It’s that time of year again, when seasonal alarm sales reach their peak – and this summer is no exception. FrontPoint Security, the leader in wireless security systems, has some timely advice for when you hear that knock on your door.
Some alarm companies recruit students as door-to-door sales representatives each summer – and the growth of these companies has been huge. While most seasonal companies are trying to police their work force, there can be a dark side to these programs, so buyer beware!
In the first place, these alarm systems may not be a great value. Most use a vulnerable home phone line for communication, and the monthly fees are high. The “free” or deeply discounted systems tend to be very basic, and additional alarm equipment that provides true protection can be very expensive. The sales representatives are very highly compensated, and that can lead to sales pressure. Finally, the managers are paid on sales, so they can actually be incentivized to look the other way when the sales people use questionable sales practices.
These companies have generated thousands of complaints from aggressive sales tactics and serious misrepresentations, resulting in jurisdictions fighting back: some companies are prohibited in certain areas, up to entire states. And, some “door knocker” companies are notorious for targeting competitors’ existing customers for new system sales. Here are some of the tactics used by these seasonal companies:
- Posing as the existing alarm service provider
- Posing as governmental officials
- Misrepresenting that a person’s existing alarm company sent the seasonal company
- Misrepresenting that a person’s existing alarm company is not in business
- Targeting competitor customers and taking over equipment the original provider owns
What can you do when an alarm system salesman knocks on your door? Here are six simple steps you can take to protect your wallet – and your home and family.
1. Always Ask for Company ID – ask the alarm salesman to state the name of the employer, and not the brand of the equipment they install.
2. Ask about Licensing - in many jurisdictions (both state and local), an alarm company license is required.
3. Get a Full Explanation of How the Alarm System Works - especially how it communicates with the central monitoring station. Remember, these companies sell phone and internet connections that can easily be cut by an intruder. The only truly safe systems are cellular. If a cellular upgrade is available, ask what does it add to the equipment cost – and the monthly fee?
4. Tell the Salesperson You Want Time to Think About It - the company that pushes you into buying on the spot is not the trusted provider you want protecting your home and family.
5. Do Your Due Diligence - on-line reviews are your best friend here, since it may be a company you (or your friends or family members) have not heard of. Some small companies are great – and some large ones are not. Along with Google, try BBB, complaints.com, and ripoffeport.com for specifics on any company.
6. Ask about Interactive Services - like fire and environmental monitoring, remote control, video, and email notifications – and even special apps for smart phones. All these services are available today, and the best companies offer them, at affordable prices.