Home security systems often provide homeowners with peace of mind, and the sign in front of your residence provides a warning to would-be burglars. Unfortunately, door-to-door scammers or deceptive salespeople have been known to use alarm system sales and maintenance to take advantage of consumers.
An unscrupulous door-to-door salesperson might stop by and warn you that your alarm system needs updates, or that it needs to be replaced because it is defective or your home security company has been sold. That salesperson may switch you to a different alarm company, often without your knowledge — leaving you with two contracts to pay and no easy way to break either one.
Nationally, Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints annually about alarm system companies. In 2018, they were BBB’s 26th most complained-about industry nationwide. Many of these complaints revolve around deceptive sales practices, billing problems and difficulty breaking contracts.
Some complainants reported to BBB that door-to-door alarm salespeople told them that their current alarm system needed a repair, only to switch them to a different company when the consumer agreed to the repair. The complainants were left with two home security contracts; they reported they were unable to break their contract with either the new company or their existing company without paying costly extra fees.
If you are visited by an alarm system salesperson claiming something is wrong with your security system, always call your alarm company to verify what you’re being told. Caution is the best policy.
High-pressure sales pitches, demanding on-the-spot answers, are a red flag. A reputable company will allow you time to make an informed decision — so don’t give in to the pressure, which in this case could leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars.
Consumers should consider the following tips as they interact with door-to-door salespeople:
• Research the business and owners carefully before signing a contract, providing any sensitive personal information or paying any money. BBB suggests checking the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.
• Do not invite a stranger into your home unless you have made prior arrangements to meet with him or her.
• Many communities require a special soliciting permit for companies selling door-to-door. Before buying anything, ask to see a copy of a permit, as well as any personal identification. Take down that information in the event there is a problem later.
• If you do decide to buy, pay with a credit card in case you need to challenge the purchase later.
The Federal Trade Commission Cooling-Off Rule requires that door-to-door salespeople disclose to customers that the customers have a right to cancel sales transactions of $25 or more within three business days.
Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.