Federal Trade Commission warns of Home Alarm ‘Door Knockers’

Door Knockers – (adj) Alarm company, usually out-of-state, that sells alarms by knocking door-to-door.  Companies usually canvas areas in spring and summer months. They’re often called out by the BBB and others for complaints about aggressive sales tactics, fraudulent claims, and “poaching” customers away from other alarm companies.

At least two of these types of alarm companies have been though Southwest Kansas this spring already.  With their primary selling season in full swing, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to consumers – with examples of the sales pitch, and what you can do. For your own sake, you should read the entire warning.

My primary concern is whether these companies offer good service and value to begin with, but the underhanded sales tactics they employ are bad for the alarm industry; if you cannot trust your alarm company, who can you trust?  It may not be every door knocking company, and it is not all the time, but with how many states have levied fines and restricts sales activity of these companies – there is clearly a problem. Below are some excerpts from the FTC warning:

Signs of a Security System Scam

Unscrupulous door-to-door sales agents use a variety of approaches and pitches to get you to buy an alarm system and monitoring services. Here’s what to look out for:

  • They may make a time-limited offer, and claim that you need to act now. For example, they may try to get you to sign a contract by telling you that the equipment is “free.” More than likely, strings are attached. For example, to get your “free” alarm, you may have to sign a long-term and expensive system monitoring contract.
  • They may pressure their way into your home and then refuse to leave. It is not impolite or rude to tell a salesperson you’re not interested. It’s much easier — and safer — to say “no” on the doorstep than to try to get the salesperson to leave once they’re inside. If a salesperson continues to pressure you after you’ve asked them to leave, call the police.
  • They may use scare tactics. For example, they may talk about a rash of supposed burglaries in your neighborhood.

Some door-to-door sales agents target homeowners who have alarm company signs on their properties from other companies. In these cases:

  • The sales agents may state or imply that they are from your existing security company and that they’re there to “upgrade” or “replace” your current security system. Once inside your home, however, they may install a new security system and have you sign papers that include a costly contract for the new monitoring service.
  • They may claim your security company has gone out of business, that they’ve taken over the accounts, and that you have to buy new equipment and sign new contracts. If this happens, call your current monitoring company to confirm. Normally, you would be notified of a change like this by mail or telephone, not by an unannounced visit by a representative from another company.

What You Can Do

  • Before you let anyone inside your home, ask for identification. Some state laws require door-to-door salespeople to tell you their name, the name of the business they represent, and the goods or services they wish to sell before asking you any questions or making any statements. Other states require salespeople to show you their “pocket card” license and a photo ID. Take a few minutes to look over their documentation.
  • Check out the companies by entering their names in a search engine online. Read about other people’s experiences with the companies. Try to communicate offline if possible to clarify any details. In addition, contact your state Attorney General (www.naag.org), local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov), and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if any complaints are on file.
  • Understand that you can cancel the deal. The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel the deal if you sign the contract in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. You do not have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have a right to change your mind, even if the equipment has already been installed.

We don’t sell door-to-door, I would rather educate my prospective clients and provide you with the knowledge to make a well-informed decision about your safety and security. I do this by offering a FREE 48 point Safe Home Security Audit.  This comprehensive audit will identify your home’s unique security “weak spots” and safety vulnerabilities. You will be able to determine what the right security system  for your home includes with this information. Call today to get your FREE 48 point Safe Home Security audit!