Top 10 Lies Told by Alarm Companies

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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.

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “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.
  5. “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.
  6. “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.
  7. “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.
  8. “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!
  9. “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!
  10. “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.

Comments (8)

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  1. John

    Lets talk about some of the things your company has told people:
    1. Glassbreaks can detect breakage throughout a home / over an area that is outside the manufactures standards.
    2. Your the only company that has exclusively sold cellular – how is that not a lie? You have other competitors that have built their model just like yours and other professional installers that only use cellular.
    3. Dialer delays adjusted below 30 seconds. All the pro’s reading this comment should be getting sick by now.
    4. You sell fire alarm equipment to customers that install it without the proper licenses.

    Your company fills a niche market. There will always be a need professionally installed alarm systems in the residential market. With the economy sliding, more jurisdictions budgets will be cut and your alarms won’t be responded to because your customer didn’t opt for a professional installation.

    Nothing wrong with what you do, however, your not God’s gift to the alarm industry like this blog states (this blog is nothing more than a propaganda machine / Search Engine Optimization tool.)

    There’s plenty wrong with door knockers – However, let the press publish that information. It makes your company look desperate to use others downfalls to make sales. Sell your products, not your competitions flaws.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, John, for commenting here. I think you may have misread or misinterpreted my words, but let’s take your points one by one. We appreciate constructive feedback, and look at this forum as an opportunity to provide additional clarification.

      1. Glassbreaks. We sell the GE Security (Interlogix) ShatterPro II glassbreak, which has a range of 20 feet in any direction, as long as the sensor has direct line of sight to the glass that it is protecting. I am not aware of any time when we have made a blanket statement that the sensor covers more than that. I certainly do not recollect such a claim in this blog, although it is certainly possible that one our Security Consultants was in error during a call. Feel free to let me know who said what, and when, and I will look into it. We record all our calls with prospective customers and customers, so we should be able to find any call that contains such an error.

      2. Cellular. As far as I know, FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that has used only cellular monitoring in EVERY system we have ever sold. Many alarm companies sell (and have sold) cellular monitoring as an option – and we understand that there are some companies that have modified their business models so that they now sell only cellular monitoring. But I repeat, we are not aware of any US alarm company (other than FrontPoint) that has sold ONLY cellular monitoring since inception.

      3. Dialer delay. Some folks reading this might not know what that means. When the system is armed, and a “normally” programmed door sensor is activated, there is an “entry delay” that is defaulted to 30 seconds, during which time the system would be disarmed by the homeowner. At the end of the entry delay, unless disarmed, the system activates the siren, but still has not sent an alarm signal to the monitoring station: that is because there is an additional interval (called the “dialer delay), during which time the system may still be disarmed, thereby avoiding a false alarm, and possibly a false dispatch of the police. This dialer delay is also defaulted to 30 seconds, and is a standard convention in the alarm industry for reduction of false alarms. It is extremely rare that we adjust the dialer delay to be less than 30 seconds, and only on specific request of the customer. By the way, if we do make the adjustment, it would not be below 15 seconds.

      4. Niche market. It appears that Protection One, the second largest alarm company in the US, would not agree with you: they just concluded an arrangement with LifeShield, another “DIY” alarm company, to buy the accounts created by LifeShield. DIY is becoming mainstream, and when one considers all the benefits of a truly “plug & play” smart system such as we offer, it’s easy to see why we have such a large following and such remarkably positive reviews. Our marketing is completely transparent: we explain everything, including pricing and how the system works. There is no need for a salesperson to come to the house, or a technician. Our customers can add to their systems or move them at will. People like this convenience, and sacrifice nothing in protection or peace of mind. I suspect there were those who felt that homeowners would never set up their own routers, set up their own computers, or perform similar tasks that are now considered routine. Wireless sensors, cellular monitoring, interactive services, and world-class support all contribute to making FrontPoint a vibrant and viable presence in the alarm industry – albeit disruptive to our competitors. Time will tell if your opinion is correct, but I am betting on the strength of current trends to predict the future.

      5. Alarm response. This one has me scratching my head about your knowledge base. If you are truly an alarm industry professional, as I take you for, then you should know that local jurisdictions have no way of knowing when they receive a dispatch call from a central station if the system was installed by a technician or the homeowner. While a few jurisdictions have already opted for verified response prior to dispatch, or implemented escalating false alarm fines for serial false alarm infractions, there is no indication that non-response is on the horizon – or that FrontPoint customers will be treated any differently than other alarm company subscribers. None whatsoever. Again, this is a stumper, where you came up with this one…

      Despite our several apparent faults, I am glad to hear that there is nothing wrong with what we do. As for our being “God’s gift to the alarm industry,” let’s just say that we think we do a very good job of providing peace of mind with systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And we don’t get all those rave reviews by accident. It’s also no accident that we have the lowest cancellation rate of any nationwide alarm company – by far. We actually wish more alarm companies did a better job: it would be good for the overall reputation of the alarm industry, which suffers from door knocker aggressive tactics and ADT’s lackluster service delivery, to name a couple of disappointments.

      This blog is intended primarily to inform, educate, and solicit constructive debate. In that latter regard, I thank you again for the opportunity to address the points you have raised.

  2. John

    Lets talk about some of the things your company has told people:
    1. Glassbreaks can detect breakage throughout a home / over an area that is outside the manufactures standards.
    2. Your the only company that has exclusively sold cellular – how is that not a lie? You have other competitors that have built their model just like yours and other professional installers that only use cellular.
    3. Dialer delays adjusted below 30 seconds. All the pro’s reading this comment should be getting sick by now.
    4. You sell fire alarm equipment to customers that install it without the proper licenses.

    Your company fills a niche market. There will always be a need professionally installed alarm systems in the residential market. With the economy sliding, more jurisdictions budgets will be cut and your alarms won’t be responded to because your customer didn’t opt for a professional installation.

    Nothing wrong with what you do, however, your not God’s gift to the alarm industry like this blog states (this blog is nothing more than a propaganda machine / Search Engine Optimization tool.)

    There’s plenty wrong with door knockers – However, let the press publish that information. It makes your company look desperate to use others downfalls to make sales. Sell your products, not your competitions flaws.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, John, for commenting here. I think you may have misread or misinterpreted my words, but let’s take your points one by one. We appreciate constructive feedback, and look at this forum as an opportunity to provide additional clarification.

      1. Glassbreaks. We sell the GE Security (Interlogix) ShatterPro II glassbreak, which has a range of 20 feet in any direction, as long as the sensor has direct line of sight to the glass that it is protecting. I am not aware of any time when we have made a blanket statement that the sensor covers more than that. I certainly do not recollect such a claim in this blog, although it is certainly possible that one our Security Consultants was in error during a call. Feel free to let me know who said what, and when, and I will look into it. We record all our calls with prospective customers and customers, so we should be able to find any call that contains such an error.

      2. Cellular. As far as I know, FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that has used only cellular monitoring in EVERY system we have ever sold. Many alarm companies sell (and have sold) cellular monitoring as an option – and we understand that there are some companies that have modified their business models so that they now sell only cellular monitoring. But I repeat, we are not aware of any US alarm company (other than FrontPoint) that has sold ONLY cellular monitoring since inception.

      3. Dialer delay. Some folks reading this might not know what that means. When the system is armed, and a “normally” programmed door sensor is activated, there is an “entry delay” that is defaulted to 30 seconds, during which time the system would be disarmed by the homeowner. At the end of the entry delay, unless disarmed, the system activates the siren, but still has not sent an alarm signal to the monitoring station: that is because there is an additional interval (called the “dialer delay), during which time the system may still be disarmed, thereby avoiding a false alarm, and possibly a false dispatch of the police. This dialer delay is also defaulted to 30 seconds, and is a standard convention in the alarm industry for reduction of false alarms. It is extremely rare that we adjust the dialer delay to be less than 30 seconds, and only on specific request of the customer. By the way, if we do make the adjustment, it would not be below 15 seconds.

      4. Niche market. It appears that Protection One, the second largest alarm company in the US, would not agree with you: they just concluded an arrangement with LifeShield, another “DIY” alarm company, to buy the accounts created by LifeShield. DIY is becoming mainstream, and when one considers all the benefits of a truly “plug & play” smart system such as we offer, it’s easy to see why we have such a large following and such remarkably positive reviews. Our marketing is completely transparent: we explain everything, including pricing and how the system works. There is no need for a salesperson to come to the house, or a technician. Our customers can add to their systems or move them at will. People like this convenience, and sacrifice nothing in protection or peace of mind. I suspect there were those who felt that homeowners would never set up their own routers, set up their own computers, or perform similar tasks that are now considered routine. Wireless sensors, cellular monitoring, interactive services, and world-class support all contribute to making FrontPoint a vibrant and viable presence in the alarm industry – albeit disruptive to our competitors. Time will tell if your opinion is correct, but I am betting on the strength of current trends to predict the future.

      5. Alarm response. This one has me scratching my head about your knowledge base. If you are truly an alarm industry professional, as I take you for, then you should know that local jurisdictions have no way of knowing when they receive a dispatch call from a central station if the system was installed by a technician or the homeowner. While a few jurisdictions have already opted for verified response prior to dispatch, or implemented escalating false alarm fines for serial false alarm infractions, there is no indication that non-response is on the horizon – or that FrontPoint customers will be treated any differently than other alarm company subscribers. None whatsoever. Again, this is a stumper, where you came up with this one…

      Despite our several apparent faults, I am glad to hear that there is nothing wrong with what we do. As for our being “God’s gift to the alarm industry,” let’s just say that we think we do a very good job of providing peace of mind with systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And we don’t get all those rave reviews by accident. It’s also no accident that we have the lowest cancellation rate of any nationwide alarm company – by far. We actually wish more alarm companies did a better job: it would be good for the overall reputation of the alarm industry, which suffers from door knocker aggressive tactics and ADT’s lackluster service delivery, to name a couple of disappointments.

      This blog is intended primarily to inform, educate, and solicit constructive debate. In that latter regard, I thank you again for the opportunity to address the points you have raised.

  3. Joe Thomas

    Whoever wrote this is creating worse deception than the blood suckers they are talking about.Wireless is not superior its another option.Radios are not superior, networks go down signals get interference.Alarm.com is not a special partner, they work with anyone.Smash and grab also more often than not is caused by interference and a headache you don’t want.I service this equiptment and I am familiar with ge- interlogic tech support due to all the issues I listed and they don’t have any answers for those problemsCan you install one probably.Can you service it probably not.Not to mention wireless system require batteries and in most cases wireless devices are eyesores. As for cutiing phone lines ask your local police dept and ask them how many cases of that they have heard of:The answer almost none.If the burglar was that smart he would also know that you can have a phone line and a radio backup.As Clint Eastwood would say to the phone line cutting: Do you feel lucky …Punk?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Joe – Happy to have you join the debate. Also glad to have someone with your experience weighing in here. As for your points, it does seem that you are more of an alarm “traditionalist” and less of a “next-gen” kind of guy. Your comments about wireless sensors are a good example: most sensors being installed in US homes today are wireless, for good reason: easier to install, easier to troubleshoot, easier to move, easier to add, and they are getting smaller all the time. There are even recessed wireless sensors if you want that – and the batteries last for years. But “old school” is fine. However, I’m not sure what you think is the best way for alarm systems to communicate to the monitoring center. Hope it’s not a traditional phone line: they are not just vulnerable, but they are going away. AT&T already submitted their request to “sunset” hard copper lines. Hope you don’t think it’s internet monitoring, because that is less reliable then cellular, and just as easy to disable as a phone line with a $3 pair of wire cutters. And don’t forget to put a battery backup on your router! And yes, cutting phone lines is happening more and more, including some very high profile cases. That really does leave cellular as the most safe, most reliable, and best solution for alarm communication – which is why FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that has only sold cellular from day one. Is cellular perfect? No, but it’s just the best thing there is, which explains why so many more alarm companies are offering it.

      As for Alarm.com, we never claim to be their only partner. But we are their preferred partner for easily installed (DIY) systems, and we are perhaps the only alarm company in the US that has used their technology in every system we have ever sold. We also specialize in their popular interactive services – so we have a very good working relationship with them. Alarm.com may work with almost anyone (they do have some basic requirements) but we are clearly one of their top partners. As for Alarm.com’s Smash & Crash protection, it’s the only patented and workable solution for a commonly recognized problem with self-contained alarm control panels. I cannot speak to the issues that you have experienced, but we have clearly found a way to support these systems in the field – and that’s without a need for field installation or service technicians. We do all the programming her and support the systems remotely, so it’s true plug & play. And our overwhelmingly positive reviews (easy to find, by the way) show that we are getting the job done. In fact, we have the best reviews that I can find on-line for any nationwide alarm services provider. I am not sure why you are experiencing the challenges you describe, but your comments do not match our (much broader) experience.

      Thanks again for your comments.

  4. Joe Thomas

    Whoever wrote this is creating worse deception than the blood suckers they are talking about.Wireless is not superior its another option.Radios are not superior, networks go down signals get interference.Alarm.com is not a special partner, they work with anyone.Smash and grab also more often than not is caused by interference and a headache you don’t want.I service this equiptment and I am familiar with ge- interlogic tech support due to all the issues I listed and they don’t have any answers for those problemsCan you install one probably.Can you service it probably not.Not to mention wireless system require batteries and in most cases wireless devices are eyesores. As for cutiing phone lines ask your local police dept and ask them how many cases of that they have heard of:The answer almost none.If the burglar was that smart he would also know that you can have a phone line and a radio backup.As Clint Eastwood would say to the phone line cutting: Do you feel lucky …Punk?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Joe – Happy to have you join the debate. Also glad to have someone with your experience weighing in here. As for your points, it does seem that you are more of an alarm “traditionalist” and less of a “next-gen” kind of guy. Your comments about wireless sensors are a good example: most sensors being installed in US homes today are wireless, for good reason: easier to install, easier to troubleshoot, easier to move, easier to add, and they are getting smaller all the time. There are even recessed wireless sensors if you want that – and the batteries last for years. But “old school” is fine. However, I’m not sure what you think is the best way for alarm systems to communicate to the monitoring center. Hope it’s not a traditional phone line: they are not just vulnerable, but they are going away. AT&T already submitted their request to “sunset” hard copper lines. Hope you don’t think it’s internet monitoring, because that is less reliable then cellular, and just as easy to disable as a phone line with a $3 pair of wire cutters. And don’t forget to put a battery backup on your router! And yes, cutting phone lines is happening more and more, including some very high profile cases. That really does leave cellular as the most safe, most reliable, and best solution for alarm communication – which is why FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that has only sold cellular from day one. Is cellular perfect? No, but it’s just the best thing there is, which explains why so many more alarm companies are offering it.

      As for Alarm.com, we never claim to be their only partner. But we are their preferred partner for easily installed (DIY) systems, and we are perhaps the only alarm company in the US that has used their technology in every system we have ever sold. We also specialize in their popular interactive services – so we have a very good working relationship with them. Alarm.com may work with almost anyone (they do have some basic requirements) but we are clearly one of their top partners. As for Alarm.com’s Smash & Crash protection, it’s the only patented and workable solution for a commonly recognized problem with self-contained alarm control panels. I cannot speak to the issues that you have experienced, but we have clearly found a way to support these systems in the field – and that’s without a need for field installation or service technicians. We do all the programming her and support the systems remotely, so it’s true plug & play. And our overwhelmingly positive reviews (easy to find, by the way) show that we are getting the job done. In fact, we have the best reviews that I can find on-line for any nationwide alarm services provider. I am not sure why you are experiencing the challenges you describe, but your comments do not match our (much broader) experience.

      Thanks again for your comments.

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