The first step for those who want to get out of an alarm contract is to get a copy of their contract. If they don’t already have one, they can ask the alarm company for a copy. It is the right of the customer to be given a copy of their contract. Once they have the contract, they should see if there are terms and conditions about cancelling the contract. Many alarm companies require their customers to cancel at least three months in advance of the date they want to stop the service, or the contract will automatically be renewed.
The terms and conditions of the alarm contract may also stipulate a cancellation fee or early termination fee. If the customer wants to get out of the contract quickly, he or she can pay the fee, which could be several hundred dollars. However, if they would rather not spend the money, they can still cancel the contract, but it will take more time. The most common reasons customers want to cancel an alarm monitoring contract are because they have bought a new home, the system is not working properly, or they found another company that gives better service for less.
The information the customer needs from the contract is:
• The terms of the agreement such as the contract expiration date
• The process for cancelling the service stipulated in the contract
• A penalty for termination
• The owner of the security equipment, the company or the customer
Most monitoring companies do their best to prevent customers from terminating their contract, so it’s important for customers to follow the terms of the contract. Customers have the legal right to cancel the contract within the conditions set out in the contract. According to an article in the New York Times, alarm monitoring companies are notorious for stalling any hint of a contract cancellation over the phone. This means that if the customer wants to use the phone, they shouldn’t be subtle about their intentions when they talk to a company representative. If they still get the runaround, they should call the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for help. However, it’s recommended to write a letter, so all transactions are in writing.
The customer will need to send a letter to the alarm company to cancel the contract. In order for the customer to have proof that the company received the letter in keeping with the required date for cancellation as stated in the contract, it should be sent by certified mail with a return request. The customer should keep a copy of the letter as well as other communication they have with the alarm company including telephone calls. They should write down the time and date of any call as well as the name of the person to whom they spoke.
The letter should state that the customer will consider the contract cancelled if he or she doesn’t receive a written response within a specified amount of time from the date the company receives the letter. The return requested will give the exact time and date the letter was received.
The letter should also request that the company put any clarifications or explanations in writing. The company may tell the customer that the contract requires more from the customer. If the company says this, the customer should request a copy of that contract with a written explanation of any additional requirements. Every written communication to the alarm monitoring company should give a date by which the customer expects a response or the contract is automatically terminated. This means if the company fails to respond, it agrees with the customer’s position.
Whether the customer makes a phone call or writes a letter he or she should always be polite. Even if they are not satisfied with the service, they should not show anger or express blame. If the customer is speaking to a representative and is not getting satisfaction, the customer can ask to speak to a supervisor. At all times the customer should be polite even when the representative is not positively responding. In many cases, a supervisor will help a customer to terminate their contract if the customer asks respectfully and politely. It is not recommended that the customer threaten legal action against the alarm company because the customer likely does not have a real claim, and this type of threat will not convince the representative to help. It may take several calls before the customer can actually cancel their contract, and they should be just as polite on every call.
While it’s important for people to protect their family, belongings and property, it’s also important not to get caught in a perpetual home security contract that they don’t need. However, consumers have a legal right to cancel a contract if they follow the terms and conditions set down in the contract.
By Andre Bradley