SAN LORENZO, Calif. (KGO) -- A knock on the door led to trouble for an East Bay woman. She thought she was talking to someone from her alarm company and wound up on the hook for a lot of money. 7 On Your Side stepped in to help.
The man at the door said he was from "The Alarm Company" -- the woman figured it was her own. It wasn't until weeks later she realized she was under contract with two alarm companies instead of one and she needed my help to get out of a jam.
Joyce Montez of San Lorenzo recalls the day the man came to her front door. She opened the door and "he said he was here about the alarm. He pulled out a book and he says, 'Don't you have this alarm?' and I said, 'Yes.'"
She figured the man was from her alarm company, Vivint. The man asked to see the alarm and said he had to change it since they were taking over.
Montez figured her current alarm company was being taken over by this new one called "The Alarm Guys" in Brentwood.
"He showed his badge, I thought well he must be alright and he had the book and showed me the different panels," Montez said.
She let the technician install a new alarm panel in the kitchen, and she signed a five-year contract.
"He changed everything in the bedrooms, all my things, put out new signs," Montez said.
Joyce says the salesman also wrote a note to her current alarm provider, saying this was Montez and she was cancelling that service. She signed the note. It wasn't until later that her daughter realized what happened.
"My daughter's on the phone with my original alarm people and they said, 'No, something's wrong here,'" Montez said.
It turns out there was no takeover of her old alarm company. Montez called The Alarm Guys and tried to cancel that contract, but they said it would cost her $2,200.
She says The Alarm Guys required a big cancelation fee, so she contacted 7 On Your Side. We contacted The Alarm Guys.
A spokesperson said Montez was fully aware that the two alarm companies were unrelated before the switch was made. Its attorney tells us: "The Alarm Guys performed as they do with every customer, two recorded telephone calls to ensure that Ms. Montez was informed of the products and services she was purchasing and the identity of The Alarm Guys as independent of Ms. Montez's prior home security company."
At first the company said we could hear the recording with Montez's consent, but then did not respond to our request to follow through.
However, the company did agree to cancel the contract after all saying: "Although, Ms. Montez cleared both the pre- and post-installation calls, Ms. Montez later contacted The Alarm Guys because she was not completely satisfied with her new security service. The Alarm Guys immediately canceled her contract without any penalty fees."
"I'm so glad. You guys did an excellent job," Montez said.
The lesson here is if anyone comes to your door whether they're from an alarm company or not, don't let them in unless you know for sure who they are. When it comes to your alarm system, call your current alarm provider and find out if they sent someone out.
An alarm company should always contact you before showing up at your door, but they don't and they even told 7 On Your Side they won't do that every time.
And before you sign anything, be sure to review all the terms to find out what you're getting into. Remember consumer contracts that change rarely change for your benefit.