We are accustomed to seeing warnings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and various state and local jurisdictions on the proliferation of alarm scams, many perpetrated by “door knockers.”
It’s not just high pressure sales tactics: the issue increasingly centers on poaching accounts from other alarm companies, also referred to as “slamming.” ADT has gone on the offensive, as with this news article from West Palm Beach, FL:
ADT says the fraud starts at your front door when people show up pretending to be from the company, but they're not. ADT says people from other companies are showing up at their customers' doors, claiming to be from ADT and saying they need to upgrade their security equipment. ADT says the alleged scammers often target the elderly, and end up installing a security system from their own company instead.
One person on the Treasure Coast told us he was suspicious when two men came to his house wearing ADT clothes, asked for his personal information and scheduled an appointment. The man called ADT to verify, but they had no record of it, and told him ADT doesn't go door to door. The victim canceled that appointment before it was too late. ADT has filed lawsuits against companies caught in these scams. Last year, they won more than four million as a result of lawsuits.
The irony is that ADT does indeed sell door-to-door. In fact, the company bought one of their largest Authorized Dealers, Absolute Security, which specialized in just that approach.
If you are ADT, what additional steps could you take to put the brakes on door knockers slamming your accounts? Put some money on the table!
ADT is offering as much as $25,000 to anyone willing to blow the whistle on security companies that train their door-to-door sales teams to use deceptive sales techniques, the home security giant announced this week. David Bleisch, ADT general counsel, said ADT believes some sales reps working for unethical door-knocking companies want to speak out anyway, so this offer is designed to encourage them to do that.
Focus on Summer Sales
“We want to also provide additional incentive and recognition for people that are brave enough to stand up and be whistle-blowers,” he told Security Systems News. The offer, which is good until Aug. 31, specifies that any evidence whistleblowers provide must result in a successful civil judgment against the offending company before any reward is paid. The whistle-blowers will receive either $25,000 or 25 percent of the award ADT wins, whichever is less.
Slamming Getting Worse
Bleisch said ADT, which is based here, believes it’s the first in the industry to offer a reward to combat unethical behaviors by door-to-door security sales reps. It’s the company’s latest attempt in a years-long effort to fight such scams, which Bleisch said are on the increase. “Based on the number of complaints we’ve received this year, we think this is going to be a record year,” he said. He said the company doesn’t have absolute numbers because not all scamming instances get reported. However, he estimated that the number of scams per year is “probably well into the tens of thousands.”
Preying on the Elderly
Unethical door knockers often target the elderly. Their misrepresentations include telling customers that they have an affiliation with a customer’s current service provider, such as ADT, and then making such false claims as saying that provider is going out of business in order to dupe the customer into signing a contract with a new company.
ADT says it has video evidence of a sales training session by Utah-based door-knocking company Vision Security, in which it says sales reps were being taught to lie to customers. ADT is suing Vision, which denies wrongdoing, in federal court. Vision is among door-knocking companies that have said that any deceptive sales techniques were used by “rogue” sales reps. In 2013, it ADT says it won more than $4 million from such companies as a result of lawsuits.
We thought last summer saw slamming reach a new level, but this summer sounds even worse. And it’s hardly surprising that ADT would take such an aggressive stance in protecting its subscriber base. As the largest alarm company in the U.S. and Canada, it is the biggest target – with the most to lose.
FrontPoint is not immune from slamming – but it happens rarely. For one thing, our customers need, want, and understand what they are getting from us. Plus, they never see a salesperson or technician to begin with: they purchased their system online, they set it up their system themselves, and they know it works because they use the interactive services every day. But we’ll keep our eyes peeled for slamming – and our sympathy goes out to our colleagues at ADT.