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Just the right thing to do

January 25, 2010

25 January 10

DubiousSecurity, Inc.
PO Box YRU.Mad4

Somewhere in America, 00000

Attention: M. XXX, CEO & Founder

M. XXX,

I was surprised and dismayed when my husband called to tell me how upset he was today.

Now this man, who never raises his voice and is as honest as the day is long, could barely speak he was in such turmoil. When he called, I truly thought someone had died or he had lost his job again.

He had cancelled your service back in December, because we were moving. Finding out in late September his position was ending is the event that precipitated this move. He was fortunate enough to transfer within the same company, albeit 150 miles away. After an uncertain and frantic 2 months, by late November fortunate smiled upon us again, and we were under a lease/option contract with a down payment that assures us these people are buying our house – significant to you as they could have been your potential customers. So anyway, he cancelled the account in the same manner as one would with any other service; but in the case of the security system, to remain protected, it had to be just before the move.

Upon inspection of our online banking account today, he noticed we were still being charged. When he called your office, he was told we owed for a year as "the contract states cancellation must be 60 days prior to your anniversary date".

Our anniversary date, really? The one from 7 years ago?  You tell me, what possible reason would make that stipulation necessary, what purpose could it serve? The only reason that clause exists is to use it to steal from people like us. The real purpose? Easy money. Who is going to remember such an off-the-wall thing like that, especially after 7 years? Also, it is funny your "customer service" people never deigned to mentioned any of this when David called to cancel the service. I guess they just figured you would keep billing us and it would go unnoticed, unquestioned? Shame on you.

Why? Because of the underhanded and unfair practice from an agency whose job it is to protect people. We trusted you to shield us from those who would attempt to break in and rob or murder us. Your company, because of an obscure "60-days in advance" cancellation policy, has robbed us as surely as if you had broken in. No one likes a sneak, and yours is most certainly a devious, low, deceitful, shifty, and mean way to make money off of your clientele.

The first thing that came to mind were the commercials by Ally Bank.

  • Two girls are offered a pony – one gets a toy one and is happy with it, until the other is given a real one. That little girl with the toy pony says, "you didn’t say I could have a real one", and is told "Well, you didn’t ask." Even kids know it’s wrong to hold out on somebody.
  • Where a child is given a toy, told to "have some fun with that truck, then after a moment of holding it, the shiny toy is snatched away and a cardboard toy is given in its stead. "Time’s up! " says the man, "That’s a limited time offer only, it’s right here in the fine print." The point? Even kids know it’s wrong to hide behind fine print.
  • Or where the child is told they can ride a bike, but only "this far" or they get charged with a fee or a penalty. "…The terms require you keep the bike in this predetermined space, if you want to take the bike out, I’m going to have to charge you a penalty… Like they said, "Even kids know an offer (OR A SERVICE!) shouldn’t come with ridiculous conditions."

Just because it is "in the contract" doesn’t mean it is morally or ethically right.

Still, in spite of all of this, I find it hard to believe your goal is to alienate responsible, paying, long-term customers, who otherwise might have used your company again. But this is exactly what you have done because of an unjust caveat in your contract that has no other purpose than to further squeeze people who are already in precarious positions economically. You should be ashamed. These once-customers feel robbed, cheated and deceived, just like the kids in the commercials.

This kind of policy will not gain potential customers from OUR good feedback or recommendation as 7-year, loyal customers. On the contrary, we will be telling anyone and everyone who will listen "BUYER BEWARE" starting with the people who are purchasing our house and then by utilizing FaceBook, Twitter, The Better Business Bureau, Blogs, and however or where ever else we can find to legally warn people, using our situation and story.

What can turn this around? Give us our money back. Quit penalizing and charging people for not adhering to ridiculous conditions and terms. Change your contract’s language. Like Ally Bank said "It’s just the right thing to do."

David and Jennifer Hopkins

As a note: I’ve cleaned this up a bit from when I originally sent it.  Not content, just clarification, grammar… I was so outraged when writing it, there were bound to be some dropped p’s and q’s.  Just minutia, but I thought I’d better disclose that.

What isn’t mentioned above is that they offered to relieve us of only 4 months of our hard-earned money in exchange for no services, instead of the full 12 months.  Generous of them to only confiscate a portion of what they shouldn’t even have any of at all.   

(I’d ask “how’s that going for you” of them, but I’m sure it’s going very profitably.  Contractual penalties and fees must be very lucrative for them to insinuate them so craftily into legal documents.)

Here are the aforementioned commercials:

and an article on them from CNBC. 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010 1:37 pm

    Oh, my goodness! This is why I rarely, I mean RARELY, have an auto payment set up for ANYONE! I was warned of that by someone I considered “old-fashioned” and as much as I tried to dismiss that “little voice”, I cannot. We have only DISH on autopay, and yes, I know how vulnerable we can be there.

    I wish you the best of luck. Close the bank account and keep hammering them!

  2. January 25, 2010 3:20 pm

    What a scam. I’m genuinely appalled.
    They would play heck trying to get that money out of me!

  3. January 25, 2010 3:41 pm

    Hello you two, thank you for the comments. Nancy, if we didn’t pay they would go after us compromising our credit and so on anyway. Tristan – I am just all het up here. Why if I wasn’t a lady…

  4. January 25, 2010 5:06 pm

    Jennifer, The same happened to me with my internet, 30 day notice which before the billing cycle closed, translated to an extra payment. As far as renewal of a contract, there are anti-slamming laws written recently, remind them…maybe they will have a different tune.

  5. January 26, 2010 5:59 pm

    First off, this has “Better Business Bureau” written all over it.

    Second off, if you did have this on auto-pay with a credit card company, have you tried calling them and explaining it to them? They might, just MIGHT call the alarm company and shame them into backing down. This is one of the many reasons I use my AMEX for everything that will let me – because I know that AMEX will go to bat for me. yeah, I know it’s in the contract, but the credit card company may decide it’s shady.

    Finally, you can call the credit card company and instruct them that these charges are not authorized and they should not pay them any more. Follow up in writing. Let the alarm company sue you, if they wish to bother. Go to court without representation and tell the judge your story. Judge may end up handing them their ass for being thieves.

    Erin

  6. January 26, 2010 7:40 pm

    Great ideas Dawn and Erin, TY!

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