A newly installed home alarm system signaled a burglary in Montgomery County, Maryland – and the police would not respond. Seems the home’s County permit number was wrong. The couple who owned the home was on their honeymoon, with a house full of wedding presents. This tough (lack of) response reinforces my previous post on the importance of properly registering your alarm system. In this specific case, ADT’s central station had inaccurate and incomplete data in their system, and the frightening result? When ADT called the Montgomery County police to send an officer, the County would not dispatch, per established policy. Here’s a link to the news article, with a video clip, including a recording of ADT’s call to the County police, and even a frantic call from the customer herself. Please note: the video takes a minute to load, but it’s worth the short wait.
As someone who takes compliance very seriously, I could write at length on this one incident – but here are the key issues:
1. The alarm system was sold and installed by an ADT authorized dealer based in Indiana: Defender Direct, who goes by the name “Protect Your Home.” ADT blames the data entry error on the dealer. I have also posted on the topic of ADT and the vagaries of its dealer program (here’s a link to that post).
2. Protect Your Home says they were “disappointed” that the police did not respond – but they should have known better. Good alarm companies working with Montgomery County recognize it as one of the strictest alarm jurisdictions in the US. In fact, if you attempt to dispatch their police to a fully unregistered location, there is a $500 fine to the alarm company. There should have been no surprises here. The fact that a spokesperson said “we have never had a situation like this before and do not believe it will happen again” does not give me the warm and fuzzies.
3. One of my “favorite” comments in the transcript with the ADT monitoring center is the last statement by the ADT operator, after the County employee says there will be no dispatch: “That’s no problem.” Forget the fact that I am ADT’s competitor – as a consumer, I would expect my alarm company to take any event that possibly threatens my family or property very seriously. I don’t blame the individual operator – to me, it’s a matter of training and company culture.
In this case, the alarm was in fact a false activation. The newlywed couple was lucky, and so was ADT, that there was no break-in – but the business of protecting people’s lives and property is not supposed to be about luck. While no alarm company is perfect, the best companies pay close attention to the details, and when problems occur, they respond quickly and decisively. As a leader in interactive, wireless home security, that is our practice at FrontPoint Security, and it gives our subscribers all across the US and Canada real peace of mind. And that is what our customers pay us for.