One of my colleagues here at FrontPoint suggested today’s blog topic. Ken Lawshe has spoken with thousands of alarm shoppers (many of whom are now happy FrontPoint customers!), and shared with me what he hears in the marketplace. There’s also plenty of online evidence that not all alarm companies are telling the truth – sadly. So here’s a list of the Top 10 lies that alarm companies use to get your business – and if you’re one of the nearly 80% of US homeowners without a monitored alarm system, you’ll want to keep this info handy when you do start shopping for peace of mind. Note: the links below provide helpful background on each item.
- “You really don’t need cellular monitoring.” This is probably the biggest fib out there. Burglars cut phone lines – and even if they didn’t, if AT&T and other carriers get their way, there won’t be any traditional phones left in a few years to cut. The only safe and reliable monitoring method is cellular. By the way, Internet monitoring is just as bad as a phone line: it’s every bit as easy to cut your internet connection as your phone line – same $3 pair of wire cutters.
- “Sure, our system is wireless.” Don’t be fooled by this dodge. Wireless equipment is not the same as wireless monitoring. You really want both, but some companies will try to pass off their wireless equipment as a completely wireless system, even though they still require a vulnerable phone line. Make sure you ask the tough questions, and get the right answers. Again, cellular monitoring is the only safe solution.
- “Crime is definitely up in your neighborhood.” It just might happen be true, but only by coincidence. Don’t let this high pressure sales tactic scare you into making a snap decision – especially if you have to “sign on the dotted line right now.” If you cave in to this threat, chances are there’s an installer circling the block, just itching to throw your system up on the wall. The “crime stat threat” is a favorite ploy of door knockers, the summer sales programs pushing alarm systems all over the US. Send them away while you do your research on the claims and the company: if they’re not willing to come back later, they’re the wrong company for you.
- “Our alarm system is ‘free’ – just for putting our yard sign in your yard.” Speaking of door knockers, this whopper works a lot of the time. Some seasonal alarm programs train their representatives to pretend they are “marketing agents” instead of highly compensated salespeople. They may also skirt the fact that there is a monthly service fee attached to this “free” system: unfortunately, many people find out too late they are paying too much for too little, and they can get more advanced services for less money – and a whole lot less pressure up front.
- “This very basic alarm system is all you need.” The minimalist approach really bugs the professional alarm companies who take the time to consult with the homeowner to determine the right level of protection. There are plenty of security providers who sell only a basic system, and then incentivize the installing technician to “up sell” more alarm devices – usually at much high prices. Some people small a rat and cancel service on the spot, but too many just give in and write the big check – when they don’t need to.
- “We’re GE Security,” or “We’re ADT.” Sadly, a handful of companies pretend to be the manufacturer whose equipment they sell (GE Security is the most common brand abused this way). It happens mostly on line, although some door knockers use it. Fortunately, the list of scam artists using this ploy is rather short. As for ADT and its “Authorized Dealers,” there is a big difference between the parent company and its agents – and it will surely benefit you to know who is who.
- “Interactive alarm services are unnecessary, or too expensive.” Alarm systems can do so much more today: there are free mobile apps, remote arming/disarming, text and email notifications, video services, and even home automation features for controlling lights, locks, and thermostats. Many alarm companies don’t offer these services – or if they do, they charge way too much for them. Here’s where it really pays to do your homework. Look for interactive cellular monitoring, and don’t overpay.
- “It’s too hard to set up your own alarm system.” It’s true that there are several alarm companies marketing a “DIY” approach to home security, but only one is truly the “plug and play” system the others pretend to be. You can get true ease of installation from the right provider, and the benefits are significant: no inconvenient appointments, no strangers in your home, and a system that can grow with you – or even move with you. Easy set-up is better, and should cost you less. But make sure you read those reviews first!
- “We’re with your current alarm company.” Another classic door knocker line, and using this approach has gotten several summer sales programs in big trouble with the BBB, AARP, and even several attorneys general. It’s called “poaching” or “slamming” – and when one alarm company does it to another, a lawsuit may result. ADT has sued over this practice: not just a door knocker company, but even individual sales representatives from the door knocking companies!
- “Our system can’t be defeated.” There is only one technology that is not susceptible to a “Smash and Crash” attack on your alarm system – and it’s patented by Alarm.com, FrontPoint’s technology partner. This remarkable level of security is extremely important, whether you’re away from home or experience a home invasion: you want to know the police are on the way. If an alarm company claims they have a system that can’t be defeated this way (and several try to say they do), push hard to have them explain how it works. The short answer: if it’s not Alarm.com, it’s not patented Crash and Smash protection.
You may have heard one or more of these lies, or read about them here or elsewhere. Alarm companies operate in a very competitive environment, but there really is no excuse for lack of integrity: lying just gives the electronic security industry a bad name, because the truth has a way of coming out – the Internet has seen to that. One of the best ways you can check on a company’s integrity is through online reviews (like BBB), and reviews constitute an area where FrontPoint truly shines. And it’s a big reason why we’re the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. Our approach is to be transparent, tell the truth, and treat everyone we speak to with respect: this seems like a simple code, but too many alarm companies just don’t follow it. They should.