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advice on owning your own lines and finding central station
June 26,  2017
advice on owning your own lines and finding central station
    I appreciate the good advice that you've given to the alarm industry for all these years, gratis.  I also appreciate all the written agreements, employee and business, and the legal council that you've provided my company with over almost 20 years, most recently the review and changes made to a contract presented to me by a monitoring station I was about to switch to.  An interesting thing happened at the eleventh 
hour (actually at 11:58pm) that soured the deal.  I know it's something that was covered in the past in your email blasts and I just want to mention it again before the readers waste days of valuable time and 
hundreds of dollars in legal council dollars, only to realize that something very basic but important was overlooked, as I did.  
    The issue is with the "ownership" of your phone lines pointed elsewhere.
    Times are indeed changing to different technologies but for many years it was common knowledge of the importance of having your own toll free telephone lines.  If you wanted to change central stations, phone 
carriers or even sell your business, having your own lines was imperative.  Maybe someone on the broker side such as Mitch Reitman or Ron Davis can tell you what it relates to in X's, but imagine the real cost of sending a tech out to reprogram 250+ systems to make a change!  Imagine 500 or 1000 or more! Maintaining control of your phone lines (and we're now even seeing ip addresses in the mix) is paramount to running your business efficiently.  It's simply AlarmBiz 101!  
    So when my decision to move monitoring stations was firmed up I began the almost 12 month task of researching acceptable candidates.  One of my first, if not the first question was would I have to turn over ownership of my phone lines, which is something I would never consider doing. Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes no.  If yes, it was made very clear that to continue I would not relinquish my lines as I would never be held hostage by any entity.  This was not a problem for those I continued with and as the selections narrowed down to what I believed were the premier monitoring stations, the negotiations went on until one was finally chosen.  The choice was not for price (it would have cost me a bit more) but for the level of service I expected that my customers and my staff should receive.
    Once the actual site visit, meetings, clarifications and etc. were completed, the next step was to have the legal agreement reviewed by you (Ken), followed by the changes, markups, alterations, counter 
suggestions and more changes, additional requirements, etc., all costing valuable time and some real dollars. Then, something that I thought was properly handled months prior, came up while making the final 
arrangements and scheduling their transition team.  My phone lines would have to be relinquished, but say they, I could get them back any time I wanted (as long as I didn't owe them any money that is, so please sign this!).  I didn't have anything in writing that referenced the initial conversations with their entire management team where I specifically spelled out my requirement so I attempted to compose a simple agreement indicating that if absolutely necessary I will do this but only if the ownership of the lines would be returned to me on demand.  
    They wouldn't budge from their side, so the search continues.  For those who do not understand the importance of my decision, by turning over ownership of the phone lines, any possible solutions to a contractual disagreement between my company and this central station would be severely compromised with them as they would have a stranglehold on my ability to continue to conduct business.  Wouldn't happen, you might say?  Maybe not but it could, the court calendars are filled with "It could" situations as are the number of attorneys willing to show you what it will cost you to fight for your rights against an opponent.
    My advice to those beginning on a similar journey is to have your specific desires, conversations and initial agreements in writing so that there are no misunderstandings.  It's always wise to then contact 
council for review and possible fine tuning and before signing anything, consult with your attorney.  A few thousand now may save you (or your heirs/survivors) hundreds of thousands in the future.  A man who acts as his own legal council has a fool for a client.
    If you check The Alarm Exchange you will find central stations who have purchased and hopefully use the Kirschenbaum Dealer Agreement.  This agreement will outline your deal, the important stuff, on the front page by check boxes.  You can easily see what the important issues are and what your deal is.  
    Best time to engage me to review the central station's dealer agreement for your specific deal is before you agree and sign it.  There's lots of issues that need to be checked and much needs to be added or changed.  

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
516 747 6700
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