Getting Scammed by Door to Door Alarm Sales Persons and Companies

Psychology of a Scam when buying an Alarm System

Figuring out how people get scammed is a very intriguing subject. Here is some info on what happens when an unsuspecting homeowner opens the door to an alarm sales person to potentially get scammed.

Here is the list and how they are used in alarm sales:

1. Distraction
- When we're distracted, we miss important cues.

-- This happens when people are surprised at their doors. Seriously, people aren't in the buying mood and aren't shopping around when at home. When someone sets out to go buy a product, they have usually at least investigated about the product. With door-to-door alarms, salesman just show up, and the people have no idea what is a good deal or bad deal regarding alarm systems. It is an element of surprise, people get distracted.

2. Social Compliance
- We're trained to obey authority, especially in tense situations.

-- When getting sold an alarm system, there is a dynamic that exists. Good salesman are taught to assume the sale, take charge, and lead the customer from point A to Point B. That, in other words, is Social Compliance. The salesman takes an authority role, and the people who take the bait are the ones who obey. Especially when it involves showing up at someones door. It's a sneak attack. The salesman is ready, the person at home is not ready. The person not ready usually follows. This is also when a lot of confrontations and calls to news agencies happen. When the person at home says "no", and the salesman refuses to take "no", the salesman attempts to assert authority and a struggle is born. What happens from here is the story of legend. All salesman have heard of the confrontations, we have read the news stories. The best idea is to back away, but when you embody the authoritarian role, backing down doesn't always happen.

3. Herd Mentality
- We look to others to see whether we should consider something risky, but that's not always the best way to gauge risk.

-- Why do you think APX Alarm, and others, are so famous for using the line: "Do you know the Robinson's down the street? What about the Smith's? They just signed up for the same thing... " That is all done in an attempt to make it seem normal and the risk isn't that great since the neighbors down the street signed up. Whether or not those people actually signed up is unknown, but it enduces the herd mentality. This happens a lot in recruiting new salesman. They see some friends do it, see the guys with flashy cars, they think everyone can do it and it is a safe bet. Frequently, the only thing earned and learned are lessons. 

4. Dishonesty
- If we're willing to engage in dishonest behavior, we're more likely to take on risk--and less likely to report a scam to authorities.

-- This point is where the actual scam exists in alarm sales. When salesmen say one thing, and is actually another. When they say, "you can cancel at any time." That is a scam. When they say, "there are no fees" or "we are just advertising" or even "free system". Dishonesty is born. This also calls into question the customers who are willing to work the system either at the behest of the salesman, or for their own reasons. Those people are more able to get scammed because they are willing to be dishonest. Those people are also less willing to let authorities know what is going on.

5. Deception
- Once we believe something to be true when it isn't, we're easy marks.

-- If at the door the potential customer doesn't bat an eye, and even gets excited when the he or she hears "free alarm system", that is a sign of a mark. When they can't see the through the idea that they are in fact paying $40 per month for a "free system", then they are more willing to fall for scams. The large alarm companies live on these people. The ones who think that after 3 years, when they have paid $1500 that they still got a good deal on a $250 alarm system, those are the golden customers for door-to-door sales. Rarely, when a potential customer might actually see the alarm system being sold as a good deal if they get enough equipment, that is when it is a positive experience. Very, very few people that knew exactly what they were getting and knew it was a good deal. Salesman only pay attention to the sale for a max of 5 months. The issues that exist when a homeowner gets scammed doesn't usually come up until after that time period. The salesman has forgotten about the homeowner by that time and never knows that an issue actually existed. He assumes that it was a clean sale. When in fact, the homeowner was under the assumption that he or she could get out if money gets tight because the salesman said in jest, "no worries, if something comes up we work with customers." Well, when the customer needs to be worked with, no one is working with them. They feel scammed. The salesman, by that time, is long gone. Think about it.

6. Need and Greed
- What we want makes us vulnerable, especially once the scammer figures out what it is.

-- It's called the hot button. Unscrupulous alarm salesmen know the hot button tactic. They look for vulnerabilities, and push it and make it so that the alarm system is perceived to fix that problem. It is a sales tactic, and nearly always dirty. When a homeowner realizes they have a worry, they often times open themselves up to a potential scam by believing everything being said and not confirming those facts before signing. This rule is the #1 issue in alarm sales. Often the the person who gets into alarm sales does it because of the money. And I'm not talking about the $10 an hour variety that the student could get working at the hardware store. I'm talking about the getting rich money. When money becomes the goal, all decisions are based on money. Things might be said in a sale because the sales person just really needs  that sale to make money. 

7. Time Compression
- The less time we have to make a decision, the more likely we are to use a simpler, less accurate reasoning process--one that makes us more vulnerable to scams.

-- Have you ever heard or used the line, "I have a technician available that could be here in 20 minutes."? Shady alarm companies know, the fact that if the customer has the system in their house, they are significantly less likely to cancel. Companies keep stats of "same days", known as installations done the same day as the sale. These companies know that if the customer has time to look them up online, bad things will be found. When a customer gets a knock on the door, go through the process, take time to think, look up the company on the internet and see a multitude of complaints and perhpas, see an "F" grade, how often do you think there will be a sale? Not likely. They want to get it done quick. That is their business. Done the same day.

Now you know some of the scammers tricks so you don't have to become a victim!

Advantage Security Inc. suggests always doing business with a reputable local company. Any company with a local address, particularly an address listed in the local phone book, and one that you can actually visit and assess their credibility will be very helpful!