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BBB warns about door-to-door security system sales

CHARLOTTE — Summer is the high season for door-to-door sales of everything from magazines to meat.

One of the products that is sold door-to-door is alarm system sales and service. Millions of homeowners secure their homes, families and belongings with a home security system. Last year Better Business Bureau received nearly 600,000 inquiries from consumers researching alarm system companies.

BBB also received complaints from consumers about less than ethical alarm service companies attempting to get homeowners to switch their alarm service. These door-to-door alarm system sellers claim to be from their current provider offering an upgrade to their current system. Or, the salesperson may say that their current alarm service is out-of-business or was sold to the door-to-door salesperson’s business.

BBB has these tips for homeowners:

·       Choose a reputable business. The best home security system will accommodate your lifestyle and specific valuables you want protected. Carefully consider your security requirements and budget. You may also get recommendations from your homeowners or renters insurance carrier. Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company with BBB first.

·       Contact at least three companies before making a selection. Find out if they are properly licensed in your jurisdiction and ask if the company runs a criminal background check on employees prior to hiring. You can also look up companies on Electronic Security Association (esaweb.org) to make sure they uphold industry standards.

·       Ask about all charges up front. Prices for home security systems will vary based on the level of protection and type of technology used. Be sure to compare bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in the initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring fees. Also, talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowners insurance.

·       Read the fine print in your contract. If your alarm system will be monitored, either by your installing company or by a third-party monitoring center, find out the length of the contract. Typically, monitoring contracts are two to five years long. What is your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? These are the types of questions you need to consider before you obligate yourself to a long-term contract.

Here are some red flags to watch out for: 

·       High pressure sales tactics. A reputable seller will give you time to think through the deal and will make an appointment to return at a later date. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Take the time to do your research and make an informed decision.

·       Deals that sound too good to be true. Some sellers might offer an extremely good price for their products or services. The adage holds true that you get what you pay for and many people have been quickly disappointed when the products didn’t live up to the hype or the company did a shoddy job.

·       Lack of company identification. Any legitimate salesperson will be able to provide you with identification for both themselves and their company.

·       A poor rating with BBB. Check with BBB first to see how many complaints the company has received and how they have handled them.

For more information, please visit www.bbb.org

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