Ask Security Companies These 16 Questions (Yes, Even Us)
The security of your home and the safety of your family are among the things that you want to protect the most. But wanting that protection shouldn’t have hidden costs and penalizing contract conditions. When you choose a security company, you want to know that they can be trusted to give you a reasonable price with reasonable conditions.
You also want to make sure that your security company and their employees and contractors are completely trustworthy. These individuals will have access to your home and family, and you need to know that you are not jeopardizing their safety.
For these and other reasons, there are a host of questions that you should ask any security company before signing a contract or agreeing to installation. We encourage you to ask these questions of us as well, and we will give you honest and straightforward answers.
Is This Home Security Contract Too Good to be True?
Unfortunately, home security system scams happen all the time. These scams usually start with an unsolicited phone call or a knock at your front door. The salesman will try to pressure you into making an instant decision and signing or agreeing to a contract within less than an hour. If any salesman approaches you in this way, ask them these questions.
What term length is the contract? Are there penalties for cancelling?
Salesman will do anything to get you hooked and sign that contract or installation agreement. One tactic is to offer a free alarm system or free installation. Where they get you is in the length of the contract and penalties for cancelling early.
What are the installation fees? Are there any hidden costs?
Make sure that you ask detailed questions about the installation costs. They might be waiting to charge you additional fees throughout the installation process.
What happens to the contract if I move?
If the contract period is longer than the term of your lease or one year, you need to find out what fees and charges will be associated with the move. If moving terminates the contract, find out if there is a penalty.
What does the warranty cover, for how long, and who services it?
A good security company is going to warranty their security system and service. The equipment warranty may be serviced by the manufacturer rather than the security company.
Ask for personal and company identification and their affiliation.
If a salesman approaches you about a security system, ask them for personal and company identification. If it is a trustworthy security company they will have professional materials to provide you and it will be clear that they represent the company. You should also ask for:
- Contractor’s name
- Street address
- Telephone number
- Contractor’s license state, number, and name on the license
Armed with this information, you can check the security company against records with the Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, state licensing officials, and the local chamber of commerce.
Is Your Security Company Working with Trustworthy People?
The security company, its employees, and its contractors are going to have unique access to your home and family. Installers will have access to your home for several hours, and you don’t want to have to supervise them the entire time they are in your home. Installers may also know your alarm code.
If unsavory characters enter your home, you could be putting your family at risk when you are actually trying to protect them. Ask these questions to ensure that you can trust the people that will have access to your home.
What third parties or subcontractors do you use, and how do you vet them?
Some security companies use third party contractors to actually install the security system and equipment. It is important to know if this is the case, and if so how the subcontractors are chosen and vetted.
Do you perform background checks on all of your employees?
The need for the security company to get background checks on all employees is something that should be non-negotiable. These employees are going to have access to your home. They are going to be monitoring your home, knowing when you are away.
If the security company performs background checks on all employees and contractors, it is much less likely that one of those employees will use their access to your security system to commit a crime.
Do your employees and contractors have uniforms and company identification?
It is important that you can verify the identity of any employees or representatives of the company. If you are unable to verify the identity of someone claiming to be an employee of the security company, you’ll want to call them to confirm before allowing the individual access.
Does This Security System Really Do What They Say It Does?
A good security company is going to make sure that you understand everything about your system’s installation and operation. They will be more than happy to answer all of your questions. That doesn’t mean that you or the company representative might forget to mention a few points. Here are some questions you should make sure to ask.
What happens if the power goes out?
Only a very cheaply made security system will be inoperable during a power failure. Most of today’s security systems have a battery backup so that they will still work even when there is no power. This is especially important in the event that your block loses power while you are away from home.
Will there be additional charges for future repairs and upgrades?
All security systems require some maintenance, as well as eventual repairs and upgrades. Do not assume that these things are included in your monthly contract price. Ask of there will be additional charges for these services, and, if so, what those charges might be and how frequently they might be needed.
What does the system monitor? (smoke and fire protection, video surveillance)
The more a security system costs, the more features you expect it to have. The best security systems don’t just protect against break-ins. They also have smoke and fire protection alarms. Some security systems may include real-time or recorded video surveillance as well. What features you need depends on your own particular situation.
Does the installation include features such as remote control, email notifications, and mobile app?
The best security systems will have some new technological features that increase the ease of operation, especially while away from home. Some security systems will have a remote control, either as a separate device or on your smartphone, which will allow you to arm or disarm the system while away. You may also get email notifications or text messages when your alarm goes off. A mobile app is the best way to be able to manage these features.
What About Security System Monitoring?
Your security system is only as good as the monitoring service that accompanies it. Your monthly contract price is typically for monitoring services. These system monitors will be responsible for sending help and contacting you in the event the alarm sounds.
Who monitors the system?
Some security companies outsource the monitoring of their security systems. If the monitoring service is outsourced, you need to find out the name, address, phone number, license number, and license state so that you can check them out thoroughly before agreeing to use their service. The person who monitors your system has the ability to ignore or silence alarms to allow for criminal activity. All of these individuals should have background checks.
How much does the monitoring cost, and how will I be billed?
Your monthly contract should include monitoring services, but ask to make sure. You should also make sure to ask how you will be billed. If the only option is direct debit from your account on a specified day of the month you need to know that.
Does the company call me before contacting authorities? How quickly will I be notified?
You should always be contacted as soon as possible when your alarm sounds, for two main reasons. First, if you accidentally tripped the alarm the monitor needs to know so that help is not dispatched. Secondly, if you are away from home you need to know that there is a potential danger.
What happens if the company is unable to reach me?
If the company is unable to reach you, they should automatically dispatch first responders to your home. They should continue to try to reach you until it is verified that you are safe. If the security company only makes one call then ignores the alarm, they are not keeping your home safe.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that security alarm companies can try to take advantage of consumers. Asking a lot of questions of the security company you are considering is the best way to make sure that they are not able to hide costs or contract terms. You should also read your contract carefully, including the fine print.
If you have been considering a security system for your home, don’t wait for a shady salesman to knock on your door. Contact us today by phone or form submission from our website.