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Watch out when salespeople come to your door selling security systems

By Rita R. Robison

A few years ago, my sister, a senior, bought a home security system from a door-to-door salesman who knocked on her door.

While the cost of the system was minimal, she pays a monthly charge for it and a medical alarm system.

Baby boomers need to be careful about signing up for these services. They may be buying security systems that cost too much from companies that aren’t reputable.

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be careful when answering the door to traveling alarm system salespeople. Every summer, the BBB receives complaints from homeowners alleging high-pressure sales tactics and promises that were never fulfilled.

“Consumers are often told they must act now,” Ron Mycholuk, Community Consultant for the BBB serving Central and Northern Alberta, said in a statement. “But it’s important to take a little time and do some research before purchasing any product or service.”

While many consumers search out home security companies, summer weather provides businesses the opportunity to go door to door to find their own customers. In addition, some consumers state sales claims never made it into the final contract. Consumers should be aware of their rights before making any purchases.

The BBB offers the following tips for consumers purchasing a security system:

Deal with reputable firms. Do research and check out the company at www.bbb.org.

Know your rights. Consumers have three days to cancel any door-to-door contract. The salesperson must give you two copies of the cancellation form. Additional protections may apply in your state.

Study the contract carefully. Confirm information such as installation price, monthly price, installation time, length of contract, refund policy, and cancellation procedures.

Ask about a moving clause. What happens if you move? Can the system come with you? Is there a fee to move the system? Ask before you buy.

Document problem dates. If you’re having any problems with your alarm system, document the date, time, who you dealt with, what the problem was, and what was fixed.

Check out the monitoring company. The company making the sale may not be the company providing monitoring. Check out any company you would be dealing with before making a purchase.

Compare similar systems. The BBB recommends consumers get three quotes before making any purchase. When gathering quotes, make sure you’re comparing similar equipment and monitoring plans.

Check the company’s licensing. Check out your state’s requirement for companies sell door to door.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each system. Ask for the procedures in writing before making a purchase. Consider: (1) Does the monitoring call you or the police first when the alarm goes off? (2) Does the company have a security patrol car they send out? (3) How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified? (4) What happens if the company can’t reach you? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are your alternate numbers called?

A home security system can keep your home and your loved ones safe. Asking the right questions and doing a research helps consumers get the best security system for their needs.

For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission’s “Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Want to Buy a Home Security System? Beware of Home Alarm Sales Scams.”

Copyright 2012, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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