

Preying on Seniors

Heffernan said while most companies are now getting the direct selling licenses they require for door-to-door sales, often salespeople working on commission-based sales will use techniques that can make consumers vulnerable — particularly seniors. “They’ll create this sense of urgency and anxiety that convinces you this is a good idea, when it might not be,” he explained. “The best advice if someone knocks at your door is to get the information they have and tell them you’ll get back to them after getting some creating false urgency quotes from competitors.”

That’s about the best advice you’ll read: it’s all about creating urgency for these aggressive door knockers, so you have to push back and ask for time to consider the offer. But be prepared: they don’t like that, because it’s all about making that sale on the first call. They don’t want you to check them out, because you may read things you don’t like – like bad reviews – and decide to keep shopping.

One door knocking practice that is gaining more traction is to solicit existing customers away from other alarm companies – called “poaching” in the alarm industry, just like “slamming” in the telecommunications industry. We’ve already heard that this spring and summer will be the worst on record for door knockers soliciting customers from other alarm companies. It was very bad last summer, but this summer is already looking worse. We’ve also know that door knockers are hitting the streets in record numbers this year. And they are still getting in trouble, as described in this article from Kansas.

A Utah home security alarm company has agreed to pay restitution, fines and investigative costs after being accused of violating Kansas consumer protection laws. Vivint, Inc., has issued refunds to 19 Kansas consumers and paid $55,000 in civil penalties and reimbursement of the state’s investigative costs. In addition, the company has agreed to abide by the Kansas Consumer Protection Act in future transactions. The settlement of this case was filed as a consent judgment in Shawnee County District Court.

Background on the Case

The case against the company resulted from an investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. “Kansas law regulates the conduct of door-to-door sales to ensure that Kansans who are solicited at their homes are not rushed or pressured into making a purchase,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “We take seriously our responsibility to enforce the law.”

Why the Company Was Fined

The company was accused of using a variety of deceptive practices while going door-to-door offering to install new home security systems or replace existing systems. The Attorney General’s Office said the salesmen failed to advise the consumers of their rights under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and did not disclose all costs associated with switching alarm system providers. Kansans are reminded to be wary of door-to-door offers, especially when the salesman is pushing unsolicited goods or services. Consumers should always seek multiple bids and consult reputable, local companies.

Harder to Sell Door-to Door

As many door knockers know, the bad news is getting out: countless customer complaints and horrible reviews continue mounting up. One cause of the bad behavior is the absurdly high sales commissions being thrown at college students selling door-to-door, resulting in some door knockers crossing the line into overly aggressive selling – or even obliterating the truth to make a sale. All this negative press is making it harder for these companies to sign up new customers – which makes them even more aggressive, and that results in more complaints. It’s a vicious cycle for the door knockers. And while the door knockers claim such behavior is limited, or old news, the lawsuits, fines, and other statewide government actions (such as the one above) refer to ongoing fraud and deception.

Door knockers approached millions of homeowners last spring and summer, and the same is already happening this year. Remember, door knockers don’t want you to research them: the complaints are too numerous and too easy to find, and the low ratings from the BBB – to say nothing of more attractive offers from other alarm companies with better reputations and service records – like FrontPoint. When you’re ready to learn why we are the nationwide leader in wireless home security, just check us out online. We make home security and home automation safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to worry about that knock at your door.

Comments (4)

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  1. HOWARD BLACKMAN

    Great Article Peter, after 20 years in the security business it still absolutely amazes me how many people sign up with security companies that ignore so many laws.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Howard. Yes, it amazes me as well. You would think that the companies would know better – but money talks, and it’s sometimes easier to take the low road and worry about the ethical issues later.

  2. HOWARD BLACKMAN

    Great Article Peter, after 20 years in the security business it still absolutely amazes me how many people sign up with security companies that ignore so many laws.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Howard. Yes, it amazes me as well. You would think that the companies would know better – but money talks, and it’s sometimes easier to take the low road and worry about the ethical issues later.

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