Does the Knock on the Door Cause You Concern? BBB Consumers Raise Questions on Door to Door Alarm Sales

  
     
August 23, 2010

Recently, several consumers have called the BBB concerned about door to door alarm sales. “How do we know this company is legit?”, “Should we have safety concerns?”, and “How do we know this person truly represents the company?” are a few of the questions consumers pose to the BBB.

The BBB always wants consumers to think “safety first” and is more than happy to provide information and tips to insure the purchase you consider is one you are satisfied with.

The Person at the Door….

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., and other company information to help ease consumers minds. Consumers should carefully review this information, but should always remember to trust their gut and 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 businesses contact information, a brochure or time to review a Reliability Report from the BBB.

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, check with the Better Business Bureau for a free reliability report on the company you are considering, ask friends and neighbors for references, and always comparison shop.

Additional BBB Tips:

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) Obtain a free Reliability Report from the BBB to learn more about the company, its complaint history, rating and accreditation status. Reports can be found at www.evansville.bbb.org. (You may also call the BBB to retain a report or seek objective advice at (812) 473-0202.

5) Comparison shop. Consider 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 that may help you:

1) Does the company have a security patrol car that will check out the alarm?

2) Who is called first, the consumer or police and how soon after the alarm sounds will you/ the police be notified?

3) 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?

4) Ask for procedures in writing, so you are aware of the steps and can anticipate how you can best handle the situation.

5) Find out about local building codes and other regulations that might apply to your home or business before having alarms installed and also ask about any fees that might arise from outside sources. (Will I be charged for false alarms?)

6) 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 shopping.

7) Review your contract carefully and insure it includes all promises made by the sales person before you sign.

8) Confirm information such as:

a) Installation price

b) Monthly price

c) Length of the contract (some contracts are for multiple years)

d) All free or discount offers have been added

e) What will happen with the contract if you move

f) 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)

9) After your purchase, make sure you check the system routinely to be sure it is in working order.

10) 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.