Answering the door knockers

SSN Staff  - 
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The issue of door knockers goes well beyond the security industry to other businesses that come knocking on people's doors in hopes of selling them their wares. Many of those that answer are women home alone or senior citizens, both vulnerable to being scammed or at the worst, robbed and even molested. As an industry devoted to security and life safety, we have an even greater responsibility to the public to deal with this issue.

Not being a lawyer, I'm not sure that we can prohibit sales people from coming to a person's house. Even if we could, forbidding door-to-door sales does not resolve the issue and only puts a band-aid on the problem rather than removing the cancer. One answer might be a law such as the "Do not call list" that protects people from unwanted telephone solicitations.

But the bottom line is that the tarnished reputation of the alarm industry and the danger to consumers means that we need to be proactive immediately. David Bleisch, chief legal officer for ADT, and some others have called for an industry code of ethics that would spell out guidelines for door-to-door salespeople. Mitch Clarke from Monitronics added that the challenge will be "working out compliance and enforcement."

It's a great idea. Fortunately, our industry already has a Code of Ethics and enforcement rules already in place that will deal with this issue and offers other guidelines as well: IQ Certification.

In order to earn IQ Certification, alarm companies must commit to a training and approval process, a Code of Ethics, a series of guidelines on how to sell, design, install and monitor security systems. To earn re-certification they must demonstrate annually to the IQ Board that they are in compliance with all guidelines. 

While the IQ program does not specifically address door knockers, the standards for ethics are already written and we already have a Board made up of security, law enforcement, fire, state regulatory and insurance industry representatives. Following are some bullet points from the IQ Code of Ethics:

* We will further the public interest by contributing to the development of a better understanding and use of the capacities, abilities and technical skills of the electronic security and life safety industry and by accepting our responsibilities to the communities within which we live and work.

* We will always be mindful of the trust placed in us by our customers and of our responsibility to render services at the highest level of quality.

* We will ensure that all of our employees are carefully oriented so that they will clearly understand company operations, policies and procedures and their relationship with subscriber companies and employees.

* We will respect the reputation and practice of other firms in the electronic security and life safety industry, but we will expose, without hesitation, conduct which may be unethical to the proper IQ Certification Board authority.

Non-compliant companies have had their IQ Certification revoked. That is important because like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the IQ Certification Program gives consumers a way to identify quality alarm companies. IQ Certification also serves as a way for the public safety community to recommend companies to consumers.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of alarm companies have taken advantage of the program. Fortunately, we are progressing. CSAA has recently added IQ standards as a requisite for Five Diamond Installation Certification.

It's time that the security industry does the right thing by following this already established set of best practices to ensure a well-run and ethical company. IQ is a commitment to quality, customer service excellence and the highest level of professionalism.

I call on ADT, Monitronics and all alarm companies, large and small, to become IQ Certified. Then we can work together to develop additional standards that address other issues including door knockers. The IQ Board is now knocking on your door; we ask that you answer this challenge.

Tim Creenan is the owner of Buffalo, New York-based Amherst Alarm and chairperson of the IQ Certification Board, as well as the committee chair for the Elections Committee for NBFAA.