Troubleshooter: No sense of security


The security system was installed in Emma's home in May of 2007 after two men knocked on her door. Emma daughter Brenda Wilson tells us, "He showed up at her door and talked to her and told her this was a good deal and with all the robberies and killings in the area and if she wanted it done it had to be done right then."

The deal was $45 a month and no activation fee. But soon after getting the system, the activation fee of $99 came out of Emma's bank account. So Brenda called Firstline. Brenda says, "We made a mistake. It's taken long, give us at least 30 days. I gave them 30 days and in that time another $99 was taken out of her account again."

$200 out of Emma's account, plus Brenda says when they tested the system no one from the monitoring center responded. She adds, "We never get a call from you. The police don't come here and it's not working. All it does is a little alarm goes off that's it." Brenda says for months she tried to get Firstline to respond but got nowhere. Finally, she learned that firstline had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But that didn't cancel her account, as a company called Alarm Services took it over. Brenda says that just made things worse. She adds, "They doubled billed mom in August. Took out payments in September and one in October and I said how can you legally do this when the system isn't even working." Brenda tried to cancel the contract, but says she was told they would have to pay the remaining of the contract. She says, "It makes me feel bad that my mom system is not up and I'm the one who's supposed to be taking care of her."

While we were there, the security system went off for more than 10 minutes, but no one calls to check if there's a break-in. Brenda says, "It has never worked, it has never worked and I called at least 20 to 30 times." Troubleshooter Diane Wilson got in touch with Alarm Services. A rep said, according to their system, Emma's home is being monitored. But when the rep talked directly with Brenda and heard of the problems, they offered to fix the system. It's an option Brenda didn't want. Instead Alarm Services agreed to cancel the contract and not charge Emma any termination fees. They're also refunding the money they charged Emma since they took over the account. A resolution Brenda and Emma feel good about. Brenda adds, "For 16 months I've been dealing with this. If it hadn't been for you all I don't know what we would have done. You've been our little angels."

A rep with Alarm Services tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson the typically don't cancel contracts, but they do understand what Brenda and Emma have gone through and that's why they agreed to cancel the contract with no penalties. As for getting the $200 back in activation fees from Firstline, that's still tied up in bankruptcy proceedings.

Emma did get a new security system that she says is working great.

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