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.