Largest Door Knocker Alarm Company Sparks Complaints from Coast to Coast

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The end of summer used to signify the end of summer door knocking – especially by alarm company salespeople. Unfortunately for US homeowners, some of these companies have decided to extend their selling season to run all year, which means now we’ll have no peace at all. And the largest of these companies continues to be the subject of multiple consumer complaints for the way many door knockers operate. So much for company spokespersons claiming these complaints stem from issues that have been corrected… they are clearly ongoing! In fact, for one particular company, the reports of pushy and possibly deceptive sales practices appear to be alive and well. Here’s an article from Palm Bay, Florida.

Security salesman pitching home alarm systems have been too pushy with some Brevard County residents, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports. Tim Taylor was in his open garage when a man walked up the driveway and started into a sales pitch for Vivint Inc. home security alarms. Taylor cut him off quickly and asked him to leave his mother’s property, but the man persisted. “I had to get aggressive before he would remotely start walking away,” Taylor said, adding: “My hands were shaking, I was so angry.”

Filing a Complaint with Police

Ultimately, Taylor filed a trespass warning with Palm Bay Police. Taylor isn’t alone. Palm Bay Police said they have had numerous complaints about overly aggressive salesmen from Vivint. “We’ve had an awful lot,” said Mark Foskey, dispatch supervisor. “I would safely say over 60. Could be over 100.” The exact number of complaints was not available because police classified some of the calls into different categories — for example, some complaints about Vivint were filed as “suspicious persons.”

It’s Gotten Worse

Supervisor Foskey said he has never before seen so many complaints come in about solicitors. “In 24 years, I’ve never had businesses solicit in our city that generated the mass amount of complaints that we’ve had. It was by far 100-fold what a previous solicitor had generated in our city.” Foskey said that the complaints generally focused on salespeople that wouldn’t take no for an answer, but other rude behavior was noted. One woman answered the door and the salesperson asked for the man of the house. Other residents were asked about their current home security systems, what time they were home, and whether they left children home alone.

Subcontracting Salespeople Now?

A spokesperson from Vivint said that the quantity of complaints filed is unusual. “We do take every single complaint very seriously,” Lisa Davis said. She said the company traditionally has employed door-to-door salespeople during the summer, but this year marks the first time it has subcontracted the work to a company called Advanced Residential Marketing, to reach about 80 communities throughout the United States and Canada. “ARM is our authorized dealer that we contract with for our door-to-door sales program,” Davis said. “It’s very effective.”

Based on the complaints, one might argue about how effective it really is. Vivint’s reputation has reportedly suffered because of the high incidence of negative consumer feedback. And when unhappy consumers speak up, governments may take action.

Bad News from the West Coast

In December 2010, the company filed to change its name from APX Alarm Security Solutions Inc. Davis said this was for re-branding the company’s new range of services. In April 2010, APX paid a $60,000 settlement after more than a dozen consumers filed complaints about illegal sales tactics, according to a press release from the Oregon Department of Justice. Complaints included falsely stating that a consumer’s neighbor had just been robbed or burglarized, refusing to leave consumers’ homes for hours, and claiming partnerships with fire or police associations in order to close the sale. “Targeting elderly Oregonians with misleading and high-pressure sales tactics is unacceptable,” Attorney General Kroger said in the release.

Just Read the Reviews

Vivint’s rating on the Better Business Bureau is a C-minus on a scale of A-plus to F. Government action lowered the rating, while Vivint’s response to customer complaints contributed to raising the score. Melbourne Police have noted similar complaints to those in Palm Bay. “Toward the end of June, there have been several complaints in reference to aggressive home security salespeople,” said Lt. Byron Barnes.

Back to Palm Bay, FL

Taylor took matters into his own hands, following the salesman after he left his mother’s property to spread his message to neighbors as the salesman approached. “I didn’t want him taking advantage,” Taylor said. He followed the man around the neighborhood and interrupted a sale. Taylor said the salesman called the police. But when the officer arrived, Taylor said the officer’s attention was focused on the salesman. The officer helped Taylor fill out a trespass warning form. “Their company’s motto is based around customer satisfaction,” Taylor said. “I don’t think they’re living up to that very well.”

For several years I’ve been concerned that the aggressive tactics employed by many door knockers are not healthy for the alarm industry. Door knockers approached millions of homeowners last summer: in many cases the damage is done, and the opportunity to provide peace of mind with integrity has been clouded for other alarm companies who are transparent and consistently ethical in their behavior. Frankly, door knockers do not want consumers to do the research: it’s too easy to find the complaints, the low ratings from the BBB (currently “C+“ for Vivint), and even more attractive offers from other alarm companies with better reputations and service records – like FrontPoint. When you’re ready to learn why we are the nationwide leader in wireless home security, just check us out online. We make home security and home automation safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to answer that knock at your door.

Comments (25)

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  1. Sam Johnson

    Kid came up to my door and I was mean to him at first like all other solicitors but he was a good salesman. Respectful, kind, and knew what he was talking about. He gave me my monthly options and I picked the highest one because it’s just cool stuff I’ve always wanted. Does front point have a doorbell camera, automatic door lock, indoor camera, space monkey to protect my data? Just curious, anyway love the system, hope everyone can have the same experience I had

  2. Steve R.

    Let’s not forget that there are literally hundreds of thousands of Vivint customers out there. So a few complaints from disgruntled people represents only a small percentage of overall customers. Sometimes all it takes is a person who is having a bad day, and no matter what you say to them, they take it the wrong way, and the next thing you know, they are filing a complaint. The guy who followed the Vivint rep to his neighbors was really over the top. Keep everything in perspective when reading these articles about complaints about Vivint. Other alarm companies also have the same issues.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Steve – Thanks for your comment, and your point is well taken. One way to remove the subjectivity from a topic is to look at some numbers, and we have found that the BBB web site (where they show complaints) is a reasonable data point. For instance, you can see that Vivint has over one half the number complaints that ADT has over the past three years, but nowhere near half the number of customers. In other words, on a pure “complaint per subscriber” basis, Vivint appears to have real problems when compared to ADT – and ADT is not exactly renowned for stellar customer care. Another way to look at the issue is to review legal actions taken by states regarding alarm companies – also shown on the BBB site. There you can see that Vivint has been the subject of numerous government actions, which probably indicates that there are more than “a few complaints from disgruntled people” out there.

      Yes, we all have complaints registered about us, and you cannot make everyone happy – but you can certainly try! And when a business model is predicated on high-pressure sales, which sadly is what so much of door-knocking in the alarm industry has become, then the results are fairly predictable. Vivint has built a large, successful company: however, the question asked with increasing frequency is, was it the best way – and is that approach sustainable?

      Thanks again.

  3. Steve R.

    Let’s not forget that there are literally hundreds of thousands of Vivint customers out there. So a few complaints from disgruntled people represents only a small percentage of overall customers. Sometimes all it takes is a person who is having a bad day, and no matter what you say to them, they take it the wrong way, and the next thing you know, they are filing a complaint. The guy who followed the Vivint rep to his neighbors was really over the top. Keep everything in perspective when reading these articles about complaints about Vivint. Other alarm companies also have the same issues.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Steve – Thanks for your comment, and your point is well taken. One way to remove the subjectivity from a topic is to look at some numbers, and we have found that the BBB web site (where they show complaints) is a reasonable data point. For instance, you can see that Vivint has over one half the number complaints that ADT has over the past three years, but nowhere near half the number of customers. In other words, on a pure “complaint per subscriber” basis, Vivint appears to have real problems when compared to ADT – and ADT is not exactly renowned for stellar customer care. Another way to look at the issue is to review legal actions taken by states regarding alarm companies – also shown on the BBB site. There you can see that Vivint has been the subject of numerous government actions, which probably indicates that there are more than “a few complaints from disgruntled people” out there.

      Yes, we all have complaints registered about us, and you cannot make everyone happy – but you can certainly try! And when a business model is predicated on high-pressure sales, which sadly is what so much of door-knocking in the alarm industry has become, then the results are fairly predictable. Vivint has built a large, successful company: however, the question asked with increasing frequency is, was it the best way – and is that approach sustainable?

      Thanks again.

  4. Cecily Coughlan

    I’ve had their system for a couple of years now, and really like it actually. think Vivint has a really good security and home automation system. They use the same system as a local company I know of–similar equipment I mean–and it’s fairly advanced and easy to use.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Cecily – Happy to have a good story submitted about Vivint here to share, since there is certainly a lot of bad news on the various review sites, like the BBB. But good for you – the system works, and you are happy with it, which is important. Please bear in mind that if you are using all the available features, including notifications, video, home automation, etc.) with Vivint, you are paying $68.99 per month, the highest we have ever heard of an alarm company charging for this mix of services. By way of comparison, FrontPoint charges only $49.999 per month for exactly the same thing – without all the complaints. Thanks again.

  5. Cecily Coughlan

    I’ve had their system for a couple of years now, and really like it actually. think Vivint has a really good security and home automation system. They use the same system as a local company I know of–similar equipment I mean–and it’s fairly advanced and easy to use.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Cecily – Happy to have a good story submitted about Vivint here to share, since there is certainly a lot of bad news on the various review sites, like the BBB. But good for you – the system works, and you are happy with it, which is important. Please bear in mind that if you are using all the available features, including notifications, video, home automation, etc.) with Vivint, you are paying $68.99 per month, the highest we have ever heard of an alarm company charging for this mix of services. By way of comparison, FrontPoint charges only $49.999 per month for exactly the same thing – without all the complaints. Thanks again.

  6. Ca. resident

    Vivint has hired ARM a bunch of young kids to sell in CA. They put up a VIVINT sign. These salesman come in from UTAH and disrupt local communities where there are local alarm salesman. They have no business cards, no license and what the heck are they doing soliciting in CA. They have a warning issued by the BBB and should be fined for their continued practice of misrepresentation and unethical sales standards. Local alarm salesman stated that they also steal customers who are under contract with other alarm companies. The fact is they try and do anything to make a sale and we want them out of our town and state.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks for these and other comments. Many alarm companies operate in multiple states – including FrontPoint, but have all the required licenses, and follow all the rules. We made a point of being licensed in California, since it’s the most populous state in the US. In fact, I took the licensing exams myself, and had to travel to CA to do so. But to your point about playing by all the rules, it is clear that some alarm companies are not doing so, including several of the door knocking companies: the large fines by the state and the multiple warnings from the BBB and others are pretty good evidence of that.

  7. Ca. resident

    Vivint has hired ARM a bunch of young kids to sell in CA. They put up a VIVINT sign. These salesman come in from UTAH and disrupt local communities where there are local alarm salesman. They have no business cards, no license and what the heck are they doing soliciting in CA. They have a warning issued by the BBB and should be fined for their continued practice of misrepresentation and unethical sales standards. Local alarm salesman stated that they also steal customers who are under contract with other alarm companies. The fact is they try and do anything to make a sale and we want them out of our town and state.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks for these and other comments. Many alarm companies operate in multiple states – including FrontPoint, but have all the required licenses, and follow all the rules. We made a point of being licensed in California, since it’s the most populous state in the US. In fact, I took the licensing exams myself, and had to travel to CA to do so. But to your point about playing by all the rules, it is clear that some alarm companies are not doing so, including several of the door knocking companies: the large fines by the state and the multiple warnings from the BBB and others are pretty good evidence of that.

  8. Chuck

    ITS A GO CONTROL 2 GIG THAT VIVINT INSTALLS. THEIR WAS A SAFETY RECALL ON THOSE AND ITS AGAINST THE THE LAW TO KEEP INSTALLING THOSE GO CONTROLS VIVINT’

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Chuck. I believe the problems with the equipment you mention were resolved, but there were as many as 30,000 systems that were possibly affected. If my memory serves me, the cellular radio was prone to catching fire, but it’s been a while, so I cannot say for sure. That’s one more reason why we use GE Security equipment: UL listed, and I am not aware they have ever had such a problem. Thanks again.

    • Jennifer

      Vivint is out now upgrading from the 2G to more advanced equipment. I love my VIVINT home security System

      • Peter M. Rogers

        Jennifer – thanks for your comment, and good for you. Not sure if you are referring to @G cellular radios or 2GIG alarm control equipment – Vivint has used both. They actually have a larger problem with 2G radios than a lot of companies that switched earlier to 3G, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with it – and to what extent they will ask their customers to share in the “pain” of changing radios when they becomes an issue. As for the 2GIG equipment, there will not be a change until late summer, we hear – and most of the systems sold this summer will therefore be the same equipment as has been used for a while. But as for your experience, we are happy for you. You might also like to note, if you are using the full extent of your system (cameras, home automation, etc.), that what Vivint sells for $68.99 per month is available from FrontPoint at $49.99 per month – the exact same advanced interactive services from Alarm.com

  9. Chuck

    ITS A GO CONTROL 2 GIG THAT VIVINT INSTALLS. THEIR WAS A SAFETY RECALL ON THOSE AND ITS AGAINST THE THE LAW TO KEEP INSTALLING THOSE GO CONTROLS VIVINT’

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks, Chuck. I believe the problems with the equipment you mention were resolved, but there were as many as 30,000 systems that were possibly affected. If my memory serves me, the cellular radio was prone to catching fire, but it’s been a while, so I cannot say for sure. That’s one more reason why we use GE Security equipment: UL listed, and I am not aware they have ever had such a problem. Thanks again.

    • Jennifer

      Vivint is out now upgrading from the 2G to more advanced equipment. I love my VIVINT home security System

      • Peter M. Rogers

        Jennifer – thanks for your comment, and good for you. Not sure if you are referring to @G cellular radios or 2GIG alarm control equipment – Vivint has used both. They actually have a larger problem with 2G radios than a lot of companies that switched earlier to 3G, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with it – and to what extent they will ask their customers to share in the “pain” of changing radios when they becomes an issue. As for the 2GIG equipment, there will not be a change until late summer, we hear – and most of the systems sold this summer will therefore be the same equipment as has been used for a while. But as for your experience, we are happy for you. You might also like to note, if you are using the full extent of your system (cameras, home automation, etc.), that what Vivint sells for $68.99 per month is available from FrontPoint at $49.99 per month – the exact same advanced interactive services from Alarm.com

  10. Amy Smith

    I think Vivint has a really good security and home automation system. They use the same system as a local company I know of–similar equipment I mean–and it’s fairly advanced and easy to use. I’ve had their system for a couple of years now, and really like it actually. I know door to door is tough and homeowners don’t always appreciate being bothered, but don’t you feel like your review of a company that provides good service to their customers a little harsh?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Amy – Thanks for your comment. While we know that review sites and customer complaints are not the only way to assess a company’s level of service or customer satisfaction, it is generally accepted in this industry and many others that consumer opinion tells a lot about a company. In the case of Vivint, the issues extend to government actions (lawsuits, fines, etc.). I can tell you from years in this business that it can take a lot for a governmental body to finally take action against a company – usually the situation has gotten really bad by the time that happens. So in the case of Vivint, the combination of poor reviews, complaints about everything form the aggressive sales process to bad service after the installation, and significant governmental action tell what we think is a pretty clear story. We would expect that a lot of their customers get excellent service, but our concern is for those who do not – it does not have to be that way if the company is really serious about being great at what they do.

  11. Amy Smith

    I think Vivint has a really good security and home automation system. They use the same system as a local company I know of–similar equipment I mean–and it’s fairly advanced and easy to use. I’ve had their system for a couple of years now, and really like it actually. I know door to door is tough and homeowners don’t always appreciate being bothered, but don’t you feel like your review of a company that provides good service to their customers a little harsh?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Amy – Thanks for your comment. While we know that review sites and customer complaints are not the only way to assess a company’s level of service or customer satisfaction, it is generally accepted in this industry and many others that consumer opinion tells a lot about a company. In the case of Vivint, the issues extend to government actions (lawsuits, fines, etc.). I can tell you from years in this business that it can take a lot for a governmental body to finally take action against a company – usually the situation has gotten really bad by the time that happens. So in the case of Vivint, the combination of poor reviews, complaints about everything form the aggressive sales process to bad service after the installation, and significant governmental action tell what we think is a pretty clear story. We would expect that a lot of their customers get excellent service, but our concern is for those who do not – it does not have to be that way if the company is really serious about being great at what they do.

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