Most alarm companies will only service and maintain those systems that they monitor. It actually makes sense for companies that focus on monitoring to service those accounts that provide them with additional revenue from monitoring. With hundreds of different manufacturers and models of burglar and fire alarm panels installed, it is often difficult and time consuming to get the documentation and familiarize the technician on a piece of equipment he hasn’t worked with previously. Some small companies specialize in servicing all makes and models of alarm panels.
When looking for companies ask them which manufacturers they use and service. Service rates vary from $50.00 to $120.00 per hour. Some companies charge more for “off hours” service. Some companies do not offer “off hour” service at all. To compare companies ask the following questions:
- What is their hourly service rate?
- Do they charge for travel time? What is that rate?
- What partial hour increments do they bill? (15 min; 30 min)
- Do they you have a minimum service call charge?
- Do they charge more for “off hour” service? What is that rate?
Always be wary of service technicians and alarm companies that say the solution to an alarm problem is to replace the control panel and keypads. After 35 years of servicing alarm systems, I found that 99% of the service problems were a result of problems with wiring and sensors (door and window sensors, motion and glassbreak sensors, smoke and heat detectors). If a technician is not familiar with the manufacturer and model of your alarm equipment he may not be able to ascertain the problem. Unfortunately more and more companies are teaching their technicians to replace panels and other alarm equipment rather than repairing it. If all their customers have the same equipment, it makes it easier for the alarm company to train their technicians. Newer panels do offer the customer some additional features, but the decision to upgrade should reside with the customer (who is paying for the upgrade) and not be the result of a decision of convenience for the alarm company.
If your alarm system was manufactured in the last 20 years installation most user manuals are available on-line. If you would like to get a manual for your system contact me and I can e-mail it to you.