When we had our Alarm Force home security system installed just over a year ago, we had nothing but nice things to say about it. I even sang praises to them on Facebook, which is an honour I wouldn’t normally bestow on a huge corporation. But now that we’re moving, we learn we signed into a three-year contract that we’ll have to pay out if we don’t transfer the system to our new home. Of course, you say, that’s how things are done now; we should have expected it. Except for the fact that the salespeople didn’t mention it and the contract language is ambiguous to the untrained eye (which alas, my eye still is).
Alarm Force was ideal for us, since our need for an alarm is less about protecting our property from theft, and more about protecting our persons, because of hubby’s sometimes high-profile activism. When you set off your Alarm Force alarm, after a minute or so, an actual person sitting at an actual desk somewhere comes over an intercom in your home, asks how you’re doing and requests a password – one for “all is well” and one for “oh my god, I’m being held hostage in my own home; please send help immediately”, and if they don’t get a response OR you give them the “trouble” password, they actually send the coppers and emergency vehicles. This is a far cry from the old systems that get set off with no follow up, even when you’re paying for monitoring.
Of course, having an incredibly powerful microphone in your home makes excellent fodder for conspiracy theorists and it’s not too much in the realm of paranoia to imagine that we have actually knowingly bugged our own home. Fortunately, we have naught to hide – naught that you can’t find published on our Facebook pages and blogs anyway!
Here’s what pisses me off … if you’re going to lock your customers into contracts which force them to pay for services even when they are not being delivered, (which apparently is just the way things are done now,) then you should at least be up front about it. Somehow, neither hubby nor I have any memory of the salesperson mentioning we’d have to pay out if we move. And neither of us is particularly trusting. Meanwhile, the contract we signed does indeed say that we will pay Alarm Force for 36 months. There you go … but isn’t it a bit sad that we’re supposed to “just know” that means we’ll be paying even if we cancel? And isn’t it a bit sad that the salesperson somehow failed to mention it? It’s not as if there aren’t other options – a cancellation fee for example.
In the “big picture”, these “lock in” contracts mean that millions of people are paying monthly fees to huge corporations essentially for nothing. Because, who doesn’t have to move house now and again? This is just one more example of capitalists “passing the buck” to ordinary working people – finding creative ways to make up missing profits because their system is in crisis – because they can’t bring in “more profits than last year” in order to keep their share holders happy and keep themselves afloat in their stupid system. Think of all the people paying out contracts for cell phone plans they can’t use, because they moved or lost their phone … what portion of the major mobile phone companies’ “customers” are paying for services not rendered? This is a major piss off, above and beyond being forced personally to maintain a relationship with Alarm Force or face a bill for over $600.
Major piss off!