When it comes to, so-called “FREE” home security systems area, I’m reminded of the parable of the wise king who wanted to give his subjects the wisdom of the ages. He called all of the scholars in his kingdom together and told them he wanted to gather the wisdom of the ages. They worked for a year compiling a great work, volumes and volumes of the best wisdom the kingdom possessed. They presented it to the king and he was impressed, but he said it was too vast, that his subjects would never be able to read it all and asked them to condense the wisdom. They worked and debated and finally got the “wisdom for the ages” down to just one book. The king, again was impressed, but said it was still too long. They worked even harder and got the wisdom for the ages down to a chapter, and then to a page, a paragraph, and finally to just one sentence. The king looked at that one sentence and finally proclaimed, “You’ve done it! This is truly the wisdom of the ages.” That sentence; “There ain’t no such thing as a FREE lunch!”
When it comes to home security systems, in spite of what companies claim, “There ain’t no such thing as a FREE lunch!” Sure they tell you that your home security system is free,(and worth $850) but lets look at the facts. First, what kind of quality can you really expect to get for less than the price of an iPod? And, for that matter, what level of security can you get for your family for $100? We’re talking about protecting your home, and family and I’ve had customers in the Scranton area get a second quote on a $99 home security system. Instead of looking at the quality of the panels and the design of the security system, they were comparing prices on FREE-$99 systems. You have to wonder what was his family was worth to him.
Before I go any further let me add a disclaimer, and I tell this to all of my customers; “The home security system you can afford is always better than the one you can’t afford.” That is to say, any home security system is better than none at all, because a burglar doesn’t know what you have. If you’re on a fixed income or money is extra tight then go for the $100 system, just make sure you own the system and you’re not getting an entry level panel. Now that that is out of the way lets take a closer look at just what you’re getting for “FREE” or $99.
Anytime someone is offering you a “FREE” home security system you can take it to the bank that it isn’t free, and you don’t own it. To start with, they usually hide a $99 installation fee so that they can advertise the home security system as “FREE”. The biggest secret about so-called “FREE” security systems is that in 9 out of 10 offers you don’t own the security system. It is what is called, a leased system. They don’t tell you it’s a lease, but ask them if you own the panel. Ask, “If I cancel my monitoring will your company remove or disable my home security panel?” The strategy behind a leased security system is if you try to cancel your monitoring they will threaten to take the system out of your home (leaving a big hole with wires hanging out). You may have spent $1000.00 on additional devices to protect your home, but when they take out your control panel those security devices are worthless. So your stuck with a security company you don’t want and can’t afford.
That brings me to the monitoring. The place where these companies make their money is on the back-end of the sale, the monitoring fees that you pay each month. You may have saved a little on the so-called “FREE” home security system that you still paid $100 to have installed, and that you don’t own, but you’ll pay an extra $75-$100 more per year for that FREE home security system. During the life of the panel you would have paid $1,500-$2,000 for a very low-end, entry level security panel. This method of selling low-end (a nice way of saying “cheap junk”) home security systems has proved to be very effective as shown by some of the biggest names in home security. Many of the big names in home security, including the biggest names, got there by selling cheap or “FREE” home security systems and charging higher then average monitoring fees. Of course, in most cases, you are not getting any better monitoring for your money. (I’ll have to discuss the differences in the monitoring differences in monitoring companies in a another article.)
Finally, what can you expect to pay for a quality home security system. In the Scranton, PA area, you can get a good wireless panel and a perimeter home security system for $1,000-$1,500. As I said before, you can get the basics for $99 and if you get a good control panel, you can always add devices to it in the future. I had a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barron’s (now a Yankees farm team) pitcher purchase 7 window devices each year for three years until every window in his home was protected. Some of my customers take their tax return to upgrade their system. If you have a good panel then you can always add to it in the future. If you’re starting with junk, then junk is all you’ll ever have. As the quote goes, “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig, its still just a pig.”