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another divorce and contract issue / re charging your subscribers for false alarms September 8, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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another divorce and contract issue / re charging your subscribers for false alarms
September 8, 2017
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another divorce and contract issue
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Ken
    I have a question regarding a situation that one of our customer is facing.
    I read in one of your articles - More on subscriber name - divorce cases - 12/07/12 - that if there is a court order covering possession of the home, even if  the person that was awarded the possession is not the signer of the contract, we can remove the other spouse or we can have them sign a new contract.
    My question, I have a Military Protective Order with an expiration date of 10/01/17 and the residence was awarded to the spouse who did not sign our contract.  Can we still follow your recommendations to remove the other spouse or get a new contract signed? 
Please advice.
Respectfully
Jackie
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Response
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    You're facing the situation, not your customer.  You need to know who your customer is, because that's who you need under contract.  
    I am sure there are a few ways to analyze the legal issues presented in this scenario.  You are currently under contract with the spouse who has been ousted from possession, but the order granting possession most likely doesn't mention the alarm or the alarm contract.  If you want to run up the matrimonial legal fees tell them they should go back to the court for more direction on the alarm system.  Short of that you are put in the position of having to decide your legal obligations.  I am sure lawyers would argue that you're under contract with the ousted spouse and that's who your customer is, period.  Of course the ousted spouse does have two options under the contract, continue making the payments and complying with the contract terms, or breach the contract, in which event you are free to terminate the contract and enter into another contract with the spouse granted possession.  
    A more practical approach may be to ask, who is paying you, and more importantly, who is likely to be suing you for a failure of the alarm system.  The answer needs to be the spouse in possession, and if that spouse isn't paying you then the issue is moot, because you should terminate service and go after the spouse you have under contract.  You will have to wait until he or she is out of the military; in other words, forget it.
    You do not have to insert yourself as an arbiter, negotiator, counselor, or in the middle of the matrimonial dispute.  You are under contract and as long as you are paid under that contract you can continue to perform.  If the spouse with possession wants you to terminate the old contract or recognize her as the end user, then you should get her to indemnify you from the ousted spouse who is still under contract, and by all means make her sign a new contract.  Let me remind you, it's the end user who has to sign the contract, always.  
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re charging your subscribers for false alarms
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Ken
    I have an idea.  Why not program the alarms to 900 numbers.  Then don't charge the customers for alarm service, but if there alarm sends a signal they are billed $50.00.
Sincerely,
Michael Davis
Davis Security Services Inc
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Ken
    On fining our own customers for false alarms.
    At SIAC we believe that anything you do to reduce false dispatches is a positive.
    Personally I feel the administrative costs to apply this will far exceed any financial gain. What we do know that works is contacting every subscriber after every alarm signal, and I don't mean the verification calls by the central station. We become spoiled that customers send in that monitoring check year after year and that invoice is the only contact we have with them. By calling subscribers in that first week after the signal allows you to have a positive contact as well as scheduling service where needed. Remember the number one cause of weather related incidents are due to expired batteries. Do you even have a battery replacement program?
    An alarm system is not a concrete block. Educating customers of the need to have regular service is a positive and maintains a closer customer relationship. this pays off in many ways and one is an increase in referrals. Have your monitoring company print out weekly activity reports and start calling. You can also get a dirty dozen report of your worst customers. You'll be surprised how much service you need to be doing.
  Good luck
Ron Walters, Director
SIAC
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Ken
    Go ahead, put it in.  But everyone should realize it's more of a pain in the ass to try to collect these small amounts from those special customers than they're worth.  Also, it become fodder for the less than 
ethical companies/salespeople to use when they're knocking the hell out of you and the product.  And, by nickeling and diming customers and prospects, it may open the door and interest them in to the ever 
increasing art of self monitoring where the super educated user can save a few bucks a month by using their own security industry experience to keep lives and property safe.
Al
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Ken
    Will you handle the collection on the unpaid $1 false alarm fines for free or will you charge 30%? Should the alarm dealers send out separate invoices for $1.  How about the statements that get sent out for the unpaid bills. How about the costs to set this up. The $1 charge for a false alarm is a "brilliant" idea. Could be a real big deterrent and make a big impact on the false alarm issue. 
    You didn't consider if a premise has more than one false alarm. Do you suggest we increase the fine for each subsequent alarm by 50 cents?
    To combat the false alarm issue, how about requiring that systems are installed properly, according to codes and standards in place?   Now that's a novel approach too.
name withheld
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Response
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    Do a better job installing.  Ok, that's a good idea.  Educate the subscriber on how to use the system and what to do if there is false alarm and they are home.  That's another good idea.  Use ECV.  That's another good idea.  Install back up systems, like video, that can be used for verification.  That's a very good idea.  Fining subscribers.  Municipalities think that's a pretty good idea.  Fining alarm companies.  Some municipalities think that's an even better idea.  Do nothing and keep talking about it and taking the punches? That's par for the course.  
    The proposed $1 fine or surcharge would be added to the subscriber's next invoice, and some some guy out there can figure out how to do it electronically and automatically.  And it's not the $1 fine, it's symbolic. It's something to avoid.  Something for the subscriber to think about.  
    On the other hand, I would expand the proposal and charge the subscriber for every call to the central station, whether automated or made by the subscriber for some reason.  A false alarm might generate two calls, one for the signal and the other by the subscriber calling to tell the cs it's a false alarm.  That's $2.              How many calls does the cs get a day.  Several thousand?  Well a buck a call can add up.
And, by the way, my fee is 33%, so yeah, bring it on.
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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
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com