November 1, 2011
Consumer Alert Issued on Largest Door Knocker for Deceptive Sales Practices
Consumer warnings issued on door knocking alarm companies are mounting up all across the US. These alerts are issued by television stations, local law enforcement, the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and even the Federal Trade Commission, and the theme is always the same: be very careful before you let one of these pushy folks into your house, and do not commit until you have adequate time to research the company, its reputation, and its products. These companies employ pressure sales tactics and, in some cases, outright fraud to get your signature on a contract – and you may not realize what you are signing up for. But this video clip from Action News 5 provides one of the clearest and most convincing examples of just how bad it can get.
Here’s the title of the video: Action News 5 Investigates Vivint Inc./APX Alarm Scams Banging On Your Door
And here is the first sentence spoken by the Action News 5 reporter:
“Door-to-door is getting dumb and dumber – and it seems the more that businesses still sell door to door, the more they get into trouble.”
The video goes on to describe in detail how a typically aggressive door knocker banged on an Arkansas homeowner’s door to gain entry – only to steal the customer from another alarm company (we call this “poaching” in the alarm industry), based on false promises. The company in the spotlight is Vivint, formerly known as APX, based in Provo, UT. While Vivint is the largest of the door knockers, they are not the worst, by any means: Vivint has settled alarm licensing violations and paid fines in a number of states, whereas other door-to-door alarm providers have behaved with even less regard for the consumer – resulting in far harsher government actions, and even law suits filed by other alarm companies.
Perhaps the best explanation of how these companies operate is found in the expose printed in the Consumerist, an on-line publication associated with Consumer Reports. In this particular post, a former door knocker lays out exactly what these “marketing consultants” say (they are never salespeople, of course!) – and what they really mean. Here are a few great examples:
"I am a marketing Rep from (insert alarm company here) and am just doing some marketing in your neighborhood today." Don't believe a word of what I am saying. I am a high pressure sales rep that is focused on making as much money off of your insecurities as I can. Granted, I don't tell myself that every morning while shaving, but when the chips are down, that’s what I will tell you. I use the marketing line to come off as inexperienced and even non-intrusive. People find the word sales as dirty, so I don't use it. I use softer words to assure people that I am not taking their money and I don't even really care if they help me. But inside I know that if someone lets their guard down for even just a second, I will make the sale and have another commission.
"I'm just in the neighborhood talking to a couple of particular families in the area, seeing if they will help (alarm company) market their new product line that’s just come out." I don't believe you are smart enough to figure it out, so I keep feeding you what you want. I'm not interested in two or three families on your street. I am interested in getting every person in a 50 mile radius to buy my product, because I like money. I'm not looking at special cases that will help market my product. I am interested in forcibly getting you to sign a contract that binds you for three to five years and pays my bills for a while. And the product isn't so new and improved. It’s been on the market for years now. Don't let me tell you that this stuff just came out and we are trying to get a couple of families to use it and try it out because we just want to push product. Simple as that.
"What we do is give families this free equipment to put in their home, and all we ask is they put our little sign out in front of their yard. That’s it. That way, our sales department can have some product in the area to point to as examples. We are willing to take the hit, if you are willing to help us out." Sure you don't pay for any equipment put into your home, but really do you think we would just give you this stuff for free? I have all the placards to show you how each piece of equipment is close to two hundred dollars, and that is cost we as a company are willing to swallow. What I don't tell you is I pay minimum manufacturing price for each piece of equipment I sell. So really, all those things I say we are willing to "take the hit" for, don't cost anything. I am just telling you this to make you feel like you are beating the system. And you suckers think you are getting a deal, yet you never really do.
FrontPoint has never sold door-to-door – and we have no plans to sell that way in the future. That’s only part of why FrontPoint has an “A” rating with the BBB – instead of an “F,” like some door knocker companies. The best home security customers are the people who are looking for a system in the first place, and with home security expanding to including to include remote video, interactive features, and even control of light, locks, and thermostats, it’s no wonder that demand is increasing. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. That’s what makes FrontPoint the leader in wireless home security and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. And it also explains why we have the highest customer loyalty in the business. Just read the FrontPoint reviews!