Why everyone hates Security Salespeople

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I get it. I know why people hate security salespeople:

Cold calls

In the days of landlines and sit-down dinners, everyone was interrupted at some point by a security system company trying to sell you a “free” system with a 3 year contract. They called me too!

Rampart doesn’t do that. We don’t and never have tried to sell via cold-calls. We won’t. There is no need for someone to call you, scare you about the changing world/neighborhood/crime statistics and try to get you to buy or lease a security system. I know some companies are still doing this. It is ridiculous. They would surely stop if they never sold any that way, so it must work— but it is not our way.

I was once at a neighborhood potluck supper and a lady asked me what I did for a living. I said I work at Rampart Security Systems. She turned and walked away. She had never dealt with our company— of that I am certain. She walked away because of what other companies were doing, not mine. They give us all a bad reputation (not cool like the Joan Jett song). Still, though— ouch!— that was humiliating.

Scary Ads

Frankly, we don’t advertise much either. Our customers are happy and tell others to call us for security every day. I’m really grateful for that. It is soul-satisfying to know that we provide security people recommend to their loved ones and friends.

Companies that advertise on TV and radio do us a favor. They get people shopping for home security alarms and, if they do their research and they are in the Kansas City area, customers will find us. There is no lack of business, even though some people compete like that’s the case.

I’m not fond of the scary scenarios they show in the commercials— even if they are true, they aren’t really ethical IMHO. Wouldn’t it be enough to say— if you need security, here we are? Instead they create an urgent need by scaring people. Not my bag of tea. I don’t even like scary movies. Salespeople who scare in order to sell— I don’t like them either.

Contracts

Nope— we don’t do that either. We sell our equipment outright, and there is NO REASON to make you sign a contract. We have a month to month agreement— you pay us to monitor the system, and we perform that job within reason. Those long contracts have nothing to do with protecting the customer. They are all about protecting the company. That said, when a customer insists on a contract we will sign a month to month version to close the deal.

You should always read the fine print— sometimes it is fascinating. Fascinating like you have to pay 2/3 of the remaining balance that you would have paid if you completed the contract— which could easily be over a thousand dollars!

Smarmy fake small-talk and BS

As you can tell, I am probably not a good small-talker. I can conjure a sentence about the weather or a sports team but after one or two sentences— I’m done. On “sales” calls (I prefer consultation or design meeting) I am all about the building. How many doors and windows? What kind? How can I minimize cost and make a system easy to use round the clock? (Many people don’t use their systems round the clock, but it is best to have that option if some worry or threat comes along.) Sure, I have met some nice cats and dogs and even had a customer serve me coffee and cherry pie once. I just don’t like the sales people (for security or anything) who pretend to be your new best friend until you sign the contract. We know our job is to educate you on how the system works, how it should be set up and why, and then get out of your way so you can make a decision.

Pressure

Special offers that are only “today”? No thanks. I like to take enough time to make a wise decision. They say you sell best to people like yourself. I sell best to careful shoppers. People who are suspicious when something seems too good to be true— like a “free” $850 system. (Those are never free, you pay for them over the required 3 year contract term. I once asked a company that called me to drop off the system for me and they wouldn’t. Nothing is free if you have to sign up.)

Spam E-mail

If you give your email to most companies these days, you end up with spam. I know I do. If I give a salesperson for almost anything my email, I seem to get a regular newsletter or special offer every once in a while. With Rampart, we email your bid, your bill if you want it emailed, and documents you need. We do not email or mail you a bunch of stuff you don’t want. Maybe we’re missing out, but I think most people will call us if they want something instead of waiting for us to contact them.

Intrusion and inconvenience of home visits

In checking out the DIY security company sales-pitches, it is clear that they see an advantage to their mail order business model— no sales-people in your house. They present it as intrusive, and unnecessary. Sure, it is not rocket science, designing a security system, but people do tend to overdo certain elements or under-do others. Lots of people want to put a switch on every window— which is great if you can afford that— but limiting if you can’t. There are things we can adjust to minimize expense. Motion sensors are useful— but some people had a bad experience thirty years ago and are reluctant to try the newer technology. A pro can design a more effective, less expensive system than most DIYers just ordering from a screen.

That said— I do not go out to every house to design a system. After 20+ years, it just isn’t necessary. I rely on my knowledge of home plans and the thousands of homes I have visited. I also use Google Streetview. Between the two, I rarely give a bid that needs much adjustment when the installer goes out. If changes need to be made, he’ll discuss them with the homeowner and make sure the job is done right.

So, home visits are not always needed. They can be inconvenient or intrusive in the bidding process, when you are trying to compare apples to apples. Each company tells you something a little different to make themselves stand out— but it gets ridiculously confusing trying to compare them all. You have a bunch of total strangers walking through, and people are worried about security, and about the appearance of their homes (though we don’t care about your clutter).

The Willy Lowmans of the world aren’t so welcome in people’s homes anymore. I feel the same about salespeople for things I have shopped for: windows, gutters, painters, etc. We can do our jobs well without intruding these days.

There are surely more reasons why people hate security salespeople, but that’s all for now. I hope I haven’t overstayed my welcome.

Controlling your home's alarm with connected automation Alexa, etc.

In this episode I demonstrate the inner struggle between the Luddite in me and the gadget lover (also in me).

Are you sure you want to have a microphone listening all of the time? Maybe I have trust issues. There have been so many hacking cases.

Didn’t we all dream about living in the Jetson’s house? We’re getting closer and closer.

I see the utility in these advances for those with mobility issues. I think it is wonderful. For the rest of us, though, I worry about how lazy we will become.  Is it really too much to flip the light switch manually? Is it a good use of our resources to make it so that we don;t have to get up?

Our Honeywell Systems with Total Connect are compatible with Alexa, so if you have one— you can give it a go. If you have a Honeywell system but not Total Connect, give us a call and we’ll help you get that set up.

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There are a lot of ways you can use gadgets like Alexa— I think the setting of scenes would be the most useful. Try making a “go to sleep” scene or set of commands to make sure your house is locked and the system is armed, and turn off the lights without getting up, if you want.

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That said, we are not tech support for Alexa or any of the home speakers. We’ll focus on security and fire systems, thank you.

Security cameras or security alarm?

Are cameras better than an alarm?

A great supplement to your security system!

A great supplement to your security system!

Security cameras let you SEE what’s going on at your home or business. That’s great! I think that the more information you can get- the better! Lots of companies are marketing cameras as a substitute for an alarm system. Are they really a good substitute?

Let’s consider what they do and don’t do.

Cameras let you see what happened or is happening. I’m a big fan. I love my doorbell cameras and home security cameras. Really, I do. I use them daily.

Cameras can alert you to motion or the presence of people in the view of the camera.

Cameras can record evidence needed for prosecution. Huge plus! But— they can be foiled by masks or sabotage— spray paint or destruction.

Cameras cannot reliably tell if you need the police. The presence of a person at the site does not mean police are needed. You have to look at the video to make a decision, then call the police.

Cameras cannot (and should not without human review) summon police or fire departments. Even with built-in face recognition, which is another issue entirely, a human should look at the video to see what is actually happening before a call is made.

Alarms detect entry. Cameras don’t show you anything until a person is in the frame. If you have entrances not “covered” by cameras, a person could get past and you wouldn’t know it. An alarm can alert you to a door or window opening or interior motion (without being intrusive or sacrificing your privacy).

Alarms can get a response without you and your cell phone being in an area where you can view video. How many times have you had slow WiFi or a slow video playback on your cell phone? An alarm system can get the response you need more quickly than cameras. You aren’t always “on call” having to view videos and make decisions if you have an alarm. You can count on a response and on the off chance that it was an accidental trip, you can cancel the police or fire response.

Bottom line:

I do not think cameras substitute well for an alarm system. They are a great addition to an alarm system and can complement their function. It’s handy to have a video clip to review if you are away and your alarm is tripped— but knowing that if I can’t get the video to load there will still be help on the way is valuable peace of mind.

Who are we gonna call?

Just a reminder— If you haven’t updated your call list numbers lately, you should take the time to review them. Have any of the people on your list gotten rid of their landline phones? Changed cell phone numbers? Gotten a new job with a new work number?

 
 

Can’t remember who is on your list? Update your call list all at once by sending us a whole new list here:

or submit a simple phone number change here:

Add text alerts (FREE on our end— your cell provider may charge, but we don’t) here: https://www.rampartkc.com/activate-text-alerts

Your police and fire department response depends on correct phone numbers. Help us out! Submitting numbers in writing means fewer possible errors, and we strive for perfection. Thanks for your help!

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Pros and Cons of Do-it-yourself security alarm systems

Our choice for DIY alarms

Our choice for DIY alarms

Pros and Cons of Do-it-yourself security alarm systems

You can’t escape the ads. You can’t go into many stores without seeing one. Do-it-yourself alarm systems are trending. They are not a new invention— ever hear of Radio Shack? You used to be able to buy kits there. Our local Radio Shacks closed, and I don’t know if there are any left anywhere at this point.* The basics of the systems are the same— door switches, motion detectors, sirens/sounders. The new twists are how you control them, the way they look, and how you get a police response from them.

Full disclosure: We just started offering a DIY system, too. So you shouldn’t assume I fall on one side or the other. I see their utility and I see some issues too.

The following is an off the top of my head list of pros and cons. I may elaborate on them in future posts, or on request if you contact me.

Pros of DIY alarms:

relatively inexpensive

easier to follow installation instructions than professional models

cheaper monitoring

modern-looking designs

auto-arm feature (see below for auto-disarm) is convenient (just make sure it is working how you think it is)

no contract required monitoring (Some DO have contracts. But- we don’t require a contract on our DIY or professionally installed alarms)

easy integration with some desirable features (for some) like thermostats and lights

Cons of DIY alarms:

less adjustable to needs— can’t adjust delay times for instance

may work only with one company or central station

may require sharing more personal data than traditional alarm (trade-off for automatic features)

no local on-site assistance for troubleshooting (exception- we sell DIYs, and we can help on site)

easy to disturb system by moving parts out of range

easy to disrupt video by moving camera/ covering (cameras are not equal to security alarms)

self monitoring means YOU are always on call (some systems allow self monitoring, some don’t)

expected lifespan may be less— professional systems can last for decades

auto arm feature is convenient, but it’s easier to forget the code you will only occasionally need— this can cause false alarms

* Radio Shack was in bankruptcy, but is now out of it and still has an online presence and some plans to re-brand as Radio Shack Express. Which brings the question- what happens to your security system if the company who sold it to you goes out of business? I’ll do another post on this in the future, because it’s complicated.

Conclusion:

There is no way I can say DIY is for everyone. If anything, I can just say proceed with caution, read the manuals, and test the system. Test it regularly. Do not assume the system is ok without inspecting it periodically.

Whatever you see advertised that a DIY system can do, a professionally installed system can do as well. So don’t think that you have to sign up for the ones you hear advertised just to get a new function or gadget. Call your current security provider— or call us!