Watch out for door-to-door security alarm company salesmen

By Samantha Gillihan/ Consumer services

A deterrent used by alarm companies that warn would-be burglars is to install lawn signs and window stickers. Those signs are a warning, but it doesn’t deter competitors.

During the past week, BBB has received several complaints of competitive alarm service representatives knocking on the doors, and seeking entry into residents’ homes, where those signs are placed.

“They’re telling the homeowner that the current alarm service they use has been taken over,” Robb Hicken, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region.

Complaints against burglar alarm sales have increased nearly 68 percent since 2008, and already this year, BBB is issuing warnings. The complaints range from high-pressure sales tactics and promising services not included in the contract to not having the proper city required paperwork and not following door-to-door guidelines.

“A good salesman is going to have all the proper paperwork, and will be aware of not using high-pressure sales tactics,” Hicken says. “Take the time to consider what is being proposed, and verify any claims of a takeover of the existing security system.”

Idaho Falls code requires a solicitation permit issued by the city clerk that has to be prominently displayed, and person’s displaying a “no solicitors allowed” sign must not be contacted.

City ordinance states an extensive background check is conducted on each company and individual who applies for a permit, but warns not everyone comes to the city for a permit. There are also fines for those prosecuted who  violate the solicitation ordinance.

Here’s advice:

  • On door-to-door sales of $25 or more, a Federal Trade Commission rule gives consumers the right to cancel a transaction up until midnight of the third business day after the date of the sale.
  • The rule applies to any sales agreements made away from the seller’s normal place of business, such as sales “parties” given in private homes or sales made out of rented hotel or motel rooms or restaurants.
  • The rule states that the seller must tell you of your right to cancel, give you a contract or receipt and give you 2 copies of your Notice of Cancellation.
  • The contract should be dated, and it should clearly show the name and address of the seller.
  • If you cancel, the seller must refund your money within ten days and return to you any documents you have signed.

And, remember to be sure you understand the terms of your cancellation agreement; some contracts require you to put your cancellation notice in writing.

And, if you change service, insist on a contract.

Never make a payment to the individual salesman.

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