Advantages of a local monitoring company... The police department highly recommends local monitoring because it helps reduce the number of false alarms that they respond to. The Police become frustrated when they are called to respond to alarms that are not even in their jurisdictions. This happens because the alarm operators are not familiar with the area and do not know the correct police station to call in the event of an emergency. A company whose monitoring facility is in another state could take longer to respond to your emergency, any where from a couple of minutes to not at all, due to telephone line interruptions. At Nighthawk Alarm, all of our customers are monitored locally. We would not allow something as critical as the safety of your home and loved ones to be in the hands of a stranger hundreds of miles away. We have had extensive experience in dealing with the dissatisfied customers of the national companies. We sign up five to ten new customers per week who have had bad experiences with out-of-state monitoring companies. Because of our business ethics, we do not solicit these customers, they call us.
Who are you doing business with... make sure you understand who you are doing business with. Several companies have hired "authorized dealers". This means that they subcontract out all of their installations to a third party. Your account is sold the day it is installed and the company that installed it no longer has anything to do with you. Before doing business with an alarm company, make sure that you read the contract and that you understand who your alarm company is going to be. Because the dealer does not have a long term association with you, there is a very high tendency for them to go out of business within the first couple of years. Nighthawk Alarm is independently owned and operated. We install, service and monitor all of our accounts and are not involved in the dealer market.
Do your homework... Check out the Customer History of each company, see if they have had any complaints. Remember, if a "dealer" installs your system, he will only be there for the installation and then he is no longer responsible for your account. You will need to check out the history of the installing, monitoring and service companies that will be handling for your account. The national companies tend to have numerous complaints because of both their out-of-state monitoring and holding customers to long term contracts.
Get Licenses... make sure and have the technician installing or servicing your system show you a copy of their Low Voltage license, which is required by Oregon and Washington to legally install and service alarm systems. Several of the national alarm companies use non-licensed technicians. They can hire them cheaper than licensed technicians. They are willing to take the chance of being fined by the state over hiring qualified individuals. At Nighthawk Alarm we will not send a technician into your home or business who is not fully qualified and in full compliance with the state licensing requirements.
Get a proper inspection... ask for a security inspection of the entire space inside and out. A properly trained technician will walk through your home or business with you, discuss your individual needs and concerns and plan the best system for you. At Nighthawk Alarm we have a no pressure sales policy, which means, after we give you an honest estimate we prefer that you take 24 hours to think about it, and our sales people are trained not to ask for the sale at the time of the presentation. You can also request to have a technician be the one to come out to your home to lay out a system that best suits your needs.
Get a proper quote... make sure you get a signed and dated written quote from the company. Be sure everything the sales representative promises is in writing. Ask if they give any money back guarantees, most only offer the three day right of recision, which is required by law. If their products and services are as good as they say they are, why don't they guarantee them. At Nighthawk Alarm we offer an unheard of six month money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with our products or service for any reason, we will remove the equipment and refund your money.
Before you sign... ask for a copy of the contract before you sign, and know the initial contract term and the renewal terms. If the contract reads that it is a lease, you could have the system in your home for twenty years and decide to cancel the monitoring service, the company would still come out and remove all of the equipment. Some might tell you that you own the equipment but when you review the contract it states that you own everything but the "chip", which is the brains of the system, without that your system is useless. At Nighthawk Alarm you have the option of owning or leasing your system at the time of the installation. Even with the lease programs, the ownership of the equipment will transfer to you at the completion of the initial term. We have some of the best terms in the alarm industry. We do not force our customers to do business with us by tying them to long contracts, our customers stay because they know we are providing them the service they expect. Our customers trust that we will look after them and in turn we trust that our customers will continue to use our services by choice. It is a relationship based on mutual trust.
Check the warranty... Several of our competitors will only let you lease a system. However, when it breaks down they will still charge you a service charge to repair it. Avoid the contracts that offer "Lifetime parts and labor included for $29.95" a year. If they do the job right, you should only need service about once every five years. When you deal with the large national companies, you are just a number in their large computer system. If you are one day out of warranty, they will charge you for it. When you deal with a local company you have the advantage of dealing with local management that would allow a grace period if your warranty expires. At Nighthawk Alarm we offer the best warranty in the industry, two years parts and labor, at no "extra" charge.
Call the company... check out the company that is going to be monitoring your account, call them during peak hours and see how long it takes them to answer the telephone. It is not uncommon for the national companies to take over 30 minutes to call you back when you accidentally set your alarm off. What are their sales or service people like when you talk with them? Are they polite, friendly, do they try to help? When you call the national chains for service or a simple billing question, more than likely, you will find that their headquarters is out of state. Not only could you be talking to someone on the east coast, but you could also get transferred around in their automated voice mail system and never speak to a real person at all. At Nighthawk Alarm, we strive to always have a friendly live voice ready to talk with you 24 hours a day.
Community Support... does the company take an active interest in community affairs? Are they a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, are they involved in Neighborhood Watch Programs or other community associations? Does the company care about making it a better place to live? Did you know that most of the national alarm companies have no local management and have little or no involvement with our community. Every year Nighthawk gives thousands of dollars toward community support of Battered Women's Shelters, Feeding the Homeless, Children's Education, Support for the Elderly and Toys for Tots.
How easy or effective is the system.. Our keypads have a display that tells you what you are doing or where a fault zone is, and is easy to operate, even for kids. At Nighthawk our technicians give you a 15 minute personal instruction of the system at the time of installation. Does the system allow you to program temporary codes for cleaning people, baby sitters, or neighbors? It is extremely important that you do not give out your master code to anyone. Does the security system have a "distress code" ability? This is a special code that you can program in that tells the monitoring center that you are in serious danger and they need to dispatch police with special instructions (e.g. hostage situation). All of the national companies charge extra for this feature, at Nighthawk we offer this at no charge. A good security system will be easy to use and still have the ability to protect you and your loved ones in any situation.