APX Forgot To Tell Me I Was Paying For A Pretend Alarm System

Logan tells Consumerist that he has a serious issue with his alarm company, APX. He had an alarm system installed a few months ago, but only just now discovered that the alarm wasn’t effective. Being connected to local emergency services is sort of the point of an alarm system, but APX didn’t actually connect Logan’s alarm, perhaps hoping that they wouldn’t notice.

He writes:

Today, my house alarm went off and I was notified by a call to my cell phone. My wife and 6 month old son should have been at home and I couldn’t get a hold of them. I rushed home as fast as I could and found them safe… phew. I phoned APX customer support to cancel the alarm and they said I had to phone my local police to cancel the alarm. I called my local police department and they had no record of an alarm at my address. I called APX customer support back and they said since I don’t have my alarm registered with my local police that the alarm was ignored. I asked them how I register and they said they sent the form on Aug 25 and it should not have arrived yet. I have been paying this alarm company for a couple months already to protect my home and family. I find out now that not only am I paying for a service that isn’t there, I am paying them to prevent myself or my family from getting help in an emergency. My wife and son could have been in grave danger and because of this technicality no one would have come.

So far I have received sympathy and a promise to look into what happened from APX. This sort of thing should NEVER happen to anyone else and I want this public to ensure this is dealt with properly.

This sounds like a miscommunication of some sort, but Logan should at least receive a refund for the months that he was paying for a pretend alarm system.

Comments

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  1. grucifer says:

    wh wh wh B gn dd.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Flagged for being a useless and stupid comment.

    • wrongfrequently says:

      How is him having a gun going to help his wife and child who were home without him??
      It’s not very logical to say that the wife should also have a gun handy as she has a child and the gun couldn’t be kept close at hand with a curious child around.

      • grucifer says:

        She get’s one too. Guns for everyone!

      • kayfouroh says:

        Unless he has a carry permit then he would have to leave the gun at home. Meaning, wife would be able to defend herself in case of emergency. Both he and she would (in an ideal world) have taken some sort of class to learn what to do in a situation that would require a firearm.

        Guns aren’t evil, guys.

    • jshier says:

      Hell yeah! Buy more than one. You need one upstairs, downstairs, in the baby’s crib, in your car, and of course in the holsters he and his wife wear 24/7.

      Better yet, just create some sort of auto turret system so when someone breaks into your house, instead of calling the police, it shoots them in the head. Sounds good to me.

    • backinpgh says:

      Yeah, cuz a gun will help if your house is on fire and the fire department isn’t on the way because your alarms aren’t hooked up properly.

    • Bob Lu says:

      Even for broken-in situation, just like an un-linked alarm system can do more harm than protection, a not-well-trained gun wielding person is a hazard to themselves and everyone around them.

      I am not an anti-gun person but I believe that it takes years of training to use a firearm effectively. Simply buying a gun is not the answer. Getting everyone in your family combat ready is the better way.

      But still, how (even every adult in the house) owning a gun help when the house was on fire or someone has a medical emergency?

      • grucifer says:

        Hadn’t considered the fire element! Does it automatically call 911 when the smoke alarms go off? Or will it only go off when a window is shattered because of the heat? Seems like it’s probably a smart alarm system, clearly smarter than I!

        I mean, I’d hope they had a phone to dial 911 in case of medical emergencies.

        Gun training is also a very solid idea, I don’t think it takes years to become effective/safe with a gun. A little common sense will take you a long ways friend.

        • Donathius says:

          Usually with those systems you CAN get a smoke detector, but it’s not part of the standard package (APX headquarters is like a mile from my office).

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I much as I would hate to see this situation occur when someone truly was robbed or hurt in anyway, but I would love to see the resulting lawsuit against APX for dropping the ball.

  3. toddkravos says:

    and he didn’t perform monthly horn and siren tests because…..

    • AstroPig7 says:

      The problem isn’t that the alarm failed to go off, the problem is that it wasn’t registered and was therefore ignored. (Please note that if a horn and siren test actually involves communicating with the police department, then please ignore this comment.)

  4. cosby says:

    See if this is enough to break your contract with them for failing to provide services and get a different alarm company. When Vector installed my alarm they tested it to make sure the call center could verify the account.

  5. LightningUsagi says:

    I had the same thing happen when we had our alarm installed, but not with APX. They never told me I had to do anything to register the alarm with the sherriff and when it went off one day, I received a tongue-lashing from the officer who came out for not doing that and was told that if it went off again, I could receive a $500 fine. I called the alarm company, and the girl on the phone proceeds to tell me it’s on page blah, paragraph blah of the contract that I had to do that. I pull out the contract, and don’t see that anywhere. After telling her over and over that it’s not there, and reading the paragrah to her that she keeps referring to, she realized that I had received a very old copy of their contract that didn’t include that clause.

    Regardless of what contract I received, I do feel like I should have been told about this. All it took was a trip to the sherriff’s office with a form from the alarm company and $20 to be registered. The alarm company ended up crediting me a month’s service for the extra headaches they caused, so all in all, it ended well for me. But I totally understand the frustration the OP feels right now.

    • LightningUsagi says:

      I should add, my alarm (and it sounds like the OP’s as well) was being monitored by the alarm company who, in turn, contacted the sherriff when the alarm went off. So to say that the alarm was useless and unmonitored in the article is wrong. I took from the headline and lead-in that they had put in a box and not hooked it up at all.

    • EdnasEdibles says:

      I have had an alarm since 2006 and have never ever registered with my police department. This makes me wonder if I also have a hidden clause in my contract?

  6. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    I agree that is lousy. While I don’t have, nor plan to get, a home alarm system myself, I would be very angry if I got one and later found out it wasn’t registered with the local police.

    And the fact that they’ve been charging you for months is crappy. They should refund all the fees you’ve paid so far, at a minimum.

  7. Cameraman says:

    In response to police being dispatched to false alarms, several municipalities have passed ‘verified response’ laws- see http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/?p=article&id=ss20100873mM3A and http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/?p=article&id=ss201005uv9c4y for example. OP’s municipality may have just passed a verified response law.

  8. nucwin83 says:

    APX salesmen came through our neighborhood last year. Each one started with the same spiel about how there had been 13 buglaries on our street in the previous year (odd how we hadn’t heard of a single one), and we needed to keep ourselves safe. First guy we tell ‘it’s alright, someone’s always home and we’ve got firearms.’ He lets it go and leaves. The second guy who came the following day was a complete jerk. He gives his talk, we say no thanks and start to shut the door, and he starts going on about how we’ve got a nice car in the driveway and he hopes nothing happens to it. WTF? Then he refused to give his name to us, and we finally told him to either leave or we were calling the cops. This just makes me even more glad I didn’t sign up for their ‘service’.

    • webweazel says:

      These alarm sellers used to come to our neighborhood a lot. We enjoyed it. When the bell would ring, 60 pounds of Doberman would bark like mad and lunge at the front door. Once we opened the door, the vast majority of the guys were trying to talk to us from the sidewalk or the street. Those guys can move pretty fast, evidently.
      Just in case you were wondering, no we didn’t get alarm systems from any of them…

      • Conformist138 says:

        I have a 15lb pug who “barks” with the squeak of a choking squirrel.

        This sadly never seems to scare away solicitors.

  9. err says:

    This appears to be the new standard state of affairs with companies these days. It will come back to bite them, though.

    Demand a refund for the time your home was ‘unprotected.’

  10. Trevor says:

    It’s pretty common for cities to require you to purchase a permit from them to inform them of your alarm. Without your permit on file, they will ignore your alarm. I speak from experience.

  11. ShruggingGalt says:

    I thought that police departments around the country aren’t responding to alarm calls anymore. They’re requiring personal verification – such as “I see someone breaking into the house” or “Yes, the house really is on fire. I see flames and everything”.

    Heck some PDs won’t even come out unless there is actually a perp on property. (Oakland?) The alarm company or you come out with the alarm going off, broken window, stuff stolen….nope, you’ll have to take a number and wait your turn for the next available detective to come out (days, weeks?) rather than send a patrol car out to take a report, etc.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I can’t speak for the police (luckily for me!), but when our alarm system’s smoke detector triggered accidentally by water vapor, the fire department was at my door before I was able to cancel the alarm. It took them just under two minutes to arrive from the time the alarm went off, but they are only two blocks away.

    • Wolfbird says:

      I can sort-of verify this. A family friend worked for an alarm company in Atlantic Canada until recently and said that home alarms are just a big ripoff. He says it was his job to call the home whose alarm was going off to see if anyone is home to check the reason for the alarm. If no one answered, they’d do nothing because the police (I suppose) get spammed every time a bird runs into a window.

      I never understood alarm systems. Ours have always been in the form of large brown mutt dogs that have one eye or look like they eat babies for breakfast (my dad had a soft spot for the kinds of dogs the shelters would otherwise put down).

  12. thomas_callahan says:

    This is all standard — most localities require you to register the alarm. I’ve had two different house alarms and in both cases they told me to go do that, I drove to the police station, filled out the form, paid the $10 to register it. They won’t let the alarm company register it — you’re the homeowner, it’s your alarm, and your responsibility to register it.

    You pay the alarm company to monitor the alarm and notify you and the police if it goes off, which they did, so you really have no grounds for a refund. The police do not respond to unregistered alarms in your area, apparently. That’s up to the police and your local laws, not the alarm company. In my area, as another commenter said, they would have responded but warned you about registering it, and fined you if it happened repeatedly.

    Now, if they hadn’t been monitoring it at all, then yes you’d have every right to a refund, but they called you when it went off so they obviously have been monitoring it.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      He deserves a refund because they didn’t tell him that he needed to register with the police. Apparently he needed a form they were to provide in order to do that, and they didn’t send him the form.

      They failed to live up to what they promised which is that the police would also respond to an alarm at his house.

  13. lehrdude says:

    I was scheduled to have APX come to my house and update my system a few months ago. The salesman called me up and made lots of great promises as to what he could do to keep me and my family safe. The system they were going to provide sounded unbelieveable, and I was practically begging him to come over and get started. After I set everything up, I did a little research and found that there were many complaints posted that are just like the one mentioned above, and nobody had seemed to have ever come to a resolution.

    I called the company back and promptly cancelled my installation. However, the technician still came a few days later to install the system. The technician told me that I had authorized a verbal contract by agreeing over the phone, and he could not cancel without a “service fee”. However, as soon as I picked up the phone to dial the police, he suddenly changed his mind and left…

    • davere says:

      I talked to one of these guys and I agreed to go with the installation. He said he’d come back the next day with all of the paperwork and to complete all the details. OK fine. So I make an appointment and he doesn’t show up. I call him using the business card he gave me and it sounds like I just woke him up, he asks to reschedule. I reschedule for that afternoon. No show. I didn’t bother.

      Another salesman comes back the following year. I tell him my story and he said “well, I won’t do that, that was someone else” and I said “sorry, I can’t trust your company anymore.”

      I haven’t had anyone else from that company contact me ever since, apparently that’s a good thing.

  14. LuzioFantazmic says:

    That’s strange. My alarm company does not work like that at all. I can’t imagine a police agency not responding to an alarm call just because a piece a paper wasn’t filled out. Almost sounds like the alarm company failed to notify. You are stuck with this company. From what I read online, they don’t respond well to customer complaints.

    Their alarms are pretty much worthless anyway. They only come with 2 entry sensors and a motion. Oh, and a cute little blue sign for the front yard to alert the bad guys that you have an alarm.

    These APX guys knocked on my door a few months back. I did a quick check on them. They have 1000′s of BBB complaints and page after page of complaints on sites like ripoff reports. It took me a total of 3 minutes to find this information. This stuff should have made the guy in the story run, not walk away from this company

    Now, maybe he has no internet connection. I don’t know. But sometimes people need to look out for themselves.

    • Destron says:

      Many police agencies are starting to ignore alarms that are not registered. They claim they are wasting millions a year by responding to false alarms.

      Where I live, not only will they ignore you if your not registered, but after 3 false alarms in a rolling 12 month period the slap you with an $800 fine for every false alarm.

  15. Harry_Greek says:

    He should have tested the system out. Or, confirmed it all works.

  16. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    My my my, how curious how the billing systems never seemed to malfunction once.

  17. TheKel says:

    With ADT we are registered with the departments in town and they do a verification. Our alarm went off and between then calling us and the police arriving (we weren’t home, it was a malfunction) not a lot of time went by. Another time, the carbon monoxide detector went off when were were having a new furnace put in, and the police and fire showed up at the house before ADT could even call to confirm we were in the house and okay. It was lightening fast.

    And very embarrassing to have half of the emergency services in my town show up at my house. But thankfully, we know it works! :) I was “that” neighbor everyone was gawking at.

  18. TXVR6 says:

    Most cities require an alarm permit before they will respond. Their rationale behind this is that they spend too much time responding to false alarms. They won’t come if its not registered, and if it is registered the home owner gets a fine after X number of false alarms. Every city has a different policy regarding this of course. The only exception I have ever heard of was that all fire departments will dispatch if they get a fire alarm. Most residential alarm systems don’t go directly to Police Fire or Hospital. They go to a monitoring center who in turn will follow their own polices. For example fire alarms are dispatched immediately then the premises is called to see if its legit. Panic alarms are immediately relayed to police, etc. Most alarm companies will call the premises first before dispatching on a burger alarm since those are the ones most commonly generating false alarms.

    I would think that the sales person would have had the home owner sign the permit application. Or at the very least made them aware. I’m sure they had him sign a contract. So having them fill out the permit at that time seems the best way to handle it.

    I’ve been out of that industry for a number of years though so giving your customer the paperwork so they will be registered may no longer be common practice.

  19. suburbancowboy says:

    When I bought a home a few months ago, it had an APX system in there. The family we bought from was still under contract with them, and wanted us to take over the contract. I found out it was over 60 dollars a month. Since their lawyer did not include the takeover in our contract for purchasinfg the home, I refused, and they had to pay over 2 grand to APX for terminating early. I guess that is what happens when you get a “free alarm system”.

    The alarm system was still in the house (they couldn’t remove it as per our contract), so i reprogrammed it. Swapped out the motion detectors so my cat wouldn’t set it off, and had it set up with a local security company. The service is excellent, and the price is less than 1/3rd of what APX wanted.

  20. AD8BC says:

    APX is lousy. I had them for three years after we moved into the house and the sales dude convinced my wife that we needed one. I negotiated the contract to three years from five and I’m glad I did. Four months into the contract I decided to install a second keypad myself. According to the contract, as long as I paid my bill the system was mine, and completely mine after the contract. Getting the installer code from APX was like pulling teeth. Finally I threatened not to pay and their vice president called me with the code.

    After buying parts and expanding my system (and running into grief each time when I called them and told them I added a zone), I determined that I could have bought the alarm system for $500 and paid a local company for cellular monitoring (WITH NO CONTRACT!!!) for $25 a month. Unfortunately, I was stuck paying APX for three years at $55 a month.

    That was my three year stupid tax. Will never do that again!

    • Nisun says:

      I have a friend with the same sort of setup. It ended up being very nice because he has cameras installed to. Using the portal that the company provides he can login to the portal and watch any of the cameras (assuming his home internet connect is up). Only problem he had was with a bad simcard. Took a few weeks to get replaced once they figured it out.

  21. vdragonmpc says:

    I have Apex and so does my mother. We ended up with it as I was trying to get something in the house for my wife and son as our dog had passed away.

    I was told 2 year contract. No it is 5 years. Good stuff there, its pretty much 2 grand or so to terminate. I will not be renewing as we can barely hear the keypad in the location (far side of the house from the bedrooms). We also now have a 180 pound four legged chainsaw who doesnt like to be disturbed when napping in the house. We leave him inside during the day.

    My mother’s system hasnt worked in over a year. She needs a new remote but WOW the markup!
    Same story with us and registering the alarm. We have to do it and pay the fee.

  22. hills says:

    I’m in Portland, Oregon and my alarm company gave me the form to file & get a permit with the city so that the city could respond to alarms – at least the OP discovered the error on a false alarm – but that form should have been provided upon install, not months later – I would want a refund too!

  23. APXAlarm says:

    Logan, we greatly apologize for this terrible experience. We would like to take care of this situation asap and to your upmost satisfaction. Please contact me jplymale@apxalarm.com.

  24. peebozi says:

    Stand back, I’ve got this one…

    move to a gated community where you don’t need an alarm system…sheesh, that was easy.

  25. peebozi says:

    also, i canceled my alarm monitoring but still arm it. figure the scum will assume it’s going to a PD.

  26. quads says:

    i read my city’s annual and bi-monthly news letter and it clearly states alarms must be registered with the police department. I took it upon myself to register it.

  27. evnmorlo says:

    APX has gotten into trouble in my city for not getting the appropriate fire and police department approvals. But I thought these alarm companies had call centers to verify the alarm and call the police, in which case Logan’s wife and child shouldn’t have been at risk.

  28. evilcharity says:

    I had a similar experience with Bay Alarm. Long story short, they weren’t even aware that some of the equipment in our home was malfunctioning, we found out through accident on our own. We also did not get calls when we were supposed to (fire alarm going off, etc). And, yes, we have the proper permit for our alarm system. Every time we complained, they countered that it was our fault because our equipment was old (it came with the house) and they would happily charge us an arm and a leg to upgrade. They also refused to refund us any fees (while they were monitoring NOTHING).

    We waited for our contract to expire and purchased our own equipment from Smart Home (the husband set it up, it did take a bit of tweaking to get it just right) and have Alarm Relay do the monitoring. No contract and it costs about $10/month. They have already contacted us once when my husband took the cover off one of the censors while doing some work on the house (it was a tamper warning). We are very pleased.

    If I were the OP, I would be sure that the local authorities get the necessary paperwork on file and not trust that APX will take care of it.

  29. ellemdee says:

    Reminds of of the COBRA I paid for when I left my last job. I had to pay $400/month for 4 months until my new insurance kicked in. When I came down with the flu, I thought “great at least I’ll get to use the COBRA I’ve been paying for at least once”. I soon received a bill from my doctor stating that I didn’t have any insurance so they were billing me for the whole cost. Turns out my old job dropped my coverage as soon as I left, but continued to pocket my COBRA payments hoping that I wouldn’t try to use my insurance and find out what they were up to. As soon they realized I knew what happened, they scrambled to get my insurance retroactively activated as if they had no idea that they dropped me. Personally, I would have rather paid the $75 doctor’s bill and had my $1600 back.

    • Moosenogger says:

      Erm, isn’t that considered theft? You were paying for a service you weren’t receiving while someone else was pocketing the money meant for that service. Wouldn’t you have grounds to sue for your money back, considering it wasn’t theirs to begin with?

  30. sqeelar says:

    Burglars prefer APX. In fact, they own part of the company. It’s a win win. A steady monthly income if you’re too lazy or to sleepy to get up at night and burgle, or enough money to buy fancy cat burglary suits when you want that night time adventure.

  31. alarming says:

    Logan here. Thanks to everyone sharing their thoughts. I am not seeking a lawsuit of any kind. I only want to bring this situation to the public because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else in a real emergency. Not only should alarm company’s test the alarm is correctly sending them signals, they need to test the entire communication channel with the local emergency services. If my alarm was not registered I would hope my alarm company would be aware of the situation and inform me I am at risk.

  32. warghul says:

    This is common practice amongst Alarm Companies, if you fail to register with local law enforcement, of if at some point you had them shut off the system or modify things and the alarm is no longer effective or linked up, they will not notify you but they will continue charging you. We got charged for 2 years for an alarm that the alarm company had shut off but not told us about at a rental property. Most alarm companies will do this, it’s standard operating procedure. It also why they go around selling contracts all over to place to other alarm companies, they don’t have to do anything to most of the contracts, not even monitor them.

  33. yulingo says:

    It’s one of those new placebo alarms… you pay for a sense of security, not actual security.

  34. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I think the grave danger thing is a bit overly dramatic. I’ve never had an alarm and have never been in grave danger at my home. None of my friends or family with alarms have ever been in grave danger either.

    The chances are slim to none that a stranger is going to come into your home to try to hurt you. If you do get robbed, most of the time, it will be when no one is home–robbers don’t want to mess with people. I live in a huge city and do’t know anyone who has ever been robbed except my husband. He left his window open while he was gone to his night job in a very seedy apartment complex. The guy downstairs did it.

  35. lyllydd says:

    I’m with the posters who said you should cancel with APX and go with a different alarm company. Just don’t use ADT. Trust me, ADT is a scam.
    We made that mistake when we had a new townhome built. The install and the service were great – but then we had to move out, and cancelled the service. Or so we thought.
    Apparently ADT left the service connected, and they continued to debit our bank account for several months after we sold the house – so the new residents were getting free alarm service, using our code, at our expense.
    Yes, we checked the bank statements ever month, and called ADT every month, and were told every month that the account would be closed and the debits would stop. For almost eight months we repeated this scenario, and found new charges the following month.
    We ended up sending a nasty letter to ADT, a copy of which went to our bank and an attorney, ordering them to switch off the service and stop charging us. We also told the branch manager in person how upset we were that our bank had been permitting a company to fraudulently debit our account, and informed him that if it continued we would take both the company and the bank to court.
    The following month, surprise, surprise, we saw that the eight months worth of payments had been refunded to us, and there were no more charges from ADT.
    Thank goodness we are now in a different town, using a different bank, and will never need to deal with ADT again.