BBB Warning -- Beware of deceptive home alarm salesmen

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A warning if you get a knock on the door from someone trying to sell you a home alarm system. The Better Business Bureau says complaints about deceptive salespeople are on the rise. BBB received more than 2,000 complaints against burglar alarm companies in 2008, a 68 percent increase over the previous year.

The organization says bottom line here - do your home work and before signing a contract make sure you fully understand the services you are getting.

"From my prejudice point of view, having done this all of my life, I feel like everybody needs a security system," said Wayne Boggs, President of Richmond Alarm Company.

Getting Boggs to say you don't need a home security system would probably take a miracle. His company has been around for 60 years. He knows a lot about how to keep a home safe.

"You may need a hundred dollar alarm, you may need a $5,000 alarm, you may just need to put some locks on your doors, maybe cut down some bushes," he said.

Boggs says the elderly are usually the ones taken advantage of by door-to-door sales. He adds while those companies aren't doing anything illegal, they could be misleading customers.

"They are not technically telling you a lie -- they are just not telling you the whole truth and it's just simply deceptive," Boggs said.

Tom Gallagher, with the BBB says some door-to-door alarm salesmen use high pressured sales tactics or false promises to rush people into signing a contract.

"Forget about the fine print, read the print, make sure you understand it all," said Gallagher.

Boggs admits not all salesmen are looking to fool you but encourages customers to do their homework.

"Someone that knocks on your door is not likely to have your best interest at heart and you need to ask a lot of questions and check their background. Comparison shopping is what is all about, that is why the TV and Newspaper Ads are so popular, comparing, don't buy from the first guy that you talked to," Boggs said.

Salesmen should have an ID verifying they're licensed in the state. You should ask to see that ID and ask for business cards. Bottom line - ask lots of questions and understand what you are getting. Security experts like Boggs say for deceptive salesmen, money out weighs your safety.

"They are trained to sale contracts one after the other," he said.

The BBB says some companies may offer you a free alarm system, but the organizations says remember, while the installation and equipment may be free, alarm companies make the majority of their money from monthly monitoring fees. So when shopping around, make sure you compare all the costs.

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