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  • alarm companies witout ethics

    I see this all to often in our industry, they sell these packages that include 2 doors or 1 motion and sign them up to a contract for monitering there junk for years. They made a sale, but how much protection did they get for 35.00 a month? and if there panel goes bad for an extra 10.00 a month maintenance fee and adding an extra couple years to their contract they will replace it. Then the stand alone, out of a box, plug into a phone jack systems. and the simple fact that nobody gets cellular or radio back-ups is beyond me, you cut the phone line and no signals are sent, I worked as a tech and I told so many people about features they didn't even know they had, like ambush, panic, stay mode etc. sometimes they weren't even programmed. I hate seeing people taken advantage of, I turned down a job that would have made me good money, because I felt the customer would be getting a subgrade product that offered little to no protection. What are your thoughts on these practices?
    Last edited by sideshow; 05-29-2008, 09:16 PM.

  • #2
    About 15 years ago the alarm industry was attacked by these $99 three doors and a motion detector systems.

    Now, it seems that salespeople are afraid to ask for the money for a full system. The $99 was a gimmick to get sales people in the door. Once a presentation was made, the sales person was supposed to design and offer a full system. When the customer balked at the price, you simply asked which doors or windows they did not wish to cover.

    I sold alarms for a while, and never sold less than a full perimeter system. I have never had less in my own house.
    Remember those who died, remember those who killed them.

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    • #3
      Even though we don't do alarm installations anymore (except for long time clients), I get calls all the time asking me if we do the $99 deal. I just laugh and send them on thier way. If a person is looking for a good security system that will work when needed they should be willing to pay for it. I think the problem is the fact that most people don't understand the design and operation of a system. If a salesman sells them 5 motion detectors, the front and back door contacts, and a keypad, the person doesn't realize that they are not very well covered at night when they arm the system in stay mode. If someone goes through a window it won't set off the alarm. Cellular or IP communication backup is also a feature people should look into. A burglar that knows what he is doing will also know the first thing to do is cut the phone line. Either install a backup communication device or armor the phone line going into the house.

      The alarm installation business is a cut throat endeavor. Either undercut your competitors (which is hard if not buying systems in bulk), Or add a specialty that other alarm companies in your area don't do, i.e. home automation, audio, etc. to give perspective clients a "one stop shop".

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      • #4
        The name of the game for most of the large alarm companies these days is recurring revenue, i.e., monitoring fees. In previous years, an alarm company would expect to make a reasonable profit on the sale and installation of the alarm system itself, and the monitoring was just a bonus. These days, many companies are willing to just break even or even lose money on the initial installation in order to get a monitored account.

        A home that has a "$99 special" pays the same (or more) monthly monitoring fees than a home that has a full perimeter system. Most of the major alarm companies would rather have their installation crews knocking off five "$99 specials" per week (5 monitored accounts) instead of tying them up on one large residential installation (1 monitored account). This mindset explains the minimal hardwired systems that are being installed in many homes, as well as the popularity of wireless systems which can be installed quickly and easily.
        Michael A. Silva
        Silva Consultants

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        • #5
          Sad but true when it comes down to profit margins.....

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          • #6
            Yes, they have effectivly made the value of a security system, in the consumers eye, to be between zero and $99. Like Rooney, when people call asking what kind of "deals" we have, I send them on their way. I explain first, what they do, and mostly don't, get for $99. I also tell them to do the math. Buy my system, and my lower monitoring (about $18) x 36. It generally equals about what they would pay the other guy over 36 months. Then my price is $18, and theirs is 29 or 35 or 39. Smart people choose us. Cheap people choose them.

            I say what they are selling is peace of mind. We sell real security.
            sigpic
            Rocket Science
            Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


            http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
            One Man's Opinion

            The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by integrator97 View Post
              I say what they are selling is peace of mind. We sell real security.
              They are selling FALSE peace of mind. REAL security is peace of mind.
              Remember those who died, remember those who killed them.

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              • #8
                As was noted above, in many cases the cost of the system was subsidized in order to get into the monitoring (recurring revenue) game. In some cases the system did what was promised, in others the sales person should have worked harder.

                The analogy I use is mobile phones- the phones do not cost what we buy them for (in some cases they are even free), but are subsidized by Cingular, Verizon etc as long as you sign a long term agreement.

                I think shoddy salesmanship and installations do not equate to the cost of the system. I have seen $1M plus systems that were poorly installed or did not have all of the features turned on.
                "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." G. Orwell

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                • #9
                  True John. But what gets my goat is that if the current occupant is not monitored, many of these companies won't even come out on a paid service call. If you put it in, you should support it. (assuming you are not owed money). Other wise they should state boldly in the contract that they will only service a monitored system. (not that it would ever happen).
                  sigpic
                  Rocket Science
                  Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


                  http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
                  One Man's Opinion

                  The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

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                  • #10
                    I have had success noting to people that that my security systems have the full perimeter and some partial interior and fire devices. When asked to match the system specs, the $99 is either twice my price (for a leased system) or spends a remarkable amount of time talking down window contacts. Or worse...he matches or beats my price, but somehow convinces the customer that the monitoring price goes up with every motion detector or smoke detector. When I have put these guys in a box like that, I have had pretty good success sending them to the curb.
                    -------
                    Tips and tricks about your home security and other fun things around the house.
                    www.lowervoltage.com
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                    • #11
                      Other than "prone to user error", how exactly do you talk down window contacts?
                      The CCTV Blog.

                      "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

                      -SecTrainer

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CameraMan View Post
                        Other than "prone to user error", how exactly do you talk down window contacts?
                        One example in Arizona here. We have very electrically active monsoon rains here. Contacts are prone to siezing with a local lightning strike. If the window was closed when the lightning struck the contact will not set off the alarm when it is opened, vice-versa if the window was open the customer would have to bypass that zone to arm the system.

                        If installing an alarm in an area that is well know for lightning activity I ussualy will use glass breaks and motions instead. Of course it depends on the client. I will explain to the client the differences of the components and costs associated with them. If they go with the contacts I will instruct them on how to replace them and will ussualy give them a few extra. That is taking into account the customer actually tests their system monthly and after a storm like instructed and finds a bad contact.

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                        • #13
                          Agreed GeneLitt. When I have the opportunity to sell against them, I usually win. However, many people don't give you the opportunity. That's their loss as well as mine, and it's unfortunate. What's worse for me is the larger customers, when the decision is strictly numbers and bean counters. And with this OP, which is they lied (I know, that's open to interpretation, but mine is they lied) when they said it wasn't proprietary. Or they didn't deliver what was asked for.

                          CameraMan, I have had at least 2 occasions where the ADT salesman told the customer "they never break in through the window". On 1 of these, the woman wanted an alarm for her daughters condo, because someone left the window next to the door unlocked, slit the screen, reached in and unlocked the door, and only took the cash that several people know about in her dresser. The other had a bay window with 4 single hungs about a foot off the ground, which you walked past to get to the front door. The first I sold for about $1500, the second for almost $3000. I didn't sell window contacts on the windows 15 feet up, or the one 3 stories straight up. I told them it happens, but was highly unlikely. I actually like when they say things like that. It helps my credibility.
                          Last edited by integrator97; 06-26-2008, 05:11 PM.
                          sigpic
                          Rocket Science
                          Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


                          http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
                          One Man's Opinion

                          The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Other than "prone to user error", how exactly do you talk down window contacts?
                            It's easier than you might think. See the "slap 'em up" guys are afraid of doing any real work. When faced with *any* job, they would rather install one device than 12, so they talk down windows and say that the real security is in the motion detectors. It makes it cheaper (in every sense) and still covers the main parts of the house, they say. What they neglect to tell anyone is:
                            a) motions are only good when you aren't around because they are disabled in "stay," and
                            b) they only go off after someone has already gained access to your home.

                            b is a huge thing for me. I sell security systems in an attempt to keep people out of a home, not have a loud noise start while they are already robbing a house.
                            -------
                            Tips and tricks about your home security and other fun things around the house.
                            www.lowervoltage.com
                            -------

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                            • #15
                              Correcting the ethically challenged who push $99 packages!

                              The spirit of $99 package offering was intended to be a consumer attention grabber and a base price for the security consultant to get his/her foot in the door and push for upgrades, as well as, contractually handcuff a consumer to an expensive monitoring commitment. Too often many in the industry sell to the wallet instead of the mind to a consumer who has champagne taste but a Budweiser budget for security. In looking at the big picture these low cost offerings were/are profitable for the Majors in the long term regarding return on investment (about 10 years ago when with the “Evil 3 Lettered Company” the office’s general manager in a managerial sermon explained the payback for their dealer program was 29 months out. Frankly that leaves a window of 7 months for unmolested profit with their $30+ RMR price point till the contract normally ends). In grasping this scenario now - I LOVE IT! After the fulfillment of these handcuffing contacts , I can roll in with one of my low cost/quality monitoring offerings and convert the account! Additionally, I can also profit by pushing for security enhancing upgrades which should have been in place from the start! http://www.birddogrocks.com

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