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ADT Subjects Canadian Customers to Questionable Practice

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August 14, 2013
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ADT Subjects Canadian Customers to Questionable Practice

We all know that technology means change – mostly for the better, I might add – and that the trend of technological advancement is virtually unstoppable. It may take longer for some technologies to reach certain locales, and today’s post is a great example of the variable speed at which developments are implemented on a geographic basis.

The topic in question is 10-digit dialing, which has been the norm in many areas of the US for some time. But now it’s cropping up in some less densely populated areas – like Saskatchewan, one of Canada’s “prairie provinces.” I have traveled through Saskatchewan, and it is lovely – but with a population of just over a million, the province has a population density less than half of the national average, and has enjoyed a longer respite from some the changes that the rest of us take for granted. And oddly enough, ADT is involved in the story.

Dialing seven digits for local calls will be a thing of the past in Saskatchewan starting Saturday - and for some people, the change has not been free of charge. The province is running short on 306 numbers, and will launch its second area code, 639, as soon as SaskTel runs out of 306 numbers. Calls made as of Saturday will no longer go through unless they are dialed using 10 digits.

Easy Adoption

SaskTel has been reminding callers of the coming change with an automated voice message when customers dial without using an area code. Callers who dial seven digits will now hear a recorded message asking them to hang up and redial using the area code. Long distance calls will still require a "1" before the number. According to SaskTel, most Saskatchewan callers are prepared for the switch, with over 95 per cent of customers now dialing 10 digits on their first attempt at local calls. "We are pleased with the over 95 per cent participation rate among SaskTel customers," Ron Styles, SaskTel President and CEO, said in a media release.

What About Alarm Systems?

However, the phone company is still concerned about security systems and other devices programmed to use seven-digit numbers. "We must highlight the need for customers to ensure that all numbers stored in communication systems and devices - particularly in alarm systems, Internet connections, building intercoms and call forwarding devices - have been programmed for 10-digit dialing," Styles said.

Explaining the Issue

SaskTel spokesperson Michelle Englot said alarm systems that are programmed to call seven-digit numbers must be reprogrammed, or emergency calls to security companies will not go through. Most Saskatoon-based security companies who spoke to The StarPhoenix this week said they did not have to reprogram their systems because they use 1-800 numbers, remote systems, or are already programmed to handle 10-digit dialing.

Where ADT Comes In

ADT Security has been reprogramming its control panels to work on 1-800 monitoring systems. "The project is 99 per cent complete," ADT's director of media relations, Sarah Cohn, wrote in an email. Only old ADT systems were installed on a seven-digit format, she said. "ADT has been using '1800' numbers for a number of years in Canada."

Hmmm… I have been at this for over twenty years, and when I entered the alarm industry in 1989 it was already common for alarm systems to be programmed with toll-free numbers. Is it possible that ADT continued using local numbers – ostensibly to save money – after other alarm companies had ended that practice? We may never know.

Charging to Change

Cohn said ADT charged a fee to customers who needed to reprogram their systems. Ron Erikson, an ADT customer in Saskatoon, said he was charged $66 to change the numbers in his control panel from seven digits to 10 digits - a process which took about three minutes. He said he received a letter and emails from ADT telling him he had to reprogram his system, and he felt forced into paying for the switch.

ADT Could Absorb the Cost…

Erikson said he did not own the security equipment, and because he was renting it from ADT, he should not have been charged for the necessary upgrades. They should be classified as business costs for the security company, he said. "I'm ticked off about it. It doesn't seem reasonable," Erikson said. "If I own the system, fine, but I don't own it. I pay a monthly rental for this thing and have a contract."

This dialing issue has not been on the forefront for a long time, but I can remember when it was, in my early days – and I can also remember that the “good” alarm companies did not charge for area code or 10-digit reprogramming. In fact, the really good alarm companies have long had the ability to make these changes remotely, without sending a technician to the home. If ADT was charging $66 for a technician visit, that is unfortunate, as so many alarm companies did not (and do not) charge for this. If, on the other hand, ADT is making these changes remotely and still charging $66, that would raise even more questions. The article does not say which is the case.

I don’t mean to pick on ADT: this story could have been about any number of alarm companies. But frankly, I expect more of ADT, as the largest security services provider in the US and Canada – with roughly 6.5 million customers. And perhaps it is issue like this one that help explain why ADT is growing so slowly, and has annual customer cancellation rates near 14%... above the industry average. As big as they are, ADT should be better than the industry.

The Right Way

You will never have to worry about FrontPoint charging for such a system change. In fact, you will never have to worry about a technician coming to your home to install or service the system, either. That’s because FrontPoint has developed the most user-friendly wireless setup process in the alarm industry, allowing you the convenience you deserve. No tools. No mess. And no more appointment “windows” of four hours that are often missed.

FrontPoint has figured it out, and you are the beneficiary. When you search for “FrontPoint reviews” you’ll find consistently great news, much of it having to do with the convenience of the system. As the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US, FrontPoint is committed to your safety and security – and that means honest sales and advertising, no hidden fees, the best technology at the best price, and world-class service. Now that ispeace of mind, whether you are dialing 7 or 10 digits!

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