Wireless Home Alarms – What is the True Cost of ADT Pulse?

Posted by , , at 10:00 am

ADT is running plenty of ads for its new Pulse product: this is a major launch of a new service offering by the largest alarm company in the US, but there is still little transparency about how it works, and what it costs. I’ve gathered some information to share – and some important points of comparison.

As I mentioned in my recent post on Pulse, the Pulse features are not new. In fact, we have been offering Alarm.com’s safer version of interactive, wireless home security since 2007. Pus, there is at least one notable deficiency in the ADT product – but first, let’s talk price.

You may also remember that you cannot find any Pulse pricing information on the ADT web site. Every time you click on a “Learn More” link, you are asked to enter your contact information (phone, email, state, and zip code). Once again I called the number on the web site, and again was funneled toward setting an appointment for an ADT representative to come to my home. No, thanks: in this day of Internet shopping and endless online comparisons, I want to read up on a product first.

I still can’t get any pricing information over the phone from that main number. Even worse: the phone agent’s script varies with your zip code, and mine told me that Pulse pricing may include variables such as local permit fees, which is why only with an in-home visit can they provide pricing. The agent picked the wrong person for that red herring, since I know full well that alarm permit fees are paid separately to the local jurisdiction, and have nothing to do with the cost of alarm equipment or services – Pulse, or otherwise. Nice try!

Two calls later I did reach someone who could talk about the basic “Select” package. Beyond that, it’s the appointment route, or nothing. But there are folks talking online about the product, and here is what I’ve learned (unofficially) so far:

Comparing this pricing to FrontPoint is a bit of apples and oranges, but here goes. Our basic interactive system equipment starts at $99.95, with the advantage of customizing your system as you go – and we’re not big fans of the “kit” approach. But we can easily compare the monthly cost: FrontPoint offers advanced Interactive Monitoring for much less (click here for the full story, including pricing, on FrontPoint’s interactive monitoring services), and we sell video for much less, too. While we don’t yet offer the lighting and thermostat control, it’s coming soon – and this feature appears to cost only $2 extra in the ADT pricing structure, where the highest price is $57.99!

And when it comes to safety, here’s the clincher. ADT does not offer the same virtually undefeatable “Crash and Smash” feature that was developed and patented by Alarm.com. We think that’s a huge difference (in our customers’ favor), and it’s hard for us to imagine anyone paying so much more for monitoring than we charge, and not getting that level of security (here’s a link to my latest post on Crash and Smash protection).

We are still concerned about how ADT is rolling out this product, and equally so about the service levels that you can expect. After all, it’s not just how the product works, but also what happens when it doesn’t – or you have questions. A company that “lives” in the world of next-gen services and interactive monitoring, as we do, is better prepared to support you in getting the most peace of mind out of your system. I’ll stick by the words that ended my recent post:

As one of the smaller and nimbler companies that have been delivering interactive, wireless home security for years, FrontPoint keeps a close watch on the many evolving aspects of the alarm industry. We believe in alarm systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable – and that’s what we have offered from day one. The fact that we are selling better services for less should only help us when alarm shoppers see the Pulse ads and start looking for interactive services. We’re ready, bring ‘em on!

Comments (8)

Post a Comment | View Comments
  1. Alan

    Even though I re-read before posting, I see a few grammar mistakes still managed to sneak in, eg, “to” and “my”, and probably others. I wish there was a way to edit comments.

  2. Alan

    Even though I re-read before posting, I see a few grammar mistakes still managed to sneak in, eg, “to” and “my”, and probably others. I wish there was a way to edit comments.

  3. Alan

    Peter,

    Thanks for doing all this research and sharing with the rest of us.

    I will second the sentiment that these big alarm providers (and many mid-small ones) are decidedly *NOT* transparent when trying to find out even the most basic information and pricing, so I can imagine how much time you spent with Google and industry sources to obtain as much as you did. Even if not exact, I’m sure your figures are very close ball-park.

    It’s about time ADT finally started to come to the party you and Alarm.com invited them to about FOUR YEARS AGO. But sadly, as you point out, they are apparently just trying to skim off the low hanging fruit at these price points, which appear to have little relation to underlying costs. There are definitely some FAT margins to be had on both equipment and monitoring at these prices! Just the way ADT likes it.

    And I love the licensing fee and other “below the line” fees that are so in vogue these days with telecom & internet providers, and now apparently, alarm companies. That’s OK, they’re just making customers wiser, so we all start asking what the *FINAL* BILL will look like, with all fees and “taxes” before we place the order for services. Hope they enjoy the party while it lasts.

    Bring it on, is right! Of course, with their size, they could subsidize all this and run honest competition off, but there would be antitrust/competitive legal issues with that; and, let’s be honest here, they’re far to greedy to do that anyway. These big companies beholden to stockholders also can’t afford to think “long range”, as we know. So no worries there.

    AND, this is all JUST about price, which is enough of a killer for most people. My comment doesn’t even mention all the other advantages Frontpoint offers, like better technology, and bar-none, the best customer support I’ve ever received. I matter at Frontpoint, and that feels really good and makes my very loyal. You guys must have incredibly low turnover and very high referral rates.

    Anyway, thanks for the excellent post. It is one of my favorites!

  4. Alan

    Peter,

    Thanks for doing all this research and sharing with the rest of us.

    I will second the sentiment that these big alarm providers (and many mid-small ones) are decidedly *NOT* transparent when trying to find out even the most basic information and pricing, so I can imagine how much time you spent with Google and industry sources to obtain as much as you did. Even if not exact, I’m sure your figures are very close ball-park.

    It’s about time ADT finally started to come to the party you and Alarm.com invited them to about FOUR YEARS AGO. But sadly, as you point out, they are apparently just trying to skim off the low hanging fruit at these price points, which appear to have little relation to underlying costs. There are definitely some FAT margins to be had on both equipment and monitoring at these prices! Just the way ADT likes it.

    And I love the licensing fee and other “below the line” fees that are so in vogue these days with telecom & internet providers, and now apparently, alarm companies. That’s OK, they’re just making customers wiser, so we all start asking what the *FINAL* BILL will look like, with all fees and “taxes” before we place the order for services. Hope they enjoy the party while it lasts.

    Bring it on, is right! Of course, with their size, they could subsidize all this and run honest competition off, but there would be antitrust/competitive legal issues with that; and, let’s be honest here, they’re far to greedy to do that anyway. These big companies beholden to stockholders also can’t afford to think “long range”, as we know. So no worries there.

    AND, this is all JUST about price, which is enough of a killer for most people. My comment doesn’t even mention all the other advantages Frontpoint offers, like better technology, and bar-none, the best customer support I’ve ever received. I matter at Frontpoint, and that feels really good and makes my very loyal. You guys must have incredibly low turnover and very high referral rates.

    Anyway, thanks for the excellent post. It is one of my favorites!