Suggestion for inexpensive central station monitoring?


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Old 06-14-17, 03:44 AM
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Suggestion for inexpensive central station monitoring?

Our contract with a central station is coming up (through the local alarm company that installed our DMP system 10 years ago).

I'd just assume have it call my phone or something like that, but for our homeowner insurance discount for having a central station and for my wife's concern, we still want a central station. But don't want to pay the $35 / month we've been paying.

I know central stations charge alarm install companies just a couple bucks a month. Anyone have a recommendation for a company that'll take me on with a small markup?

I'm thinking there's got to be an alarm company on the web that will help you reprogram your panel (so they don't have to come out to do it) and then they get a few bucks a month for not doing anything - they just add an account to their central station account.

thoughts?
 
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Old 06-14-17, 08:00 AM
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Geoarm
GEOARM® - Alarm Monitoring & Home Security Systems

Be sure to read the fine print in your current monitoring contract. You may need to send them a written return receipt cancellation letter (verify they received your letter) and may do to do so at a specific time. Otherwise the contract may automatically "renew" for 2 years of whatever.
 
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Old 06-14-17, 08:23 AM
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Bill - YES!!!! that's why I am walking. crap with small print....

ever hear of this: I have a 5 year contract and they can raise the rate any time... and Ihave < 10 days to tell them no thanks. WTF sleaze!

Company shall have the right to increase periodic charges at any time or times after the expiration of one year from the date of this agreement upon giving you written notice thirty (30) days in advance of the effective date of such change. If you are unwilling to pay any revised charge, you must notify company in writing twenty (20) days prior to the otherwise effective date of the change that this agreement will be terminated on the effective date of the change unless company recinds the change and thereafter company may elect to resume the charge of the previous term thereby binding you to the full term of this agreement. The time periods in this paragraph must be strictly complied with.
 
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Old 06-14-17, 08:45 AM
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And thanks for that GeoArm company!

They use All American for the central monitoring. I remember when trying to deal direct with a central station years ago, they were charging $1 / month / client to alarm companies... oh, now it's $2.50.

I guess I'm not goiing to find much less than the $8 GeoArm rate, right?

Anyone use all american for monitoring? They good?
 
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Old 06-14-17, 04:59 PM
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I would check out Alarm Relay. They can monitor for $8.95 /month and they have a lot of experience with DMP. Good company and easy to cancel if needed.
 
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Old 06-14-17, 09:16 PM
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Many central stations won't deal directly with a homeowner.

I know central stations charge alarm install companies just a couple bucks a month.
That is not necessarily true. The alarm company I'm with has several hundred accounts and is definitely more than "a couple of bucks." We could shop for a cheaper station but when you have your own company you want a first class central station that works well with the customers.
 
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Old 06-15-17, 10:19 PM
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Yeah ..... sure ..... Central stations just sit there and get a few bucks a month for not doing anything.

Not to mention the payroll, monitoring receivers, computers, backup computers and receivers, Different receivers for monitoring various manufacturers who do not report to standard receivers. along with Cellular receivers. maintaining updates on all equipment and firmware and do federal background checks and training of personnel. Also, not to mention that the equipment and the building have to meet UL standards for access control, intrusion and fire and require back up generators capable of running for long periods.

Yep, I'm surprised they don't monitor alarm systems for free.
 
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Old 06-16-17, 06:41 AM
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Jimmiee
Yeah ..... sure ..... Central stations just sit there and get a few bucks a month for not doing anything.

Not to mention the payroll, monitoring receivers, computers, backup computers and receivers, Different receivers for monitoring various manufacturers who do not report to standard receivers. along with Cellular receivers. maintaining updates on all equipment and firmware and do federal background checks and training of personnel. Also, not to mention that the equipment and the building have to meet UL standards for access control, intrusion and fire and require back up generators capable of running for long periods.

Yep, I'm surprised they don't monitor alarm systems for free.
If there were a "Like" button on this forum, I'd click it for the quoted post.

But not all monitoring companies are equal and that is usually by their choice. Some use what I call the "warehouse monitoring" concept where they have a gazillion accounts and just enough equipment, communications lines and people to keep them out of legal trouble.

I think it was Ben Franklin that said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
 
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Old 06-16-17, 07:37 AM
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Sorry, too many pronouns in what I was saying

they get a few bucks a month for not doing anything (extra) - they just add an account to their central station account.

The they I was referring to was the local alarm company. They pay the central station less than what they charge the end customer and the local alarm company doesn't do anything extra... Just get that markup for months / years. Certainly, it's the central station that is doing all the work on an ongoing basis when a local company 'just' sends out the bill to the end user and enjoys being the middle man.

So anyone have an opinion between All American, who is who geoarm uses vs. AlarmRelay who says they are their own central station?
 
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Old 06-16-17, 10:45 AM
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Yep, " The local alarm company pays the central station less than what they charge the end customer and the local alarm company doesn't do anything extra. .... Just get the markup for months / years.

So ..... lets see, back in the 80's a fully wired alarm system came in at about $1500.00 to $3000.00.
Today ..... allowing for inflation, those same alarm systems come in at about $800.00 to $2000.00.

Why? because the alarm company makes the up front investment of time, parts and labor and collects an income from the recurring revenue over a period of years. That is .... the alarm company doesn't get paid for their time and labor invested ..... FOR YEARS! Thus the reason for long term contrats. And, of course there's the cost of administration and billing to be deducted from that payment along with the cost of insurance, office and vehicle maintenance and fuel, taxes, license fees, accounting services, office supplies, equipment parts and other overhead costs. Any time a alarm signal is generated, a notice is sent to the alarm company and recorded ... ( administrative cost) Every time theres a change in the contact list, it requires administrative time. Contract maintenance, tracking and follow up is a precise scheduling process requiring constant updating and follow up. Employee salary's, insurance and training costs is an entirely whole other story along with personnel management.

So ..... I guess at $35.00 a month you feel that the company who installed your system is ripping you off. At $35.00 per month, I am making the presumption that you purchased if from a National or "Free" alarm company If you had purchased it from a non National or smaller local alarm company, you would have paid a lot less over the years and likely be happier with the service you would have received from a local privately owned alarm installation company. The National companies have the deep pockets to finance their installations over a longer period of time but at a higher monthly fee and once you have met their initial installation contract requirements ... and you decide to leave, They don't care. If, by chance, you don't have any technical or service problems during your contract, they've hit a home run and will just move on to the next client if you don't renew. The smaller local alarm company is more interested in service and retaining a personal and familiar relationship with their clients. And THAT's where the value to both parties is mutually attained.

The cheap central station that you choose is not going to service your alarm system and I'm pretty sure they're not going to be able to help you change the programming of your system unless you have the dealer code. Don't expect the National company will provide you with it. In the future when you can't figure out what is wrong with your system, I'm sure you will complain about the cost of a service call when you have to call in a local alarm company and they charge you $200.00 for a service call instead of the $95.00 they would charge their loyal customers.

DIY is good up to a certain point. It's up to you to decide where economy ends and prudence overrides.

Please take these posts as a form of education and not a reprimand.
 
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Old 06-16-17, 06:32 PM
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Jim: Thanks but at least in my case,

they were charging $35 / month for 10 years. Did they make back their money yet?

They sold the system with a 5 year contract. so yeah, they offer a lower initial price to make back some of their money during the 5 years.

But after that, am I wrong to want to move to a cheaper central station? I hung around for another 5 years.

Like cell phones - they'd quote a 2 year contract rate and give you a phone. The cost of the phone was baked in to the monthly charge.

After the 2 years, they used to keep charging that same rate even after the phone's paid off. But you could go elsewhere / renegotiate with them saying you have a phone already and they / others would give you a lower rate.

same in this case - the 5 year spread out payments is done. I can stay with them, pay more / month and maybe get a better price on service. Or go lower cost and if I need them, expect to pay more for the service call. Some pople would argue they net out the same in the end. Pay me now or pay me later.

We'll see how it works out.

Oh, by the way, I got my system from a 'local' (but large?) company that my father used for his business / recommended to me. That $35 we're paying is only because I watch the bills like a hawk for their price increases. Otherwise it'd be much more. They have their own central station.

I have no love for that company because of that (constantly trying to sneak an increase past me and a couple over the 10 years were missed... my bad? or they give you minimal reaction time to dispute the increase and they are bad?)... they say that's industry standard wording. would you know?

Oh and the dealer code (the lockout code?). should you be entitled to that code at the end of that first contract? It's your system. I had to fight with them about that.

Like a car... once you pay off the loan, you get the title.

Once you buy the house, you get the keys. The builder doesn't say 'come to me to open the door'.

And I work in IT.... passwords for the client's server? I give it to them. But I explain if they break something, they have to pay for me to fix it.
 
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Old 06-19-17, 11:01 AM
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Well, first thing I'd say is that if you started off paying any where near $35.00 10 years ago. that was way too much to begin with. Too bad you didn't shop around a little more.

As far as them "sneaking" increases ... not likely. I'm sure they have interval increases set in their computer billing application that automatically increase fees to their clients. It's not likely any alarm company earmarks an individual for an increase. If you signed a contract that says they can make incremental increases ...... They're going to make .... incremental increases. And yes, I would think that most monitoring agreements allow for some kind of increases over some predetermined period of time.

If the increases are the only reason you want to leave them and their service has been good, why don't you just tell them that you will stay with them but that you feel you've paid your dues and want a substantial reduction in your monitoring fee. I'm guessing that they'll agree if you sign another 5 year contract. Keep in mind, they're a business and they're typically not out to "get you" They want your business.

With regard to the dealer code, as long as you have met all the obligations of the agreement, you should be entitled to the code. However, should you go to another alarm company, don't be surprised if they want to put in their own code. It's a case of liability. If they take responsibility for monitoring your alarm system and you have the code and go into the program and change something that causes the system to not report an event .... the alarm company is at risk of being responsible for not responding appropriately. None of my clients have the dealer code while I am responsible for monitoring their systems. I put a dealer code in all of my installations. If they leave on good terms, (Paid in full) they get the dealer code.

However, some of these "cheap" central stations will allow you to have the dealer code and will still monitor you. Blows my mind to think that they are willing to take the risk of an end user, who may know nothing or little about programming their system, of changing something in programming that would put them at risk of being sued out of business. It's always made me wonder about their viability. But ..... I guess when you're in the "cheap" monitoring business, ethics and risk are different than that of a professional installation and monitoring company.

Curious .......... If you give your client their server password and they change something that causes all of their data to be lost ..... how do you avoid them blaming it on you? Do you have a signed contract that limits your liability? If you don't, you're potential bait for someone down the road.
 
 

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