The mission of the home security industry is simple: to keep people safe.
And in a year marred by uncertainty, social upheaval, and a public health crisis, the demand for reliable home security has never been greater. Since the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, the home security industry has experienced a major uptick in sales. SimpliSafe CEO Christian Cerda cited a few reasons for this spike, including business owners wanting a way to keep an eye on their closed shops from a safe distance, and family members wanting fast emergency access for elderly loved ones in need.
Market research firm Parks Associates reports that the limited disposable income and heightened concern for loved ones brought on by the pandemic has driven customers toward spending more time at home and searching for more affordable home security systems. These findings have been corroborated by Best Company’s review data, which suggests the pandemic is affecting current and prospective home security customers in two specific ways:
- First is in the heightened concern for personal health, and the degree to which home security technicians are following safety protocols (e.g. physical distancing, wearing PPE like masks and gloves, etc.) when they are visiting customers to either survey their home or install/service their home security systems.
- Second is regarding loss of income and navigating the financial burden associated with professional monitoring — more specifically, company cancellation policies, moving fees, and potential discounts or payment deferrals for affected customers.
The home security industry as a whole represents a complex network of technology manufacturers, monitoring stations, installers, and licensed subcontractors. With so many moving pieces, messages from the top can get lost or misinterpreted. Also, customer reviews are by definition anecdotal; the customer experiences listed below are not meant to imply sweeping industry trends but rather individual experiences. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the coronavirus pandemic has affected some home security customers, and what companies are doing to address their concerns.
Pandemic Safety Protocols
Like most consumer-facing companies, home security providers large and small have issued statements affirming their commitment to keeping their customers safe. Per various press releases, professional installation and monitoring companies refer to the aggressive steps they’re taking to ensure their customers are protected, including personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for installers and technicians, employee health checks, and uninterrupted system support and monitoring.
In most cases, companies are following through on this commitment:
Smith Thompson Home Security | ★★★★★
The technician was in and out in less than an hour. And given the current pandemic, he wore a face mask, [shoe] coverings and kept a safe distance the whole time. I highly recommend Smith Thompson for all of your home security needs. – Paul A Di Leo, Cibolo, TX
Charleston Security Systems | ★★★★★
Leon was on time, very courteous, and installed our security system in a professional manner. He was also sensitive to the covid issue and wore a mask while installing inside our [home]. Great service. Highly recommend. – E Biggers, Charlotte, NC
Guardian Protection | ★★★★★
Our technician was amazing. He was very efficient and answered all of our questions. He was extremely personable and great at his job. He also took great care to follow all the COVID protocols, which we appreciated immensely. He was awesome! – Matthew Hoff, Annapolis, MD
Other companies, however, have some ground to cover — both in their ability to adapt and respond to customers’ needs, as well as follow safety protocols:
Vivint | ★★★★☆
Good product, equipment and service. Fast response and interactions, but slower due to coronavirus – Kenneth, Locust Grove, GA
Fort Knox Security | ★★★☆☆
When I called Fort Knox promised me that all safety precautions will be followed and Technician will come accordingly but, though the installation was good, the technician did not follow the safety precautions like wearing a glove or wearing a mask. We were scared because of COVID – Kishore V, Pflugerville, TX
Door-to-door sales and on-site installation represent a major source of income for these companies. Consequently, equipping sales reps and installation technicians with PPE and respecting physical distancing guidelines should be a no-brainer.
Bending Policies to Aid Customers
The second, and perhaps more pressing concern home security customers and consumers at large are facing is the sometimes drastic reduction in disposable income resulting from job loss, furloughs, and other pandemic-related measures. Per the Parks Associates report, this shift bodes poorly for professional installation companies that attach lengthy contracts and pricey monitoring services to their home security packages; customers are looking for greater financial flexibility, and are more often than not seeking out DIY home security providers that can protect their home without a contract — and often for less money.
Enforcing health and hygiene among employees to protect customers is vital to industry success: selling and installing home security systems, regardless of climate, keeps these companies afloat. But what are home security providers doing to help customers who can no longer afford to pay for their services, or whose paying power is severely diminished? In other words, what, if anything, are these companies doing to keep their customers afloat?
Unfortunately, the stories involving income loss or unexpected moves tend to reflect poorly on certain home security providers:
Vivint | ★☆☆☆☆
Nothing in place to help those dealing with Covid-19 issues. Contract is horrible and does not allow for "special circumstance" as they proclaim. – Christie Rogers, Everett, WA
Brinks Home Security | ★☆☆☆☆
I have to move due to Covid and live temporarily with my sister in another state. And Brinks tells me I will owe them $1900 if I don't transfer the service. I tell them I don't have a house to transfer it to. And they continue to charge me monthly. – Faith Wishnie
Both Vivint and Brinks Home Security responded quickly to these customers' complaints expressing sympathy for their plight as well as inviting them to reach out to customer service; however, neither customer has updated their reviews, so whether they reached an actual resolution with the companies in question remains unclear.
Fort Knox Security | ★☆☆☆☆
COVID caused us to close our business and we were late making payments. They closed our account and billed us for the remaining contract amount. Even sent it to collections. They would not budge on reinstating us even after the past due amount had been paid in full. – C Hayes, Ottawa, ON
Fort Knox Security responded to this review later that same day citing that the customer’s issue was with the “monitoring company, Alert360,” as opposed to Fort Knox, the installation company. Again, with no review update on the customer’s end, whether this complaint was satisfactorily resolved is unknown.
But not all the stories are bad ones. At least in one case, the home security company responded immediately to the customer’s covid-related income loss, and delivered a solution that may have secured his long-term business:
Cove | ★★★★★
I love my system. The order process was amazing. I [chose] the $35 plan and all the equipment was free. Due to covid 19 my income has stopped and they gave me the last 2 months free. They have an incredible staff. – Ryan Hawley, Grants Pass, OR
Easing the financial burden for all customers negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic may not be tenable for all home security providers; many companies are already struggling from the loss of new business. But home security companies large and small should view these customer experiences as opportunities to improve how they do business. Yes, continue protecting the health and well-being customers and employees alike. Yes, maintain fast response times to customer questions and complaints. And yes, reexamine how contracts are drawn up, and actively explore ways to create goodwill for customers in need.