It’s summer. All across America, hordes of young people are knocking on millions of doors to pitch home security. Sometimes they are honest, but as we know from increasing reports of fraud, deception, and government action, there is definitely a problem. It has to be bad for the BBB (Better Business Bureau and even the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to issue blanket warnings to consumers on these seasonal “door knockers.” We’ve even had reports of door knockers trying to “poach” our very loyal FrontPoint subscribers, pretending to be us. Nice try. Today’s post provides the clearest explanation I’ve seen on the topic – in the form of a door knocker’s “dictionary” where we can see exactly what’s in that carefully rehearsed script. It’s persuasive – until you know the truth behind the lies. This post is definitely worth the read.
Taylor sells home alarm systems door-to-door, and he is the devil: lying, manipulating, and preying on customer’s fears to push a product. Now he has stepped forward to confess/brag about his sins: “I lie. I lie to people a lot about their home safety. And I don’t feel particularly good about it, but when my iPhone buzzes in my pocket, I forget the lies I’ve told and think of the MacBook Air that just shipped to my house. I sell home security systems for a living and I only work the three summer months of the year, and maybe four or five weeks the rest of the year. What I fail to mention is that my bank account regularly has 6 digits. All because I lie to people for a living….”
- “I am a marketing Rep from (insert alarm company here) and am just doing some marketing in your neighborhood today.” Don’t believe a word of what I am saying. I am a high pressure sales rep that is focused on making as much money off of your insecurities as I can. Granted, I don’t tell myself that every morning while shaving, but when the chips are down, that’s what I will tell you. I use the marketing line to come off as inexperienced and even non-intrusive. People find the word sales as dirty, so I don’t use it. I use softer words to assure people that I am not taking their money and I don’t even really care if they help me. But inside I know that if someone lets their guard down for even just a second, I will make the sale and have another commission.
- “I’m just in the neighborhood talking to a couple of particular families in the area, seeing if they will help (alarm company) market their new product line that’s just come out.” I don’t believe you are smart enough to figure it out, so I keep feeding you what you want. I’m not interested in two or three families on your street. I am interested in getting every person in a 50 mile radius to buy my product, because I like money. I’m not looking at special cases that will help market my product. I am interested in forcibly getting you to sign a contract that binds you for three to five years and pays my bills for a while. And the product isn’t so new and improved. It’s been on the market for years now. Don’t let me tell you that this stuff just came out and we are trying to get a couple of families to use it and try it out because we just want to push product. Simple as that.
- “What we do is give families this free equipment to put in their home, and all we ask is they put our little sign out in front of their yard. That’s it. That way, our sales department can have some product in the area to point to as examples. We are willing to take the hit, if you are willing to help us out.” Sure you don’t pay for any equipment put into your home, but really do you think we would just give you this stuff for free? I have all the placards to show you how each piece of equipment is close to two hundred dollars, and that is cost we as a company are willing to swallow. What I don’t tell you is I pay minimum manufacturing price for each piece of equipment I sell. So really, all those things I say we are willing to “take the hit” for, don’t cost anything. I am just telling you this to make you feel like you are beating the system. And you suckers think you are getting a deal, yet you never really do.
- “All this equipment will cover your home and give you an extra sense of security in this area. Now, this area isn’t a bad area at all, but there have been a few reports in the news of some home invasions recently.” Doesn’t “invasion” make you think of the Germans storming into Poland? I love using the word “invasion” and watching people light up with emotion. And these two or three articles that I am showing you? Just random articles with a bit of Photoshop work and you are all of a sudden suffering from major home invasions in Podunk, Iowa. I change the name of the city, paper, and maybe other small details and that is it. You are starting to believe me, aren’t you? Now, I’ve got you emotionally charged up and I give your home the walk through.
- “These windows here in the back of your house are big security threats because of (insert general safety tip). In fact, in this recent break in, the article cited the back windows as the point of entry for the prowler.” I am working you into an emotional frenzy. I went directly to the back windows and doors without you even asking me to come in. Don’t ever let me do that again. You don’t even know me, yet you are willing to let me into your house and all the way to the back door? And the back windows aren’t that big of a deal. You have no idea how people break into houses, but you are willing to believe me, because hey, its my job right? Actually I don’t know any more than you do. I just sound a bit more knowledgeable than others, and have this great system just waiting to be inserted into your house.
- “So let’s sit down here and go through the equipment you selected to cover your less secure areas. Now all we need to get this equipment released to you is to make sure you are the homeowner. We have had problems with (random lie concerning equipment and eBay). I will just call this in and we can get this taken care of.” I am running a credit check. Right now because you have given me your birthday and or social security number, I have the power to check your credit and see if you are eligible to make the monthly payments. I don’t tell you this because you don’t know who I am calling, giving all this information to, you don’t know who I am, checking your credit, you don’t know me at all. Don’t give me your information like we are long lost brothers just making sure we found each other. I am praying to the credit gods that you are worthy to be swindled. And in two seconds, presto. You are.
- “In the event your security system ever really does go off or even needs to be serviced, we ask that you have a personal password that we can verify with you. That and some emergency contacts if we can’t reach you. Just fill these out right here and we can release the equipment to you.” I am diverting your attention so I can fill out the contract. Or “terms of agreement,” as I will call it in a second. It’s the age-old trick of diverting someone’s attention from the important so they won’t be shocked by it. And you are doing it!!! I’m filling out terms and conditions, signing everything now, so when I give you this paper and the pen, you will skim it, not really care, and sign. Because it’s important.
- “Now that we have that emergency contact information, let’s go over the terms of our agreement. You remember I said earlier that all you needed to do was to put the sign out in your front yard and you could be given the equipment? Well that’s all this says. You are qualified and willing to meet these terms to have the sign in your yard and have the equipment in your house.” It’s just the terms of the agreement. Just like I said. If you start to look at the monthly costs of this alarm system I will go directly back to lies number 4 and 5 and work you into your emotional state again. After that, the monthly costs don’t look so bad now do they? Yes, they do. It’s still money out of your pocket. YOU ARE NOT GETTING THIS STUFF FOR FREE!!!! You are going to give me your credit card number in a second so that I can process this transaction and start you down the path of constant payments.
- “I am just going to make one phone call to our corporate office so that we can get this all set up. (At a certain point in the phone call, Corporate asks how the customer is going to pay for the initial transaction, which is taken out immediately. I look up from the phone and politely say) They are asking for a credit card number to be placed on file so we can have a record of me being here and completing this agreement. What card were you going to use for that?” Yeah, I knew about this part earlier. You don’t want me to hang up with busy corporate though, do you? They are right here on the phone, it’s really easy to just give them the number over the phone. If you are really hung up on it, I will talk you into your emotional frenzy again and then maybe even become a bit combative as I accuse you of breaking our trust that we had just moments ago. Hopefully it won’t get to the point where I have to tell you, don’t worry about the cost, it’s not even a price that is established by us. Some mysterious company decides the prices for every neighborhood. That’s completely false and misleading, yet still works 85 percent of the time.
- “We have technicians in the area that are following us around and at no extra charge to you, installing each home security system we give away. It’s a service from our company that lets you guys get to know the technicians in your area a bit more and you can know your system is being properly installed.” These guys are just college kids like myself, with minimal training by some country bumpkin who once ran his own phone lines in his house, so he is qualified to train on home security. Hopefully they can put your alarm system in today, so that when you start to get buyer’s remorse, you will already have the holes in your walls. Holes in walls can squash any thoughts of remorse real quickly. And hey, you don’t have to pay for these guys to come in and professionally install it, so it’s not that big of a deal! Just watch out when they take four or five hours to install this system and then have to come back to fix it because they just wanted to leave.
The moral of this story? Shut the door on door-to-door salesmen. (Except for Girl Scouts, of course. Thin Mints are essential to a balanced diet.) Let’s hope this story is Lie Number 11, and Taylor’s just trying to scare us into being careful. But just in case, I’m keeping holy water by the front door.
Any of these sound familiar? They should if you’ve had a door knocker approach you in your home. 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!