The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extremely cautious when answering the door to traveling alarm system salespersons.
“Every summer alarm salesmen hit the pavement and every summer BBBs receive a rash of complaints from consumers who feel they were ripped off,” said Don MacKinnon, President and CEO of the BBB serving the Atlantic Provinces. “Even if the salesperson claims it’s a limited offer and they must act now, consumers must always stop and do their research before purchasing any products or services.”
BBB offers the following advice for consumers on how to avoid becoming a victim of a deceptive door-to-door alarm salesperson:
• Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company at the Better Business Bureau’s Web site, www.atlanticprovinces.bbb.org.
• Don’t be pressured into buying something you don’t want or need. A reputable company will let you check out the offer and compare bids from several installers.
• Some companies will offer a “free” alarm system. While the equipment and installation may be free (make sure this is in writing), there is a monthly monitoring fee. When you compare costs, make sure you compare all the costs.
• Find out about local building codes and regulations regarding burglar alarms (including costs for false alarms).
• Check out the company that will be monitoring your system. Ask if it is the same company you are signing a contract with. If not, make sure you obtain the name, address and phone number of this company.
• Consider advantages and disadvantages of each system and decide which will be best for your particular situation.
o Does the company call you first before notifying the police?
o Does the company call the police first?
o Does the company have a security patrol car that will check out the alarm and if necessary call the police?
o How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
o What happens if the alarm company is unable to reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
o Ask for procedures in writing, so you are aware of the steps and can anticipate how you can best handle the situation.
• Make sure it includes all promises made by the sales person. If the promises are not in the contract do not sign the contract.
• Study the contract carefully. Confirm information such as:
o Installation price
o Monthly price
o Length of the contract (most contracts are for at least two years)
o That any free or discount offers have been added
o Cancellation time frame to cancel the contract
• If you are planning on moving ask what happens with your contract, and get that information in writing from the sales person.
• After your purchase, make sure you check the system routinely to be sure it is in working order—by not doing this, you could be in violation of your contract.
If you are having problems with your alarm, make sure you document dates, times, who you talked with, who came out and what was fixed.