Another alarm company is pushing the envelope in high pressure sales – and it’s not one of the usual suspects. This news report does not end well for the customer, and it’s a great example of why consumers have to be on guard, and ask the right questions. Of course, this cautionary tale doesn’t apply only to home alarm sales, but companies using questionable tactics to push security systems are increasingly in the news.
The Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners about a home security company that sells by going door-to-door. Ella Mae Sims said a salesman representing Safeguard America Security Services knocked on her door one day in July offering to install a new security system at no cost. Sims already had a security alarm system installed. But she said the Safeguard America salesman promised his company would pay off the remaining balance on her old system. And that she could expect to save $20 a month once the new system was installed.
This is a classic approach, one that often works on unsuspecting customers. What actually happens is often not what the consumer expects.
What it Cost Her
When a bill arrived in the mail stating that she owed $544, plus an additional $50 late fee, she realized Safeguard America didn’t pay off the remaining balance with the other security alarm system. “I’m having to pay the old company and the new one,” Sims said. Once all the fees were added up, Sims had to pay $42.38 a month to Safeguard America, with an additional service charge of $3 per quarter for 60 months. All that is in addition to the $49 a month she has to still pay her original security company.
The BBB Speaks Out
The news station that reported this story did a fair bit of research, including some BBB research – where they found the company in question has an “F” rating, and is not a BBB member, despite claiming to be one. There are BBB branches all over the US responding to alarm company complaints, and theBBB says the situation is getting worse:
Jane Driggs, a Better Business Bureau president in Utah, confirms that the [alarm] industry does resolve most customer concerns — but also ranks second only to companies peddling weight loss supplements in the number of complaints. Similar sales pitches are being uttered in neighborhoods nationwide as the billion-dollar home alarm business grows to staggering proportions. As sales mount, so do complaints that roving “trunk slammers” will stop at nothing to make a sale. “They deal on the moment,” said a local alarm company representative of the door-to-door sales crews. “Some of them tell the truth. Some of them don’t.”
What You Should Do
“Don’t sign anything unless you understand it completely,” said Durenberger, a Minnesota state official whose department took recent action against AMP and another alarm company, APX Alarm Security Solutions Inc., for alleged licensing violations.
Sounds like great advice. You would like to trust the person at your door offering to protect your home and family, but the evidence is that you may be at risk in doing so. Make sure you research a company’s BBB credentials, and also look at online reviews. At FrontPoint, we routinely encourage consumers to check us out – we have earned a reputation for safer, smarter, simpler and more affordable home alarm systems, supported with world-class service. The only stories you’ll read about us are good ones!