Consumer Alert - Is That Knock on Your Door Cause for Alarm?
Industry Offers Advice for Consumers
DALLAS, March 21, 2011
DALLAS, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The warmer weather signals the start of the season when your home can be more vulnerable to a break in. Crime statistics indicate a traditional spike in burglaries during the months of May through September. Along with the rise in crime comes an associated interest in home security systems to help prevent burglaries.
Working to meet the demand and raise awareness about the value of alarm systems, security companies across the country use the summer months and well-established technique of going door to door to offer home alarm systems and services. The Electronic Security Association (ESA) advises consumers what to look for in a reputable alarm company.
"The vast majority of security salespeople are honest, hardworking and abide by the ESA Code of Ethics. Regrettably a small number of dishonest individuals can negatively influence public opinion about door-to-door sales," said Merlin Guilbeau, ESA Executive Director.
"This time of year, consumer agencies such as the Better Business Bureau and state regulators report an uptick in the number of complaints nationwide concerning improper door-to-door sales practices," said Guilbeau. "Unethical salespeople put a black eye on the entire industry by taking advantage of consumers."
Before buying any security system, ESA and consumer agencies urge consumers to:
- Avoid any offer that sounds too good to be true or offers anything free, claims to provide upgrades or has a time limit.
- Ask for a local telephone number to contact the security company to ensure that the number is legitimate.
- Contact local law enforcement if you feel uncomfortable in any way.
- Always contact your current alarm company before signing any new contract so that you understand the status of your current contract.
To encourage ethical sales behavior in its members, ESA has adopted a strict code of ethics that addresses consumer concerns and provides a process for consumer complaints. The new code includes a requirement for salespeople to carry a photo identification card, discontinue a sales presentation at the customer's request, disclose all terms and conditions in writing and not make false statements in order to secure a sale. Consumers can find more information about the ESA Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct at www.alarm.org.
In addition to high-pressure sales tactics often aimed at the elderly, homeowners are cautioned to be aware of these statements that should not be used to coerce a sale:
- Stating police will not respond to older alarm systems.
- Implying that the salesperson is from the alarm owner's current company.
- Offering free system upgrades.
- Pressuring the consumer to make a decision quickly because the offer is only good that day.
- Offering a substantial "discount" for placing an alarm company sign on the property.
To guard against these types of sales practices, more than thirty states have licensing requirements for alarm companies to ensure they are following the laws of that state. You can find a list of states with these regulations at www.alarm.org.
The Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest and longest-established trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry. ESA's consumer website offers information on the industry as well as tips for consumers. ESA may be reached at (888) 447-1689 or on the Web at www.alarm.org.
SOURCE Electronic Security Association
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