SF man's burglary claim goes unanswered

July 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Home burglary systems are supposed to give you peace of mind, and so are guarantees. But when a home is robbed and that guarantee isn't being honored, what can you do?

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Silence is not golden when it comes to depending on an alarm system to scare off burglars. Nor is silence golden when you're trying to get the alarm company to honor its guarantee.

Clifford Lee of San Francisco remembers vividly the day his home was burglarized.

"This is where the perpetrator entered. The door was secure," said Lee. "He took a brick, I suppose, and he took something and basically broke the entire pane."

The sensor which is supposed to have set off an alarm failed to work.

"The thing that freaked me out is it happened in the middle of the day, and I could have easily been upstairs working at home," said Lee.

The burglar made off with a $1,000 worth of electronic equipment. Lee filed a claim with his alarm company, ADT. Its theft protection guarantee promised to pay $500 towards Lee's insurance deductible if he was burglarized while his alarm was on.

A total of eight months went by without any action on his claim.

"I said I need some help here. I'm not getting any response. I tell you this I had contacted 7 On Your Side 18 years ago," said Lee.

We helped Lee then with a problem he had with a DJ at his wedding, and now he was turning to us again.

Joe Ridout of Consumer Action says customers of alarm companies also have a few other options.

"Alarm companies are regulated in California by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, which is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs. You can file a complaint with them," said Ridout.

You can also file in small claims court.

As for Lee, we called ADT and it promptly paid his claim. The company blamed the problem on miscommunication.

It told 7 On Your Side: "The customer received inaccurate information about where to forward the claim. As soon as we could verify the information, ADT resolved the matter to our customer's satisfaction."

"Thank you. That's all I'm going to say. Thank you twice in 20 years," said Lee.

Related Link: California Department of Consumer Affairs

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