On Feb. 3, CBS 2 Chicago ran a lengthy investigative story about DEFENDERS, ADT’s largest authorized dealer. While multiple allegations were presented, the main argument was that DEFENDERS has “hundreds of frustrated customers who said they were duped, in some cases overpaying by thousands of dollars.”
Throughout the segment, multiple customers, and even former technicians, claimed that DEFENDERS never settled for the $27.99 a month cost it advertised, but instead would always convince the customer to pay thousands of dollars for “unnecessary” security equipment. Customers and technicians also took issue with the fact that DEFENDERS reps would immediately drill a hole into the customer’s wall once entering the home to do an install, according to the CBS report.
“We were doing way more than protect their homes,” Stephen, a former DEFENDERS employee whose last name was left out of the story, told CBS 2 Investigative Reporter Brad Edwards. “We were selling them way more equipment than they ever needed. I mean, we’re talking double and triple redundancies, just to make sure they’d be safe. They didn’t need all that crap. That was way above and beyond what they needed. That was to get us money.”
The investigative team also took issue with DEFENDERS’ A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, where 1,600 complaints have been filed against the company in the past three years. Tim Maniscalo, president of BBB in Central Indiana, told Edwards the high rating was due to the fact that DEFENDERS promptly addressed all of the complaints made against it. CBS 2 implied the high rating was actually due to the fact that DEFENDERS Vice President Eric Mansfield is a member of the BBB’s board.
Edwards even went so far as to go to the Indianapolis home of DEFENDERS Founder Dave Lindsey for the story. However, Lindsey wasn’t home.
"DEFENDERS takes very seriously our mission to make sure bad things don’t happen to good people," Rob Davis, vice president of ADT relationships at DEFENDERS, told SDM in an emailed statement. "We never seek to mislead or pressure people. Our security advisors tour the homes with our customers, providing them options to thoroughly protect their home at a budget they can best afford. Ultimately, it is the customer’s decision on what options are included in their security system."
The Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.
At ISC West 2010, eight members of the Electronic Security Association signed a new Standards of Conduct for its members. At the time, Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of ESA, said it was because complaints about security businesses to the BBB were up.
“We believe a stricter policy for sales calls, backed up by tougher enforcement, is vital for enhancing the image of the industry and creating more success for our member companies,” Guilbeau stated in a March 24, 2010 press release.
To learn more about ESA's Standards of Conduct, click here.