Question Re CS requiring its contract
 I am an electrical contractor and after years of pulling cable for others in the alarm industry, we are looking to get into the full spectrum of the alarm business. Steve Rubin of the Davis Group suggested that I look into your services.
 Is it typical practice for a wholesale monitoring company to require my customer sign a service agreement with their company?
 As an electrical contractor you are in for a new awakening when it comes to contracts.  As an electrical contractor you are use to signing an AIA contract or rip off version of that contract, or working off a purchase order or a bid proposal you put together.  If you plan to stay in the alarm business and ending up with a valuable business with equity, you will need to get your subscribers [that's what we call customers in the alarm industry] to sign proper written alarm contract.  Best place to get them is at www.alarmcontracts.com
 So, do wholesale central stations typically require an alarm dealer to have its subscribers sign the central station's monitoring contract, typically referred to as a three party contract because its signed by the cs, the dealer and the subscriber.  The better central stations do have such requirement.  If your cs is requiring it then good chance you're with one of the better ones.  You can get a list of central stations on The Alarm Exchange, and you should do business with one of them [because if they don't treat you fairly they will be off the list fast].  
 Why do central stations require their form contract to be signed, and is there an alternative to that practice acceptable to most central stations?  
 First, the why.  The potential for risk of loss in this industry is staggering.  Proper contracts permit you and others providing alarm services to exclude, reduce or shift the risk of loss, but you have to have a proper contract.  When a claim is made against an alarm provider [dealer, central station, subcontractor] the first level of defense is the contract.  If the central station doesn't have a contract directly with the subscriber then it has nothing to rely on, at least from a contractual defense.  At least one knowledgeable central station owner has taken the position [not sure if he has come around to my view yet] that the central station's customer is the dealer and therefore the subscriber should not be permitted to make a claim directly against the central.  Problem with that position is that while the subscriber may not have a breach of contract claim [other than as contract third party beneficiary - despite the prohibition of third party beneficiary in the contract], the subscriber has a tort claim against the central for negligence, and that's by far the more likely cause of action that going to be asserted in a lawsuit.  Only a direct contract between the central and subscriber will provide contractual defenses for the central.
 Is there an alternative?  Many dealers prefer to give their subscribers as few contracts to sign as possible.  Years ago dealers also didn't want their subscribers to know that monitoring was done by someone else, not the dealer - I think those days may be over except for a handful of dealers.  The dealer has to have its contract signed [that would be at very least a Monitoring Contract, but should be the All in One form which includes monitoring].  The dealer cannot rely on the central stations contract, it must get its own contract signed, so the second to be signed is going to be the central station's contract.  There may in fact be other form contracts that need to be signed, adding to the paperwork.  For example, some radio providers require their own terms [I won't bother mentioning them because I'd prefer not giving them any more exposure than necessary because of their onerous contract terms].  But many central stations will not require their three party contract to be signed if the dealer is using one of my Standard Form Contracts, and the reason is that the central knows that the Standard Form Contracts protect the central station as if it had a direct contract with the subscriber.
 Why do I say that the better central stations require the three party contract or accept the Standard Form Contracts in lieu of the central's form?  Because I view the central stations as an extension of the dealers, there to assist, provide help, provide one necessary component of the alarm security or fire services.  The central is in a collaborative effort to further the interests of the dealers, and thus don't compete with dealers or take positions that are inherently hostile to the interests of dealers.  A central station that insists on proper contracts with subscribers, whether the central station's form or the dealers form, is looking out for and protecting not only its butt, but the dealers.  Central stations tend to be more established, better organized and attuned to legal and other issues affecting alarm dealers, at least the better central stations meet that description.  The central station's contract policies protect the dealer - often protect the dealer from the dealer itself.  A dealer who still wants to operate without contract [without license or insurance too I suppose] is more than a dinosaur, that dealer is a plight on the industry.  We're not trying to force them out of business, but bring them up to today's business standards.  Ultimately that will aid them in many ways.  A central that doesn't care about contracts doesn't care about itself or its dealers - don't do business with them.
 Final consideration.  Even if your central station is not requiring a three party contract or that you have a proper monitoring contract your central station is most likely requiring you to sign a Dealer or Installer Contract.  This is a contract between you and the central; it's a one time contract that allows you to place your subscriber monitoring accounts into the central.  That contract will have an indemnity provision requiring you to indemnify the central in the event your subscriber makes a claim against the central.  Therefore, without insisting on proper contractual protection for itself and its dealer, the central shifts all of the risk to the dealer, who may not have the proper contracts in place.  A "better" central station would have insisted on that, considerably lessening the assumed risk to the dealer.
 If you're not sure, I'm only a phone call or email away.

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