Locked House

A Tale of Two Alarm Monitoring Cancellation Requests: Fire Protection Inc (Seattle) and Mountain West Security (Provo) 17

Locked HouseThis is somewhat of a different blog post for me, as I’m starting it before I even know what’s going to be in it. Maybe everything will go smoothly and this will be a boring story of how I made a couple phone calls and quickly and easily cancelled two alarm monitoring services. Or maybe it won’t. Either way, I got the feeling that I should be writing this down as it happens.


I currently have a primary residence near Seattle, WA and a vacation home in Provo, UT — both of which are protected by alarm systems and monitored by local alarm monitoring companies. In Seattle, I’ve used Fire Protection Inc since 2003. In Provo, I’ve used Mountain West Security since 2005. FPI charges $29.99 per month and MWS charges $24.95 a month.

Recently, however, I’ve discovered a number of alarm monitoring alternatives that offer comparable UL-listed alarm monitoring services for much less. After reading some reviews (and some more reviews) and checking out the websites of a few of the companies, I decided to use SafeMart Eyez-On, which offers the same service as both my existing providers for $8.95 per month (and integrates directly with my network interface for my alarm panels). Initially, I was tempted to use AlarmMonitoringService.com, which offers UL-listed alarm monitoring for only $5.95 per month. However, after phoning both companies and asking some questions, it turns out that AMS charges an additional $5 per month if you want to set up a daily test transmission from your alarm system — which I do. Eyez-on includes that service in their $8.95 plan, so they’re my choice. Now, all I have to do is cancel my current providers. That should be pretty easy, right?

Monday December 19, 2011

At around 7PM I phoned the FPI and MWS office numbers. In both cases, the calls were forwarded to their respective monitoring stations and I was instructed to call back during business hours to speak with customer service. No big surprise there. I hadn’t really expected their customer service reps to be available after business hours, but there’s no harm in trying.

Tuesday December 20, 2011

At 8:05AM, I called Fire Protection Inc. Seattle’s office number. The receptionist, Ashley, was friendly, even after I explained that I was calling to cancel my service. She looked up my account, and informed me that my original contract was signed in 2003 and ended in 2008, after which it converted to an auto-renewing annual contract that now extended through July 2012. I told her that I thought the contract went month-to-month after the initial term, but she informed me that wasn’t the case. I asked if it was possible to terminate my contract early, and Ashley replied that it was “up to the discretion of the cancellation department.” She then confirmed that I was paying quarterly via an automatic credit card charge, and that my account was paid through the end of 2011. The friendly receptionist said I could request an early termination via letter, email, or fax. I opted for email, and sent this one to her at 8:14AM:

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 8:14 AM
Subject: Monitoring Cancellation Request

Good morning,

The purpose of this email is to request cancellation of my alarm monitoring service as of 1/1/2012. My account number is XXXXXXX, which has been in good standing with you since 2003 and is paid through the end of this year.

This email also serves as immediate de-authorization to bill my credit card on file.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Best regards,

Steve Jenkins

I’m hoping that FPI’s “cancellation department” uses their discretion in my favor. However, I’d be lying if I said my spider sense wasn’t tingling a bit and telling me that maybe it’s not going to be that simple. I hope I’m mistaken.

Next, I called Mountain West Security. Their receptionist, Lucy, was also very friendly. After looking up my account number, Lucy informed me that my initial contract from 2005 was complete and that I was now on month-to-month service. She said they simply require 30 days written notice for cancellation, which I could do via email. So at 8:18AM, I emailed this to Lucy:

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 8:18 AM
Subject: Monitoring Cancellation Request

Good morning,

The purpose of this email is to request cancellation of my alarm monitoring service at XXXXXXX in Provo, effective January 20, 2012.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Best regards,

Steve Jenkins

At 8:45AM, my phone rang. It was Mike Dibble, owner of Mountain West Security. He said they had received my email, and that because I had been a long-time customer he wanted to call and ask if there was anything they could do to keep my business. I told him that I was simply looking for a less expensive option, and told him I was planning to use SafeMart for $8.95 a month. He politely apologized that he was unable to match that (Mike has a British accent, so pretty much everything he said sounded polite), and again thanked me for my long-time business, assured me they’d cancel my service on January 20th as requested, and wished me well.

At 10:35AM, I received the following reply to my email to FPI:

Thank you Steve, I will forward this along to the cancelation department for review.

Please call me with any questions
Thank You,
Ashley Ward

At 5:23PM, FPI’s owner left comment #1 on this article (thanks, Roy!). I posted comment #2.

Thursday December 22, 2011

At 11:45AM, my cell phone rang. The caller ID was blocked, and I usually don’t answer blocked calls, but I was glad that I did this time because it was a lady from FPI Seattle informing me that my monitoring service would be cancelled as of 12/31/11.

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised, as it was far easier to cancel things with both FPI and MWS than I initially thought. Of course, the cynical journalistic side of me would wonder if maybe FPI couldn’t find my original contract, or if perhaps I never signed their version of an original contract because my original contract was through Madison Audio, who transferred my account to FPI years ago after going out of business, or maybe they just decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

The less cynical side of me, however, thinks that it’s more probably more likely that both owners of Mountain West Security in Utah and Fire Protection Seattle simply decided that if a customer didn’t want to be with them any more, for whatever reason, that’s fine. And perhaps they both realized that by letting a customer leave easily, it keeps the door open wider for them to possibly return.

Or maybe it was just a Festivus Miracle, one day early. 🙂

Whatever the case, I’ll be writing a separate blog post on my experiences with getting set up with the new monitoring company.

  • Roy L. Cats

    Hello Steve, WOW I am shocked. You know me and you know I OWN FPI, we have been around each other for ever. My Name is Roy L. Cats, I am the SOLE owner of FPI. I can be reached easily, by either asking for me on the phone 425-290-9600 or e-mail at [email protected]. My company is quite large, I am sorry that I DID not answer your request with in the SAME DAY or hour you sent it to us…today. I will review your “contractual agreement” that you signed with no Duress with us and advise..I can also provide you a copy if you wish. Different company’s have different contracts, that is why we have customers READ them prior to signing them and enforcing them. As far as other company for it’s “cut-rate” service, I am with MAS, “you get what you pay for” and I do not provide that type of “Walmart” service…which you may or may not ever experiance when truly needed, the alarm montioring service..THERE is a major difference..I welcome you to just “Goggle” the other two comapny’s low service fee’s and see all the things that pop up. FYI, when I WOULD have returned to your request, my standard response to ANY and ALL customers that are out of their “Intital” contract term, is to offer the service, with a NEW contract at a rate of $21.00 per month..but lower then that, I can’t provide the quailty of service I AND MAS are know for…just cant be done. Best of luck with your new “Family Security Service Provider”, hope they are there when you OR your family needs them most.

    Roy L. Cats
    Fire Protection, INC

  • Hey, Roy. Yeah, of course I know you! 🙂 What exactly are you “shocked” about?

    Yes, of course I realize your company is large and that you’re extremely busy, which is why I felt it would be inappropriate for me to take advantage of the fact that we know each other personally to bother you about the type of thing that you pay employees to handle. Now, had someone at your company been rude, or unreasonable, or if using the proper channels hadn’t provided a result I was happy with, I would have certainly contacted you privately and directly. But so far, that hasn’t been necessary – everything has been fine and I was merely waiting to hear back from Ashley.

    Nothing I’ve said on here is with the intent to disparage or treat FPI or MWS unfairly in any way, although from the tone of your comment I get the sense that you’re offended. That’s certainly not my intent, as I don’t feel like I’ve been negative or misleading in my blog post. As I’ve done in many previous blog posts, I’m simply sharing my experiences with the companies I work with – and I always appreciate when executives from those companies chime in on the conversation. So thank you for that.

    I’ll gladly take you up on the offer to send me a copy of my agreement, as I can’t find my copy of the one I must have signed almost 9 years ago. One of the reasons I called FPI this morning was to ask what the termination provisions were, so I could learn my options for ending my monitoring service.

    I’m not claiming any duress, or making any complaints about the service I’ve received from either company I’ve worked with for the past many years. I’ve paid my monitoring bills on time for the past 8+ years without complaint. However, I now feel that improvements in technology combined with current market prices are such that what I currently pay for alarm monitoring at two separate companies is more than I want to pay. I also no longer want to use providers that require contracts. Nothing personal – it’s just business. We can still be friends even if I’m not paying you. 🙂

    And if it turns out that I’m not able to get the type of service I need at those lower prices, I’ll be on month-to-month agreement, so it will be easy for me to try somebody different.

  • G.N. Thompson

    Mr Jenkins, I read your artical with great interest. I am an owner of a security company in Provo UT. and reacted the same as mr Cats, not as offended but concerned about losing a customer to a cut-rate outfit. Mountain West is a competitor of mine and love to acquire their customers whenever posible. But they are a legitimate company and provide a real service for what they charge. It has been my expieriance that most of these cut-rate services dont last long because of law-suits for poor service and selling or changing their name to keep in operation. I have tried to provide service at the lowest rates possible and have found that no one can provide ligitimate service for less then $25.00 a month and be legal. I would check and see if your cut-rate company is licensed and insured in Utah.and if they provide all the features your alarm is capable of. If not and you need to return to real security, remember that your old company may still be overcharging for the lack of service they provide you’ll find that at my rate of $26.00 a month is the best value of any company becaus we provide real personalized service and allow your alarm to it what it is capable of. comparison shop like you would any other product and you’ll come back to a real security company.

  • Best of luck to you with your new provider. I hope they’re a bit more responsive to your needs.

  • Pingback: How to Disable Phone Options on a DSC Alarm Panel when Converting to Envisalink Internet Alarm Monitoring | Steve Jenkins' Blog()

  • Robaer

    Hi Steve.
    Our paths cross again… I was pretty active back in 2002 with the TiVo community and remember your contributions there very well.

    Curious how the SafeMart experience is going. I notice their prices have gone up ($10 a month now). I have a DSC 832 I am about to expand with the 2DS module as well so looking for a service that doesn’t need me to rely on POTS. The monitoring service i am with now has worked for over 7 years with Vonage voip but a recent phone number change caused it to start failing on alarm calls and I am going to move to a pure cellular home line anyway… so the broadband choice is right up my alley.

    Thanks… and keep up the great blog.

    • Hey, Robaer! Thanks for the comment – especially because it reminded me I decided NOT to go with Safemart but with Eyez-on instead. They’re the manufacturers of the 2DS I use to connect and control my DSC panels over the ‘Net, and so I decided to try out their monitoring service. It’s been fantastic! Once you enable your 2DS, there’s a link in the Web interface to fire up the monitoring. I’ve tested their reaction times, and they were 30-40 seconds each time, and I love the automatic alerts if my network goes down (which doubles as a good excuse to call Comcast and ask for a service credit). Let me know how your 2DS works out!

      • Michael H

        Steve – Do you have any updates on the Eyez-On service? I also have a DSC panel and looking to buy their new 3D product and monitoring.

        How is the mobile interface on the Iphone/Android? Do the notifications work well?

        • Sure! Service still working great. Their response time (which I “accidentally” tested last week) is still around 30 seconds, which is way faster than any of the phone-based services I used in the past. The mobile interface on any smart phone is good. I gave them some feedback a while back and suggested they switch to jQuery Mobile, and was glad to see that they took the advice. The updated mobile interface (which is web-based, so no need for apps) is fast, easy to use, and does everything I want. I also installed a $5 iPhone app called DSC Alarm, which provides one-touch arm and disarm ability for when I feel lazy. 🙂 So yep – still happy with the Eyez-on security solution.

  • Mary Tyler

    We had an account with ADT and it was nearly impossible to cancel. It’s so common in this industry to not be able to get out of these ridiculous contracts. I’m not sure of local companies like http://www.fpiseattle.com/, http://www.mwsecure.com/ but we have had experience with http://www.safemart.com/ (which I assume is similar to http://www.eyezon.com/), and we loved them. We switched recently to https://www.alarmgrid.com/monitoring after we decided to go with a new DIY system. My husband installed it, and we used their site for all the support. They walked us through programming it. It was simple as 1-2-3. Loved them enough to leave SafeMart.

  • Louis R.

    Hello Steve, a visit from QC, Canada. I installed my EVL-3 yesterday on my DSC panel. My primary purpose was to be notified of Openings/Closings by email since I discarted my pager sometimes ago. But after reviewing the posts on EyezOn about IP surveillance, and more on your blog, I am thinking of going IP also. I am now at 315$ CND now (including taxes and maintenance). I switched my telephone provider from RBYG to cable (the same than my ISP) so, I think communication reliability and availability to the panel is not at stakes here. Here is my question: Have you heard of any arguments from “classic” surveillance providers about pros and cons of landline based communications vs IPs? Insurances companies? Worst case scenarios? Thanks!

  • Al Larmed

    As of May 2013, SafeMart’s “draw you in” offer of $19.99/month requires one to first purchase the needed equipment for $279, plus another $39 for the mandatory upgrade to “Simon XTi” hardware.

    Moreover, they do not work with preexisting equipment from companies such as ADT, despite their agressive campaign (including videos) against ADT.

    While SafeMart boasts a “no contract” disclaimer, what other competitors will work with safemart’s equipment, once someone decides to leave safemart?!
    Further research appears to reveal that safemart is a mere middle-man. For example, the hardware is not their (eg: “crash & smash” PR nonesense is from http://www.alarm.com/MarketingLibraryFiles/flyers-CrashAndSmash.pdf) and their monitoring services are actually provided by http://cmsn.com/command/

    In my opinion, there doesn’t appear to be any major differences in the end solution, in comparison with big players such as ADT, if you take into consideration the aforementioned up-front costs that safemart requires in order to lock in the cheap $19.99/month rate. For example: 19.99 x 12 months = $239.88. Adding in the original up-front hardware cost of $279 + $39, your first year with safemart will cost you a whopping $557.88. Compare that to ADT whose typical monthly cost for a monitored system with a maximum quantity of door/window sensors and motion detectors plus a smoke sensor is $35/month … which is $420/year.

    My point is simply: Don’t fall for the “new customer” traps that safemart and other companies use to lure you in. Proof, again, is their “specials” page as of today which lists service plans ranging from $20 – $50 per month. This is despite their video campaign against ADT where, in the video, they show a calculator adding up $35 for every month … when their services exceed that amount.

    • Good analysis. I don’t use SafeMart. I’m currently using Eyez-On’s EnvisAlarm direct monitoring solution (http://www.eyez-on.com/) that links to their EnvisaLink add-on board for alarm panels. We’ve had a few alarm triggers (all of them our fault) since migrating to their service, and they’ve responded rapidly in every case.

      I also like being able to directly edit my zone names, passwords (both “all clear” and “panic”), and I’m paying $8.99 a month.

      • veera


        very good blog info. I have installed the envisalink 3 and I love their product and the app. I want to use their monitoring service as well. but I am concerned the system does not have mobile/wireless communicator in the event of network failure/intentional line cut.

        how are you mitigating that risks ?

        evl3 user

  • Dear Steve Love your Blog and have bought the maglite bulbs and the little car charger Both work great.

    You were completely right not to use alarmmonitoringservices.com They have the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced. I discontinued their service today and switched to Alarm Relay. I also use Eyez-On’s Envislink 3 and love it. I like that my alarm is monitored by the hard wired phone system and the Envislink sends me texts over the internet showing when the alarm is turned on and off, by whom and any alarms.

    I was on the phone with Alarm relay and I was getting the alerts on my phone before alarm Relay got the codes over the phone line.

    I asked Eyez-on if the could monitor via phone lines as well as IP but at this poing they don’t offer it. The people at Eyez-on and Alarm Relay are both professional and easy to deal with. the Eyez-On’s Envislink 3 is one of my favorite products.

  • Val

    What a great blog post I found looking for reviews on DS2 and eyez-on. Looks like most of the posts are few years old but still relevant. One of my biggest concerns (and thats for any internet monitoring company) is that you send your codes over clear text and all the information when any door opens in your house or when you are away. They also have your street address. I am not very comfortable with this combo. Yes, I know, in the end the decal on the door does the job on most of the robbery attempts but being in network security for my job, I cant help to think this is the weakest link in this monitoring setup.

  • Pingback: Septic Alarm Notification - SteveJenkins.com()