Four common complaints about alarm systems and how to avoid them
Some alarm companies make a lot of boasts and promises as a way to entice you to give them your business. You may not realize the reality of the situation until you have already locked yourself into a contract. Make certain to do some research before you sign your contract about the trustworthiness of the alarm company. Here are four more complaints about alarm systems and how to avoid them.
1. Be careful when the alarm company talks about emergency services responses to an alarm signal. Most alarm systems that are monitored by an alarm company have the feature that in the event of an alarm activation, the alarm system sends a signal to the monitoring center for the alarm company. When the signal is received, usually the monitoring center will usually call the customer to attempt to give the customer the opportunity to verify that it is a false alarm. If the monitoring center receives the proper code, it does nothing further. If the monitoring center receives no answer, a busy signal, or an incorrect code, then they contact emergency services.
Some less than truthful alarm companies will promise that they offer twenty-four hour three hundred sixty-five days a year monitoring for their alarm systems connected with emergency services. This might not be one-hundred-percent the case. In some municipalities they require what is called “Double Verification.” This means that when the alarm activates the monitoring center goes through its protocol in verifying the signal. The problem is that in some municipalities they require a double verification before they will allow emergency services to be contacted. This means that a guard service or whomever the municipality dictates must also verify the activation before they will do anything about it. Be sure to check with your local municipality to verify if yours is one of these double verification areas before signing a monitoring contract with an alarm company.
2. Be wary of alarm companies that offer “Free” equipment. Some alarm companies will advertise “free equipment” if you sign-up with them right away. Be careful with these claims. Carefully read over the contract including the fine print, and the fine print of the advertisements. You may actually need a magnifying glass to be able to actually read the small print on the advertisements. These statements talk about how they reserve the right to raise the monthly fees at their will. They will raise the monthly rates significantly every few months to the point that you will be paying significantly more than you expected.
Beyond that, some of the more unscrupulous alarm companies will hit you with a number of hidden fees for installation, set-up, monitoring, and programming in order to recoup their money from the “free” equipment. Any legitimate company is going to be willing to put their prices, special sales, packages, and monthly fees for monitoring in writing to you before you sign on the dotted line. Remember, you are the customer. You are the one that is in control of the situation. It is your home-do not allow yourself to be pressured or dare I say, bullied into making a decision that you are not completely comfortable with.
3. Automatic Renewal. Typically, when you initially purchase an alarm company and sign-up for monthly monitoring services, your contract locks you in for a period of two-to-four-years. When the term has expired, many alarm companies automatically renew the contract if you do not let them know usually in writing sometimes months before the term ends that you do not wish to renew. In the event that you would like to get out of the contract while it is still in effect or after it has been auto renewed, they alarm company will want you to pay an early cancellation fee. They can be very sneaky about this. It is very important that you ask your sales representative about this when you are considering purchasing an alarm system. If you used a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) type of system and company, ask them over the phone or by way of an e-mail or a chat on their website what their policies are in terms of auto renewal of the monitoring contract.
4. Door-to-door salespeople. These types of salespeople may have been a staple of how sales were done at one time in the history of our country, but that time has come and gone. Check with your local municipality, many times they have anti-solicitation laws. Most of the times, in order for the salesperson to be legal, they must obtain a permit to solicit door-to-door in your community. It is perfectly within your rights to ask them to show you their permit if they show up at your home. High pressure sales tactics often are a clear red flag indicating the distinct possibility of a scam.
If you feel pressured or in any way uncomfortable, you can demand that the person leave your home. There is no need to be polite or courteous and respectful. General rules and recommendations for anyone coming to your home suggest that you not allow anyone to enter your home without a pre-scheduled appointment. An appropriate salesperson will always be willing to show you ID before being allowed into your home. The company’s technicians will also be willing to show you ID, usually come in a marked vehicle, and wear company related clothing.
Don’t allow a salesperson to pressure you into making a decision on the spot. Ask them to leave written materials for you to review so that you can make a decision on your time. Never sign any kind of contract without thoroughly reading it first and making sure that you understand everything contained within the contract. Demand that the company put all prices, warranties for the items, and cancellation prices in writing. Keep in mind that for any purchases of more than twenty-five dollars that the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule applies. This means that you have the right to cancel any agreement within three business days if you choose and the company is required to give you a full refund.
If you need help finding the right alarm system for your home, while having full control over your system and options, contact one of our home security experts today to have your questions answered.