BBB Serving Western Virginia is reminding consumers to be cautious in dealing with any door-to-door sales representatives. Currently there are several out-of-state alarm security sales operations canvassing our local neighborhoods; BBB receives calls on almost a daily basis requesting information on these companies from savvy consumers. While there are many legitimate home security sales companies, there are those that operate on the fringes of legitimacy.
BBB has received information that door-to-door sales persons, posing as representatives of a well-established, local, home security company are calling on consumers offering home security systems. The sales people are generally carrying an ADT sign or wear shirts with an ADT logo. However, they are not ADT employees.
“If someone knocks on your door identifying themselves as an home alarm sales representative, request to see their identification”, says Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “The Department of Criminal Justice System (DCJS) issues a photograph registration card to each salesperson; if they can not provide that identification, ask them to leave and close the door.” Many municipalities require door-to-door sellers register with them, ask to see their solicitor’s license; if they can not or will not provide that information, call your local police department.
If you decide on an alarm system, check with BBB for a Reliability Report on the company, ask friends and neighbors for references and always do comparison shopping.
Consider the following tips before purchasing a security system for your home or business:
1. Some companies will offer a "free" alarm system. While the equipment and installation may be free (make sure this is in writing), there is a monthly monitoring fee. When you compare costs, make sure you compare all the costs.
2. Find out about local building codes and regulations regarding burglar alarms (including costs for false alarms).
3. Check out the company that will be monitoring your system. Ask if it is the same company you are signing a contract with. If not, make sure you obtain the name, address and phone number of this company and check their BBB report.
4. Consider advantages and disadvantages of each system and decide which will be best for your particular situation.
a. Does the company call you first before notifying the police?
b. Does the company have a security patrol car that will check out the alarm and if necessary call, the police?
c. How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
d. What happens if the alarm company is unable to reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
e. Ask for procedures in writing, so you can anticipate how you can best handle the situation.
5. Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company at BBB's website, www.bbb.org.
6. Don't be pressured into buying something you don't want or need. A reputable company will let you check out the offer and compare bids from several installers.
7. Make sure the contract includes all promises made by the sales person. If the promises are not in the contract, don’t sign it!
8. Study the contract carefully. Confirm information such as:
a. Installation price, monthly price, and length of the contract (most contracts are for at least two years). Make sure that any free or discount offers have been added into the written contract.
b. Your time frame for canceling the contract. The Federal Trade Commission requires that at least three days be provided to cancel. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov.
9. If you are planning on moving, ask what happens with your contract, and get that information in writing.
10. After your purchase, make sure you check the system routinely to be sure it is in working order.
11. If you are having problems with your alarm, make sure you document dates, times, who you talked with, who came out and what was fixed.
Consumers should use caution before agreeing to these types of offers. If contacted by a telemarketer or any door-to door salesperson, use these basic guidelines:
- If you're not interested, say good-bye and hang up or shut the door.
If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBB_WesternVA.
- Listen carefully to the initial sales presentation.
- Don't be afraid to interrupt and ask questions.
- If it sounds like a good deal, ask the salesperson for his or her name, and the name, address and telephone number of the company.
- Contact the BBB for a Business Review on the company.
- Ask to receive a written copy of the sales terms.
- Make the check payable to the company, not to an individual. Do not pay in cash.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s Peddler’s License. If he will not present it, cease all business transactions and notify the police.
- Virginia law gives consumers the right to cancel a home solicitation contract for $25 or more at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction. This act covers door-to-door sales, as well as, telephone and internet.