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.