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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Comcast Home Security Drops The Ball Big-Time

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


When you're paying for a home alarm system, you have every reason to expect that it will work, right? Not if you're with Comcast for home security, apparently!

Wait until you hear this story out of KPRC TV in Houston.

Here's a closer look at a Comcast home security system that didn't work

Lisa Leeson and her husband first contracted with Comcast for home security back in 2007. For 7 years, they paid $30 a month for the service. (By the way, that's priced at roughly double per month what you should pay; $30 a month for monitoring is crazy!)

But I digress. Back to the Leesons...

So earlier this year, they discovered their unit had never been properly installed. It went offline sometime in 2007 and hasn't worked since, according to a Comcast technician contacted by KPRC!

Fortunately, the family made their surprising discovery in the most benign way: The husband came home one day to find the backdoor open…and of course the alarm wasn't going off. Thankfully this wasn't an instance of an actual home invasion.

When the Leesons contacted Comcast, the company reportedly wanted to give them only $20 back as a courtesy credit. We're talking about people that paid upwards of $2,000 over 7 years…and the best you can do is $20?!

So the Leesons brought their story to TV and that's when Comcast changed its tune and finally agreed to a full refund. But not before a company spokesman pointed out a clause in Leeson's alarm contract that reads, in part, "I also understand that I must test my system on a regular basis and that I must contact the central station before testing to avoid false dispatches and false alarm fines."

So in essence, Comcast was shifting the responsibility for their failing system back on the Leesons.

People often ask me if there's a company I recommend for home security. I always tell them that if you're willing to take a look at a simple self-install home security system, you should know about SimpliSafe. You buy the equipment for around $200, set it up yourself, and then monthly monitoring is just $14.99.

Yet I know a self-install burglar alarm is outside the comfort level of some people. So with that in mind, I offer the following advice:

 

Keep these pointers in mind when you're shopping for a traditional home alarm system

  • Know how many doors and windows you need protected before you get a quote.
  • A basic system hooked up to a UL-approved station should cost $15-$20 each month for monitoring. Installation of equipment will be extra, usually $600 to $800 for a typical house. Beware of supposedly "free" equipment because the costs will be built into your monthly monitoring.
  • Never sign a contract. Contracts with hidden rollover provisions are particularly dangerous. If you have a rollover provision, you must contact the company in a very specific way (sometimes even on a certain day) to break your contract without being penalized. If you fail to do that, you're automatically renewed for high-rate monthly monitoring for a period of 1, 2, or 3 years.
  • Most people sign up for monitoring following a crime in their neighborhood. The perceived risk you feel skyrockets when you hear about break-ins, robberies, and smash and grabs near your home. But that's not the time to shop for a burglar alarm. You never want to make an emotional decision.
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