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Purchasing an Alarm Monitoring Service

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Safety Tips
   
  • Don't leave a key outside your home even if you think it's well hidden

  • Leave a light on in your home after you retire for the night.

  • Deadbolt locks should be used on all doors.

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What You Should Know Before Purchasing a Security System
When planning the purchase of a security system, you will likely consider whether, and by whom, your security system should be monitored. Most alarm dealers will make every effort to convince you to sign up for their monitoring service at an additional cost to you of around $20 to $35 per month. And, assuming that you agree to use their monitoring service, many alarm dealers will employ some or all of the following practices which restrict your ability to later switch to a different monitoring station of your choice:

  • They install "proprietary" equipment, which is incompatible with industry standard alarm monitoring receivers, and which cannot be serviced or monitored by any other monitoring station. Tip: Ask and verify that the equipment to be installed is not proprietary, and that it is capable of being fully monitored at any monitoring station.
  • They lease, instead of sell, some portion (the master control panel, for example) or all of the security system to you, and, even though you may have paid for its installation, they could remove some or all of the security system from your home in the event that you cancel their monitoring service. Tip: Ask and verify that all equipment to be installed shall be your property, and not leased.
  • They may activate a "local-programming lockout" virus in your security system, or may refuse to give you the "lockout code" or "master program code" necessary to reprogram your security system to a different monitoring station. Tip: Ask and verify that the equipment to be installed does not have a "local-programming lockout" virus employed and that you receive the "lockout code" and "master program code". 
  • They ask you to sign a long-term (several years) monitoring contract, frequently in connection with a subsidized installation charge, whereby you are obligated to use the monitoring station selected by the installer. Tip: Ask and verify that the monitoring contract is for a maximum term that is satisfactory to you.
  • They ask you to sign a monitoring contract which automatically renews forever unless you remember to cancel it in writing at least 30 days before it would otherwise automatically renew. This provision is sometimes called an "evergreen" clause. Tip: Ask and verify that the monitoring contract has a termination clause that is satisfactory to you.
  • They ask you to sign a monitoring contract which provides that they may increase your monitoring service rates at any time for many different reasons. Tip: Ask and verify that the monitoring contract has rate increase limitation clauses that are satisfactory to you.
  • They may, immediately upon installing your security system, sell or assign your monitoring contract to another monitoring station (who will pay your alarm dealer a fee of about 24+ times your rate-per-month) over which they have no control, and which may or may not give you satisfactory monitoring service. Tip: Ask and verify that the monitoring contract provide that you may cancel it at any time in the event of unsatisfactory service.
  • Telephone solicitors may claim that their company's "low" monitoring fee is very competitive. Tip: Compare monitoring rates among several monitoring stations.

Of course, always ask for references, verify that the alarm dealer is properly licensed, and read their contract before signing it.

2006 by 911 Inc; Used with permission.


 

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