yes once again the college kids will be coming around door to door selling alarm systems and then disappearing into the wood work. One of my dads friends bought into there slick sales and is spending $43.00 a month for next 5 years. although they did give him a free system with about $350.00 worth of equipment. And these kids have big stories to tell to how there $350.00 wireless system is so much better than the professional alarm system some one already has in there home . and every other lying c*ck and bull story they come up with. One of my customers heads the local block watch in her community and one of these kids told her how there system was endorsed by the local block watch group. what a sup-rise for the kid. Yes I realise there young ambitious and full of vigor and anxious to make money for school but if you ask me this is no way to sell systems and many of these summer companies have a long list of consumer complaints filed against them as well to boot. free systems was the begining of then end of the alarm industry .
RHC: Yes Nick, this sort of selling has always bothered me from the very first day I got into this industry. However, after 15 years of the same bullshit, I have learned to come to terms with it. There seem to be at least two truisms that come to play in this sort of human activity. The first is that everyone seems to love getting something for nothing, and there are enough shady business people around who will always take advantage of this sort of human tendency. It doesn't matter that the system itself is vastly inferior; it only matters to the customer that the perception is there that they are getting something at bargain basement prices. Frankly, this is the only way that scumbag outfits like Alarmforce (for example) can even survive. Even a cursory glance at their (and other companies like them) offerings should make people very suspicious ( a corollary to this is "those who advertise the most, end up giving you the least"). However, people who have made these kind of decisions will always look for reasons that re-enforce the correctness of their original decision, and they are then not open to any kind of further reflection or comment. In the case of the usual "free system", a simple mathematical calculation would show how very expensive their choice will be in reality. In your quoted case, $350 plus $45 X 60 months ($3050) is not "free", not withstanding the likelihood of having to also pay insane charges for service when required.
The second truism is that everyone today is looking for that "quick fix" to all their problems and will gladly put aside their common sense when someone offers them their version of a " security placebo". Never mind the less glamorous and equally important physical security precautions; simply throw in a minimalistic electronic system (or worse) and then sit back and breathe easy in their ignorant bliss of what they have done.
Originally, I went so far as to expend a lot of energy to put up a website to educate consumers on how to approach their security services. Over the years though, I have come to realize that educating someone is only something you can do if they want it. There will always be enough people out there that will continue to allow themselves to get suckered in to all sorts of nefarious deals, in spite of what reputable companies have to offer. I think it was Rube Goldstein who years ago said ..."there's a sucker born every minute". Personally, I put it another way..." a fool and their money are soon parted".
All you and anyone who is a true professional in this business can do is continue to be truthful and honest in dealings with customers. You will lose many sales to these fast buck artists but the customers who do come to you will appreciate what you offer and will spread your good name to others. And honestly Nick, do you really want those other kinds of customers ?
Personally, I have given up caring about people like this who make these kinds of choices. There are enough intelligent people out there who will shop carefully, and who will continue to keep legitimate companies in business. To hell with the idiots....
I guess that's what happened when I took off my rose coloured glasses.....:))
All you can really do is try and protect your customers. Make up a mailer that describes the biggest differences or gives them some questions to ask these kids that will highlite either the systems inferiority or the "saleman's" lack of understanding about what a real security system is.
Or maybe something along the lines of Bob's "Why You Yugo Doesn't Perform Like a Cadillac" letter.
While doing a system PM a while back, one of our customers was asking me about the "lasershield" systems (Rush advertised it - it must be good). All I had to do was describe the vulnerability of not having line seizure and the inconvenience inherent in a system that ONLY operates with remotes and she realized that even in the alarm biz - you get what you pay for.
In the end, all you can do is try and inform them.
If the "free" alarm companies weren't out there, the people who buy from them would never call a legitimate alarm installation company for an alarm system and if they did they wouldn't afford the system they need.
So, the people who buy from "free" alarm companies would never be my customers in the first place. Therefore I've lost nothing by the fact that they've bought into the ruse.
However, some eventurally find out what they haven't got and will call a viable installer.
I think those who buy into the free systems are foolish but I no longer am annoyed by the fact, as I once was .... that they do. All you can do is keep informing YOUR customers so that when they are asked by friends for a referral they will have the reasons to give them about why a "free" alarm system isn't free.