"A lot of burglar alarm companies will try to cram a crummy contract down your throat."
When do you want to sign a contract with a burglar alarm company?
--Clark Howard, CNN Presenter and consumer campaigner
Here's the transcript from Clark's radio show, in which he warns his listeners about some of the "sleazy things" that many burglar alarm companies do to their customers.
(We've highlighted the most important parts.)
Are you safe in your home? If you don't feel safe how do you make that happen and at the same time keep your wallet safe and secure.
This is the Clark Howard Show where you learn to save more, spend less and not get ripped off...
I get so distressed about the never-ending calls we get on our show with complaints about burglar alarm companies. I mean it really is hard to tell who is on which side of the wall, the burglar or the burglar alarm company because many times it feels like they're on the same side - the wrong one.
The burglar alarm industry has very legit, honest, decent players and unfortunately also attracts some real scum. And I've talked in the past about some of the sleazy things that go on in the burglar alarm business. Think about the calls you'll hear from people. The thing that you need to look out for is that a lot of the burglar alarm companies will try to cram a crummy contract down your throat.
When do you want to sign a contract with a burglar alarm company? You don't! Even worse if you've been conned into signing the contract, the burglar alarm company will often do something really, really awful that should be illegal called a "rollover provision." A rollover position is where if you don't contact the burglar alarm company in a specific way on a specific day is the most I've ever seen in terms of being awful, you are automatically renewed at a ultra high rate for monthly monitoring for a 1, 2, or 3 year period moving forward.
If people in the burglar alarm industry were really interested in your safety and security they would not try to hold you up like bandits that have one gotcha after another. I don't want you to do that. Now here's the thing you should be aware of, the offers from the contract companies will often include free equipment. They're willing to give you the equipment for free because the contract you enter into is so awful for you.
The truth is you are better off paying for equipment, paying a real price for equipment and then being a free agent that if a company is not reliable you switch and that you're free to shop the marketplace for the best price on monitoring. And a development that I first addressed a couple of years ago has even grown in ease and that is self installed burglar alarm systems. Because of the miniaturization of circuits and all the advances in electronics you can now buy turnkey burglar alarm systems that you install on your doors and windows and you set them up for monitoring and do it yourself and buy the equipment a whole lot cheaper and then you set up for monitoring with somebody. You put in on Google burglar alarm monitoring and you'd be shocked at all the offers out there. Just make sure that any monitoring station you sign up for is what is known as U/L approved, meaning that they meet standards of reliability and safety that if your alarm did trigger it's going to a good monitoring alarm station.
There are also companies who do the whole thing for you for a self install. By the whole thing I mean you buy the equipment from them, you install it, they have technical support for you and you do the monitoring with them. One of them that does that I like that does that is called Simplisafe.com but there are other companies as well. I like this one because their monitoring is $15 a month, which you know I like that price and the equipment prices look reasonable.