BBB Warns Consumers: Deceptive Home Security Sales Will Jump This Summer

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BBB, trade associations, and victims of deceit ask Utah-based security companies to stop questionable sales practices.

With the summer door-knocking season set to begin Memorial Day weekend, Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about deceptive home security sales tactics. According to BBB, several Utah home security companies are responsible for most of the questionable sales practices nationwide, taking advantage of thousands of consumers every year.

“In 2015, about 600,000 consumers nationwide turned to BBB to look up information about home security companies,” said Jane Driggs, president and CEO of BBB Utah. “While we love it when they come to us for the research, they also come to us to complain. And what they complain about, far too often, is that the sales person who knocked on their door was not honest about what they were selling. Consumers feel pressured into signing before they understand that they are switching companies and increasing their costs.”

Two industry trade associations – Electronic Security Association and Central Station Alarm Association – joined BBB in calling for home security companies to stop deceptive door-to-door sales practices. ADT, a leading home security company and a BBB Accredited Business, co-hosted the event.

Two consumers told their stories of being targeted with deceptive tactics of a home security company. John Meikle of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, recognized the sales person’s con almost immediately. “He said that ADT would no longer be servicing landlines and… that I would need to upgrade my security system to wireless or my system would stop working. That’s when they asked to come inside. I said no and told them that ADT had not informed me of any changes,” Miekle said. “I think it is terrible that some businesses operate this way and train their sales reps to lie, cheat, and swindle consumers like me. As a Utah resident, I am embarrassed that some of the worst offenders of these unscrupulous business practices are headquartered right here in this state.”

Jacque, a Salt Lake City retiree, got an alarm system after her husband died, but a knock on the door two years ago set in motion a frustrating and costly situation. The sales representative told her that ADT had gone out of business, her system was outdated, and that it could be disabled from the outside and she would never know. “He was really pushy, aggressive and insisted that he needed to check my keypad on the wall. Regretfully, I allowed him into my home,” Jacque said. “I was worried that I was not protected. A few days later, I realized ADT was still taking monthly payments from my bank account for monitoring. The ADT representative informed me that they had NOT gone out of business. I think what these companies are doing is terrible. I wonder how these sales reps are able to sleep at night knowing that they are ripping off grandmothers like me.”

BBB shared tips for consumers who are considering a home security system (bbb.org/homesecurity), and also released advice to potential employees who are being recruited to spend their summers knocking on doors (bbb.org/alarmsales). “We urge those who are selling security systems to abide by the BBB Standards for Trust,” said Driggs. “Tell the truth, honor promises, and embody integrity.”

Quotations from Other Speakers:

Jay Hauhn, Executive Director, Central Station Alarm Association

“CSAA represents independently approved monitoring stations in the alarm industry. Our membership includes national providers as well as many members who are family owned, multi-generation businesses, all with longstanding relationships with their customers. A big part of what we provide customers can be summed up in one word: TRUST. It concerns me greatly when I continually hear stories of how unsuspecting consumers are being conned and cheated by those in our industry who are not trustworthy. It’s especially angers me when they target the sick and the elderly. This predatory business model, operated by just a few bad companies out of thousands of good ones, is hurting the image of the entire industry and needs to stop, NOW! Most companies have excellent sales reputations, like ADT which is leading a national PR campaign to educate consumers and has a strong record of aggressively pursuing legal action against businesses and sales reps who commit the fraud.”

Merlin Guilbeau, Executive Director, Electronic Security Association

“ESA has 2,600 member companies that represent more than 70 percent of the electronic security market. Our members employ 500,000 industry professionals who service millions of residential and commercial accounts. We are also a leader in our industry’s fight against deceptive sales. We have a code of ethical conduct that stresses carrying identification, being properly licensed, respecting the customer, being honest at all times, and representing your company and services truthfully. The ESA code of ethics is our industry’s stake in the ground. It is our expectation that ESA members will take this code seriously, continually make it part of their company’s culture and way of doing business, train all new hires to follow the guidelines and, when there is a failure, take swift action to discipline employees, including termination.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

MEDIA CONTACTS: BBB spokespersons are available across North America. Check out bbb.org/bbb-locator to find a spokesperson in your area. National media, contact Katherine Hutt (703-247-9345 or khutt@council.bbb.org). Trade media, contact Bob Tucker (561-289-0436 or btucker@adt.com).

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Katherine Hutt
CBBB
+1 703-247-9345
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