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comment on alarm owner frustrated with subscriber(s) / 3-day cancellation question / hiring employee with questionable background November 29, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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comment on alarm owner frustrated with subscriber(s) / 3-day cancellation question / hiring employee with questionable background
November 29, 2017
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comment on alarm owner frustrated with subscriber(s) from November 16, 2017
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Ken,
    I read the message from Jeff regarding customers who do not listen, do not apply common sense, etc… and I can relate to his frustration.  We all have those customers who push us, and our employees, to the limits.  The biggest frustration comes from the ones who seem to enjoy it.  As usual your legal advice was spot on.   I feel Jeff’s pain, so let me share some pure business strategy.
    I worked in a large amusement park during high school and college.  It was a great job because the work was interesting, and, since I kept coming back, I was continuously promoted and it went from an entry level, minimum wage, job, to one that was fun and challenging.  I learned more about customer service from that job then I could have learned from 100 years of college.
    The job of attractions such as an amusement park is to make people happy, and when you think about it, shouldn’t this be a part of any company’s strategy?  I learned early on that the customer may not always be right.  Customers aren’t always right, some customers aren’t ever right, but engaging a customer in a discussion of right and wrong rarely ends well.  What is really happening here is not a customer knowledge issue, it is a customer experience issue.  When we shift our focus to making the customer happy, it changes the atmosphere.  At the amusement park, our job was providing people with an escape from their boring, stressful, unhappy lives.  For $7.50 our customers expected a day of happiness and bliss.  It didn’t always work out.  It was hot, it was cold, it was wet, it was dry, it was crowded, rides were closed, rides broke down, rides were disappointing, rides were fun but lines were long, and the workforce of a thousand teenagers had to handle it.  I became a supervisor and a big part of my job was to address the upset, clueless “guest” who was mad the “Host or Hostess.”   My approach was that while the customer is rarely right, it didn’t matter, our job was to try to make the customer happy.  One incident that stands out after forty years is the parent who most probably drank an entire six pack in the parking lot and was berating our 16 year old female employee because she wouldn’t let his 3 year old daughter ride the roller coaster.  Of course she couldn’t ride the roller coaster, she’d fall out, but try explaining that to an obnoxious drunk.  The customer wasn’t right, but telling him straight out that he wasn’t right wouldn’t “win” anything.  I showed up (I was the ripe old age of 21) and deflected the non-stop swear fest and threats and let him get it out of his system.  First (and this is always the most important thing to do) I acknowledged his frustration.  He had waited through a 45 minute line (he passed up all three signs saying “you must be this tall to ride” but pointing that out wasn’t going to get me anywhere) and was frustrated that his daughter couldn’t ride.  Sometimes just a little “I feel your pain” will get you a long way.  I had isolated his problem… the long line, the heat, the alcohol, and the fact that he was a generally unhappy guy (notice that the teenaged employee had caused none of these).  We had another roller coaster that was targeted at the younger kids so I suggested that one.  He shot back “I’m not waiting in another line.”  I walked him to the other roller coaster and took him and his daughter (and very embarrassed wife) through the exit.  I found the foreman and introduced the guy as a “VIP”.  I asked the foreman to let his daughter sit in the front of the coaster and ride as many times as she wanted to.  They hopped on rode around twice and left.
    What’s the point of all of this?  The customer was wrong, really wrong, they usually are, but pointing that out rarely gets you anywhere.  The trick is to isolate the real issue (in this case, drunk loser who compensates by bullying people) and deflect his misery.  The same thing holds true in our industry.  The customer who is yelling at your receptionist because the police took 15 minutes to respond to her alarm that came in during a thunderstorm isn’t really mad at you.  She’s upset because she feels violated and let down.  Sympathize, and let her know that you are sorry for her loss.  Don’t admit that you did anything wrong or that you’ll “try harder next time.”  Just listen and empathize. The customer isn’t always right, but the customer does have a right to feel good.  If you can do that you win.  Some customers will never feel good and that’s their problem, but we should all make an attempt.
Mitch Reitman
Reitman Consulting Group
Fort Worth, TX 
817-698-9999
http://www.reitman.us
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3-day cancellation question
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Ken
    quick question.  Do you have to submit the "notice of cancellation forms" when sending to existing clients upon renewal of their monitoring contracts??? 
Gregg
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Response
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    If sending contract through the mail to old [or new] subscriber you don't have to give the 3-day cancellation notice or form.  You may want to anyway because a prospective buyer of your accounts may want to know that you complied with the notice requirement.  Remembering which contracts were signed through the mail and which had a salesman at the house may not be easy to remember unless you document it at time of the sale.  If all contracts to existing customers are sent through the mail then you could simply explain that to a prospective buyer.
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hiring employee with questionable background in New York
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Ken,
    I’m looking to hire a new employee who has had 3 DWI arrests several years ago.  They have all been resolved and he no longer drinks.  I know this may not look like a good idea, but he has turned his life around completely, got married and has a child and is very responsible.   Will this be a problem for him to pass the finger printing process he has to go through to be able to work in the industry?
Thanks
name withheld
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Response
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    New York, like many jurisdictions, requires that new hires be "documented", which means the employee has to fill out an Employee Statement [looks like employment application] and get finger printed.  The finger print receipt and Employee Statement gets sent to the licensing agency within 24 hours of being employed, and the agency, after evaluation, lets the alarm company know if the employee can be retained or has to be terminated immediately.  An employee with a felony conviction will not be approved.  If the employee has something less than a felony conviction, a misdemeanor conviction or issues involving moral turpitude the employee may not be approved.  
    You don't have to screen the employee yourself, the agency will do it, so no point trying to guess what the agency will do unless you know for sure that the employee has a felony conviction and doesn't have a Certificate of Relief.  Other states may have similar procedures.
    If you need licensing help contact our licensing department by calling Eileen Wagda at 516 747 6700 x 312 or Jennifer Kirschenbaum,Esq at 516 747 6700 x 302.
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THE ALARM EXCHANGE

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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