David Bleisch, ADT general counsel, addresses the media at a conference Door-to-door selling can be an effective tool to garner new security subscribers, and it’s been practiced for decades, according to Jay Hauhn, executive director of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Alexandria, Va. But it has to be done right, he says. A recent conference by ADT Security Services focused on deceptive alarm sales practices and the need to report such practices. In her latest article, Deborah L.O’Mara, SourceSecurity.com's dealer/integrator correspondent, highlights the necessity to educate consumers and alarm companies about fraudulent home sales initiatives. Train Sales Representatives For Door-To-Door Selling “We are not knocking door knocking,” Hauhn continues. “However companies must train their sales representatives to follow the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) Code of Ethical Conduct and [companies must] take swift and actionable responsibility when they fail,” he adds. Hauhn was one of several panelists at a news conference focusing on deceptive alarm sales practices hosted by ADT Security Services at the ESX Show in Baltimore in June. The session also included David Bleisch, general counsel of ADT, Boca Raton, Fla.; Marshall Marinace, president of ESA and president of Marshall Alarm Systems in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; Diane Pruitt, a Baltimore resident solicited by a scammer; Derrick Layton, retired Baltimore police officer also solicited by a scammer; and Casey Callaway, director at the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc., Arlington, Va. Educate Consumers About Fallacious Sales Practices "We believe the ESA’s Code of Ethical Conduct and providing a platform to raise awareness will assist so homeowners don’t get scammed", says David Bleisch, general counsel of ADT ADT continues to spearhead the industry’s awareness campaign designed to educate consumers and alarm companies about fraudulent home sales initiatives, such as telling homeowners their current company has gone out of business, their equipment is obsolete, or promising extra security protection at escalated costs for what amounts to traditional monitoring. “The good news is there is a lot of awareness being raised, which is the number one defense,” says David Bleisch. “We believe the ESA’s Code of Ethical Conduct and providing a platform to raise awareness will assist so homeowners don’t get scammed. We know it’s effective. While year over year the number of complaints did go up, today many more consumers are aware of the issue, took immediate action and didn’t let the salesperson in the door,” he says. In addition, Bleisch says law enforcement and state attorneys general are also taking action, going so far as to ban some companies from doing business. “At the local level and where licensing requires, authorities are more judicious in providing permits for door-to-door sales. We also encourage consumers to call police and we have heard of some arrests,” he says. ADT’s Reward Program –Report Deceptive Sales Initiatives ADT has a program in place offering a reward to anyone who can provide lawfully obtained information showing how alarm companies are training employees to engage in deceptive sales. The company recently refined the process, making it easier and quicker to claim the maximum $5,000 reward. “We have made the program more accessible and easier to use. We continue to raise awareness and explain on our website how consumers or others can submit actionable evidence. We have nothing against fair competition through door-to-door sales or other methods, and it can be done effectively and properly. We don’t want people coming to consumers and lying to them.” Baltimore resident Diane Pruitt recounted how she was solicited by a scammer. She has been an ADT customer for two years and said someone purporting to be from the company said her yard sign was outdated and that potential burglars could look at the back of the sign and determine how to disable the alarm. The door-to-door salesperson also said he was on site to upgrade her equipment. However, when Pruitt asked him if he was with ADT he said “no.” She demanded he leave and immediately contacted ADT to report the incident. “It’s terrible that these types of pushy people are trying to cheat and scam unsuspecting consumers. You should continue to do more to help clean up the industry,” Pruitt said during the news conference.
Unscrupulous companies reversing positive steps made by security industry to remove stigma of being known as "trunk slammers" ABC news report reaffirms need for industry action For the businesses that make up the electronic security industry, it’s an issue that undermines all the progress we have made to date. It’s deceptive door-to-door sales tactics, and it’s still having an impact on the alarm industry. It affects the entire industry – from large national firms to the mom-and-pops who collectively make up the thousands of security businesses in the United States. It has taken such a long time for security providers to erase the stigma of being known as “trunk slammers,” or “ambulance chasers.” Now, however, unscrupulous companies are doing everything in their power to reverse the positive momentum the professional security industry has worked so hard to attain. To really make an impact, it will take every professional in the electronic security industry to work together to stop the companies who are making false claims and misrepresentations and damaging the reputation of others. One company at the forefront of having a positive impact is ADT Security Services, Boca Raton, Fla. In May 2014, the company announced it would award up to $25,000 for proof of a company training its sales teams to be deceitful. To collect the reward, the evidence must result in the successful prosecution of the offending company. Just recently, the ABC News program 20/20 aired an in-depth story nationwide, featuring an undercover report of one such sales meeting. It also featured an interview with ADT General Counsel David Bleisch, who talked about how ADT is leading the fight to protect consumers from scammers using aggressive tactics like lawsuits and the reward for proof of companies training sales people to deceive. Last year, ADT recovered over $4 million from companies as a result of lawsuits. The fraud begins at the front door when customers are told false statements “ADT’s trusted brand is being exploited by swindlers and scammers who mislead unsuspecting consumers,” says Bleisch. “Victims end up having their ADT security systems unnecessarily replaced and are duped into signing new contracts with another provider.” “Our goal is to raise awareness among consumers that this could happen to them so they ask the right questions,” he adds. In October 2013, ADT obtained a permanent injunction and received damages from two companies who they claimed misled ADT customers to believe that they were affiliated with them and that their alarm systems required upgrading. These companies were also mentioned in the ABC 20/20 program. The fraud begins at the front door when customers are told false statements ranging from “ADT has gone out of business” to “I am here to upgrade your equipment.” Sometimes the scammers claim they are affiliated with alarm panel manufacturers, such as GE, also mentioned in the report. Before the customer realizes, they have been cheated, a new security system has been installed, and they have been conned into switching service to the company committing the fraud. “With approximately 21 million people watching the ABC News reports, we believe consumers are now fully aware of companies using deceptive sales practices and less likely to be scammed. ADT is committed to continuing to protect people from these swindlers,” says Bob Tucker, ADT media relations. ADT offers these tips to avoid being a victim of security scammers: Ask for photo identification and/or a business card of who is at your door. Call your current security company to confirm what you’re being told. Don’t be pressured into agreeing to new equipment or signing a contract. Request literature be left behind so you can study it before taking action. If you are in the security industry, what are you doing to get the message out? Do you tell customers they should contact you if someone tries to take over an account, or even to verify when one of your very own technicians shows up for a scheduled service call? It’s the little actions that will add up big in stopping unscrupulous alarm peddlers and keep customers safer overall.
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