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Quality security services in the greater Ottawa Carleton region since 1983
Tel: (613) 737-5955 Cell: (613) 798-3434 Fax: (613) 737-6093
If approached at your door by a sales representative from one of the large national alarm companies, there are some "behind the scene" facts you should be made aware of. Before you sign on the dotted line for that attractive "free system", you might be wise to give pause, and reflect on the following.
Most dealers of large alarm nationals are independent operators working under the banner of that large alarm company. This gives the dealer the advantage of the national company's brand name, as well as the backing of that large company in respect to advertising, and lead generation. In return, the national company "owns" your monitoring contract, and returns to the dealer a portion of the worth of the long term contract right up front. So the dealer has funding to continue his operation, which is basically to remain a highly paid employee of that national company (without the rights given legitimate employees) as long as he keeps his volume of sales at acceptable limits. When he doesn't, he is often "let go" with little notice, and also left to pay all the debts he has taken on in setting up his business to start with. One of the largest companies in the business is particularly guilty of this way of operating, having recently removed the dealership rights of a large number of dealers across North America for reasons of unacceptably deceptive sales behaviour and low sales volumes.
So, once the dealership has been established, the dealer is then on the hook to the national to maintain his sales volumes. Most dealers then hire commissioned salespeople, give them the absolute minimum of training necessary to sell alarm systems (usually under the guise of a "free system"), and put them out on the road with any number of gimmicks to win your business. The usual one is the yard sign for free if you take the "free" alarm system along with their overpriced monitoring contract. Other disreputable gimmicks include selling using the "fear factor"....ie: did you know your neighbours were broken into...etc. So, it is highly likely that the party at your door is a commissioned salesman who's sole aim is to get your name on that long term contract. As such, his concern for the quality of coverage of your security system is often secondary to signing you up. Unfortunately today, that is the primary goal of the majority of the large mass marketers of alarm systems (as well as many small and medium independents I might add.....) These sales people are sent out on the road en masse, and are paid on average about $150 for each signed contract they return to home base with. The dealer then turns to the national company, and obtains on average $1000 up front from the national company when he "sells" that long term contract back to them. This money is used to finance his operations and pay his salespeople ! But your contract is owned by the large national company ! The dealer then hires a subcontractor to install your system, or in some cases, uses his own people. The dealer remains responsible for your service usually for three months from date of installation, after which it reverts to the large national companies full time staff. So any long term relationship with your dealer can be tenuous at best.
At this point, you as the consumer are often left with having to deal with the large multinational for after sales service and support. Depending upon your agreement for warranty coverage, that can involve wait times of up to two weeks and $200 charges for simple on site repairs. Even the best of the large nationals usually have wait times on average of at least a week!
In fairness, dealing with true independent operators also entails certain risks to the consumer. Many very small dealers in a start up mode operate shoe string operations, disappearing when they try unsuccessfully to compete in the "free market". After sales service levels vary considerably - from excellent to rotten ! Most independents promise "same or next day service". Independents with over 100 accounts have generally proven they been able to successfully carve a niche in this market place, and have learned the secret to their ongoing success is the quality of overall service they give to their clients. They too generally demand the best quality of monitoring services as they "partner" with a high quality third party monitoring station that caters to demanding independents. Most refuse to deal with the large national monitoring stations for a variety of quality related reasons. Most continue to grow primarily through referrals from happy customers, as well as "takeovers" from the unhappy clients of large nationals. They also normally don't bother to advertise in such widely read sources as the Yellow Pages, for reasons of high cost they would simply have to pass on to their clients, and the fact they are usually too busy anyway without needing to advertise. But they too often eventually "sell out" to others upon retirement, and this can mean you end up as the client of one of the large multinational chains at that point in time ! In other cases, the family business is passed on to a successor. However, at least while you were with the independent (assuming you chose carefully) you were probably treated as more than simply a source of revenue !
One more reason to never sign any deal that involves a restrictive long term contract without being full aware of what you are getting in to and who you are REALLY dealing with !!
Lack of a long term monitoring commitment is the only way the consumer can maintain control over his own long term destiny !