More than halfway through the summer, we know it’s already the worst on record for door knocker alarm salesperson complaints. Door knocker scam reports are popping up all over the news from around the US, and some of them name names – companies you have probably read about before, here and elsewhere. Millions of homeowners are getting a taste of how door knocker alarm salespeople operate
. And there’s a new fraudulent tactic to add to the list: door knockers who pretend to be from your
alarm company. The good news is that consumer protection and advocacy groups are weighing in as well – like the BBB (Better Business Bureau) in this recent article
Do you have a security system sign in your yard? You may want to be aware of some companies’ unethical selling practices. They seek out homes where security system signs are displayed in the yard. The salespeople look very professional, wearing badges with the name of the company they are working for. They begin by telling you they are in the process of choosing three or four homes in “your neighborhood” for their new wireless program. If you’re lucky enough to be chosen, all you have to do, outside of signing up for their services, is display their company sign in your yard. They emphasize that this new wireless program does much, much more than your current system (how do they know that?) and soon, unless you switch, your current security system will no longer work. When a consumer makes it clear to the company that the answer will be no, the sales rep states “we haven’t chosen your home yet and you will have no security system when the new wireless system goes into effect.”
Yes, this is totally outrageous, and it’s been tried before – but never to the extent that it has been reported this summer.
More from BBB Article
The reason I know this is because it happened to me. Of course I said no and called my security system company. They informed me that this was a ploy used by their competitors to get their current customers to switch. To me, it seemed like a threat of loss of service and could scare consumers who did not know better and would be afraid that come July, they would be unprotected if they did not switch. I called our local police and told them what was going on. To protect our community, they came down to speak with these sales reps. I’m not sure of the outcome, but I didn’t see them again.
A Real Life Scam Example from This Summer
Teresa Brackett has lived in her Albemarle [North Carolina] home for more than two decades. But after an attempted break-in, the woman changed the way she secured the place she calls home. "They didn't get all the way in because of my deadbolt locks but they had broken the glass," said Brackett. In addition to friendly neighbors on the lookout, Brackett also has a high tech security system. She says she's been with CPI Security for more than 10 years, so when a technician came to her home claiming to give her an upgrade, she says she signed on the dotted line. She later learned that the man was from a different company.
Door Knocker Company Named
"I felt like I was tricked and I was hoodwinked by them," said Brackett. Brackett says she signed a 36-month contract with Utah based company Vivint. To date, the security company has had its fair share of complaints. "They've got over 1,400 complaint filed against them at the BBB in Utah, three states have filed actions against them," said Tom Bartholemy, BBB President of Charlotte. BBB representatives say Vivint is a real company with real customers but some of their business practices are questionable. "Complainants say they are feeling like they were misled or deceived into doing business with them, thinking it was their existing security company," said Bartholemy. Several households throughout the state say they unknowingly switched to Vivint and while some were able to get their money back, others end up trapped paying for not one but two security systems.
Back to the BBB – for Timely Advice on Alarm Door Knockers
So the moral is this – if you have anyone show up at your door, follow these tips:
1. Always think safety first. If you’re home alone and don’t recognize the person, don’t open the door. If they are a legitimate company, they will leave a brochure or business card.
2. Be aware that because you have a security sign or other type of sign in your yard, you could be a target for this type of unethical selling practices.
3. Always, always check with your own security company, or other company, first. You can even ask the sales representative to wait outside while you do. If they are telling the truth, why would they mind waiting?
4. Scare tactics may not work on everyone but they can on our senior citizens and others who have no one to turn to for advice. If you believe this type of business practice is happening in your neighborhood, please call the police and let them know. At least there will be a record on file.
5. Tell your Neighborhood Watch if there is one established. BBB can come out and speak to your group on this matter and other scams to advise you of the red flags to be aware of.
6. Finally, if there will be any changes to your service you will be contacted by your company. You won’t hear this information from someone who knocks at your door, and especially someone who tries to scare you. Try and remember the name of the company the person is representing and file a complaint with BBB. Trust and truth in the marketplace is all of our responsibility.
I remain concerned that the aggressive tactics employed by many door knockers are not healthy for the alarm industry over the long term. Door knockers have already knocked on millions of doors this summer: in many cases the damage is done, and the opportunity clouded for other alarm companies who are transparent and consistently ethical in their behavior. Frankly, door knockers do not want consumers to do the research: it’s too easy to find the complaints, the low ratings from the BBB and other sites, and even better offers from other alarm companies with 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. We make peace of mind safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to answer that knock at your door.