Recently, our Ewa neighborhoods have been swarmed with door-to-door alarm salesmen.
This seems to happen every summer.
My office has gotten several calls, and I have been asked to help some folks get out of some bad door-to-door alarm contracts, so I thought some advice in this matter would be useful.
First, please remember: If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!
Here’s one scenario. You answer the knock on the door and find two nicely dressed gentlemen, who say they just installed a terrific state-of-the-art alarm system with the very latest technology in your neighbor’s house, and they thought that you might be interested, too.
These part-time college summer hires seem to be experts on security systems. They explain that the alarm system is a terrific deal, offering free installation with a small activation fee.
“You won’t want to miss this great opportunity,” says one of the salesmen. “Since we are already in the neighborhood, can we come in right now and show the system to you? Otherwise, you will miss out on this fantastic deal,” says the other salesman with a smile.
Second, these state-of the-art alarm systems, in most cases, are offered by door-to-door salesmen whose companies are located on the Mainland, with no local offices in the Islands.
These companies simply subcontract the installation done at your house.
The contract you sign is generally assignable, and is often sold to another company so they can get money quickly to pay for equipment, salespeople and installers.
Third, if you decide to purchase a system from a door-to-door vendor, you will have to give these total strangers your Social Security number and bank account information.
They will do a credit check and set up automatic deductions from your bank account, right then and there. Yikes!
After you sign a contact, if you stop paying for any reason, these companies will have little sympathy for you and simply will report a negative entry to your credit report.
Eventually you will have to settle with the company holding your contract.
My recommendations are the following: Check with Better Business Bureau for unresolved complaints; ask the salespeople if they have local offices and then verify the physical location; execute a Google search and do your own research to ascertain if the company is reputable.
If all of the above points are met, and the deal is right for you, then begin negotiations.
Be wise. Otherwise, you may end up a very unhappy customer.