I rarely ever open the door to someone I don't know, but for some reason I did that day. He had on a polo shirt with an ADT logo patch, so I felt safe. He seemed nice enough and to have some good information, but when he asked me what time my husband typically gets home from work and asked if he could come in and sit and discuss more details with me, I started getting skeptical. That's when I told him I had to go and asked if he could leave some materials. He didn't have any ... nor did he have a business card. That's when some red flags went up in my head. But he did leave me a name and phone number on yellow notebook paper.
I realized that simply by participating in a conversation about prices, he found out that I did not have a functioning alarm system without ever having to ask me. Very uneasy, I called the ADT corporate office to make sure he really did work for them. After being transferred a few times I was reminded that ADT is a national company and the corporate office couldn't tell me anything about what happens locally. The local office closes at 5 p.m. and it was after that. So I called a different customer service number hoping to talk to someone a little more empathetic and willing to help. After remaining on hold for 25 minutes, I finally spoke with someone who told me that he could neither confirm nor deny whether this individual was affiliated with ADT, but that the chances were "highly unlikely". I would have to call the local company the next day. He also told me that there were several reported cases recently where individuals posing as alarm salesmen going to door-to-door were using the information they obtained to burglarize homes. (I later found out that something similar had happened not far from my neighborhood.)
Pretty concerned at this point, we called the police and it turns out that several other families had called too. An officer had been out earlier in the evening and talked to the salesman, but since he wasn't committing any crimes there was nothing he could do.
So at 8 a.m. the next morning I called the local ADT office to get more info and had to leave a message. When I still hadn't heard back an hour and a half later, I called again. When I was transferred to the proper person, I gave her the name the salesman had given me and was told that he was definitely not an ADT employee. However, she said there is a chance he could work for a supplier that installs ADT alarms. When I asked if there was any way to verify that the guy at my door worked for an authorized company I was told that there is no way for them to determine if this guy works for a legitimate supplier. And then came the best part... She said "it's like AT&T trying to find out information about someone selling their products at every Radio Shack in the country." I get the similarities, but let's not compare a possible thief at my front door to someone buying a phone at an electronics store.
It's not that I have a problem with ADT outsourcing their installation, but it seems crazy they can't keep tabs on the companies they contract and be able to obtain employee lists when requested - especially in the home security line of business. I voiced my concerns that if authorized suppliers are allowed to go door-to-door to discuss home security, there should be some standard procedures they use and things they should and should not ask. I was told that ADT has "no control" over their suppliers or how their suppliers market ADT products.
Dear ADT, don't you think you SHOULD have some control over your suppliers? Don't you think you'd want to know if some random dude in an ADT polo claiming to be an ADT employee representing your business is knocking on doors asking women what time their husbands get home from work? If you're allowing your suppliers to sell door to door, wouldn't you want some control over who wears your logo and represents your company? That's Marketing/Branding 101.
I followed up with the corporate communications office later in the day. The representative I spoke with told me that he couldn't confirm anything either, and that the only way to know anything for sure was to find out directly from the salesman what company he actually works for and verify that they are a legitimate supplier. So I took the chance and called the salesman on the number he left. This is how the conversation went:
Me: "You came to my door trying to sell me an alarm system. What company did you say you work for again?"
Salesman: "I work for ADT."
Me: "You work for ADT?"
Me: "You work for ADT or you work for a company that installs ADT alarms?"
Salesman: "I work for a dealer who sells ADT alarms."
When I then asked why he told me he was an ADT employee even though he is not, he proceeded to tell me about his company and that really it's just like a car salesman selling a Ford at the dealership. Why do these people fail to realize that coming to my home and discussing personal security with me takes away their ability to compare themselves to AT&T and Ford? And again, it's not that I have a problem with ADT outsourcing their installation. Independent contractors work great in many industries. But when it comes to a company that is supposed to be protecting my family, property, and all of my assets, a little honesty would have gone a long way.
While his response helped alleviate my concerns that he was a potential burglar, it still doesn't change the way I was handled by ADT -- like it was outrageous to request they be able to determine if the guy at my door wearing an ADT polo and claiming to work for ADT is actually authorized to sell their products. And I still can't believe that no one seemed to care who is representing their company and how they choose to do it.
I asked twice if I could speak to someone in management about my concerns. The first time I was told no. The second time I was told my concern would be passed along. More than a month later ... no response.
I am now the proud owner of a Certified Alarm system. It's a LOCAL company with LOCAL people. A Certified employee came to give us a quote, and Certified employees installed the unit. And if I have any questions, do you know who I'll talk to? You got it, a local Certified employee!
Sometimes national companies are great, but when it comes to safety I'm not messing around with anyone who seems more concerned with their bottom line than keeping me safe. If you're in the market for an alarm system, I suggest you consider a local company who can add a more personal touch to your home security needs. Better to be SAFE than sorry!