Nobody Wins When You Play ETF Chicken With ADT

UPDATE: Matthew won. When Matthew signed up for home alarm system service from ADT, he was promised that he would have no problem moving his service to a new home when he moved. So he signed a two-year contract. No problem! Until at his new home, he had to deal with a new salesman. One who insisted that he would need all new equipment (of course) at the new place even though what he had at his old place is almost new. Months later, he’s playing chicken with ADT. If he stops paying his bill, he’ll be hit with an early termination fee and have to pay for the equipment. If ADT lets him install his existing equipment and actually use the service he’s paying for, the salesman will look weak or something. Nobody can win this game.

You would think it is just as easy as 1-2-3…but now 6 months later ADT has “dropped the ball”. I am a small business owner that works from home, and love some all american home monitoring peace of mind. As a Consumer Reports junkie, I sure did my shopping around and never really liked the 2 year contracts that seem to come standard with most systems. But there it was dangling right in my mailbox, a flyer that had the answers to all my problems, a moving rebate. I would have never signed on the dotted line if it weren’t for reassurance from the salesman that the moving rebate was my answer to my planned relocation.

One month before the move, I make the call and met a new salesman at my new residence in the same area some 4 miles away. You would think we would be pow-wowing about where to put the still shiny equipment in the new place, but I am bombarded with upsells and new two year contracts (I needed a new 2 year contract so that he could beg his managers to keep me for another two years and force me to buy new equipment for I would be violating my contract by moving and claiming the moving rebate as written in my contract).

I insisted that even though my new place was larger, I wanted to just keep the same equipment and just add on sensors as needed. The salesman began giving me financial advice, telling me that if I didn’t give ADT my social security number I could most likely cancel my credit card and jump ship with my now useless pile of $600 security equipment. I may be rounding up, but that is still a big financial win for ADT.

I remain persistent/resistant/give-me-my-rebate. The salesman tells me he will have to check with his manager whether or not he could redeem the rebate in my contract. Since then the salesman can never seem to get a hold of his manager, or figure out what to do with me. Each time I called, he said his manager was sick, out of town (I begin to wonder if he is working for Waldo). The day before I hand my keys in to my old residence I call again to see what they are going to do with my equipment, the salesman tells me to take it down myself. Really? What is the point of having a rebate if I never get to use it?

So I take it down…three months go by and I call only to play phone tag with the regional, then local office trying to reach someone who can help me. Everyone person I talk to knows about the rebate, wants to hand me money over the phone, but the salesman that I got lampooned by keeps drawing blanks (keep in mind I got the wireless system that is so easy to set up, most of it is just hot glue gunned to the walls and door frames). And I don’t want money as much as the system installed at this point.

After I call in to complain they have the same guy call me back! I can’t believe it! The first words out of his mouth are, “Hey Matt, I guess I dropped the ball here we need to go back to square one…” I hang up. No way did they just have the guy who has cost me now $150 in monthly fees (which he can’t seem to figure out how to refund), and $600 in equipment chilling in storage! So far only upsells, no rebate. He calls again the next day…I say,”Look salesman, there is no ball, there is no square one, I am done…I have had enough.” I then go on to tell him that the next person I talk to should be his manager, *click*. Three more months go by.

Now we are just playing chicken…by the contract if I fail to pay, they can void my contract and make me pay up in god knows how many fees. But I don’t fit into any of their reasons for dropping, not even, “it is too expensive to keep your equipment up” because my stuff is brand new and wasn’t faulty. Here I am, charged through the wazoo, making payments, getting no service and ironic letters in the mail telling me my equipment isn’t sending a signal. So I call in and demand to speak to a manager, and I get his voice mail…I name names, and let him know I
am not happy.

So here I am, 6 months later with $300 in service charges, $600 dollars of equipment in storage, and a “Moving Rebate” that I can’t seem to claim. Sad day for a very unhappy ADT customer :/

Avoid dealing with the salesman as much as possible. Since this involves a contract and the company completely ignoring that contract, Matt should consider contacting his state attorney general’s consumer division. Or, as some commenters suggested, filing in small claims court for the rebate.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Robert Nagel says:

    File a claim in small claims court for the fees you have paid since you put them on alert that you were moving. File for the rebate also. That will get their attention in a hurry.
    By the way, when they agree to do all that is in your contract advise them that you will also expect them to pay the small claims court fees. If they refuse tell them that you will have to proceed with the suit and get a judgement which will include the fees. don’t worry about explaining anything to them they are well aware of all the rules including the “loser pays” aspect of small claims court.

    • Difdi says:

      Except when the loser doesn’t pay. Don’t assume your state laws are universal.

    • ADTSecurity says:

      At ADT we are committed to exceeding customer expectations and I am sure there has been a misunderstanding in this case. If Matt e-mails me his contact information I will reach out to him and resolve the issues he is dealing with. I can be reached at Thanks!

      • MuleHeadJoe says:

        What, for realz? Like, some guy from the actual company being disparaged in a Consumerist article ACTUALLY joins up, logs in, responds, and seeks to resolve the issue amicably?

        Has this happened before? This particular question (unlike the preceeding) is completely non-sarcastic as I’ve not been a regular here for very long.

        So, ADT guy, if you are forrealz, I’ll just add this so you can log it and remember it for future customers: I was an ADT customer in California about 10 years ago. I signed on for the 2 year contract only because there was no shorter contract available. I served my time, and at 2 years plus a couple days I called ADT to cancel my service. I was told by the CR rep that I had to pay 2 months service to cancel — the service wouldn’t actually stop until that 60 day mark, but that’s not the point — the point is that I know that the CR rep lied and/or was scamming me. I only suspected it then, I know it for a fact now. When a contract ends, it ends. There was never any part of any contract that I signed that required a 60 day notice of termination. I hope to god none of your contractors / business associates / employees pull this stunt on customers nowadays. But that experience left a bad-enough taste in my mouth that I will never again use ADT services, nor recommend your company to anybody anywhere.

        Hope you guys clean up your act … you might retain some customers even tho you lost me.

  2. Black Bellamy says:

    So Matthew waited how many months until he decided to speak to the manager?

    • Coffee says:

      He was dealing with a salesman who sounds like a lying con artist…I’m sure that the assurances that he received seemed genuine at the time, and that he was strung along for quite a while.

    • LadyTL says:

      None because if you had read the article he had been trying from the beginning to talk to one.

  3. pyrosf says:

    You can pay money to an escrow account that you would have paid ADT as an act of good faith and to protect yourself.

  4. Delicious Spam is delicious says:

    set it off every 5 minutes. its obviously defective.

  5. theSillyGirl says:

    I sympathize with problems with ADT. When I signed up with them, the salesman told me I had 6 months to change my mind & be able to leave my contract with no penalty. Barely 1 month in, I decide it’s not going to work for me. I call in & they tell me I misunderstood & that I’d only had 3 days to change my mind. Wasn’t able to resolve anything until I filed for bankruptcy.

  6. sock says:

    ADT is rather scammy that way. Because of multiple burglaries (one while ADT was installed) I really need to have a security system. They added (at my insistence) multiple new window sensors after the most recent burglary, at no overt cost to me. This triggered another contract period, which I never signed for and I could dispute because ADT is partly to blame for the burglary. I haven’t yet…I hate dealing with them. The contract period ends in September and I’m going to switch to another security company.

  7. PragmaticGuy says:

    Seems like lots of alarm companies are scummy. I had a system in my old house and the phone company changed the area code of the number the alarm company used for the call when the system went off. I couldn’t change it myself on the keypad because that part of the instructions was conveniently left out. But the alarm company wouldn’t do it for free either and there would have been an $80 charge to have it done. I lived in a low crime area and just ended up shutting the system off. Had no contract because it was about six years in and I had paid for everything with no discounts. Back in 1987 it ran about $1200 but it was only $150 a year for the monitoring.

  8. Difdi says:

    If ADT is charging a fee for service but not providing any, then ADT is the one that has breached the contract. No ETF.

    It might even be unjust enrichment, which you can sue them for and reasonably expect to win. Many companies will terminate any business relationship with anyone who sues them, which would also get you out of the contract.

  9. dush says:

    The guy who tries to break in is the same guy who comes around the next day selling security systems.

  10. MBZ321 says:

    Just buy fake ADT (or other big-name security company) stickers….about as effective as a security system, and you only have to pay maybe $40, one-time.

  11. MyaCaRdia says:

    Cut your losses and just cancel the service. They will transfer you to one of their “retention specialist” who is authorized to cut just about any deal to keep you as a customer. I got two months free service from them going that route.

  12. quail20 says:

    Security systems are the biggest rip-off. Always have been for the average guy.

    Did see online (or was it late night TV?) a company that sells you all of the wireless monitoring equipment. You then install it and plug a cell phone SIM card into the base unit. The system will dial the police if there’s a break in or it will dial the fire department if a smoke detector goes off. Curious as to how well that would work.

  13. bben says:

    Most ADT branches are franchises. ADT doesn’t actually sell anything but contracts. The local franchise installs the system, collects the up front installation fee (either from you or from ADT) then turns the contract over to ADT.

    They are deathly afraid of small claims court (at least in my area) because of their shady business practices.

    If you can get out of that contract, call a small local installer – make sure they don’t sell your contract but keep it themselves. (many sell them) I was the owner of one of those smaller security companies at one time. I farmed out the monitoring to an independent monitoring company, but kept all of my contracts. You paid me. I paid the monitoring company and made my money from the quantity discount.

  14. ADTSecurity says:

    Greetings Laura, At ADT we are committed to exceeding customer expectations and I am sure there has been a misunderstanding in this case. If you can please have Matt e-mail me his contact information I will reach out to him and resolve the issues he is dealing with. I can be reached at Thanks for the chance to assist!

  15. dragonwerx says:

    If you are in the Melbourne, FL area, use Detect Alert.

  16. Pete & Repeat says:

    I am starting to put “ADT” in the same mental space as “Sears”.

    Just pay the contract until it is up, sell the equipment on (purchased not leased, right?) craigslist for whatever you can get. Buy a puppy (or two)! Dogs love you, you love them, and they have far better “early detection systems” than electronics. They bark when the bad guys show up and either alert you (allowing you time to load your gun) or they scare the bad guys off. They require monthly upkeep costs also but are so much nicer have around the house. Granted the 20 year contract is a commitment but you never have to deal with a salesman again. (WIN!)

    • MuleHeadJoe says:

      Dogs have to be trained right to be effective ‘early warning systems’. No, I don’t mean full blown attack / guard dog training, but you have to know how to teach them when & where it’s okay to bark.

      Couple years ago, my neighbor in our neat little suburban community (generally ~1500 sf houses on less than an 8th acre plot — meaning not huge houses and pretty close to eachother) had 2 dogs (one adult, one puppy). The dogs were being crate-trained, and slept in their boxes on the back patio at night. They were trained to *not* bark when boxed. Middle of the night one week, some freakjob creeps into the back yard, takes the small box with puppy inside, chucks it into the swimming pool. Scumbag attempted to do same with adult dog, but the crate broke as he was dragging it to the pool … neither dog made a frickin noise because, like I said, they were boxed and trained to never bark while boxed. The breaking of the #2 box woke up the resident, who flipped on the porch lights scaring off the bad guy. The puppy drowned before it was discovered. The family resident there (2 small kids plus parents) were scared shitless and emotionally devastated by this despicable crime.

      Moral of the story? Hellifino. I guess maybe “don’t box your dogs at night” or at least “don’t box your dogs outside at night”. Would a commercial monitoring service have done them any good? I can’t see how. The fricking wind, cats, squirrels, dog taking a piss … anything like that would result in untold false alarms, and in this state, you can get criminal charges plus fines by the local LEA for false alarms.

  17. elkhart007 says:

    Moral of the story is ADT is crap. Use Alarm Relay. With ADT you’re just paying all these middlemens’ salary.

    ADT tried to hard sell me twice after I bought my house, I finally told the 2nd salesman I inteded to use Alarm Relay since the house came with a system, they then said I needed a newer system that included an intercom so I could talk to the EMTs or firemen. I said really? I live 1 mile from the ambulance and fire station, you hear them coming before you’re off the phone. ADT isn’t allowed back at my house now as the salesman became less than professional and I told him to get off my lawn.