The summer doorknocking season may be over, but we know what a tough few months homeowners have had, trying to avoid door-to-door solicitations – especially from alarm companies. We’re used to seeing warnings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and various state and local jurisdictions on the proliferation of alarm scams, many perpetrated by “door knockers.”
Not Just High Pressure Sales
And it’s not just high pressure sales tactics: the issue increasingly centers on poaching accounts from other alarm companies, also referred to as “slamming.” We thought last summer saw slamming reach a new level, but apparently this past summer was even worse.
I read a couple of articles that paint a grim picture of what can happen if you are not on the alert. The first news article is from Austin, TX:
A KVUE Defenders investigation uncovered an increasing number of complaints involving home security companies. It involves companies deceiving customers into switching their systems that could leave them double-billed. Claudia Williams says she and her dad were one of those victims. She claims a doorknocker tricked her 83-year-old father, who suffers from dementia, into switching his system last summer.
One Large Alarm Company Tired of Being the Victim
David Bleisch, an attorney for ADT, says he’s getting complaints across the country. “The number of complaints have gone up, and not by small percentage. Right now we’re seeing them about double the number that we had last year, and the summer months are taking off, so we expect that trend to continue,” Bleisch said. ADT says its customers often get billed until customers catch it.
ADT was so determined to put the brakes on slamming by doorknockers that they offered a $25,000 reward – as detailed in this previous blog post. And then there is this second article, from Madison, Wisconsin, describing the same slamming tactics used by doorknockers in that locale.
Consumers are complaining about door-to-door security system sales agents talking their way into a number of Janesville and Milwaukee homes, according to reports from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The salespersons claim that the consumers’ current provider is going out of business or that they need to provide a required equipment upgrade.
Shut Your Door – or Do Your Homework
The DATCP is warning homeowners to be on the lookout for these door-to-door operations and to avoid allowing these individuals into your home. “If someone comes to your door claiming they represent your current home security company, call the company to confirm that before handing over money or signing a contract,” said Sandy Chalmers, Administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection. To protect yourself from being ripped off by a door-to-door sales agent, remember the following tips:
Great Advice for Homeowners
• It’s easier and safer to say ‘no’ to someone standing on your doorstep than it is to try to get someone to leave once they’re inside.
• Most municipalities require door-to-door sales agents to have permits. Ask to see the permit and a photo ID.
• Look out for high pressure pitches and scare tactics, particularly if they mention “limited time offers” and claim that you need to act right away.
• Wisconsin law requires door-to-door sales agents to state their name, the company they represent and the goods or services that they are looking to sell before they start their sales pitch.
Frontpoint is not immune from slamming – it happens rarely. But we’ll keep our eyes peeled for slamming, and our sympathy goes out to our colleagues at ADT. It’s one thing to compete fairly, it’s another thing entirely to steal customers.