We all made it through another summer of alarm salespeople knocking on millions of doors, but the second largest door knocker is back in the news. My recent post describing significant penalties levied against door knockers by the State of Wisconsin was an eye-opener for many in the alarm industry: plenty of home security operators rejoiced to see one more state cracking down on the fraudulent and deceptive practices that can give our industry a bad reputation. And now Illinois, one of the toughest alarm licensing states in the US, has taken concrete steps to end the abuse. Here’s the article.
According to a story reported in The Chicago Tribune on October 31 and the Final Consent Order from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), Pinnacle Security LLC, Orem, Utah, has been ordered to pay a $1 million fine for “slamming” homeowners and using alleged felons to sell its products. The consent order was issued on October 30, 2012 from the IDFPR, the entity that enforces Illinois alarm company licensing.
Yes, Pinnacle was one of the door knocker companies fined by Wisconsin as reported in the story referenced above – the other was Vivint. And yes, Pinnacle has repeatedly been the subject of fines, lawsuits, and other government actions elsewhere based on similar behaviors.
More Details on the Illinois Fine
According to the latest order and the Tribune story, the department alleged that Pinnacle “used unfair and deceptive trade practices, hired unlicensed sales personnel and allowed employees with criminal histories to sell products door to door in Illinois.” The department said 700 of 1,100 Pinnacle workers were not licensed by the state. Several workers had been charged with or convicted of felonies, including larceny, robbery, theft, conspiracy to commit burglary, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, assault, domestic battery, and possession of controlled substances, the department said.
That is downright scary – that an alarm company would hire felons to enter Illinois homes to sell peace of mind! Even though this industry is subject to some very stringent hiring and licensing regulations, those consumer protections only work when companies play by the rules.
Illinois Bans Pinnacle for Two Years – and Five Years’ Probation
Pinnacle agreed to pay the $1 million fine, of which $250,000 had already been paid, and also agreed to a two-year ban on new sales to Illinois consumers, supervision of Pinnacle’s business of overseeing existing security systems and five years’ probation.
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 (Better Business Bureau)
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 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 (“F” for Pinnacle, and “C+“ for Vivint), 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.