Recently the cable companies introduced a bundled home security offer. In Peter Rogers’ blog last September
, he describes how Comcast’s Xfinity HOME offer bundles home security and home automation with other services – specifically Comcast’s cable internet.
In a Forbes interview summarized in this article, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said it was necessary to expand his company’s suite of services in order to respond to increasing competitive pressures. For years, especially between 2007 and 2012, Comcast was notorious for losing customers – hundreds of thousands per year. So they enhanced their core offerings, while also venturing into new fields, such as home security.
While these new endeavors may have helped Comcast stem the tide of their revenue and customer loss, it unfortunately has not improved their customer reviews. You’ll still find Comcast on lists of the most-hated companies in the country. Considering that Comcast generally infuriates customers with their core offerings – which they’re supposedly “good” at – it’s difficult to imagine them taking on something totally foreign, with no expertise. Perhaps they felt their backs were to the corner. Or, since Entertainment is generally considered “sexier” than home security, perhaps they felt they could easily compete, exciting their customers with the bells and whistles of what was supposedly the Next Big Thing in a smart, integrated home.
But before you jump on this Next Big Thing, take a look at what their customers (or “victims” as they sometimes call themselves) have to say:
“I do not recommend Comcast Xfinity home security at all. I work for the company… and I am not impressed.” ~ Stephaine Arrigo
“Not ready for prime time” ~ Lee K
“If you are considering home security… don’t go to Comcast. They don’t understand.” ~ Ajax
“Came home from a weeks vacation and found that all the devices lost communications with the console and my home was unprotected.” ~ Bill Field
These and many more customer reviews can be found on the NitroQuotes website. While a smattering of people report that their Xfinity system works fine, the majority of the reviews are overwhelmingly negative. AlarmAdvisor.com also steers customers away from the Comcast home security offering, citing their high installation rates, as well as the customary issues with service.
Let’s dig a little deeper. Neither Comcast Cablevision, Inc, nor Xfinity Home Security is accredited by the BBB (although something called Comcast Spotlight is). We were unable to find specific Xfinity Home ratings on the usual go-to review sources such as Angie’s List or Yelp, perhaps since the offer is so new. There were, however, plenty of comments about Comcast in general. They were abysmal. On Yelp, reviewers wish they could give a lower rating than 1 star. Complaints about Comcast’s uncaring customer service and installation and billing problems abound.
Many customers point out that Comcast doesn't need to care, because they have a monopoly. This, unfortunately, is true for many of the large cable providers, in several regions of the country. Consumers need internet connections, but don’t benefit from the natural advantages of a free market. If Comcast – or Cox or AT&T – is the only one game in town, I guess we have to play by their rules.
When it comes to home security, however, we get to play by our own rules. We don’t have to gamble with the safety of our home and family. We have a wide variety of alarm systems to choose from, with the healthy market competition that drives increasingly better products and service. Innovators like FrontPoint Security have strengthened the home security marketplace, by introducing 100% wireless and 100% cellular systems. These pioneering efforts generated a flurry of advancement throughout the industry, and many security companies now offer wireless equipment, as well interactive features like mobile apps. Even steadfast traditionalists like ADT are trying to get with the times, by offering a security system that is at least partially wireless.
As the AlarmAdvisor.com article recommends, we think it’s smart to choose a home security company with true expertise. Many experts also recommend an alarm system with a cellular connection to the monitoring station – rather than using the internet, like the cable companies’ alarm systems do. A cellular connection is definitely safer than either the internet, or the home phone land-line such as ADT uses. Anything with wires is vulnerable to storms, power outages, and burglars with wire cutters.
The idea of an intelligent home with advanced, integrated control over your security, utilities and entertainment is extremely appealing. In fact, it’s likely the wave of the future. But if the cable companies can’t even deliver their core services well, do we really want them messing with the rest of our homes? Advanced home security systems like FrontPoint’s already can – and do – efficiently integrate and automate elements such as home lighting, thermostats and door locks. They include live video security – and in fact, FrontPoint’s offer trumps Comcast’s in the video realm, offering recorded video as well (for no additional cost), with motion-activated video clips sent directly to the customer’s smartphone and stored on their integrated customer portal. When it comes to home security, you have a choice. Do your homework, check the reviews, and then rest easy, with the peace of mind that comes from an informed decision.