Rancho Bernardo Thugs Caught… Everyone is Safe Now???

We enjoyed a nice spike of business with the recent home invasions in the Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch area, but now that the thugs responsible for the crime have been caught, I am sure that everyone is going to fall back into their false sense of security. The fact is that the type of crimes that this group was doing is very rare and unusual, and therefor news worthy. I even got my minute of fame being interviewed by Fox News regarding these crimes. Check out the link: http://fox5sandiego.com/2016/02/16/home-security-systems-rise-in-robbery-areas/

So, the crime that is still happening every day is not interesting or unusual enough to make the news, but it is still a real threat to everyone that can easily be avoided with the installation of an electronic security system. The neighbor’s teenage kid is still going to get into drugs, and still feel the need to break into their neighbors’ homes to take their cash and jewelry to support their habit. Even though they are a “bad” kid since they are stealing from their neighbors, they are still kids, and they are scared as heck that they are going into a stranger’s home. As soon as that 100dB siren starts blaring, they are out of there!

Systems today are very affordable, so don’t let the fact that this one gang is behind bars keep you from following through with securing your home, and more importantly, your family!

Stay Safe, Keith

WARNING! Security Salespeople pretending to be with Alarm2000

Please be warned, and alert your friends and neighbors.

I have had three customers in the last month call me to ask if we sent a Representative to offer an upgrade to their alarm system. We, nor any legitimate security company, would randomly knock on our customer’s door to offer them an upgrade. If we, or any legitimate company needed to communicate with our customers an offer, we would mail you an offer, either independently, or more likely with your monthly invoice. If anyone approaches you, and says that they are with your current alarm company, please ask that individual for a business card, and to show you a picture identification. Keep the card, and just tell them that you will call them if interested. Then call the police and/or file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs at http://www.dca.ca.gov/online_services/complaints/consumer_complaint.shtml or you can call the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services at (916) 322-4000 or (800) 952-5210.

Once these unethical companies feel the heat from law enforcement and the state agencies that govern our industry, they will fold up their tents and move on to the next town, which is unfortunately what has been going on in this and many other businesses for decades! You may know someone who got an new alarm or an “upgrade” from one of these scammers, who ended up with poor customer service, because by the time their system needs service, the company that signed them up does not even exist anymore. So, if you do meet up with these characters, please take the time to report them before they hurt too many people.

Stay Safe! Keith

Free Rain Barrel Program

Up until this post, all of my blog entries have been about security systems. I am not intending to start a new trend, but when you stumble across something as special as this, I think that it needs to be shared. That is just one of the wonderful things about the internet.

My wife and I stopped in at one of our client’s businesses that we had the pleasure of installing a security system at called San Diego Drums and Totes located at 6420 Federal Blvd. Ste C, Lemon Grove, CA 91945. These folks carry storage containers of all sorts, but the exciting thing that I am sharing is a Rain Barrel kit that you hook up to the drainage spout of your rain gutter to collect and reuse the water to irrigate your yard. The kit includes a 58 gallon barrel, and the parts that you need to either connect to your downspout, or to another barrel. The total price is $75, and the state of California is offering a $75 rebate, so the net cost of this is just the sales tax. The barrel and kit are free, and there is no limit to the number of barrels that you can get a rebate on, so you can hook them up to all of your downspouts, and connect barrels to catch more than 58 gallons per rain fall. The kit includes a valve that you install at the bottom of the barrel to hook a garden hose up to to water your plants with.

The drought in California is at a critical level, and every little thing that we can do to help matters. This is a way to contribute to helping with the problem, and take advantage of getting something that would normally cost $75 for FREE! I like FREE, and I am guessing that you do too. Speaking of FREE, a basic security system is also FREE, so if you have not already done so, you should take advantage of that great deal as well!!

Stay Safe!

Geo Tracking with Alarm.com

Geo tracking gives home and business owners new capabilities that go way beyond security and emergency response. The way that it works is that your smart phone has GPS built into it, and if you have your location services enabled, Alarm.com will always know your physical location (Assuming that you are with your phone of course, but when are you ever away from that??). Now you can make rules of what you want to happen based on your location. For example, if I am home, my Z-wave thermostat should be set at the temperature that I like when I am home, or if I am more than a half mile from my home, set the temperature to the setting I like when my house is empty. Or, if I drive away from my home, and forget to close my garage door, close it for me. Or, arm my system, or turn my lights on or off. You can see where these rules can really cut down on wasted electricity usage.

You can also outfit your children with a smart phone, and program Alarm.com to send you a notification via text and/or email when your child is more than a defined distance from their school. All of these rules can be made 24 hours, or just in effect certain times of day.

These services are all included in the basic Alarm.com service without any upgrades or additional fees, so it has become very affordable for homeowners to have this added connection with their home and their kids. I sincerely hope that more people take advantage of this exciting new technology.

Stay Safe!!

Add Z-Wave Home Automation to your Security System

Home automation has never been easier to have or more affordable thanks to z-wave technology. The reason for this is the “open platform” nature of the technology. Z-wave uses 900mhz radio frequency to communicate. This is the same frequency used by early cordless phones and baby monitors. The frequency was abandoned due to range issues where you could not get more than 40 or 50 feet from your base station without losing your signal. That issue has been addressed by making every z-wave devise act as a repeater. With this feature you can have z-wave devices hundreds of feet away from your control panel as long as no two devices are more than about 40 feet apart from each other.

Currently Z-Wave technology is available for light switches, lamp control, appliance control, thermostats, door locks, and garage door openers, with many other applications under development. For each of these applications there are several manufacturers completing for your business, which drives the prices down. Previously home automation involved choosing one of three proprietary systems where once you decided on a provider you could only purchase their equipment at VERY high prices, and you would need to hire a trained technician for the installation driving the whole purchase price into tens of thousands of dollars. With Z-Wave technology the user simply pushes the learn button on their device, and the learn button on the control panel. No special skills are needed.

So, I encourage you to ask your Security System provider what it would take to upgrade your system to add z-wave technology and take advantage of all of these devices that can improve your lifestyle and save money on your utility bill.

Stay Safe!!

How much is your time worth?

I am constantly reminded how effective the millions of dollars that big companies spend on marketing their brand is, and how gullible the average American is to get sucked in to it, HOOK, LINE & SINKER!

The Cable Companies are getting extremely aggressive in convincing the public that you should abandon the security companies that they have earned your trust through decades of experience, and trust the phone/TV guy to service your security needs. I have explained in length in previous blog entries why they are doing this, and why it is a short sighted decision for the customer to get sucked into this “DEALS”. Once you accept their proprietary equipment that only THEY can monitor, they can raise the rates on your Alarm Monitoring, TV, Internet, and phone service. And because it is all bundled together with your proprietary alarm system there is nothing you can do but pay them.

Well, then there are those folks who are too clever for their own good! They say that they are not worried about what the company might do to the rate, because they will renegotiate or just hire a competitor who will put in a new system for them when they cancel. These are the folks that I am addressing this blog to: How much is your time worth?

No matter who you get a professionally installed security system from, if it is U/L Listed equipment and monitored, you have a commodity. The only way that Security Alarm Companies vary is on price and customer service. You never experience customer service until there is a problem with your security system. So when your system is not working, and you are spending hours on hold with your alarm company, and waiting weeks to get a service call, and waiting around all day for the tech to arrive at your place, I want you to ask yourself “What is my time worth?”. When you receive the notice that your monthly monitoring rate is going up and you are once again spending hours on the internet and on the phone discovering what the current best deal is I want you to ask yourself “What is my time worth?”.

For most folks who are in the market for a security system the answer is going to be $25 to $250 an hour. Even on the low end, if you multiply it times the hours you waste going with a big company and putting yourself in a monopoly you will see that your perceived savings of a dollar or two per month is really costing you a ton of money. So get smart and choose a local company that charges you a fair rate, won’t increase their rate at the end of your initial term, and give you great customer service!

Stay Safe.

Are wireless systems better than wired?

I call on many customers who tell me that another alarm company that they met with advised them that wired systems are “old school”, and that EVEN IF THEIR HOME IS WIRED FOR A SECURITY SYSTEM they are better off going with a wireless system. What a crock!!

If your home or business is NOT wired for a system, I would agree that a wireless system would be appropriate reducing the cost of the installation, and more importantly the cost of the repairs to your walls and ceilings after the premise is torn up from the wiring process. Current wireless sensors are very reliable, and we install them with confidence in a great number of our client’s properties.

If your home is wired, you would be doing yourself a great disservice to install a wireless system. The two main benefits of sticking with a wired system are aesthetics and maintenance. Wireless sensors are generally surface mounted as the recessed variety require a very large diameter and deep hole be drilled into the door or window. Wired sensors are easily recessed. Wireless sensors have a battery making them significantly larger than wired sensors, and require regular maintenance when the batteries need to be replaced.

A wired system can be set up to enjoy ALL of the interactive services that a wireless system can, so you lose no functionality as is often implied by some alarm companies. So, why do they tell you otherwise??? Generally it is because they do not have technicians who are trained in the installation of wired systems. These types of seasoned techs are paid quite a bit more than the folks that these companies are sending into their customers homes and businesses, and they are barely trained to install a wireless system. Always use licensed contractors to do any work in your home or business. It is the only way to ensure that you get the work done correctly and are protected if anything goes wrong with your installation.

I hope that this blog entry was helpful.

Why “Bundling” Alarm service with the Cable Co. is a bad idea

Ever since the government broke up the Bell monopoly on January 8, 1982 the phone (and now TV Cable & Internet) providers have been trying to figure out how to get back to the profitability of “the good old days”. The consumer has been very good about taking advantage of the competitive environment to drive down prices. We don’t really care about service. If we did, someone would offer better cable service at a higher price to offset the additional costs related to providing that level of service, but no one does!

So the Cable companies are faced with an environment where they are selling a commodity, and their customers can easily switch service providers without gaining or losing ANYTHING. And that is exactly what their customers are doing. The Cable companies are their own worst enemies stealing each others clients with a slightly lower bundle price than what someone is already paying to their current provider. So they wonder, what could they add to their bundle that would make it harder for their customers to switch providers at the drop of a hat??? Ah ha, Security Alarm Services. They figure that if they install proprietary equipment that only they can monitor the customer is stuck staying with them because they don’t want to change out their whole security system. A voluntary monopoly!! It is legal and been in practice by ADT, Protection One, etc. for decades. Except now not only are folks volunteering to be in a monopoly for their alarm service, but their TV, Phone and Internet too! People are giving up the competitive environment that allowed them to drive their costs down, and now they will see an environment where the bill for ALL of their services will go up substantially and often. Why wouldn’t they?

It is both funny and concerning to me that despite all of the information available online to educate the public consumers on the benefits of avoiding a monopoly situations with any service providers, the marketing departments of these companies spend millions of dollars and are able to run campaigns that generate hundreds of thousands of new customers every year. Please try to educate your friends and relative to educate themselves before making a very poor decision.

Stay safe!

Why do Alarm Companies check your credit score?

I am often asked why we need to check a new customer’s credit score. Customers often feel that since the monthly monitoring cost is such a small amount, their credit history should be of little significance.

If a customer is paying cash for all of the equipment being installed in their home or business, as well as the cost for the installation of that equipment, they should NOT have to have their credit score checked; however, in most cases the customer is paying little or nothing for the equipment and installation. The monitoring service is paying the Alarm Installation company for these costs, and typically the amount that they are paying is more than the customer is committed to pay over the term of the monitoring agreement. The monitoring company is gambling that the customer will in fact continue their service for well beyond the initial term of the agreement. The statistics kept on the retention and attrition of customers over the years show a direct relationship between an individual’s credit score and their likelihood to not only fulfill the terms of their agreement, but continue for years beyond the initial term of service.

So, even though a customer is not getting credit from the company, the credit score is very important in determining whether the investment made by the monitoring company will pay off. Typically the credit score is determined through what is called a “soft inquiry”, meaning that only one of the three credit bureaus is being checked, and only the score is determined without any details of credit history, delinquencies or current creditors. Because of the limited scope, a soft inquiry does not have the same negative impact on an individual’s FICO as a full inquire has.

Home Security Systems: More Than Burglar Alarms

Why should you get a home security system? The obvious answer is for home security. But that’s not the only answer. There are at least five other reasons you should consider getting a system:
· Fire. Smoke and heat sensors will give you – and firefighters – an early start if there’s a problem at your home. You can get yourself and your family to safety, while firefighters will get to the home in a flash. That will result in less damage to your home from smoke and fire.

· Carbon monoxide. You can’t see it or smell it. But carbon monoxide can have serious consequences to your health. Prolonged exposure can even cause death. Most security systems come with options for carbon monoxide sensors, which will alert you at the first sign of the gas.

· Medical emergency assistance. If you need help in a hurry, you don’t want to fumble around finding a phone and calling 911. Most monitored systems have one-touch buttons to summon dispatchers to get help. The keypads often are so simple that children and elderly residents will be able to operate them.

· Flooding. Suppose a pipe starts leaking in your house? Eventually it will break, and water will pour out, damaging your ceiling and other parts of your home. You’ll face expensive repairs to put things right. But if you have moisture and flooding sensors as part of your home security system, you’ll be alerted that there’s a problem long before the situation gets too serious.
· Money. You could save up to 10% on your home insurance premium. Insurance providers like it when you lessen risks at your house, and most provide discounts when you present proof that you have a system. Plus, you increase the retail value of your home up to $3,000.

If you live in a colder climate, you also can select to purchase cold sensors. They will alert you when the temperature at a designated part of your home drops substantially. Again, that can save you the hassle of broken pipes and the resulting water damage.

The bottom line: Protecting yourself against break-ins is a great idea in and of itself. Having a security system means your home is up to three times less likely to suffer a break-in than a home that doesn’t have one. Criminals prefer to pick the low-hanging fruit. That’s a tremendous benefit to purchasing a system. It’s just not the only benefit. Check out what a system can mean to you.
This article was contributed by Arthur Murray, who writes for HomeInsurance.com. Arthur has more than 30 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

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