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Use the Five “Be’s” to Avoid Sales Scams

Salesman-at-front-door-with-woman

The next few months are an extremely active time for home security companies and salespeople. Sad to say, a few unscrupulous companies use it as a time to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. But everyone can play a role in fighting back against unethical tactics that some salespersons or technicians might use to try to gain your business, even if you already have a home security system.

At Monitronics, we do our part by urging the companies in our authorized dealer network to train sales reps to do the right thing. We gain absolutely nothing by misleading a new customer, trying to steal customers away from competitors, or engaging in other unethical tactics. Our dealers become successful by providing great products and services along with an honest, outstanding customer experience. They understand that any other approach is unacceptable – and can often result in fines or legal action.

It helps to be an informed consumer as well. Here are five easy “be’s” that you can remember to help protect yourself against summertime sales scammers. And if you encounter anyone engaging in dishonest practices, please let us know by calling 877.779.2973, or emailing stopdeceptivesales@monitronics.com.

Be informed

Know who your security provider is, whether you are under contract, and how long you’ll remain under contract. When a dishonest sales rep or technician looks at your yard sign and sees who your security provider is, they can use any number of underhanded tactics, such as:

  • Telling you that the company has gone out of business, and that they want to become your new provider.
  • Representing themselves as being from your provider, and offering a “free” upgrade that actually ends up costing you money for equipment that you don’t need – and that doesn’t even come from your actual security company.
  • Coaxing you to leave your current provider. If you have time left on your existing contract, however, the buyout process can be expensive and unpleasant, leaving you paying two companies at the same time.

If you know the facts about your system, your contract and your provider, it’s easy to shut a scammer down before they get rolling.

Be cautious

Always check the credentials of a sales rep or technician. For example, our customers know that if there’s ever any doubt about whether someone is actually from Monitronics, all it takes is a phone call to 877.779.2973 to verify their claim. If you’re a Monitronics customer, you know that we won’t send a technician to your house to make any equipment installations or updates without letting you know in advance. A sales rep may knock on your door as he goes through your neighborhood. But if a technician shows up without an appointment, call us to verify before he starts any work.

Be curious

Sales reps and technicians from our dealer network will provide valuable information about our systems and services, but they understand that you’re going to have questions. They know that purchasing home security or home automation is a major decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. Ask your questions, no matter how long it takes. If a sales rep isn’t patient, thorough and knowledgeable, that’s a red flag.

Be firm

A good salesperson will present you with options and patiently explain why they might work for you. But if you absolutely do not want a particular feature or service, let the salesperson know. Also, don’t be bullied by an overbearing salesperson or technician who doesn’t understand your comfort level. Remember that it’s your house, and you control the conversation.

Be proactive

Remember that you can always start the conversation about home security or home automation by contacting us through monitronics.com.  We can set up an in-home appointment with an authorized dealer in your area who can visit your home when it’s convenient and comfortable for you.

From Toasters to Terminators: Does Smart Technology Have a Dark Future?

Futurists are hoping that technology will avoid a dark future.

The “Internet of Things” is picking up steam. A lot of people are talking about it, even though relatively few can actually tell you what it is. Still, they’re happy to rattle on about how technology is going to enhance our lives in the coming years, whether it’s automatically adjusting the thermostat or telling us when we’re out of milk.

Smart technology has gotten off to a useful start with smart thermostats, remotely controlled lights and door locks, and video that you can access through your smartphone. At the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the concept kicked into overdrive. The media worked itself into a frenzy over cool stuff like a humanoid robot receptionist, cars that drive themselves, and an airborne drone that can take selfies.

Each of those devices tackle relatively complex forms of heuristics, which is just a fancy term for a machine’s ability to learn. For example, the receptionist has to engage in appropriate facial expressions, the car has to understand traffic conditions, and the drone has to learn not to run into a power line. Collectively, though, they represent the early stages of Artificial Intelligence, or AI.

So here’s the question: Can a robot receptionist evolve into a machine that will ultimately threaten the existence of mankind?

Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and the future of AI

Some of the leading thinkers of our generation are weighing in. For example, during a Reddit “Ask me anything” session, Bill Gates expressed his concern about the future of Artificial Intelligence.

“First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent,” he said. “That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this, and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

Musk’s name didn’t come up by accident. The founder of Tesla, the high-performance electric sports car, also has grave thoughts about the future of Artificial Intelligence. He has expressed his views before, once tweeting that AI could be “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” During a recent address at a symposium at MIT, Musk upped the ante, calling it “our biggest existential threat.”

“Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish,” he said. “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”

Not just a bunch of crackpots

Musk has joined renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and a number of experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence in an open letter urging an emphasis on the positives of AI, and avoiding the “pitfalls.”

Made up largely of professors from Harvard and MIT, along with other notable futurists, the group is called “The Future of Life Institute,” and the warning is ominous.

“We could one day lose control of AI systems via the rise of super-intelligences that do not act in accordance with human wishes—and such powerful systems would threaten humanity,” the letter states. That doesn’t necessarily mean a Terminator on every street corner; it could be as simple as an application or device that simply misunderstands its instructions or is poorly programmed.

Machines should work for you

Still – unless you’re a fan of The Matrix, I Robot, The Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey and other movies about machines that have run amok – it seems like a bit of a stretch to think that machines are going to be running the show. Maybe the thinkers are getting a little ahead of themselves.

We’re suggesting a practical approach: Look at the existing technology and see what appeals to you. Today’s smart home automation doesn’t look anything like a gateway to an apocalyptic future. It will enhance your life, and the potential benefits are growing stronger as new technology emerges.

For today, at least, ask not what you can do for the machines. Ask what the machines can do for you.

Monitronics Central Station Director Honored with Mission 500 Humanitarian Award

Mary Jensby Recognized for Making Life-Changing Contributions to Those in Need

Mission 500, a charitable organization engaging security professionals to sponsor needy children, has recognized Monitronics Central Station Director Mary Jensby with its 2012 Humanitarian and Corporate Social Responsibility award. The award is designed to honor companies and individuals in the security industry who make important contributions to those in need.

Jensby is well known in the industry for her service to the Central Station Alarm Association and Electronic Security Association. She has been engaged over the years in many efforts that involve volunteering for community and social causes in the Dallas area.

Mary Jensby

“It is an honor to receive this award,” Jensby said. “I am very proud to be joining an elite group of previous winners. Giving back is near and dear to my heart, especially in these rough economical times.”

At Monitronics, Jensby takes the lead in helping the local community, including working with the Salvation Army to prepare and serve meals. She also volunteers at a North Texas Food Bank in a wide variety of tasks including unloading trucks, stocking shelves, emptying and filling cartons, loading tables, and more.

At Christmas, Jensby’s team at Monitronics “adopted” the local elementary school and invited another special needs school to their facility. Children enjoyed a day with Santa and were treated to lunch, presents, and a tour of the service department. Additionally, each Christmas she has donated items to a local assisted-living care facility, making sure that every resident receives a gift. In her spare time, Jensby also volunteers for the American Cancer Society.

“Volunteering is important to me because it gives me the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life at a time when they need it most,” Jensby said. “It’s not about making monetary donations or contributions; it’s about the self-satisfaction that I had an impact to make someone or something better, even if it was for a short time.”

Jensby’s award will be presented at 5 p.m. March 29 at ISC West. The ceremony will be held at the Security 5K reception on the show floor near the entrance to the expo hall.

 

Making Strides in Reducing Response Time

Monitronics continues to be an industry leader in emergency response time. We’re honored to be the third Central Station chosen for the NLETS (International Justice and Public Safety Network) pilot program, ASAP (Automated Secure Alarm Protocol).

The program has three important goals that could save lives:

  • reduce the number of telephone calls in emergencies
  • eliminate miscommunication
  • and reduce processing and response time

By transmitting emergency data electronically, we can do just this.

The Central Station Alarm Associationand Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Internationaldeveloped the protocol that reduces the two to three minute relay which currently exists and allows data to be processed by a computer at the dispatch center.

Our own Mary Jensby puts the program into perspective:

We’re in an industry that can have a real impact on each customer’s personal safety and security. By speeding up the dispatch process, we could reach customers during the precious moments when a second feels like an eternity. I truly believe that we are going to begin seeing more burglars caught in the act and more property saved as a result of this program.

Saving Lives and Property: Mary Ann Ivy

June 2011 Shining Star

Recently in East Liverpool, Ohio, fifty-three year-old W. Kernaich, a Monitronics customer since January 30, 2011, had spent the day with his son, who was visiting for a few days. As the day ended on a good note Mr. Kernaich said goodnight and off to bed he went.

It had been a big day for Mr. Kernaich so he fell asleep quickly. Around midnight, he was suddenly awakened with intense lower abdominal pains. When the pain didn’t subside, he knew something was wrong and he needed help. He pushed his medical pendant that he wears as a wristwatch.

Mary Ann with her CSAA Operator of the Year award

Back at Monitronics, Sr EDO and former CSAA Operator of the Year Mary Ann Ivy received the Kernaich’s medical alarm. She called the home and after two rings his son answered and said, “We need an ambulance for my father.” Without delay, the medical authorities were called and an ambulance was rolling. The paramedics arrived quickly and Mr. Kernaich was rushed to the nearest hospital.

A couple days later we called the home and Mr. Kernaich answered. He said, “I’m doing good but I’m being treated by a doctor. I may have kidney stones. I want to say I’m very pleased with Monitronics’ response and my medical pendant wristband is a Godsend. It makes me feel safe, Thank you.”

Great job and congratulations Mary Ann! You inspire us daily with your excellent service, quality, and work ethic.

A BIG THANK YOU TO:

Mary Ann Ivy, Central Station Operator since September 18, 2000

Versatile Marketing Solutions installed Mr. Kernaich’s alarm on January 30, 2011