FROM TPD -- The Topeka Police Department would like to remind citizens that summer time brings an increase in the number of companies utilizing door-to-door solicitors to sell security systems. With this increase comes an increase in inquiries as well as complaints about some of the methods used by some businesses.
Purchasing a security system to safeguard your home or business is a very personal decision and should not be made in haste. High-pressure sales where the salesperson demands or requires an immediate purchase of their product should raise a red flag with the purchaser.
Law enforcement authorities recommend you do some basic research before you agree to purchase any security system:
*Is the business licensed locally?
City Code - 5.15.020 License required.
(a) It is unlawful for any person to engage in the operation of an alarm business within the city without having first obtained a license to operate such a business from the chief of police.
(b) It is unlawful for any person to engage in altering, installing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, moving, or servicing an alarm system within the city limits, or causing the same to take place without having been certified for the particular classification of system involved.
*Does the alarm company belong to professional security organizations?
City Code 5.15.030 Certifications – Persons engaged in installation or repair of alarm systems.
(a) Persons engaged in altering, installing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, moving, or servicing alarm systems as a condition of obtaining a license, shall be certified by the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association for the particular classification of the system involved.
*Has the alarm company given you a full copy of your contract? Have you actually read the contract to make sure you know what you are signing?
*Have they provided you with information on local alarm ordinances?
City Code 5.15.070 Required operational practices.
(1) Provide the alarm user, at the time of lease or installation of the alarm system, a written copy of the city of Topeka’s false alarm penalties and procedures. The alarm user shall acknowledge the penalty procedures. The alarm business shall forward to the police chief a copy of these procedures signed by the alarm user acknowledging that such user understands how to operate the alarm system and the billing system for false alarms as set forth in Chapter 8.05 TMC, and any amendments thereto
*Have you checked with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other consumer reporting organizations to see what other consumers are saying about the company?
• Does the alarm company have local service available to work on your security system when there are problems with the system?
• Is the alarm company claiming an endorsement or indicating they are working with a local law enforcement agency? Law enforcement agencies do not endorse one alarm company over another and do not monitor alarm systems.
(For instance, in Topeka, all employees of alarm companies who conduct sales or do security system installations are required to have a photo identification card issued by the City with them at all times. This is one of the first things a consumer should ask to see if contacted by someone selling security systems.)
After you’ve done your checking, if consumers have any unresolved issues regarding any door-to-door security/alarm system reps and their services, we strongly encourage you to be pro-active and file formal complaints for resolve at: www.bbb.org If you have checked on proper permit registration and feel that the rep who approached you was not properly registered, report it to your local city licensing office (and/or law enforcement office, such as Kennewick Police, if they handle the permits.)
To find out what kind of system is best for you, it is wise to do your own homework and research and not just go with the first pitch. Get estimates from Accredited Businesses on the BBB Industry Roster at: www.spokane.bbb.org and then also ask your insurance company that covers your home for advice, as well. Also, talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner's premiums. Further tips:
*As with any door-to-door activity, if the person pitching a service won’t take no for an answer, consider this to be high pressure sales. You have the right to refuse their pitch and demand that they leave your premises. If they do not, or if you feel threatened in any way, contact your local police department to report it.
*Don’t ever let an alarm system rep convince you that the system you currently have isn’t hooked up right, or needs an upgrade, etc., and attempt to sign you up for their system when you already have a system in place. If you say yes to another system monitor, you will have two active contracts, and may need to pay an early cancellation fee to gain the new system. If you have a system already, consult first with your original alarm system contractor before saying yes to a second option.
*If you seek to buy a home security system, contact at least three companies before selecting an installer.
*Prices for home security systems will vary, based on the level of protection and type of technology used, so be sure to compare apples-to-apples bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in the initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring charges.
*Ask the following: 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.
*Insist that the installer "walk" you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms. False alarms are an indicator of the quality of the alarm installation and user education.
*Ask for a complete inspection of your property and an itemized written estimate. Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided?