Don't Let A Salesperson Tell You What The Contract Says: Read It

Joy comes to us with a cautionary tale. Don’t let pushy salespeople talk you into signing a contract that you haven’t read. Rushing you through signing a contract is a sign of possible trouble ahead. She learned this when she had the ADT alarm system already installed in her house switched on. The salesperson rushed her through a lengthy contract, telling her what each part supposedly said and claiming that she could totally cancel within thirty days without having to pay any kind of early termination fee. Spoiler alert: this was not actually true.

She writes:

I am writing to warn your readers about ADT home security systems as well as seek advice about how to handle my own situation. I signed up with ADT a while back. A representative came to my house to set up the system and have me sign a contract. The monitoring equipment was in place from the previous home owner. We needed to sign the service contract and were somewhat apprehensive because it was long and detailed and the representative did not give us a chance to read it, instead pointing to the various sections of text saying things like, “this says that if there’s a false alarm, you’re subject to a fee …”

As he was explaining the agreement to us, I asked if this was a long term contract. My husband and I were both in transitional times with work and knew moving wasn’t out of the question. The representative assured us that we were under no obligation and that we could cancel at any time without penalty. He said it takes about 30 days for the service to be discontinued and we’d probably end up paying for one more month of service than we needed if we didn’t cancel in time.

Turns out, we did need to move last month. Late last week, I called ADT to cancel. To my astonishment, the ADT operator told me I would be billed for almost $1,000–75 percent of my remaining multi-year contract. I couldn’t believe it. I told her I did not sign a multiyear contact and she assured me that I did. I googled this issue and saw that this seems to a common practice with ADT representatives. They come to your home and flat-out lie about the contents on the contract. Googling “ADT lied” turns up this story over and over again.

I found contact information for various people in ADT and sent them a letter describing what had happened and asked them to resolve it by honoring what their employ told us. I was contacted by [redacted] who said he’s look into the matter over the weekend. Today he calls me back and said he’s reviewed our case and ADT is not willing to honor the word of their representative. In fact, he pointed out that the contract itself states that the contract overrides anything that might have been said before the contract was signed. It’s almost as if the contract was written knowing that the content of representatives’ sales pitch was going to conflict with what is actually in the agreement.

I realize I should have gotten out the magnifying glass, made the ADT representative a sandwhich, and asked him to hold on and be quite for an hour while I read the agreement line by line. Not doing that was not a good idea. But we were under not-so-subtle pressure to just sign the thing and trust that we were being told the truth about what we were signing. What I did was not circumspect, but what ADT has done was calculated, willfully deceptive and grossly unethical.

If you or your readers have any advice for me in this matter, I would really appreciate it. If not I just want to urge everyone to read everything they sign in detail and never trust anyone when they seem to be explaining what you are signing. We are asked to read and sign so much, from web site terms of service to facebook privacy settings to cell phone agreements it’s too easy to let your guard down just long enough for a corporation to take advantage of you. And finally, I’d like to urge anyone who needs a security system to go with a company other than ADT because their business practices are extremely shady.

Check with your state’s attorney general just to be sure, but it sounds like the contract is specifically designed to prevent refunds under these circumstances. Just because something is legal, that doesn’t mean it isn’t obnoxious.

It’s not unheard of for ADT reps to flat-out lie in order to get you to sign up. See these vintage Consumerist posts:

ADT: Sign Up Or Thieves Will Kill Your Dogs With Oven Cleaner
Police Reports Contradict ADT Rep’s Warnings Of Local Break-Ins