July 12, 2013
Alarm Door Knockers Poaching Customers Again, This Time in Austin, Texas
Welcome to summer – the height of the season for door-to-door alarm salespeople applying questionable tactics and making big promises as they push alarm systems on unwary homeowners. These unwelcome visitors are hitting the streets in droves all across the US, banging on millions of doors. But the companies that employ these high-pressure hucksters are routinely in trouble, as you can tell from checking their poor reviews, countless complaints, and the fines, lawsuits, and other government actions listed on the BBB (Better Business Bureau) website. Even the Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about these folks.
One door knocking practice that really crosses the line is soliciting existing customers away from other alarm companies – called “poaching” in the alarm industry, just like “slamming” in the telecommunications industry. We already know that this spring and summer have been the worst on record for door knockers trying to pry customers away from other alarm companies. It was pretty bad last summer, but it’s clear that this year we've hit a new high – or low, depending on your point of view. And these door knockers are telling the same tall stories described in this article from Austin, Texas.
The home security sign in your front yard is meant to scare off intruders, but it could actually be making you a target of a scam. Fake salesmen are going door to door posing as security company representatives and asking to come into people's homes. The scam ends up costing victims thousands of dollars.
A Perfect Poaching Example from Austin
It was on Monday evening when homeowner Maria Avila got an unexpected knock at her front door. "Actually, the man said, 'I'm with your security company we are here to do an update on your system I want to look at your box and I need to come inside your home,'" said Avila, who lives in East Austin. But instead of letting the man inside Avila told him the salesman to come back the following day after she called her security company to verify. It was when she called Point Security that she says she immediately knew something wasn't right.
By the way, there is no relation between Point Security, the company named in the article, and FrontPoint: with 13,000 alarm companies in the US, there are bound to be some similar names. And since FrontPoint customers never see a door-to-door sales person (or need a technician, for that matter), FrontPoint customers would know better right away!
What Happened Next
The next day, the salesman returned to her home still attempting to change her system. "I told him I called my company and they told me they hadn't sent anyone out," said Avila. He then told me he was with another company instead." It's a story Chris Quinn with Point Security says he hears often. "They make their shirts, they make badges, they try to use sales techniques and unethical sales practices," said Quinn. He says his customers are being tricked into thinking they're getting an update to their current alarm instead when they sign off on paperwork they're actually signing a contract for a separate system. "Before you know it you're in a company issued agreement with two companies meaning you are paying two bills and it's a very big issue," said Quinn.
Great Advice for Homeowners
Point Security says while they still recommend that homeowners keep security signs in their yard to scare away intruders following several steps can also protect you from scammers. For Avila, she says she's glad she asked all the right questions before easily becoming a victim. "People need to be aware to not let just anyone come in no matter what they claim to be doing," said Avila. Home burglaries typically rise during the summer months with families leaving for vacations. Experts say scammers are armed with that knowledge and are ready to act like they're going to protect you.
Why Worse This Summer?
Reasons as to why this summer has hit new ethical lows vary, but here are a few likely ones: fierce competition in recruiting door knocking sale personnel, huge hiring bonuses to lure sales managers and sale reps away from other door knocking companies, and a shakeup among the top companies who sell this way. It’s known that the absurdly high sales commissions being thrown at college students selling door-to-door result in some door knockers engaging in overly aggressive selling – or even obliterating the truth to make a sale. As mentioned above, the most blatant cases involve poaching subscribers from other alarm companies. And while the door knockers claim such behavior is limited, or old news, the lawsuits, fines, and other statewide government actions refer to ongoing fraud and deception.
Harder to Sell Door-to Door
As many door knockers know, the bad news is out: mountains of customer complaints and horrible reviews continue to accumulate. All this negative press is making it harder for these companies to sign up new customers – which makes them even more aggressive, and that behavior results in more complaints. It’s a vicious cycle for the door knockers.
Remember, door knockers don’t want you to research them: the complaints are too many and too easy to find, along with low ratings from the BBB – to say nothing of more attractive offers from other alarm companies with better reputations and service records – like FrontPoint. When you’re ready to learn why we are the nationwide leader in wireless home security, just check us out online. We make home security and home automation safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to answer that knock at your door.