A few weeks back, security industry professionals gathered to discuss the likely increase of an unfortunate, yet common occurrence during the summer: deceptive door-to-door sales practices. The statistics are sobering. According to the CEO/President of the Utah Better Business Bureau, over 600,000 consumers across the nation researched home security companies through the BBB last year, and over 5,000 complaints were lodged against various companies. Nationwide, almost 160 home security companies have a BBB ranking of “C” or below. While that is a fraction of the number of home security companies in operation, it contributes to mistrust and a poor reputation of the industry in general.
The scams often originate with smaller, local, home security companies and target the customers of larger, nationwide companies. The elderly tend to be their primary focus, and their tactics are aggressive and high-pressure. Victims describe similar stories: the rep tells them their current security company has gone out of business, or will no longer be servicing their existing equipment, and pushes them into a new contract with their company. Sometimes they even pretend to be a rep for the victim’s security company, tell them that their current system is outdated and no longer reliable, and then pressure them to purchase new equipment and sign a new contract. Victims often don’t realize the deception until they start getting billed from both their old security company and the new one. Then they face the uphill battle of getting a signed contract canceled.
So how can consumers protect themselves from these unethical sales reps?
- Never let anyone inside your home unless YOU made the appointment. This goes for any company, not just home security!
- If they claim to be from your existing security company, call the local office for verification. Reputable companies typically will not send a sales rep without contacting you first.
- If they make claims about your equipment being outdated, or your current company going out of business, tell them you will check with your provider and get back to them.
- Be prepared to hear stories of increased crime and break-ins in your neighborhood. Scammer reps love to use these as scare tactics.
- If you are in the market for a home security system, do your research before choosing a company. Get multiple bids before you sign any paperwork; you should know what upfront costs will be, what equipment you will be provided, how your property will be monitored and what the monthly monitoring costs are, and the terms of your contract.
What can home security companies do to protect their customers?
- Look at this time as an opportunity to offer exceptional customer service. Reach out to your customer base, warn them about this malicious practice, and provide the information they need to be prepared.
- Educate your customers on how you conduct business and communicate, so they know when they are being approached by an unscrupulous rep.
- Give customers way to contact you should they have any questions, or to report a sales rep who may be unlawfully using your company name.
This communication will not only give your customers peace-of-mind and trust that their security company is looking out for their best interest, but may also open doors for your sales reps to discuss legitimate upgrades or add-ons and build on customer relationships.