Door knockers are giving the alarm industry a bad rap. Reports of aggressive sales tactics, fraudulent and deceptive sales practices, and even stealing customers from other alarm companies are commonplace now, and routinely come in from all over the US, often from local branches of the BBB (Better Business Bureau). I recently came across such an alert from the Connecticut BBB office, along with a great list of recommendations for homeowners. It’s bad enough when you have to protect yourself from burglars – who would think you have to watch out for some alarm companies, too!
No alarm system will make your home completely burglar-proof: however, a home security system can reduce your chances of being burglarized and provide peace of mind. Considering the safety of your family and property are at stake, Better Business Bureau advises doing research when selecting a home security system with the same care you would with any major purchase. “Burglar Alarm Systems – Dealers & Monitoring” ranked among the top ten most complained about types of business according to Connecticut BBB 2010 statistics, and, unfortunately, there is an ongoing spate of door-to-door security alarm sales scams.
A Serious Warning – About Serious Business
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, recommends consumers exercise extreme caution before signing a contract. “Many problems can be avoided by selecting a reputable provider, rather than giving in to a high pressure door-to-door salesman.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers to ask for identification before allowing anyone into your home, and beware of offers of “free” equipment and scare tactics about neighborhood burglaries. Before selecting a home security system provider, BBB that recommends consumers follow these recommendations.
Nine Great Shopping Tips
- Contact at least three companies before selecting an alarm service provider, and ask if they screen employees before hiring. Door knockers generally don’t want you to shop and compare – a bad sign!
- Check with BBB for a Business Review to see if a prospective company has a positive marketplace record and ensure it promptly dealt with any of the issues that may arise.
- Once you have narrowed your search, contact your state department of consumer protection to be sure that the alarm company is a licensed contractor if as required by law. Remember, not all are required to be licensed: it depends on the state, and the alarm company’s business model.
- Compare apples-to-apples bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in an initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring charges. And look out for hidden fees, plus high costs to add on to your system. Some of the best systems are actually self -installed: they can move with you!
- Ask for an itemized written estimate. Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided. This is crucial. One of the biggest complaints levied against door knockers if lack of a full explanation on pricing, contract, etc.
- Talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner’s premiums. Yes – up to 15%!
- Find out the length of a monitoring contract. Consider the following questions before you obligate yourself to a long-term contract: What is your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? All good questions…
- Make sure you know whether the contract automatically renews and how far in advance you need to inform them if you don’t want to renew it.
- Insist that the company “walk” you through your system until you fully understand how it works to prevent false alarms.
When you check out FrontPoint on the BBB site – and we certainly hope you will!– you’ll see that we have the fewest complaints over the past 36 months of any nationwide alarm company – by a huge margin. That’s because we’re the kind of company that consumers like to deal with. On the other hand, FrontPoint has the most positive on-line reviews of any nationwide alarm company that we can find – also a very good sign that you can trust FrontPoint with your peace of mind.
As we’ve said before, FrontPoint has never sold door-to-door – and we won’t be selling that way in the future. The best home security customers are the people who are looking for a system in the first place, and with home security expanding to including to include remote video, interactive features, and even control of light, locks, and thermostats, it’s no wonder that demand is increasing. Our systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. That’s what makes FrontPoint the leader in wireless home security – and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. We’re the best when you want advanced, wireless protection and peace of mind. And it also explains why we have the highest customer retention in the business. Just read the reviews!