News reports about home alarm systems are easy to find these days: systems that work (or don’t work!), pushy door knockers selling alarms, rising false alarm fines, and new technologies for protecting and even controlling the home. This recent article from KOMO/Channel 4 in Seattle is a great example – and this time, the subject is what to look for when buying a home alarm system. The report lists several common complaints, along with some timely warnings to heed when you are shopping for peace of mind.
The housing industry may be taking a hit from the recession, but the home security industry is bouncing back. Industry surveys show sales are up. While many companies do a good job, others get poor reviews.
The Five Tips
- If you’re considering a home alarm system, do your homework first and decide which companies to contact. Before you sign up with a security company, ask a lot of questions about exactly what you’re getting. Take notes, take names and numbers, and take your time. Any company that requires you to sign on the spot is not the one you want.
- “Free” installation promotions may not be free. There is invariably a charge for something – installation, activation, upfront monitoring, whatever. These “teaser” systems look inexpensive, but they usually include only basic components and won’t give you the protection you need. When you want to add equipment to the “free” system it can get really expensive. Find a company that is ready to discuss your needs – and that helps you customize your own affordable protection. Even better: purchase a wireless system you can add to or move with you.
- Refuse to deal with high pressure sales people who use scare tactics to convince you to buy from them. These tactics can include citing false crime statistics about your neighborhood, or making you say “No” as many as nine times before they leave your home! Companies who do this are in trouble all over the US – but they are out there in big numbers, especially in the summer.
- Ask about monitoring. Who will be doing the monitoring? Is the monitoring center UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved? And what kind of monitoring is it? Most traditional system use a phone line that a burglar can cut in 10 seconds – and there goes you protection! Even today, plenty of companies are selling phone-line based monitoring. Insist on cellular – the only safe and reliable method to monitor your alarm system.
- Before you sign the monitoring agreement, make sure you understand the full terms, including renewal and cancellation policy. Then call your police department and ask about false alarm fees, and if you have to register your alarm system. Many jurisdictions have false alarm fees, so a system that is more reliable and easier to use will save you money. Look for a respected name in alarm equipment (GE Security is a safe bet). Just as important, look for equipment you can control remotely – the best alarm companies are offering interactive monitoring that allow you to control and keep tabs on what’s happening at home. Want to arm or disarm you home alarm systems with an app on your smart phone? You can do that – and more. Plus, interactive monitoring is a great way to reduce false alarms.
We like this advice a lot. In fact, it echoes several posts on this blog that encourage you to research the provider, the equipment, the quality of service – in other words, know exactly what you are paying, what you are paying, and what makes your system better than the rest. When it comes to quality, smart home security shoppers have been choosing FrontPoint – the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US. A FrontPoint system is safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. Just read the on-line reviews: it’s easy to see that FrontPoint wins hands down when it comes to customer satisfaction. Give us a call, and question us on the topics listed above – you’ll like the answers.