By the Stars: What Content Analysis Reveals About Home Security Reviews

home security stars

Of the nearly 21,000 verified home security reviews posted to Best Company between January 2017 and February 2021, approximately 15.99 percent were one-star reviews; 4.85 were two stars; 7.40 percent were three stars; 18.37 percent were four stars; and 53.40 percent were five stars.

While this breakdown may reveal only a superficial glance at the overall home security customer experience, analyzing the content of the reviews themselves unearths some very important motivations of customers who leave a given star rating.

1-star reviews: False alarms and lengthy contracts

one star word cloud

More than 3,000 home security customers left a one-star review for their respective provider — though a significant portion of them wished they could “give zero stars,” or even negative stars if they could. And they expressed their discontent in a number of ways: “This is the worst company I have ever had to deal with.” “Do not sign a contract with this company.” “I would not recommend this company to anyone.”

But once you look past the hyperbole and extreme rhetoric, you get to some of the real, tangible reasons why customers rated these companies so poorly, and the reasons fall into three main buckets:

“Goes off in the middle of the night.”

One of the most frequent home security complaints among the one-star reviews is the alarm system going off “in the middle of the night,” and often for no reason:

★☆☆☆☆

“Three times now, in the middle of the night, the alarm goes off. It is terrifying being woken up to a blaring alarm.”

“The door sensors were going off in the middle of the night and we had NOT even placed them yet.”

“Since I ordered [the system], the alarm system pad on the bedroom wall continues to chirp (beep) randomly ... usually in the middle of the night.”

 

Home security systems can go off in the middle of the night for numerous reasons: low battery on system components, signal interruption, defective equipment, or improper installation. But false alarms alone are not the reason for the one-star review; it’s the lack of company support following the false alarm. 

Some customers complained they were unable to speak to a human customer service representative after a false alarm, while others were relegated to exchanging emails with the company without coming to a swift resolution.

Takeaway: For the reasons mentioned above, some false alarms are unavoidable; but home security customers can prevent alarms from going off in the middle of the night by taking the following precautions:


  1. Opt for a professionally installed system
  2. Test the system regularly (e.g. check the batteries and connection points)
  3. Look for systems with a simple arm/disarm feature
  4. Choose a company with accessible, responsive customer service

“I am stuck in a five-year contract.”

The other chief complaint among the one-star group revolves around the lengthy contracts offered by some home security providers:

★☆☆☆☆

“I have had trouble since the start up of my service. Can't get a hold of original people who set it up. Hard talking to customer service. You get transfered multiple times and have to explain each time. Can't cancel cause you are stuck with the contract.”

“We were not told we were signing up for 5 years as we never would have done that with a new system. We moved a year later after giving up on their system after multiple repairs that never repaired the system. So we are stuck with 4 years of paying for a system we no longer own.”

“The bottom line is that I was told I signed a 5 year contract (which a contract never was talked about).”

“[The company] sent the contract over, we signed it (should have read it better I guess), and now a year later when I try to cancel I am being told we are locked into a 3 year contract.”

 

The prevailing sentiment of these one-star reviews is the feeling that the customer was deceived into signing a long-term home security contract that was not overtly discussed during the initial sales pitch. Long home security contracts are often accompanied by lower monthly rates or low upfront costs.

Takeaway: As cliche as it may sound, read the fine print. Don’t let low monthly monitoring fees or free equipment be the main reason you sign a home security contract. Before signing, ask the home security representative directly about the terms and length of the contract being offered. You may discover the company wants to sign you to a five-year contract, or maybe the company has more flexible terms like a month-to-month system; in either case, you won’t know for certain unless you ask.

“I have been trying to cancel my service.”

Secondary to the contract issues many home security customers face, is a home security provider’s inflexible cancellation policy. Roughly a third of one-star reviews (approximately 1,000 reviews) mention issues with canceling their home security services:

★☆☆☆☆

“No written notice after you cancel so you have to take their word that the contract truly has been cancelled. Had to keep calling them every other week for 3 months to get out of it and money refunded.”

“In order to cancel my account [the company] has to email me a form which I have to complete and return. Then the service will be canceled in 1-2 weeks.”

“They email you a form but you have to physically mail it back to them. And THEN it takes 60 days.”

“Apparently, in order to cancel the account, you have to ask to be transferred to their "Customer Loyalty Department" and request that they email you a form.“

 

The consensus among one-star reviewers is that home security companies intentionally make the cancellation process difficult; in short, they often describe the home security company’s cancellation policy as the following:

  • Unclear — terms of cancellation are not easy to find on the service contract, company website, or through customer service.
  • Complicated — cancellation often involved multiple phone calls and redirects to different departments, and physical forms that must be mailed.
  • Time-Consuming — cancellation may take several days or even weeks to be fulfilled, and only if proper protocol is followed.
  • Unreliable — automatic payments may still be withdrawn during the cancellation period, and if the right department is not notified, they may continue indefinitely.

Takeaway: Most home security companies offer some type of money-back guarantee for new customers that come with a 30-day no-risk window. While this may not be enough time for some customers to truly test the capabilities (and limitations) of their systems, it is the best time to cancel if the company isn’t a good fit. Otherwise, the customer will find himself committed to seeing the contract through (or paying expensive fees for early termination).

2-star reviews: Hours on hold

two star word cloud

While the one-star review acts as the repository for all the anger and vitriol a customer can possibly direct at a given establishment, the two-star review is often more measured, but just as damning as their one-star counterparts. Most two-star reviewers tend to acknowledge some positive attributes about the company, but find themselves unable to look past the glaring flaws that led them to leave a review in the first place (e.g., “the equipment is good, but the service is bad.”). And although fewer home security customers left a two-star rating than a one-star rating, the content of their reviews revealed some important trends:

“I have spent hours on the phone.”

More than 100 two-star reviewers mentioned troubles with contacting customer service over the phone either reach tech support or ask a policy question:

★★☆☆☆

“3 hours on the phone and still not working right.”

“Not great. It has taken 7 tech visits and over 10 hours on the phone in 6 months to finally get everything set up properly.”

“Customer service is unresponsive. Calling for technical support gets you hold music for about 10 minutes, then the phone will ring once before disconnecting you.”

 

Customer service remains one of the most important assets of any retail industry, home security included. A recent article by Hubspot identified customer service as the deciding factor for 73 percent of customers when it comes to brand loyalty. The article also mentions the need for businesses to move in an omnichannel direction by providing multiple ways for customers to contact them (e.g. phone and video calls, live chat, and social media).

Takeaway: Before choosing a home security provider, determine what contact channels are available for customers. Most companies offer a general customer service hotline or email address; but the ones that truly champion responsive customer service provide more options.

3-star reviews: Sales? Great! Follow-through? Meh.

three star word cloud

Three-star reviewers are an interesting group because the three-star rating is subject to the widest variance in interpretation. For example, one three-star review describes the company as “Very good. Quick efficient service. There when I need them,” while another three-star review for the same company attests that the “sales and installation was horrible and deceiving.” But the majority of three-star reviews express lukewarm feelings toward the companies, calling various stages of the sales, installation, and monitoring process as simply “okay,” “alright,” or even “mediocre.”

“My doorbell camera works maybe half the time.”

Three-star reviewers, in general, seem to appreciate various aspects of the home security experience; many laud the sales team for being friendly and customer service for being helpful; however, a significant portion of three-star reviews identify issues with the equipment itself:

★★★☆☆

“It's ok. Often the doors don't sensor. Sometimes the app doesn't work. Overall it's ok.”

“ok...not great. Always have issues with connection and the cameras and doorbell have connectivity problems whenever i connect.”

“I love the doorbell camera but it seems as if it has a delay. People will be knocking at my door before it notifies me.”

“Sales team was really good. Install team was okay at best. Left a mess and some of the equipment that was installed like the door sensors fell out. Had to reinstall them.”

 

“They could have better follow-up.”

Other customers complained about poor follow-through:

★★★☆☆

“Good so far, but I think the follow up after the sale has been sub standard. No one called to follow up on product performance.”

“Customer support is very friendly when you call them but they don't have any follow up. I don't like the long service contracts, it isn't anything you can't purchase in a big bow store.”

 

Takeaway: No home security company is perfect, neither is the equipment they sell; that said, companies need to deliver on the customer expectations they themselves set up — and provide solutions whenever they fall short. Several three-star customers complained that companies did not provide adequate support or follow-through post-installation. As you compare home security companies, try to find out which ones are the best at responding to issues quickly.

4-star reviews: Suggestions, not complaints

four star word cloud

Four-star reviewers generally approve of the home security companies they do business with — with minor caveats. The group is second only to five-star reviews in terms of volume (almost 4,000 strong), and represent one of the most informative groups for the home security industry because unlike the one- and two-star reviewers, most four-star reviewers are offering suggestions rather than complaints.

“I like this security system, except . . .”

Not surprisingly, four-star reviewers have good things to say about their home security provider; but many reviews offer specific ways in which the security system (or company at large) could be improved:

★★★★☆

“I like this security system except that when I want to view a video for a specific time of day it does not allow me to do that.”

“Service has been good. However, I feel it is unnecessary to purchase the hardware on a line of credit. I felt I was misled but by then it was too late.”

“Our experience has been good for the most part except for the fact it took 4 months to finally receive an email statement of how much our bill is.”

“All is good except I don't get an email or text when there is an upgrade.”

 

Takeaway: You can have a positive experience with a home security company and still recommend suggestions to improve the company’s service or products. As online reviews become more and more important to businesses, home security companies are developing a vested interest in gaining as many five-star reviews as possible. Verified four-star reviews highlighting specific, solvable issues can be an effective way for the company to make its products and services better for everyone.

5-star reviews: The simple things

five star word cloud

More than half the home security reviews posted to Best Company gave companies a five-star rating. The main reasons? Cheap prices? Fancy new equipment? While those factors definitely resonate with all home security customers regardless of star rating, the main reasons customers give home security companies a five-star rating include responsive customer service, and easy-to-use security systems.

“The system is easy to use.”

It may seem like an over-simplification, but making a home security system easy to navigate is one of the most effective ways for providers to secure customer loyalty:

★★★★★

“Great company. Friendly salesman. The system is easy to use. I love that I can arm my house from anywhere.”

“It's been very good so far. Installation in two hours and easy to use and understand. Also, the company is receptive to inquiry and approachable.”

“Super customizable and easy to use! I love that I can use the phone app to check on my cameras.”

 

“Great customer service!”

As mentioned before, excellent customer service should be at the forefront of every home security company’s mission statement:

★★★★★

“The best thing is the customer service. They have been very responsive and have taken their time to make sure I have been satisfied rather than just trying to get me off the phone.”

“Fast customer service, and incredibly innovative products that are easy to use.”

“Excellent customer service has been extremely helpful, courteous, and unbelievably good.”

 

Takeaway: At this point, home security shouldn’t be complicated. Neither should getting a hold of customer service be. As home security and home automation technology becomes increasingly intuitive, homeowners should feel confident enough to navigate their way around their security systems without much trouble. And when they have questions, they should expect their customer service representatives and home security technicians to provide helpful, specific answers.

No two home security companies are the same (that’s why we rank them), and some security providers are so large, that two customers of the same company can have completely different experiences from one another. But based on the reviews, customers searching for the best home security company for them should look for the following qualities:

  1. Knowledgeable staff that can explain the home security system in simple terms
  2. Intuitive home security technology that anyone can learn to use
  3. Transparent contract and policy terms, especially cancellation and moving policies
  4. A listening ear that applies customer suggestions to create a better product

 

To find the best home security company in your state, visit our home security home page!

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