In light of the recent buyout of Brinks by ADT, some people may be reconsidering their home security systems.
A great deal of research can go into choosing which company to trust to protect your family and home, and when that company suddenly changes, that can be more that slightly disconcerting. It brings to light that you, as the customer, are not the most important aspect to their business, but that money is the most important aspect to their business.
With that said, something worth considering may be a local security company.
The more localized and personal approach of a home-town security company could benefit you in many ways:
1. Faster Response Time
When working with a national company, if your alarm were to be triggered, the signal would be sent typically to a call center in another state, if not another part of the country. Then, from that center a call goes out to a special line that then connects to your local police or fire department.
With a local company, the call goes to a center typically within a 50 mile radius of your home, and the dispatcher calls whatever police or fire department indicated as best by you directly to alert them to your possible emergency. The difference in response time roughly translates to a 20-minute delay by the national companies. In that amount of time, robbers would be in and out, or a small fire could swell into an unmanageable one.
2. Timely Service & Repair Calls
Again, with a national company, if something is wrong with your keypad, or suddenly one of your remotes doesn’t work, you have to call out to a center nowhere near your home and put in a request for service. Then, the dispatcher has to call a contracted technician — not someone directly employed by them, but someone they hire just when they have the need — and schedule a time most convenient for the technician to come out and take a look at your system. This typically has a turn around of about two weeks. That’s two weeks your alarm system isn’t working properly — and you pay for it to work, right?
With a local company, you call the service center, and typically based on the type of malfunction, a technician actually employed by the company will recieve a service order that day, and within 48 hours (at the most) they will be at your door to make your system right again. If that’s not peace of mind, then what is?
3. Familiarity With Your Neighborhood
Because the people at your local home security company are just that — local — they live, work, and play in the same areas you do. They know when there’s been a rash of break-ins in a particular area and to warn customers who live in that area.
The technicians know how to get to your house because it’s right near that one local grocery store known for their great cakes and deli meats, or because it’s down the street from their kid’s best friend’s house. And if there’s severe weather or massive power outages affecting the greater area, they’ll know because they’re dealing with the exact same conditions — and they’ll know how to handle those situations.
The people who run the company are your neighbors, and it benefits them just as much as it does you to have your home and your towns safe.
4. Monthly Fees, Contracts & Payments Nearly all security companies, whether they are national or local, require you to sign some sort of contract of service. National companies are more likely to try to get you to sign longer contracts with monthly charges upwards of $50 (plus tax) and often have clauses in them stating they can up your monthly cost whenever they want, for whatever reason.
Some also state that they will automatically renew your contract after the expiration date at a rate they deem appropriate at the time. And the cost to get out of such a contract? Exorbitant at best.
Local companies are more willing to negotiate because they don’t have a board of directors to appease, or stockholders to share profits with. The contracts are typically shorter, and have baseline monthly charges more around $30 (also plus tax).
Their contracts are more likely to include basic service calls free of charge, and it’s up to the customer to renew the contract if they so choose. Also, since it’s not a major corporation but a local business, there’s normally real people you can speak to if you miss a payment or come across hard times and don’t want to lose your service. And while the contracts may not be cheap to get out of, generally a local company will be more willing to work with you to temporarily suspend service or adjust your monthly rates to better work for you.
5. Personal Customer Service
Local companies with local employees allow you as the customer to build a rapport with the people responsible with protecting your home.
They will be understanding when situations arise beyond your control; they’ll also go the extra mile to keep your home safe in the case of an emergency because they care. And a great deal of national businesses miss this aspect — the human aspect, the idea of looking out for one’s neighbor, of being a good friend, and of taking proper care of your customers because they are your number one priority, not the bottom line.
Local security companies may feel like a gamble because they don’t have nationally recognizable logos or studio-produced commercials or advertisements in the paper or magazines. But with a simple check-in with your local BBB, you’ll be sure to find a local security company more than happy to protect your home and make sure you and your family’s safety is of their utmost concern.
We welcome comments from consumers and security companies big and small – What’s your experience?
(Full Disclosure — I worked for a local security company for nearly a year before my son was born, so my opinion may be more that slightly biased.)
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