The Sales Pitch Needs A Little Polishing

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:32 pm

A couple of days ago a guy showed up at our doorstep peddling burglar alarms. Now, right off the bat this got my hackles up. It sounds like exactly the sort of thing that shows up in a local news channel’s “Consumer Alert!” section just before the highlights of last night’s ball game: “The criminals targeted homes in the South Seattle neighborhood of Normandy Park, going door to door posing as sales reps for a national home security company, while secretly casing the properties for valuables and gathering information regarding the homeowners’ current alarm systems.”

So before this guy completed his second sentence I was ready to grab the nightstick from behind the door and ram it into his solar plexus. Fortunately my frontal lobe prevailed over my limbic node and I let him get further into his spiel—though no further into my house than the front door.

Mario (as he introduced himself) worked for 1st Defense Security, a division of Monitronics (a division of GE [probably a division of AOL/Time Warner/Altria/Halliburton, by this time]), and was pushing a promotion to try to get us to move over from our current alarm system to theirs. Some of what he had to say was fairly interesting: 1st Defense uses a GSM data connection instead of phone lines to carry information, which means that an intruder can’t obstruct the alarm process by taking the phone off the hook. And 1st Defense’s sensors are wireless, which means that more areas can be covered with less huhu than with wired systems. So his pitch had some meat hanging off it.

Things got a bit gristly after that, though. First of all, he really tried to slither up on the fact that he was trying to sell me a new alarm system with a new company. He made a lot of oblique references to 1st Defense’s parent company GE, saying things like, “We make the components for [our current alarm company]’s system”, and “We’re here to offer you an upgrade to all of your equipment, free of charge”. Insinuating that this would be an augmentation of our current system rather than a transition to a completely different one. (To his credit, when asked point-blank, he freely admitted that this would be new equipment under a new contract with a new company, but he would have been perfectly happy to let me make the wrong inference if I chose to do so.)

Far harder to chew on was one of the new system’s other “features” he touted most proudly: hands-free two-way voice communication. With our current alarm, once it goes into full “oh shit!” mode, the company calls our home number and asks whoever answers for the security code phrase. If no one answers, they try the alternate numbers. If no one answers the alternates, they call the police or fire department, depending on the kind of alarm. 1st Security’s system includes speaker/microphone arrays in each “zone” of the house (not quite sure how the whole “zoning” thing works, wasn’t interested enough to delve deeper). When an alarm sounds, an operator can instantly connect to the house system and talk/listen to whomever is there over the GSM data connection, without the use of a telephone.

Allow me to reiterate: the company comes and installs wireless two-way listening devices throughout your home, in order to make you more secure. ❗

Now, I’m sure that there are numerous safeguards in place to keep 1st Defense Security employees from eavesdropping on clients while they’re having sex or divvying up the kilos of buds they harvested from their underground grow rooms. And of course, the people who staff their monitoring centers are doubtless rigorously screened for any voyeuristic or criminal tendencies. That’s as may be, but I still don’t feel like waving the temptation under their noses by buying into this “feature”.

And as if my trepidation weren’t pronounced enough, something Mario said during the initial spiel—another one of those data points meant to establish the company’s bona fides as a true player in the home-security game—fell into place in my paranoid fantasy with an audible “clang”. While listing some of the many prominent clients who entrusted their security to 1st Defense, he mentioned, “and we’ve done extensive work with the Department of Homeland Security!”

Hmm, let’s run over this again, shall we?

A security company.

That works closely with the Department of Homeland Security.

Wants to come into my house and install listening devices.


Needless to say, I don’t think we’ll be availing ourselves of 1st Defense’s services any time soon. Sorry Mario.

I still have his business card on my desk, but that’s because I’m afraid that if I toss it out, it will crawl out of the recycling bin and find its way back to the 1st Defense’s central office, where DHS operatives will use it to harvest my fingerprints. 😯

4 Responses to “The Sales Pitch Needs A Little Polishing”

  1. Scot Says:

    Are you sure that they don’t already have your fingerprints on file? 😈

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Depends, which set? Oops

  3. Steve Says:

    That reminds me… next time we get together, I need to tell you what I’ve learned about Hitwise while working at my internet marketing company. It was enough to make me go out and buy a brand new tinfoil hat.

  4. Uncle Andrew Says:

    That reminds me

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