Fact or Fiction: Security System Sales Rep Edition

Normally I tip-toe away when I spot a stranger through the peephole. But when I saw a security system rep on my porch the other day, I decided to brave the spiel. For science. For SafeWise! 

The rep used plenty of age-old persuasion techniques to try to win me over: statistics, bandwagon, fear of “what if,” and even the fear of missing out on a deal. (Spoiler alert: it was so not a deal.) 

I’d like to walk you through our conversation to expose some of those tactics. If you just had a run-in with a door-to-door salesperson too, see if any of this sounds familiar. I’ll debunk or confirm the claims so you know what’s true and what’s a load of hooey.

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1. “Hi, I’m with a home security company. I’m sure you’ve heard of us?”

Should I tell him what I do for a living? No! Get the inside scoop! Play it cool, Cathy. Play. It. Cool.

Yeah, I’ve heard of you.

2. “First of all, you have a beautiful home.”

Aw, thanks. Now I definitely like you and your products.

3. “I’m in the area because there’ve been some car thefts and people taking packages off of porches.”

I bet you say that to all the homeowners.

In all seriousness, package thefts are on the rise across the country, but it’s especially bad in a few areas. If you’re in one of the top cities for package theft, this could be a very true claim.

But generally speaking, it’s a mild scare tactic used by reps to make you “clutch your pearls” and buy a security system based on your perceived vulnerability.

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4. Generic spiel about security cameras deterring these crimes.

OK, that part’s legit. Two-thirds of people convicted of burglaries do say that a security camera makes them move on to another target.1

5. “I’ve just signed up a few of your neighbors.”

Oh really. Let me hop right on that bandwagon.

6. “We’re running a new advertising campaign. If you put our sign in your yard, we’ll give you free equipment.”

Whoa, Nelly! The sales rep is laying the foundation for their main tactic. They need you to think you have to act quickly, so they tell you it’s a “new” campaign.

Also, depending on the company, free equipment may be the standard offer, not a special deal.

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7. “Let’s see what I can get for you.”

This language reinforces the idea that the rep is giving you a special deal, and they’ll start listing out all of the cool products you can get to make you think you’re getting a ton of value for a discounted price.

But here’s the thing: you usually have to pay a higher monthly monitoring fee if you get certain equipment, like cameras or smart home devices. That’s because things like cloud video storage and home automations aren’t available at entry-level prices. 

No home security company with door-to-door sales reps has a one-size-fits-all monitoring plan. 

Time to ask for clarification: Does the monthly monitoring fee increase based on what equipment I get or features I want?

7. “No, the monitoring price doesn’t depend on the equipment.”

But . . . it usually does. (And in this particular case, it 100% did, so the rep was straight-up wrong.) 

For example, the lowest monitoring price might only be available for landline connections. Or you might not be able to use certain devices like cameras or smart door locks to their full extent without a plan that supports mobile app access, video recording, or home automation.

8. “The price is normally X, but if you sign a contract with me today, I’m authorized to cut that in half.”

As much as these home security companies might deny it, the “cut in half” price is usually the standard price.

You do not have to rush into a contract to get a good deal. Chances are, you can get the same price—or a very similar price—by mulling over this decision and calling the company when you’re good and ready.

Also, my salesperson quoted me the highest monitoring plan the company had to offer. That’s to leave wiggle room for further negotiations. But because it was pitched to me as 50% off, I was supposed to be impressed.

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9. “How many exterior doors do you have? You’ll need entry sensors because most burglars enter through a door.”

While technically true, most burglars actually enter through an unlocked door.2 Keep locking your doors, even if you have a home security system with entry sensors.

This is another scare tactic used to ramp up your fear and make you grab the pen and sign on the dotted line.

Plus, my friendly neighborhood security rep completely forgot about my ground-floor windows, which are another vulnerable entry point and usually require glass break sensors or motion sensors. None of these components were even mentioned.

10. “Do you have any pets in the home? You’ll want a monitored smoke detector.”

This was the smartest part of the sales pitch. Yes, pet owners should definitely get monitored smoke detectors so that the fire department can be dispatched in time to save their babies in the event of a house fire. But this service doesn’t have to be super expensive.

Just keep in mind that these questions aren’t the same as a full home security consultation. Answering a few questions while standing on your front steps isn’t the same as inviting a security professional into your home to get a holistic picture of what needs protection.

And if the sales rep starts to ask uncomfortably detailed questions, stop the conversation or verify their authenticity by calling the company’s customer service line. There have been reports of people posing as security reps to gain access to homes they intend to rob.

11. “I can have my techs install a system today if you want.”

Really? It’s already 6 p.m. and professional, hardwired installations take hours.

Again, there’s no need to rush into a security system contract. Door-to-door sales reps get paid on commission. They want you to install a system through them rather than calling the general sales number or making an online query.

12. “You don’t have to call the main customer service line if you have issues. You can call me instead.”

That’s actually a pretty good reason to go through a verified security system dealer, especially if you’ve been scared away from a security system company based on some customer service horror stories. You get to work with local people and might even get the same tech each time you call. 

But what most people don’t realize is that your account may get transferred to the corporate office after a certain amount of time (6 months, for example). You could be in for a shock when your “local” rep no longer talks to you because they’ve collected their commission and moved on. 

13. “We have an A+ rating on the BBB and five-star reviews.”

Anyone can say they have five-star reviews. But does the company have an average rating of five stars? Absolutely not, because no security company does. Period.

Plus, BBB ratings aren’t the best representation of customer satisfaction since they’re largely based on how the company handles the complaints, not what the complaints are about.3

Look not only at the company’s letter grade on the BBB, but also its star ratings, which are calculated directly from customer reviews.

14. “Because we’re in the area, there’s no activation charge and I can discount the installation fee.”

Funnily enough, the “discounted installation fee” was the company’s standard installation fee. But they have it marked up on their notepads so you feel good when the rep slashes through the higher price and writes a lower number next to it.

15. “OK you can think about it, but I really can only give you this deal if you call me back tomorrow.”

That’s just baloney, folks. You can take your time. Go compare what you were pitched to other top home security brands and learn more about how to choose a security system.

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Sources

  1. Randy Travis, FOX 5 Atlanta, "We Asked 99 Burglars 20 Questions--Their Answers Could Make You Safer," February 2018. Accessed May 19, 2022.
  2. Kyle Iboshi, KTVB7, “We Asked 86 Burglars How They Broke Into Homes,” March 2019. Accessed May 19, 2022.
  3. Better Business Bureau, “Overview of BBB Ratings.” Accessed May 19, 2022.
Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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