This 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.