When “Free” isn’t free….
We live in the con­sumer world; we are bom­bard­ed with sales pitch­es every day! Whether on TV, Radio, Insta­gram or Face­book, busi­ness­es try to per­suade you to buy from them.
There are many great com­pa­nies with great legit­i­mate offer­ings. How do you tell the dif­fer­ence between a great offer and a “too good to be true” pro­pos­al?
From our expe­ri­ence, there is one word that should set off alarm bells in your head when it comes to con­sumer adver­tis­ing offers. That word is “FREE”.
Over the years, we have wit­nessed many com­peti­tors use the word “free” in ads and pro­mo­tions. Whether it’s a “free” alarm sys­tem or “free” cam­era, or “free” door­bell cam­era, we know it’s at best a play on words, at worst.
We all know that for a Secu­ri­ty Com­pa­ny, or any com­pa­ny, to stay in busi­ness, it must be prof­itable. Offer­ing free prod­ucts is not a path to prof­itabil­i­ty for any com­pa­ny. So, what does “free” real­ly mean when look­ing for a secu­ri­ty provider for your home or busi­ness? What should you watch out for? Here are a few tips that can help clar­i­fy your next pur­chase.
1. Many use a pro­duc­t’s “free” give­away to entice you to pur­chase some­thing more sig­nif­i­cant and cost­ly. In itself, there is noth­ing wrong with this approach, but real­ize the free bob­ble is increas­ing the cost of the oth­er pur­chase you are mak­ing. You are pay­ing for it, just indi­rect­ly.
2. Long-term ser­vice con­tracts are anoth­er way a “free” prod­uct is paid for. With free Alarm Sys­tem offers, free Hot Water Tank offers, etc., unless you sign a long-term agree­ment, you won’t receive any hard­ware. Make sure you are aware of the terms of the con­tract. How long are you com­mit­ted? How long is the war­ran­ty? Is the price guar­an­teed for the length of the con­tract? Con­tracts are a nec­es­sary way of doing busi­ness, but some can be oner­ous, and the terms may not meet your lifestyle or needs. Read the fine print before sign­ing.
3. In today’s age of WIFI con­nec­tiv­i­ty of so many devices, be care­ful that you are not sign­ing away your pri­va­cy for the sake of a free trin­ket. If you must allow the provider to have access to your device or inter­net WIFI, think long and hard before you accept the offer. If you take a “con­nect­ed” device, read the instructions/reviews thor­ough­ly and acti­vate all the man­u­fac­tur­er-pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty fea­tures.
4. Is the prod­uct offered a pro­pri­etary prod­uct? This ques­tion is cru­cial when a ser­vice is attached to the prod­uct, such as alarm mon­i­tor­ing. If you are unhap­py with the ser­vice, will that prod­uct work with anoth­er provider?
5. Last but not least is the adage your par­ents and grand­par­ents con­stant­ly repeat­ed. If it sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is. The ben­e­fit of today’s tech­nol­o­gy is the abil­i­ty to research prod­ucts and ser­vice prod­ucts. Google sources such as the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau, Face­book, Trust­Pi­lot etc… They pro­vide great review plat­forms where you can read oth­er cus­tomers’ expe­ri­ences with a prod­uct or provider.
Your time, secu­ri­ty and sat­is­fac­tion are valu­able. Con­se­quent­ly, choose care­ful­ly when mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant pur­chas­es. “Free” can be very expen­sive…

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Allan Baum
Security Industry veteran with over 30+ years in the industry. Founded family owned and operated Protection Plus in 1994 with his wife and has overseen its growth since. In addition to working with his wife and son, Allan has assigned the role of Chief Canine Officer to his trusted dog Waub, who joins him at the office every day.