With the alarm industry (and America’s homeowners) gearing up for another onslaught of summer alarm salespeople knocking on millions of doors, the second largest door knocker is back in the news. As if a $1 million fine levied against Pinnacle Security by the state of Illinois was not enough, California’s Contra Costa County has added its own fine for $525,000 for deceptive business practices – just the kind of conduct that consumers (and other alarm companies) all across the US have been complaining about for years.
Over the years the company has been accused in a number of states of deceptive sales practices. Last fall, for example, Pinnacle agreed to pay a $1 million fine in a settlement with the state of Illinois for such alleged violations as “slamming” customers and even hiring felons as sales reps.
Fines, Lawsuits, and More
Yes, Pinnacle has been in and out trouble quite a bit: you only need to check their BBB (Better Busines Bureau) profile to see the details. But now it seems that they may be out of the picture all together, at least as an independent entity. After selling almost 100,000 customer accounts to Monitronics last October, Pinnacle recently announced that Protection 1, the second largest US alarm company, was buying “select” Pinnacle assets, including software and the summer “machine” that signs up so many new customers, in a transaction designed to propel P1 into door knocking in a hurry.
Details on the Deal
Protection 1 is getting into the summer-sales market by buying some of the assets of Pinnacle Security, one of Utah’s leading door-knocking companies. Protection 1, a traditional-model security company, announced in a news release that it has purchased “select assets from Utah-based Pinnacle Security, including certain proprietary IT infrastructure and software.” It also said it had bought Pinnacle’s headquarters in Orem, Utah.
This situation is actually quite interesting, since Protection 1 (or P1, as they are often called) has vigorously defended itself against door knockers for some years. In fact, here’s a link to the Protection 1 web site that specifically warns against door knocking alarm salespeople. Frankly, I could not have written this warning better myself – and I wonder how long this warning will stay in place, now that P1 has entered the same arena! Here’s some wording from their web site:
Beware of Door-to-Door Security Fraud
It’s that time of year again and consumers need to beware of “door-knockers”—companies selling alarm systems door-to-door each summer. They’re often called out by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and others for complaints for their unscrupulous and aggressive sales tactics, fraudulent claims, and attempting to steal customers away from other alarm companies.
During the summer months concern runs so high that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning to consumers—with examples of the types of sales pitches these dealers use along with tips on what you can do to protect yourself.
It Gets Better
To say that these developments are all very ironic is an understatement, especially since P1 has also hired some senior people from Pinnacle – the same people, apparently, who were ostensibly at the helm while Pinnacle ran into its previous problems. These challenges include an “F” rating with the BBB, and government actions in Utah, New York, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington, and California. Wow – nine states, that we know of.
Pinnacle President Jared Chappell and Steve Zolman, Pinnacle president of sales, will be joining the Protection 1 management team, the news release said. It said the two, both founders of Pinnacle, will lead “a new residential division at Protection 1, which will focus on personalized, one-to-one selling of home security products and services.”
I only hope the people running P1 – who I know to be smart folks with a ton of integrity – can manage their new partners and these new processes for the good of US consumers – and the good of the alarm industry.
Worst Summer for Door Knocker Scams
For the record, this past summer was the worst ever for door knocker alarm salesperson complaints. “Knocker” scam reports popped up all over the US, and some of them named names – companies you have probably read about before, here and elsewhere. And the complaints keep coming as more homeowners get an unexpected a taste of how door knocker alarm salespeople operate.
Great Advice from the BBB
From an online article by the Wisconsin BBB last summer, here’s some great advice on what to do when you hear that knock on your door.
Before you sign up
Make sure you need the service. Get multiple bids. Know the answer to key questions: what would be your total monthly cost, all fees and charges included? How, when and at what cost can you cancel your contract?
Research the company. Check the business’ rating on the Better Business Bureau website and search the Internet to find out any problems with the company. You can also call your local police department to ask if it has had any problems with the company.
Once you sign up
Monitor what you’re being charged to make sure it’s in accordance with your contract. If you were overcharged, contact the company. If you charged the services to your credit (not debit) card, you can contact your credit card company within 60 days to have the charges reversed.
If the equipment never worked or is faulty, don’t pay. Contact the company. If the problem’s not solved, you can file a Complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
For some time I have expressed concerns that the aggressive tactics employed by many door knockers are not healthy for the alarm industry. Door knockers approached millions of homeowners last summer, and the same will happen this summer: in many cases the damage is already 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, and even more attractive offers from other alarm companies with better reputations and service records – like FrontPoint (yes, we do have an “A”). 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.