Millions of US consumers depend on Angie’s List
, the remarkably successful online resource for checking out service providers for everything from plumbers to dentists. Just pay a modest subscription, and you too will have access to Angie’s List, where you can read and post reviews for service providers in your geographic area: because of the fee-based structure, the reviews are generally considered to be more credible than those at many other review sites.
Angie’s List Offers Advice, Too
It happens that Angie also offers advice to consumers on a broad variety of topics – like home security providers. I recently happened upon a post by Angie that specifically addressed the alarm door knocking phenomenon. As many of you know, door knocking is a frequent topic in the FrontPoint blog. Door-to-door sales reps using questionable tactics to sell home security have been the talk of our industry – most of it not positive. These companies have been around for years, but their tactics have only gotten more unsavory over time, as it gets tougher to sell this way.
Who Are These Door-Knockers?
In case this is a new topic for you, door knockers are the outfits whose representatives show up uninvited with a home security offer that is just too good to pass up. It is a sad fact that the absurdly high sales commissions paid to college students selling alarms door-to-door result in some door knockers engaging in overly aggressive selling – or even obliterating the truth to make a sale. The use of a high-pressure sales pitch - and possibly even fraudulent and deceptive tactics, has been well documented across the US. Now even Angie’s List has weighed in with a post, and a warning.
They'll show up at your door unannounced and unwelcome, often using strong-arm tactics - such as fast talking and false promises - to pique your interest. Whatever they're selling, you shouldn't be buying. It's never a good idea to conduct business at your front door.
"I tell people, unless it's a Girl Scout or a Boy Scout knocking at your door, keep the door shut," said David Myers, vice president of regional business development for Indianapolis-based F.E. Moran Security Solutions. "A lot of these companies generally take college kids and go nationwide. They usually get bad ratings and will change the name of their company and start over again."
One of the Classic Tactics
In the Indianapolis area, Myers has seen instances in which the sales people say they are with the local company the homeowner has a contract with and then claim they need to do upgrades. "The people will end up signing their contract, and the people will throw away our equipment," Myers said. "The customer may not even own the equipment. Now they have two monitoring contracts. A majority of the (homeowners) don't tend to do their research."
States Get Involved
The Indiana Attorney General's Office investigated such a case in 2010, when a Utah company reportedly told homeowners that the Indianapolis company that provided them their home security system was going out of business. In turn, the Utah company replaced the current system with theirs - leaving the homeowner with two bills.
Great Advice to Avoid Being Scammed
Most people are caught off guard by these scams, Myers said. Aside from owning two contracts, the monthly service fees are generally higher than local companies charge. And the prices often go up after a year with the service. There are several ways tips to avoid being scammed. No. 1, don't fall for door-to-door sales. "Whether they're door-to-door or not, (the homeowners) need to call and verify," Myers said. "They need to know who they are speaking with. The other thing, read the paperwork. That is by far the most important thing they need to do. Read what they are about to sign. The kids sitting across from you can promise you the world." Because security systems can be expensive and include a contract, make sure to do your research when choosing a company.
More on What You Can Do
Consumers should utilize the following tips to protect themselves in door-to-door sales:
- Be wary of high pressure tactics. If you feel uncomfortable, don't answer the door.
- Get all verbal promises in writing. Otherwise, they may not be honored.
- Read the fine print. Check the length of the contract and all costs, including equipment, installation, and monthly monitoring fees.
- Understand your right to cancel. For door-to-door sales, sellers generally must give you three days to cancel and they cannot start the installation or any service until after the cancellation period has ended.
- Take your time. Don't sign a contract until you have carefully reviewed it.
The fact of the matter is that it pays to shop, so take your time: there are more generous offers from other alarm companies with far 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. And if you happen to be a member of Angie’s List, you’ll find that FrontPoint has more positive reviews than any US alarm company. We make home security and home automation safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you’ll never have to answer that knock at your door.