Ken - 
    Chasing squirrels? I hear a lot of companies talk about taking clients to court, but I seldom see it happen. Although some companies utilize a collection agency, as a form of harassing those who owe them money, I seldom see anyone actually go to court. Nothing beats getting paid up front and having an egg in your basket. Using deceptive marketing practices, such as, "If we can place a sign in your yard, we will give you a free system," lead to the company chasing money. If you want to see how good of a contract you have, take a client to small claims court and try and collect on it. The $55 cost of filing in Small Claims Court, is a lot less than the cost of an attorney's review, and it will quickly provide your answer. If you receive a decision in your favor, from a Small Claims court, then you have contracts that you can collect on without the expense of an attorney. If you lose in small claims court, then you may want to revisit either your contracts, your marketing practices, or both. Having to pay an attorney, to take a client to court and collect on a monitoring contract, is unrealistic and most of your clients know it. I also would think it would add to the sales price of a company, if the company could show their contracts had been tried and tested, and held up in court? 
    Thanks for the great info,
Roger D. Score, President
Arizona Alarm Dealers Association
    Sorry Roger, no cigar today.  Your advice is poor on several counts.  Whether to pursue collection cases depends on a number of factors, including strength of your contract, collectibility of your subscriber, amount owed, whether you have the staffing to follow through, whether you have an attorney who knows what to do, among others.  My office may be the largest collection law firm devoted to the alarm industry; we know what we're doing.  We save lots of accounts for our clients and collect lots of money.  When subscribers make claims against the alarm company we know how to handle them, whether they be consumer complaints, breach of contract or some loss which the alarm was designed to detect.  
    Small claims is a crap shoot.  The judge isn't even required to follow the law but gets to justify any decision as "substantial justice".  You're better off with frontier justice.  Other judges often aren't any better.  We have a judge in NYC who finds for the poor consumer 100% of the time, often without bothering to have a trial.  This fine jurist must have a few connections because the powers that be let him continue to harass every attorney who has the temerity to sue a consumer.  He'll retire soon and luckily he's not the only judge in town.  
    Alarm companies who handle their own lawsuits are no smarter than lawyers who install their own alarm systems.  Both should stick to what they know.
    On a more productive note, it rarely pays to get involved in a few collection lawsuits.  Larger companies have in house collection personnel and a system for finding and sending out delinquent subscribers for collection.  A few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • make sure you have a great contract
  • make sure you've done everything right
  • determine if your subscriber has resources to pay you
  • determine your subscriber's resolve not to pay you
  • engage a lawyer who knows alarm collection work, not just collection work

[BTW, my firm is now in NY and NJ, and within weeks will be in CT.  I'm licensed in FL too but not ready to take on cases there yet]
    I was Wondering About Camera’s in My office or home With Or Without Audio , Do I Need to Post A sign. 
Joe Paletto
Plaza Security
    Correct me if I'm wrong please, but I haven't seen a single audio or video statute that mentions a sign.  It won't help.
    This question is more of an accounting question than a legal question but you’ve recently had some accounting questions in your daily email so hopefully someone with more knowledge than myself can weigh in on this.
    One of the employee benefits we offer to all employees is free (over phone lines) or discounted (using cellular or interactive services) monitoring. The way we’ve done it for years is the employee signs a monitoring contract for either $0/year or the discounted amount.  For example if our published residential monitoring rate is $39.99/mo. ($479.88/yr.) for monitoring over cellular we may give the employee a monthly monitoring rate of $10/mo. ($120/yr.) to cover our costs for the cellular and interactive service.
    Using the example above someone recently mentioned to me that they provide employee monitoring by billing their employees annually for the full published rate and then the employee brings in their invoice and they credit off $359.88 ($479.88-$120.00).  The reason they claimed they are doing this is so they can show an actual dollar amount for the employee benefit that allows them write it off.
    Is that method common in the alarm industry where monitoring is provided as an employee perk? Do we have to do it in that manner in order to take advantage of any write off available to us or can I still write off the $359.88 per employee per year as a benefit? I’m not an accountant so I’m curious what tax or other benefits should we be taking advantage of by offering this employee benefit?  Is either method preferable from a legal standpoint as long as we are getting a signed monitoring contract from the employee? 
    I like the invoice and credit option vs. the way we’ve been doing it because it reminds the employee of the benefit they are receiving and there is no chance to bill the reduced rate if an employee leaves our employment. The only downside I can see is there is a little more administrative work involved in crediting off the amount once a year but I wanted to make sure there wasn’t any other downside I may be missing.
    If you use this in your newsletter/email please keep me anonymous.
Thank you.


*************************Can't say whether this is common in the industry; not common to me and I fell asleep reading about it.  Looks like we need alarm industry accountant Mitch Reitman on this one.  We will send out the Bat signal, I mean Reitman signal.  Instead of a bat it's a dollar sign.