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Is a Free Security System Really Free?

News & Blog


It doesn’t take more than a quick Google search to find websites and advertisements claiming to have free security systems that will provide peace of mind while you are away from your home or business. What a deal! Or is it? After all, every business needs to make a profit or it won’t be in business, right? This begs the question, “Is free security really free?”

A little digging into the fine print of many security agreements exposes the average contract length to be 3-years and $50 – $60 a month or more. Quick math tells you that this “Free Security” actually costs the customer at minimum $2,160. But there’s more. Not only is the customer now trapped in a lengthy agreement, but many find out the hard way at the end of the contract that it automatically renewed for a new 3-year term! Worse yet, others find out that when they want to cancel services or switch to a new monitoring provider, they are stuck. “How?” you may ask; great question!

Many alarm providers sell proprietary alarm equipment, which means that this equipment can only be monitored by them. Even if you have fulfilled your contract, you have to replace all of the security equipment if you want to use a different alarm monitoring service. At Security Central we see this every day. It typically goes something like this.

A homeowner or business owner calls Security Central. An appointment is scheduled to meet at the potential-client’s home or business.  A Security Central C.A.R.E. Consultant conducts a site visit and evaluates the existing alarm equipment. Often times the alarm owner then learns for the first time that the equipment they have is proprietary and only works with their existing monitoring service provider. The alarm owner will now have to invest more to change the proprietary alarm system to industry-standard equipment. Did the original alarm provider make this clear to the customer when he/she initially signed the purchase and monitoring agreement? Most likely not.

At Security Central we don’t do that.  We pride ourselves on being open and transparent in our business practices. We live by our C.A.R.E. Values which is our pledge to: CARE for your personal safety and peace of mind, ANSWER your calls and alarms quickly, REFLECT godly character in all we do and EARN a fair profit to fuel our positive impact on people’s lives.

Let me address the “E” value. We don’t hide it. If we don’t earn a fair profit, then we won’t be in business to C.A.R.E. for you and your personal safety.  Everyone intellectually acknowledges that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Yet it is still easy to be tempted by the powerful marketing word “FREE!”  At Security Central we educate each client on the real costs they will incur with the alarm system:  the cost of purchasing the equipment/installation and the ongoing cost of the monthly services.  We don’t try to hide or mask the financial realities by blending equipment costs into monitoring service fees and then pretend that the equipment is “free.”  By providing that information to each client, you are empowered to make an informed, rational buying decision that is in your best interest.

When considering how to best secure your home or business, we suggest you ask the following questions.

6 Helpful questions when purchasing security:

  1. What is the total financial obligation of the contract that I will be signing? (Many contracts may seem less expensive up front, but have far greater total financial commitment.)
  2. Will it auto renew when the initial term expires? If so, how long? (Look at the fine print. Many security agreements auto renew for a new 3-year term if not properly canceled in time. Our agreements renew on a month-to-month basis.)
  3. Do I own the equipment or am I leasing it? (Many alarm companies lease their equipment to reduce the initial cost and lock you into using their service. You will never own the equipment.)
  4. Is the equipment proprietary or can it be used by a different monitoring company? (If your equipment is proprietary, you can only use it with the alarm company who sold it to you. This means that even when your contract ends, you will be stuck with that company unless you invest in brand new equipment.)
  5. Who does your alarm monitoring and where is the monitoring center located? (Many alarm sales operations sell and install equipment for you and then turn around and sell your monitoring contract to a big national company. In those cases, most customers don’t even know who is watching over their family’s home or business.)
  6. Do you have your own in-house technicians or do you subcontract? (If a security company does not have their own technicians, who will be there for you when your alarm system needs servicing?)

These questions will not only help you make an informed decision, but possibly save you THOUSANDS of dollars and precious time in your future.

The initial question was, “Is free security really free?” We’ve learned that nothing is truly free.  Alarm companies offering “free” systems are simply forcing you to finance the cost of the equipment by building it into the long-term monthly service fees.  Since the average customer relationship last ten years or more, the company knows you will pay the equipment costs multiple times over as you pay the inflated monthly fee for a decade or more.

So then, is free security really free?