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Wireless devices and potential for liability – is something more needed in contract
September 21, 2019
Wireless devices and potential for liability – is something more needed in contract
            When it comes to wireless devices, we occasionally find environmental factors can impede signal transmission. Anything from other electronic devices broadcasting on separate frequencies, to low (or especially High) voltage cabling, or even certain light blubs/devices have been found to cause disruptions to RF Security devices properly reporting back to a receiver, alarm control, and ultimately the central station. This is typically discovered and addressed during the installation/testing process but what if it’s not caught during install, or if environmental factors change and create a situation where an alarm doesn’t trip?  Similar concerns could be presented with regard to a bad guy intentionally using an RF jammer to interfere with the security system.
            We use your standard alarm form. Should we consider any additional language to specifically address these concerns?
            I am confident that the up to date Standard Form Kirschenbaum Contracts™ adequately addresses your concerns.  That’s a bold statement, but my confidence comes from knowing that the Standard Forms receive the highest scrutiny from industry experts who often suggest revision or compliment the terminology.  The Standard Forms provide the most protection you can expect from an agreement with your subscribers.  I believe we are at the ledge when it comes to getting subscribers to agree to terms in the agreement.  Keep in mind that we don’t seek to create agreements that are unreasonable or that will be judged to be unconscionable and not enforced.  
            I think you identified the problem quite well.  Alarm systems, wireless or hardwired, are not infallible, and even if working today may encounter interference tomorrow.  If we knew the exact time the alarm was needed we could have the police or fire personnel there waiting, but we don’t.  So we rely on equipment that is often selected to suit the customer’s budget, and regardless of price, still subject to a host or environmental, human and other factors.  
            Ask a doctor to guarantee a result
            Ask your car dealer to guarantee the car will start
            Ask your mailman to guarantee delivery by specific time [or day]
            Ask anybody to guarantee anything … 
            Well the alarm industry needs to be on the same page.  After all the puffery in ads and on website, TV commercials, newspaper ads, and sale pitches, you need a proper contract to bring the subscriber back to reality.  We don’t want to hear another case where the jeweler says, after the burglary, “I canceled my insurance because I bought an alarm system”.  
            I believe the Kirschenbaum Contracts ™ stand alone in their clarity and effectiveness.  Some alarm contracts are difficult to read and understand, others are deficient in one of more provisions and some are just downright awful.  Keep in mind that there are really three tests that your contract must meet:
1.         the subscriber has to be willing to sign it
2.         a judge has to be willing to enforce it
3.         a buyer has to be willing to buy it
            The Kirschenbaum Contracts ™ meet these specifications.  We can always add more, but how far do we really need to go?  Do I need to put in 20 point red font on top of every contract: “Hey stupid, the alarm may not work when needed; we are not responsible, no matter what”.  I’d still keep all the other provisions.
            What gets me is all the alarm companies out there that still use deficient contracts.  Can’t afford a proper contract?  Why bother to install brand name equipment that costs more.  Get it used on The Alarm Exchange and save money.  Look for the “as  is” ads, if you can find one.

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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