January 12, 2012
Verified Response Requirement Causes Problem for ADT Customer in Milwaukee
Verified response can make protecting your home and family a challenge, as alarm subscribers in select cities, counties, and towns across the US are finding. “Verified response” is an alarm industry term that describes a jurisdictional requirement for alarm system activations to be confirmed as a “real” alarm situation before the police may be dispatched to your home. In most cases, this on-site verification is performed by a third party, like a guard response service acting as a first responder: the guard must verify an actual break-in before the police can be called. This news report about an ADT customer in Milwaukee, a city on the short list of locales where verified response is required, describes a sad story with a silver lining for the homeowner.
A City of Milwaukee resident learned the hard way that police don't respond to ADT security alarms until they are first verified by a security alarm first responder, who is the one to call the police. Cristina and Kent Richards' home was broken into, and items were taken from all three floors of their home, and Cristina says it took 41 minutes for someone to respond!
Slow Response Results in Unhappy Customer
Contact 6 (WITI-TV) helped Cristina get out of her contract with ADT. Cristina says ADT told her it took 41 minutes for someone to respond, and won't say who responded. "The staff was so uncaring, and just wanted to say 'Hey, we did our job, we dispatched." I agree, but I am trying to say I want out of this contract because it doesn't do any good in the City of Milwaukee," Cristina said.
Sadly, ADT seems to have an unfortunate habit of making their residential customers feel taken for granted
Why Milwaukee Made the Change
The Milwaukee Police Department made a policy change back in 2003 after responding to 27,000 false alarms in one year! Now, by forcing alarm companies to first verify alarms, police have responded to just 700 false alarms. Police say an alarm is verified when the alarm business' first responder arrives on the scene and notices an open door or window. Then, they're asked to stay in a safe place, and call police.
With local budgets getting tighter, and local government payrolls being cut back (including police) in many places, false alarms can be a real issue. But as of today fewer than 50 jurisdictions in the US require verified response. The latest addition, just announced, is San Jose, California.
The Power of the Press
After the break-in at Cristina's home, she says she didn't feel the ADT security alarm system was worth it, and wanted out of her contract with Safe Streets USA, the company that installs and monitors the ADT system. Safe Streets refused, and a friend encouraged Cristina to contact Contact 6's Katrina Cravy. Contact 6 sent an email to Safe Streets' President Barry Simmons, who responded within one hour, terminating Cristina's contract, which saves her about $2,000!
It Pays to Ask the Right Questions
After multiple calls and emails, ADT still won't say who responded 41 minutes after Cristina's alarm went off, because Cristina is no longer a customer. If you have an ADT security system, Contact 6 recommends calling them and finding out what guard company is your designated first responder.
After giving this some hard thought, I cannot agree with the customer’s decision to cancel her service – unless of course she was changing to another company with faster response! I also can’t imagine why ADT was reluctant to identify their response provider. Even ADT, as large as they are, uses third parties for guard response, and perhaps they were concerned about alienating and possibly losing that vendor. But 41 minutes is a long time: I’m not sure I would want that company doing verified response work for FrontPoint.
This story also illustrates another point: how limited Christina’s alarm system may have been. Chances are she did not have fire monitoring (which never requires verified response, for obvious reasons!). And it’s a good bet she did not have safer cellular monitoring, or any of the interactive monitoring features available today, such as remote arm/disarm, text and email notifications, video services, or home automation for control of lights, locks and thermostats – if she had, she probably would have wanted to keep her alarm system for more than just intrusion protection. But these are services ADT has been very slow to adopt, and ADT charges a lot for them.
The best thing you can do as an alarm user is to have the right system, for starters – meaning one with the advanced features mentioned above. Then do your best to avoid false alarms: remember, even if you’re not in a verified response jurisdiction, there’s a good chance there are false alarm fines where you live. The best systems (like those sold by FrontPoint) are designed to reduce false alarms. With systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat, it’s easy to see why FrontPoint is the leader in wireless home security – and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.