There was so much interest in my recent post on ADT purchasing Brink’s/Broadview Security (here’s a convenient link) that I’m going to address a question we hear a lot: “What is the deal with the ADT Dealer program?” ADT runs one of many alarm dealer programs: some were started by alarm manufacturers (like GE, or Honeywell) and others were launched by the alarm companies themselves, like ADT, or Brink’s/Broadview. ADT’s Authorized Dealer program is the largest in the US. These programs create new alarm accounts, partially to offset customer cancellations for service and other reasons.
How it Works
In ADT’s program, an independent alarm dealer does the marketing, selling, and installation – and then sells the account to ADT. That’s right: ADT writes a check to “buy” your account from the Authorized Dealer, who has to “guarantee” the account for one year. The dealer markets under the ADT name, so to the consumer, the ADT dealer looks pretty much like ADT. The monitoring and ongoing maintenance are done by ADT.
The Bright Side
Dealers go through a vetting process to join the ADT program, and the rules have evolved over the years to keep ADT’s brand out of trouble. One of the real benefits of buying a system from an ADT dealer is that it usually costs less than purchasing the same system directly from ADT: that’s right, you can get an ADT-branded system for less money from an Authorized Dealer than from ADT itself, since ADT is “buying” the account – and the accounting rules are different when ADT does that. Don’t forget that Tyco (ADT’s parent) is a public company – so earnings-per-share are important!
The Dark Side
Here’s where I caution you to look under the hood.
1) Dealers often advertise “FREE” systems that don’t give you the protection you need – then charge a lot for the “extra” equipment, plus an installation or “activation” charge…
2) They also tend to be anonymous and notoriously cost-driven, with less long-term interest in the account – that first year guarantee is the most important thing to them.
3) In a constant cycle of “create/sell-create/sell,” dealers are more likely to use cheaper, older versions of hardware (like the GE Simon 3, which I call the “baby monitor,” vs. the newer GE Simon XT).
4) They normally focus on “traditional” outmoded landline systems and basic services. It’s all about quick turnover, whereas the company who takes a long-term interest in you should provide the latest equipment and features – such as cellular monitoring and interactive services – to keep you as a happy customer as long as possible.
What Should You Do?
So, if you are shopping for peace of mind, and you find yourself talking to an authorized dealer, make sure you get the name of the actual company – and check their reviews. (Here’s an interesting link about an ADT dealer customer experience.) Then make sure you are getting the best equipment and services. FrontPoint Security comes up against these programs all the time – and once folks do their homework and make an honest comparison, it’s not that hard to make the right choice. We’re not saying that going through a dealer is necessarily a bad deal – we just want to see you holding the right cards!