Each year home and business owners are faced with the decision to renew or start a multiple year monitoring agreement for a security system. Before you start or renew a multiple year agreement, consider the following questions to ask yourself and/or the alarm company, to make sure you are getting the best value and service:
1) Take the start-up/installation cost and add it to the total monthly fee for the length of the contract – eg: $ 195.00 + ($ 35.00 X 36) = $ 1,455.00 and compare that to a local alarm company that charges for the install but has a lower monthly rate – eg: $ 595.00 + ($ 21.95 X 36) = $ 1,385.20. Within the three years of the contract you will break even or even save some money. What you, the consumer, need to be aware of is that the monthly rate will stay the same or increase when you renew the multiple year contract – therefore you will be paying more for the “low-cost” system compared to the system with the up front cost.
2) Does the system have proprietary equipment, meaning that no other alarm company can access the programming? Request and get in writing that the equipment is non-proprietary.
3) Do you own the equipment or are you leasing for the duration of the agreement? If you are leasing or have proprietary equipment and want to switch alarm companies in the future, you may have to purchase some new equipment to switch, adding further cost to a more expensive purchase.
4) Ask the alarm company if they do a complimentary on-site consultation. Some companies will give you an estimate over the phone and then add-on items once the technician arrives for the installation – the customer often feels obligated to go through with the installation. An alarm company that does a complimentary consultation can see what is involved with the installation and will give you the final costs before starting the installation.
More times than not, a home or business owner will receive better service from a company that does not offer a long-term contract because there is no incentive to stay if the service is not what is expected. Compare this to when a long-term contract is in place – you are contracted for the service even if it is not to your expectations. Moving or selling your home or business does not negate the long-term contract. You will still be responsible to fulfill the obligation to pay for the entire length of the term. Owners that move and still have time on their contract can either pay out the amount due or transfer the contract to their new home. I have even met some owners that are told they have to renew their agreement to the original term length, further adding to their unexpected costs for a long-term contract.
Hope these tips help you make an informed decision on a security system.