Recently, a consumer
called with concerns for an elderly family member approached by a door-to-door
security provider. The caller explained that the sales person did not have a
business card or paperwork to provide, but did have a photo i.d. around his neck.
The i.d. was not closely reviewed, but the visit raised enough concerns that
the family member contacted local police and the BBB to see if the business was
registered to solicit.
“This type of call is not
uncommon,” says Tom Bozikis, Vice
President of Policy and Standards at the Tri-State BBB, who further explained
that “any concerns with businesses should be checked out with your local
BBB”. Mr. Bozikis also stated that the BBB receives many calls from consumers
asking questions like "How do we know if a company is legit?”, “Should we
have safety concerns?”, and “How do we know that the person at the door truly
represents the company?”
Your BBB is always happy
to help with questions of this nature and prompts consumers to think “safety
first” when solicitors knock. The following are a few tips your BBB provides
when it comes to door-to -door sales or business questions.
The Person at the
One should always exercise
caution with any unknown sales persons knocking at the door. Some
companies have now tried to boost consumer confidence by providing name badges,
picture i.d.’s, and/or other company information to help ease consumers’ minds,
but consumers should always carefully review this information and remember to
trust their gut. If the situation feels strange, pressured or uncomfortable,
don’t feel obligated to open the door or even continue the conversation.
A reputable company should have no problem with consumers asking for business
contact information, a brochure or time to obtain a Business Review from their
The Systems They Sell
When considering security
systems it is important to remember that there are no completely “burglar
proof” products available. No national standards specify required levels
of performance, and the best protective device may not compensate for a lack of
basic common sense. Alarm companies do, however, provide some companies and
consumers benefits worth consideration, so if you decide to purchase an alarm
system, consider shopping locally and check with the Better Business Bureau for
a free Business Review. Ask friends and neighbors for references too, and
always comparison shop.
- If you were offered a “free” alarm system, make sure this offer is in writing
and be sure to inquire about installation costs, monthly monitoring or other
fees that might apply.
- Check out the company that will be monitoring your system and 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.
- Some alarm companies may use FBI crime statistics to persuade the purchase of
security systems. To insure this information is accurate, check with your local
police department or visit the FBI’s website at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm.
- Obtain a free Business Review from the BBB to learn more about the company, its
complaint history, rating and accreditation status. Reviews can be found at www.evansville.bbb.org. (You may also
call the BBB to obtain a report or seek objective advice at (812) 473-0202.
- Comparison shop. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each system and
company, deciding which will best suit your particular need. Know how
each system and alarm service works and also compare all costs and fees to
understand your total investment.
Questions To Ask:
- Does the company have a security patrol car that will check out the alarm?
- Who is called first, the consumer or police and how soon after the alarm sounds
will you or the police be notified?
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?
- Can I have the procedures in writing?
- What local building codes or other regulations apply so I know if I'll be responsible for other fees? (Will I be charged for false alarms?)
-Don't be pressured into buying something you don't want or need. A reputable company will give you time to check out their offer and do your comparison
-Review your contract carefully and insure it
includes all promises made by the sales person before you sign.
-Confirm information such as:
Lastly, 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. Follow up with the business or contact your BBB if you cannot get your issue resolved.
- Installation price
- Monthly price
- Length of the contract (some contracts are for
- All free or discount offers have been added
- What will happen with the contract if you move
- Cancellation time frame to cancel the
contract. The Federal Trade Commission requires that at least three days be provided. (www.ftc.gov,three
day cooling off rule)
- After your purchase, make sure you check the system routinely to be sure it is
in working order.