It’s that time of year again. The time of the year when salesmen walk the streets and pressure people into buying home security systems using door knocking security sales tactics.
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a harsh report on “unscrupulous door-to-door sales agents”. The report accused these sales agents of “high-pressure/deceptive sales tactics to get potential customers to buy expensive systems or equipment they don’t need.”
The Better Business Bureau received more than 2,000 complaints about door-to-door sales scams for 2012. The 2011 complaints totaled to about 1,300.
The FTC report includes detailed descriptions of warning signs of what it refers to as a “Security System Scam”. According to the FTC, the scams’ salespeople come to the doors of residents who have the sign of a competing home security company on their lawns. They then pretend to be from that security company and take over the system. Usually, the customer has no clue until well after the install.
These sales agents often lie or falsely assert that the homeowner’s current company is going out of business and that the agent has been sent to replace the resident’s system. The salesperson may also claim to be from the company that the homeowner already uses and is simply there to “update” the customer’s system.
What follows, according to the FTC, is a flurry of false promises and high-pressure sales tactics. The sales agent often promises free equipment, free installation and low monitoring rates—none of which are in the final contract. The salesperson may also claim that the discounts are only available if the customer signs the contract right away, in order to ensure the customer does not have time to do any personal research.
There have even been reports to the FTC that these salespeople, who are often only employed for a summer program and are paid by the number of sales they make per day, target the elderly. One 95-year-old woman was tricked into paying thousands for a system she had no intention of buying, by a salesperson who refused to leave her home until she signed the contract.
While some companies are not blatantly unscrupulous, the lasting impact from a rushed sale can be just as devastating. Here are the top five lies that high-pressure salespeople will use when trying to close a sale.
- The security system is completely FREE.
- This offer is only available for a limited time.
- There has been recent crime in your area.
- Our equipment and installation is top-quality.
- I’m from your current home security company.
These types of practices should tip customers off to the kind of company they are dealing with. If a company feels the need to ask customers to sign on with them in a high-pressure way, it can be a good indicator that service will suffer down the line.
The Unscrupulous Lies That Will Cost You
Lie #1: “The security system and installation are completely free.”
A misleading sales tactic commonly used is to offer a “free” system and “free” installation. Although the promotion may sound like a great deal, the system is rarely high quality and costs the salesperson virtually nothing to give away. To receive this deal, the homeowner must sign an alarm monitoring contract of up to five years. The salesperson and company then make their money by overcharging on the monthly alarm monitoring service over the life of the contract. In most cases, this means thousands of dollars wasted on what was said to be a free product.
Lie #2: “This offer is only available today.”
Deceitful and unethical organizations will encourage their salespeople to close a sale by pressuring their way into a person’s home. Once inside, the salesperson will employ any means necessary to get the homeowner to sign the contract. These sellers will not take no for an answer, and some may even refuse to leave the residence until the homeowner agrees to sign a contract with the salesperson. The salesperson sometimes will also