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Frontpoint Didn’t Disappoint
What A Waste of Money
Not what they claimed but works.
Learn About HomeUnderstanding the security industry can be difficult. Having to choose the right alarm company or home security system can be even worse. Don’t bang you head against the wall trying to weed through all the marketing fluff and misinformation out there. Our Learning and Resource Center compiles all the information that you will need in one place. Don’t forget to explore the Alarm System Reviews Newsroom as well. Get the facts and make an informed decision. Security
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Trusting someone with the protection of your home and life is not an easy decision. Especially when it’s for the next three years and you have more than 13,000 options. Yes, there are that many home security companies! It’s like comparing apples to oranges with all the different technology, monitoring plans, and features available. Our team at Alarm System Reviews has spent the last 10 years doing it. We’ll help you find the best security system. Reliable Home Security
Knowing What to Expect When Purchasing an Alarm System
Deciding on a home security company to protect your home is not an easy decision. However hearing from experience and knowing what to expect helps. To help you in this decision we have broken down the process into its 5 basic steps, Education, Research, Sales Process, Set-up, and Support. Helping you understand what you should be looking for when considering a security provider.
The Home Security industry is incredibly fragmented. Consisting of over 13,000 alarm companies. It may seem like comparing apples to oranges but having an understanding of the fundamentals and industry terminology makes it easier to determine your needs and compare companies. If you do not already know the basics or need a refresher you can reference our Understanding home security article. This knowledge will help you stay in control throughout the rest of the process.
Knowing what to look for, based on your needs, when choosing a provider is critical. Understanding this will save you time and money. First and foremost understand that if you a renter it will limit the number of companies you can choose from. Next, start your research from the ground up assessing how you and others interact with your home. Think about who comes and goes, if there are people that need temporary access, if you travel often, if your willing to install the system yourself or do you prefer a tech come out, and where people move about when inside your home. These will help you understand if you need a system that can support several individual access codes, if you need cameras, if you would benefit from automation features, or simply can suffice on a cheap bare bones system. This should get you thinning like a security consultant and prepare you for the conversation to come. Once you’ve identified these you can move on to your physical home.
When thinking home security, think entry points. These are the easiest ways into your home and where you are most vulnerable. Once, you’ve reached out to a company they will attempt to provide a solution based around those areas. A clear understanding of your main entry points and how they are utilized will ensure you get the right level of protection while not being upsold. Consider how many main points of entry there are on the ground floor, we’re talking doors or attached garages. Once you have identified these think windows, do they open and where are they located. Next, think about access and traffic. Where is the most convenient place for your control panel that’s out of plain sight? Where do people interact in your home? Is there a living room that is never used? Are you someone who likes to sneak downstairs for a late night snack? All of these will affect the sensors you order. If you have rooms that you do not utilize with windows that stay locked a glass-break sensor or motion detector may be a more cost effective and safer option for you. Lastly, consider environmental conditions you want the ability to monitor such as fire, carbon monoxide, and flooding. Once you’ve defined your needs it’s time to start researching security providers. Here is our home security assessment survey in case you need help.
The sales process for home security depends on two things, how you reach out to the company and how the system will be installed. When reaching out to a home security company you have two options, submit your information through an online form, or dial them directly. You should be ready to speak to a representative when you reach out regardless of how its done. If you submit a web form expect a call from the company in about 2 minutes or less, and if you miss that call expect several follow-ups throughout the day and for the next week. For this reason, we recommend directly dialing a security company so that you are having the conversation on your time and not when they finally get a hold of you. This will also allow you to schedule a follow up call or ask to be removed from their system should you decide you are not quite ready to buy or that you do not want to go with the company. Once you are on the call it’s time to utilize the list of “requirements” you built out. The rep will capture your information, name, address, phone number and email almost immediately. In some cases it is difficult to proceed without providing this information. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION OR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO PURCHASE. Many companies will then want to determine what has you interested in home security as well as your needs. From this point the call can vary depending on the company you’ve reached out to and if they offer self-install or a technician installed system.
With so many companies offering very similar systems your research should focus first on your needs and second the intangibles, what makes owning a system a benefit instead of a headache? If you’ve been following our process you have already identified your needs and are ready to start exploring companies. Our directory can help. Now that you have identified a few companies that meet your equipment and monitoring needs start considering the “intangibles.” You are entering into a relationship with a company that typically lasts at least 3 years, finding a one that is willing to work with you is critical. Look for things like customer service. What are customers saying? Are they responsive to complaints, will they work with customers to make them happy, what happens if something goes wrong with your system? A top company will be responsive and work with customers to keep them happy. It’s important when conducting this research that you consider the source and consistency of information. Be wary of “facts” provided by the security company or their dealers and understand that their websites may be outdated. Similarly, make sure you are looking for and reading Affiliate Disclosures of third party websites you utilize. There are review sites out there that claim to be unbiased but base rankings off of the money they make from relationships with their top companies. It’s a bad sign when you’re on a site that has no qualms taking money for recommending a company above all others but fails to provide visitors with an affiliate disclosure outlining their relationship. Next consider if there are any government actions taken out against the company? These are a good indication of a larger problem. Sometimes they can be difficult to find so we track them in our company profiles for you. Once you’ve whittled your selection down to one or two companies and have your list of requirements it’s time to have a conversation with them. Its important to note that with the alarm industry, the moment you start a conversation you’ve started the “sales process.”
If you are speaking with a self-install company. Once they have an understanding of what you want they will attempt to do a virtual walkthrough of your house with you (this is where your self-assessment and research comes in handy). They will address all ground floor accessible entry points, discuss who is in your home, and go over things like pets and scheduled guests to name a few. A good representative for a top company will configure your system based off your homes needs ensuring that you do not have unnecessary sensors to keep your upfront costs down. If a consultant tries to force you into a “package,” rather than customizing your system based off of your needs is likely that they are being motivated by sales commissions and their suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt.
A call with an alarm company that provides installation through technicians typically goes one of two ways. Either the phone call is simply used to set an appointment for a technician to come to your home and assess your needs or there is an initial sales call where they will attempt to sell you a basic package and then set an appointment for a technician to come out where they will upsell you on additional equipment. Whether you are handling the sales process over the phone or with a representative in your home remember to reference the requirements you build out earlier in this process and clearly address your needs. Carefully weigh their suggests against your list of needs to avoid being upsold into nectary equipment Regardless of the type of company you are speaking with make sure you are proactively asking good questions, and not letting them drive the entire conversation. This will save you a ton of headaches in the future. There’s more to it than just equipment and pricing. What is their cancellation policy? Is there a trial period? What happens if a sensor fails? Do you need permits? Who provides their monitoring? How does the system communicate with the monitoring facility? What happens if you lose power? What I you want to add equipment later? What happens if I fail the credit check? Visit out list of must ask question for a home security company for more Once you have made it through the initial phone consultation or in home visit and you’ve decided you want their services, it’s time to sign the contract. Virtually all alarm companies incorporate a credit check into this part of the process. Most are looking for a score between 580 and 620 and only a few have options for people that are declined. Once you are approved you will be presented with a contract to sign. Home security contracts are lengthy and for good reason. They outline in detail what you and the alarm company are agreeing to which can and will affect you now and down the road. Despite this may people end up just skimming over and signing the agreement. DO NOT DO THIS. Many issues further down the road stem from a poor understanding of what’s been agreed to in the contract. If you’ve chosen a self-install company you are afforded the ability to review the contract without a representative hanging over your shoulder, but if you’ve chosen to have a technician come out you will likely have to do this in front of them. Regardless of how and where you are reading the contract, or what their representative may have told you, take your time and thoroughly review everything outlined. Make sure you pay particular attention to the contract term, cancellation policy, system test requirements, how your information will be used, rate increases, moving policy, and what happens at the end of the contract to name a few. You can reference our individual contract callouts on our company pages, or take a look at our Contracts: What to Look For article. Once you’ve signed its time for the system to be set up.
Installation and Activation
The installation process varies depending on the company you’ve chosen and whether you will be setting it up yourself or will be having a technician come out to do it for you.
After your order is complete, most DIY companies will preprogram your system then send it out to you via the shipping method you have chosen. When your system arrives, be sure to check its contents to confirm everything you ordered is there and to locate the quick setup guides. If you are missing any equipment or the setup guides be sure to reach out to your provider immediately. Additionally we have compiled the installation guides for several companies [HERE] Most systems are simple enough to install that you should be able to set them up in about an hour with the provided installation guides. These manuals will walk you through placing your sensors, basic system controls, and the activation process. Additionally, if you should run into problems, many of these companies have support staff that will gladly walk you through the installation process. After the system is installed all that is left is activation. To start this process simply call your providers customer support line. A representative will then run a diagnostic test on the system to ensure everything is installed and working properly, assuming no issues are found they will then remotely activate your system and review any questions you may have.
The technician install process tends to follow some standard procedures with slight variations depending on the company. After purchasing, you should receive an email confirming the date and time of your installation appointment. Also, expect to receive a confirmation call from the technician on the day of your installation. There will need to be an adult over the age of 18 present with the ability to make decisions regarding your system and home, including sensor placement, additional equipment purchases, and setting system user codes. When the technician arrives greet them at the door and have them provide identification for you to verify they are an employee of the alarm company you’ve chosen. Even if they are warring a uniform and there’s a branded vehicle in your driveway, it’s important to verify their identity prior to letting them into your home. When the technician enters your residence they should review the work order with you to confirm it is accurate and then you’ll conduct a walkthrough of the home together, to determine equipment placement. During the walkthrough the technician will make additional equipment recommendations. BE CAREFUL OF THE UPSELL. When you’ve completed the walkthrough and have agreed on the system configuration your technician, if applicable, should provide you with an updated statement reflecting the cost of any changes or additions made to the order and an estimate for how long the install will take. Installation time can vary greatly depending on the size of your home, type and amount of equipment, and competency of the installer. Once the install is complete, they will again walk with you through the home confirming that the equipment is installed where and how you discussed. Following this the technician will activate you system, and run you through basic system controls. We strongly encourage you to explore the system and its features, before the representative leaves so you can address any additional questions or concerns that may arise. Now that your equipment is up and running the “heavy lifting” is over. You and the other residents of your home should familiarize yourselves with the system over the next few days. Ensuring you thoroughly understand how it works, that it meets your needs, and that everyone is comfortable using it. It’s not uncommon to accidentally set off a new alarms system a few times, even if you’ve had one before, as the technology has likely changed. To reduce false alarms caused during this familiarization period, most alarm companies will put your account into a test mode for anywhere between 24 hours and 7 days. It’s important that you confirm this timeframe with your alarm company because if an alarm event occurs during the test period authorities will not be dispatched. Some companies will even shorten or eliminate their testing window upon request. Any concerns you may have should be addressed with your security company’s’ support team before the end of your return period, which can be as short as 3 days.
Here is where your comparison of the “intangibles” and customer support processes of the security companies you evaluated pays off. Regardless of whether or not you’ve chosen a company that offers a trial period your relationship with their sales representative has ended. You will now interact solely with customer support for all your needs, excluding serious alarm events that are handled by the monitoring station. If you have chosen correctly, this should be a start of a long and valuable relationship. Custom Supports’ function is to provide you with information about and assistance with your system. Most companies will proactively engage customers through email or snail mail providing you with information covering a range of topics such as company highlights, how-to articles, new equipment offerings and features and more. Some even take it as far as calling you when they receive minor alerts from your panel. Larger companies may even offer a customer portal where you can login to access these features as well as control your system, billing, and update or edit your information. All of these are used to make owning your system easier while allowing the company to engage you in passive manner. Staying engaged will ensure you get the most from your system as well as keep you up to date on new equipment and features that you can take advantage of. Most importantly, in addition to information, customer support is there to help. If you are have a problem with or a question about using your system, need additional equipment, or simply need to update your information, customer support is just a call away.
Congratulations on sticking with us this long! You should now have a thorough understanding of home security, feel confident in your decisions thanks to your research and having remained in control throughout the sales process, have a fully functional alarm system that you’re actively using, and are leveraging your security company’s customer service team as needed. We want to leave you with a couple important reminders: Test your system per your contract so your equipment warranty remains valid. Don’t forget the renewal date and terms of your contract. Many companies will not notify you of an upcoming renewal because they are scared notifying customers will remind them to cancel and they are hoping you will forget. Make sure you continue to use your system, don’t let it become an expensive and ineffective paper weight. You pay for the system, don’t let it only provide a false sense of security. It defeats the purpose of having an actively monitored system if you are not doing your part we encourage you to utilize interactive features such as, remote access, mobile alerts, geofencing features, and streaming video. After all of this, if you want to continue your education in home security explore our Learning and Resource Center for more.