Home Alarm Sellers’ Shady Tactics

Around this time of year our neighbourhood is infiltrated by pushy home alarm sales people.  Apparently not enough people purchase home alarm systems directly, so many security companies go with the old fashioned door-to-door sales approach.

Now I’m not a big fan of solicitation to begin with.  Calling me at home and interrupting my dinner isn’t going to get your survey answered.  But telemarketers are just a minor nuisance compared with these shady home security companies and their door-to-door alarm sellers.

Home Alarm

It Starts With the Hiring Process

Home security companies rely on hiring post-secondary students to sell their alarm systems door-to-door in the summer time.  Every spring, thousands of University and College students are quickly trained and then deployed all across North America with the promise of a great work experience and quick cash.  It’s a perfect marriage between an opportunistic company with a short selling window and the money-hungry students looking for summer employment.

The students are quickly gathered together for a few weeks of, “don’t take no for an answer”, training and then sent into our neighbourhoods to try and convince us that we need their product.  The allure of huge commissions and a big screen TV bonus, combined with the companies’ tailored and targeted sales approach makes for a highly motivated and aggressive seller.

The Shady Sales Pitch

The sales approach is fairly similar for all door-to-door home security sellers.  They are well dressed and travel in pairs, and will typically approach your house on a weekday afternoon.  This is likely intentional to target seniors and stay-at-home mom’s.  The sales pitch goes a little something like this:

We’re from XYZ Security and we’re trying to get our name out there in the community.  We’re looking for households to put our sign up on their lawn and in return we will install this home security equipment in your house for free.  Just don’t tell your neighbours about this deal, ok?

There’s been a few break-in’s in your neighbourhood lately and we just want to make sure that your home is safe.  Can I come in and take a look at your windows?  Do you have kids?

We’ve taken over all the contracts from XYZ Security (your existing security company) and just need you to fill out some paperwork to transfer the service.

What are they Really Selling?

All of these shady tactics and high-pressure sales pitches are designed for one reason, to get you to agree to let the security company install their home alarm system in your house.  What isn’t discussed is that this alarm system isn’t really free, they are getting you to sign a multi-year contract where you agree to pay a monthly fee for the home monitoring system.

Before you even have a chance to think it over, a technician shows up and starts drilling through your walls to get the wiring set-up.  I guess they figure that you are less likely to change your mind if they’ve already put a hole through your house.

Who’s Protecting You from the Protector’s?

I have nothing against home security systems in general, but the fact that these companies only go door-to-door says a lot about the appeal of their product.  Their main focus is to extract the maximum amount of money out of as many customers as they can in as little time as possible.  It’s not about your protection and security.

These companies offer free entry-level equipment that may not last 5 years, and have numerous complaints in local Better Business Bureau’s about their sales tactics.  Their monthly rates are some of the highest in the industry.  Some don’t even have a license to sell door-to-door.  Is that who you want to do business with?

If you are really interested in a home alarm system to protect your house and your family then be proactive and shop around your local market.  You’d be surprised at the difference in price, customer service level, and installation quality.  Then you can take all of the time you need to make an informed decision about the products and service.

Readers, do you have a home alarm system?  How do you feel about these aggressive door-to-door sales tactics?

Written by Robb Engen

Robb Engen writes about Canadian personal finance at Boomer & Echo. Together with his mom, (she’s the Boomer, he’s the Echo) they offer their own unique perspectives on saving, investing and personal finance.

11 Responses to Home Alarm Sellers’ Shady Tactics

  1. PITA. People who come to our door are told our 110lb black bear looking Newfoundland dog is not fond of strangers and they best back away less I lose control of her. Of course, she just wants to lick them, but they don’t know that.

    As for the topic of security. We seriously considered an alarm after our break in this past Winter. Instead we got dual cylinder deadbolts (the ones with keyholes on both sides) so someone has to smash out the glass 100% to get in. One time cost, and we got commercial grade locks. Now, my installation experience (DIY) was a trip and more difficult than I thought, but we feel secure in our home once again. And no monthly bill.

  2. Echo says:

    It would be tough not to consider a home alarm system after a break-in.

    That said, I’d rather research it and find my own solution than have someone come door-to-door.

    Sounds like you found your own solution and are satisfied with it.

  3. Forest says:

    That is really really shady :(. Upsets me that they can keep doing business that way.

  4. Jesse says:

    Yep, this is the EXACT pitch that got me. I’m coming up on my 5 year, the end of my contract, next January and I can’t wait to be rid of this…$2,000+ later.

    • Mike says:

      I agree, I am a firefighter and a proud owner of my own security and fire alarm company and its making a bad reputation for us honest guys out there. I don’t market door to door sales pitch just Ads in papers, magazines and I do mail out flyers on promotions. I also try to explain to the average home owner there is no such thing as a free anything. Eg. XYZ alarm company offers a free home alarm system. first of all no matter the size for your home you get 2 door/window contacts 1 motion all wireless and a control box. This is not protecting your entire home. to add devices adds to your monthly agreement which usually starts of at 34.95/month and is a min of 36 months here in Toronto Canada. the cost for that is 1,258.20 over 3yrs now I sell a general home package 699.99 and that has 3 pet immune motions hardwire up to 6 doors and windows 1 glass break and the main control panel and keypad. my monitoring is 19.95/month and is month to month no commitments or contracts. I do have a spring sale monitoring is 14.95/month for the life of the active account. add my 3 years of monitoring and the one time equipment cost and I am still 146 dollars cheaper after taxes and you get way more equipment to actually protect a home.

      So I encourage people not to go with these lying companies as I think contracts are meant for companies who need to hold their customers hostage to function.

      Have a safe week yall. :)

  5. richard@garandnet.net says:

    Having to sell door-to-door is not necessarily a bad thing – every industry and market is different. But what they’re doing here is. I wonder if you could let them install the alarm system while you read over the contract and keep busy with other things and then at the end say “I don’t want to sign this contract” :)

  6. Kyle says:

    Summer sales can be a great job for students though, I’ve got friends that have made 20 grand in a summer doing sales like that so they don’t have to work while they’re in school.

    • syr says:

      LOL okay, we even bother become a professional in any field if you can make 10k a month walking door to door, sign me up i’ll quit my Biomedical tech job right now LOL

  7. Max says:

    I do door to door sales for a well known security company. Let me assure you if they don’t have a badge, a license, and a odd sales pitch(basically asking for business). Ask them for there ROC if in AZ. Say No Thanks. But unlike security networks, ADT these companies are well known and most of there employees are honest people. Door to Door Sales is Direct Marketing for companies so not all of them are scams. If in doubt get the hell out.

    • Mike says:

      These companies are well known and like most corporations are poison to our economy and health. you mention XYZ company, I have a customer whos sister was 69 years old had a medical alert monitoring with them and in the second year she died and did XYZ have the nerve to ask the executor of the will to pay the remaining contract of 1 year or they are liening the house. The lady died…. This is why I charge a one time fee of 299.99 and they own the equipment and they pay 19.95 for two way voice 24hr UL monitoring and can cancel any time. So no I don’t agree they are honest people they are like all corporations, money greedy with no care towards their customers. My customers are people not account codes.

      have a great week everyone, be safe :)
      MJ St. Louis

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