26 May 2009

Vector Security

Last Saturday a salesperson from Vector Security came to my door trying to sell me a home security system. He began by claiming to have spoke to Mr. 'insert name here' who has lived down the street forever and who recently recognized that crime was on the rise. This initial attempt to identify with the neighborhood by namedropping a neighbor made me suspicious off the bat. A little bit of social engineering!

Normally, we'd shoo these folks away as we generally dislike solicitors. However, he was offering all the equipment and installation for free; our only obligation would be to place their sign in the front yard and pay a $45 monthly monitoring fee.

The idea, as he pitched it to me, was that they sign up a few houses in a neighborhood for "free" and then send the salesforce through later on. The salespeople can point to the few "free" houses and say, "see, Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So across the street have our system and they love it!"

I will admit I was intrigued and let him go through his presentation with at least the idea in my head that I just might do it. We went so far as to get an "approval" from the company that I could get the full system installed for free. This sounded like a credit check, but they didn't have any relevant financial information other than my name and address, so I think this was basically your typical scheme to call the office for approval to make it look like you've been approved for something. Wow, I feel special! This was my second bit of suspicion.

He explained that they would like me to try the system for at least a year, but that after that I could cancel if I wanted. Sure, enough, the contract had a cancellation section. But wait... Reading the fine print, this section said that I could cancel within three days of the contract at no expense. Three days! Now my suspicion alert is off the charts.

Reading the fine print, the contract I was signing was a full five year contract. So sure, I could cancel at any time, but I'd have to pay five years of $45 monthly monitoring charges = $2700. When I asked him point blank if this was the case, he simply said, "yes" in a clearly resigned manner. He knew the deal was unraveling before his eyes.

I then explained that I certainly could not commit to a five year contract, and he offered to "call his manager" and get the five year commitment reduced to three years.

At this point I asked him to tear up the contract (he did), and I apologized for wasting his time anymore. I have no doubt he walked away very pissed (as I certainly would have). He was very close to securing a deal.

In the end, this was one of those situations where, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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