December 13, 2012
ADT Finds Challenges in Servicing its Customers
It’s commonly accepted that no service provider is perfect – even FrontPoint! That has been especially true for the electronic security industry, where homeowners rarely rave about their alarm company. Our sector of the economy does rank higher than the cable industry, but that’s a pretty low bar! And of course the alarm companies that do a better job of meeting customers’ expectations are rightly perceived as superior service providers.
One might expect that size helps in this regard, but in an industry where one large company (ADT) seems to dominate all the others, there is ample evidence that bigger does not necessarily mean better. Just check out the Better Business Bureau, or Google the name of the company and add the word “complaints.” Then sit back – you may be reading for a while. Here’s a disappointing story from Atlanta, GA, that describes the understandable concerns of one high-profile customer.
Having a home alarm and security system is an important safeguard, but assuming that it is doing everything you expect all the time can be misleading. 11Alive News producer Marcita Thomas made that assumption when she activated the alarm system in her home before leaving for work. When she got home she was in for a shock -- her ADT monitoring station never got an alarm signal.
Playing the Blame Game
She says ADT acknowledged that the phone hookup didn't work, but said it was a wiring issue caused by the telephone carrier. ADT includes a one-line statement at the bottom of its monthly bill telling customers to check their alarm systems. It's a good idea, according to Atlanta attorney Tom Salata, but it doesn't put the responsibility of making sure the system works on the homeowner. "The owner of the house, unless they have signed some type of contract that says otherwise, is just supposed to set the alarm and leave and have the alarm company monitor the house," Salata said.
So, Who is Right?
I have watched this back-and-forth between alarm companies and phone companies for decades. In my book, the alarm company is the party trusted to make sure the system works as it should. And for years alarm companies (including ADT) have employed technology that enables even an outdated system to “self-test” on a weekly or monthly basis, and report a communication failure.
ADT told 11Alive News that it places monthly test calls to customers and also provides a toll free number for assistance, but Thomas says she did not get those calls. Consumers are advised to periodically contact their alarm company - especially if there has been a lightning strike or severe storm in the area. Consumers are also advised to contact them if telephone company technicians have been working in the area, to ensure their service still works properly. Consumers with signed contracts are advised to read them carefully. ADT says they are working with Thomas to resolve her issues and to upgrade her security system.
And I bet they are working with her! There’s nothing like having a television news producer in a major US market telling folks that her alarm company let her down. Too bad the average ADT customer just might not get the same level of response. There are plenty of examples to choose from – like this one I found on one of the many review sites that exist on the web. By the way, these sites offer a great way to compare alarm companies. There’s nothing like the voice of the consumer on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and others.
A Second Customer with a Non-working System
My husband and I installed an ADT wireless system about 1.5 years ago. Less than 24hrs after the system was installed a technician had to come back out because a zone was in alarm. We fought zone alarms for MONTHS!! I have lost count of how many times I have been on the phone trying to figure out what was going on. They finally installed a booster more than 6 months later that took care of the problem for a little while. Now we have zone alarms AGAIN and ADT flat out REFUSES to work on the system other than Mon-Fri 8am to 430pm. I am sorry but I work for a living, it costs me $500 A DAY to miss work. I have missed too many days for this system that I have only actually armed three times!!! I cannot just miss "an hour or so" to wait for a technician - I have to miss the entire day, so please ADT, please explain to me WHY ON EARTH should I pay you ANOTHER $25 and lose $500 to come to my house AGAIN when I am sure this won't work either.
Now that’s a frustrated customer. There is no reply form ADT on the site – I do hope the situation was eventually resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
Too Big to Care?
With over 6 million alarm customers, ADT is by far the largest provider of electronic security in the US - if not the world. With that number of systems, it’s only fair to expect that ADT will receive its fair share of complaints. Plus, the Internet has certainly made life tougher for service providers in general. But ADT is reporting an annual cancellation rate of 13.5% - higher than the industry average. In other words, roughly one out of every seven ADT customers walks away each year. Poor service appears to be a big part of that disappointing retention metric.
A Better Alternative
How about a fully programmed and comprehensive wireless alarm system based on safer cellular monitoring? You can even set the equipment up yourself in half an hour, and then enjoy the most advanced features you’ll find in home security and home automation? If any service issues occur, your alarm company can remotely troubleshoot the problems, and ship replacement equipment to you overnight if needed. These systems are out there, and FrontPoint offers just such a solution. And when it’s time to move, you simply take the system with you: no charge, no contract extension, and no hassle. That’s security with convenience.
As one of the few nationwide providers of advanced home security, FrontPoint regularly competes against ADT and other large companies who seem to act as if bigger automatically means better. As a younger and more nimble alarm company, FrontPoint has led the alarm industry with peace of mind that is safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And we care deeply about every customer review we receive – both positive and negative. That’s why we’re the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.