BBB —Don’t fall for deceptive pitch of door-to-door alarm sales

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be cautious when answering the door to traveling alarm-system sales persons.

The BBB has received complaints from homeowners across the country who have been subjected to high-pressure sales tactics for expensive alarm system.

The BBB received more than 2,000 complaints against burglar alarm companies in 2008, a 68 percent increase from the previous year.

Many complainants allege that the sales person used high-pressure sales tactics and made claims that were not included in the final contract. There also have been reports that some companies do not get the correct license to sell door-to-door in the community.

"Every summer alarm salesmen hit the pavement and every summer BBB receives a rash of complaints from consumers who feel they were ripped off," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. "Even if the salesperson claims it’s a limited offer and they must act now, consumers must always stop and do their research before purchasing any products or services."


The BBB has this advice to avoid becoming a victim of a deceptive door-to-door alarm salesperson:

  • Deal only with reputable firms.
  • Don’t be pressured into buying something you don’t want or need. A reputable company will let you check the offer and compare bids from several installers.
  • Some companies will offer a "free" alarm system. While the equipment and installation may be free (make sure this is in writing), there is a monthly monitoring fee. When you compare costs, make sure you compare all the costs.
  • Find out about local building codes and regulations regarding burglar alarms, including costs for false alarms.
  • Check out the company that will monitor your system. Ask if it is the same company you are signing a contract with. If not, make sure you obtain the name, address and phone number of this company.
  • Does the company call you first before notifying the police?
  • Ask for procedures in writing, so you are aware of the steps and can anticipate how you can best handle the situation.
  • Make sure the contract includes all promises made by the sales person. If the promises are not in the contract, do not sign the contract.
  • If you are planning on moving, ask what happens with your contract and get that information in writing.
  • After your purchase, make sure you check the system routinely to be sure it is in working order — by not doing this, you could be in violation of your contract.

BBB Tips, provided by the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, runs Fridays in the Post-Bulletin. For information, call the BBB at 1-800-646-6222 or go to
Better Business Bureau:

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