The purpose of alarm system service providers is to protect you, your family and your property.
Unfortunately, there are dishonest companies in the industry and you need to read any contract thoroughly in order to protect yourself.
It is no small coincidence that one of the most widely known and used Latin phrases is “caveat emptor,” or “let the buyer beware.” This phrase is certainly relevant when it comes to alarm system service providers. While many companies are on the up and up, the industry has its share of dishonest entities looking to take advantage of the unwary. The best way to avoid any pitfalls is to read any contracts thoroughly.
The alarm system service provider industry is highly competitive and very profitable for the players involved. Any such industry is certain to attract a certain amount of unsavory characters. The one commonality between all of these companies, good and bad, is that they will require that you sign a contract. The contract will contain all of the information that you require in order to determine the type of company that you are dealing with; however, dishonest companies will stick all of this in the tiny fine print at the end of the contract. The print is not only so small that it is difficult to discern, it is often written in cloudy and confusing legalese.
When reviewing a contract from an alarm system service provider, the critical points to consider include the warranty clause, renewal clause, ownership clause and rate increase clause. The “meat and potatoes” of the thing lies in these clauses and if a company is going to zing you then it will be by virtue of the power that these clauses grant them.
Take some time to read the warranty clause. Check any service fees that you might be required to pay as well as any charges incurred for false alarms and the like. If you are offered a complete warranty then try and understand what this means exactly and what isn’t included.
Pay special attention to the renewal clause. You might think that you are signing a 24 month contract; however, the contract might automatically renew itself for an additional 24 month period or 12 month period. This would essentially trap you in with the company for more time that you had originally planned and there isn’t anything that you can do once the contract is signed. Ideally, it’s best to find a contract that offers a month to month renewal.
The ownership clause outlines who maintains ownership of the hardware, you or the company. If the contract dictates that you own the hardware then at the end of the contract, you can keep the system and it will still sound an alarm in the event of a break in but it won’t be linked with a call center. It also means that you will be able to sell the home with the alarm hardware already installed and all that the new owners would be required to do is sign a contract with a service provider.
Finally, there is the rate increase clause to consider. This is the clause where the alarm system service provider will outline when and by how much they can increase your required payments. It would be a shame to negotiate a price only to find out a month later that the charges went up by 20%.