Suburban Legend: The free alarm system


Wednesday, November 20, 2013 

Chances are you’ve seen their commercials on TV or their sales reps at the mall.  They are all trying to sell you the “free” alarm system.  But consider the following.

Ask them what is included as part of the system.

Chances are, you get the following:

  • one keypad (used to turn the system on and off),
  • one motion detector (just what it sounds… senses motion),
  • one door or window contact (if opened, trips the alarm system), and
  • the alarm panel.

If this sounds like its not a lot to protect your home — well, it isn’t.  Put yourself in the burglar’s shoes — are you really going to use the front door to break into a home?  Out of all the doors and windows, what are the odds the burglar chooses the single window that’s protected?  Not very high.  Obviously you can add additional components to the alarm system but at an additional cost.

Read the fine print of the contract.

To make matters even worse, if you read the contract they offer you, you’ll see that there is a very good chance that you don’t own the alarm system outright — you’re only “leasing” it from the alarm company for as long as you’ll agree to have the alarm system monitored through their company.  For some that may be fine, but keep in mind that as soon as your agreement is over, they have the right to take the system back.  That means that, anywhere there were screws driven into the sheet rock or window frame, there maybe some unsightly holes as a result of the removal of the system.

If you do read the contract and it does state that you own the system, then chances are you’re financing the cost of the system included as part of the monthly monitoring fee — similar to a cell phone contract.  Again, for some that may be fine since you do not need to pay for the system up front, but consider that once the contract ends, you may end up with an alarm system that’s out of date.

Shop around – don’t take the first offer you see.

So, you’ve added additional components to the “basic” alarm system and read the fine print.  What’s next?  As with anything, you should “shop around” – get a better sense of what the pricing is like in the market and what other competitors are offering.  What you may find out, is that the $45 per month the company is charging you to have the alarm system monitored is somewhat out of line with some of its competitors.  Again, this goes back to the point above — if the alarm company is leasing or financing the alarm system to you, there has to be an “additional” cost somewhere and it’s usually in the monthly monitoring fee.

So what’s next?

If you need help navigating the contract, give us a call and we’ll walk you through it.  Shameless plug: Or if you’d like a quote, we can help you with that too. 


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