Missing Ethics in Door-to-Door Alarm Sales?

National companies allege that some competitors are misrepresenting who they are, what they sell

All is not well in the world of residential alarm sales. SecurityInfoWatch.com has been tracking stories coming out of Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada and the state of Washington, where alarm competition has created mischievous sales techniques. Repeatedly at the center of the stories is a company named APX Alarm, which is an alarm company based out of Provo, Utah, and which the Better Business Bureau reports is doing business as Apex Alarm, Apex Monitoring, Apex Security and Apx Alarm Security Solutions.

The company has been the subject of a number of news reports for suspect sales techniques from Nevada to Memphis. Consumer news reports from various city media outlets such as Carson City, Nevada, and Memphis, Tenn., allege that the company has used dogged techniques like sending out employees who have been "pushy" and not properly identified themselves as to which alarm company they are with.

Jack Inbar, vice president of operations for APX, says his sales staff are "certainly assertive," however, he says that the media accounts are likely untrue and "distorted". According to Inbar, his company's employees receive seven months of training and wear APX shirts and always carry APX identifications and brochures. "Our employees are door to door. But they are very well trained and very well disciplined," said Inbar, who noted that those employees who don't follow company policy are reprimanded and/or let go.

Nonetheless, a report from WMC-TV Channel 5 in Memphis, Tenn., recorded the case of one Memphis neighborhood that had been canvassed by APX's door-to-door sales staff. The story reported the instance of Linda Husted, who had been approached by an APX employee. "He didn't give me any ID," Husted told WMC-TV 5. "He said he didn't have any brochures that I could look at." Husted added that the sales staff came back three times, not accepting her "not interested" as a final answer.

Asked about the incident, and why an alarm sales person would be out on the streets approaching homeowners without business cards or brochures in the evening hours, Inbar said that he didn't know the specifics but that the salesperson "could have just been out of brochures."

Misrepresentation at the Door

In Seattle, local news broadcaster KOMO News reported in July that the wave of door-to-door sales had hit Brink's Home Security, with some residents even claiming that tricks have been used such that sales agents are representing themselves as companies other than they are with in the hopes of stealing customers from companies like Brink's.

According to Dave Simon, the senior manager of industry and public relations for Brink's Home Security, they've heard from around 50 customers who have been hit by misrepresentation. Simon said the usual methodology is that the competitor will scour neighborhoods for signs from other alarm companies and then will knock on the doors of those customers under the auspices of upgrading their alarm systems. Then, says Simon, they'll try to change their monitoring contract.

HSM's Stern reported seeing similar instances where a door-to-door competitor has told the homeowner that he or shee needed to change out the panel and to add a back-up communicator. He said that the equipment changes weren't because of a malfunction, but were simply a way to recruit accounts away from their existing service and monitoring contracts.

Brink's has responded, says Simon, with messages to its customers advising them of such scams and to be aware of such ploys and to always ask for identification from sales persons. Brink's, like most national alarm companies, requires its employees to carry proper credentials identifying them, and many of the top national companies which have fallen prey to these scams say they do not use the door-to-door techniques themselves.

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