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Don't Get Fooled by Your Next Alarm Repair Company

Alarm repair gone wrong in evaluation fees and bad practices

Today I wanted to read an e-mail I recently received on an alarm evaluation gone terribly wrong.

I’ll tell you what to do, and what to expect, if this ever happens to you.


"Dear Professor. I just read your article, and this is what I wanted to know. Do, security alarm companies normally charge to evaluate the repair problem? I called an alarm company to repair my system. I got a quote on their hourly rate. I thought it would be a quick job.

Eight hours and $775 later I was told they only did an evaluation, it would cost another $3,335 to repair my alarm system. Is this normal?”

- Theresa from Dallas Texas.

No, Theresa this is not normal.

This is bad.

Alarm companies generally will give you a free evaluation to say how much to fix the alarm. Or they’ll let you know they can't fix the alarm. But they should give you a fixed bid.

Sometimes things happen where you don't know exactly what it is. Yet, I've never known an alarm company that can't figure out what they're getting into, and give you some type of time frame to do it.

I prefer the smaller local companies, rather than the big companies. Some good places to look for alarm companies are:

  • Angie's List
  • Yelp
  • myalarminstaller.com

There's a number of places where you can find reviews, and homeowner reviews are usually the best because they're talking about the experiences they have, and they don't have anything to gain or lose. In matter of fact, you can probably find an equal number of ones that are ecstatic about the service they got and other ones that are horrified at the service they got.

Theresa, I classified you in the horrified group, but it really pays to evaluate and do some research before you have your alarm worked on. There's a lot of disreputable people out there who are taking advantage of people such as those trying to take advantage of Theresa. The best thing to do is to contact your attorney general or Better Business Bureau.

Send them a letter, you can send the same letter to each one. When alarm companies get inquiries from the Better Business Bureau or from the state attorney general, they have to respond.

You can call them up and express your displeasure. But the alarm service company can easily blow you off because you're just one person not doing anything. I guarantee you, when they get a letter from the state attorney general, it becomes a matter of record, and that's not good for their business. They need to respond.

I told Theresa not to pay the bill. I think that what they did is unconscionable.

If you find yourself in her situation, first try someone else if they say they are going to charge you to evaluate the problem. Or if it’s too late, report them to the state Attorney General.

Have you had similar experiences? Then please leave a comment below.

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02-May-2014
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