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The Better Business Bureau is sounding the alarm, about certain home alarm companies.
The BBB is expecting a record number of complaints this summer about sales tactics related to some of the home security companies based in Utah.
Jane Driggs, the BBB Utah president and CEO, said Wednesday there are "bad apples" among Utah alarm companies that do business around the country. Home security companies were the No. 1 complaint category at the Utah office for six years in a row, falling to No. 2 last year, she said.
This year, Driggs said, the BBB is expecting "a record summer for complaints to this office from around the U.S."
The BBB Utah office held a press conference that was broadcast to other Better Business Bureau offices to warn consumers about shady sales tactics.
John Meikle, 79, of Cottonwood Heights said he was the target of a fraudulent sales pitch when a person knocked on his door last December. The salesperson told him that his current alarm company would no longer be using telephone landlines and pressured him to have a new wireless system installed, he said.
He didn't bite and instead called his current security system provider and found out he had been told a lie.
"I really find it's despicable that some people operate this way and train all their people to operate this way," Meikle said.
Another consumer, identified as Jacque M. of West Valley City, said that two years ago she answered a knock on the door only to be told that the company with whom she had her home security system had gone out of business and that her current system had numerous problems with it.
"He was very pushy," she said.
Jacque did bite and signed a contract with the company, but then called her current company and found out she had been lied to. She was able to get the contract canceled.
But Jay Hauhn, executive director of the trade group Central Station Alarm Association, said many people don't realize they've been scammed until they start getting two bills one from their old company and one from the new one.
"The real challenge here is the consumer ends up with two contracts," Hauhn said.
Driggs said questionable sales pitches include telling consumers their current alarm company is out of business or claiming to represent the current company and wanting to upgrade the home system when in fact they are installing the system of another company.
Besides checking with the BBB for complaints and reviews of companies, the BBB recommends that consumers ask for identification to ensure the salesperson is working for the company they purport to, read any contracts and other literature throughly and make sure they understand them. And be alarmed if you're subject to high-pressure sales tactics such as claims that you have to act immediately, the BBB said.