Apx weathers media storm
PROVO, Utah--ApxAlarm executives expect to end the summer with north of 170,000 new accounts sold. That success may come at a price, however. The company's summer-sales model definitely generates large volumes of new accounts, but it has also generated a number of incidents involving Apx sales people that have become fodder for local news outlets.
There have been some legitimate complaints and there are certainly issues to be resolved with what is largely a young and eager sales force, said ApxAlarm COO Alex Dunn. However, much of what makes it into the press is misleading, exaggerated, or just plain wrong, Dunn said.
Take, for example, an August 3 Desert News story that leads with "state agencies across the U.S. have received repeated complaints that [Apx] engages in aggressive and deceitful practices to push their product." This story was the basis of another AP story that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune, which said Apx is "under fire in multiple states after allegations of pushy and deceitful sales tactics."
In fact, complaints have been filed in five states, but many of the issues have been resolved, Dunn said. Reports of Apx backdating a contract in Maryland, for example, continue to be reported elsewhere despite the fact that the reporter who wrote the original story has since reported that Apx proved that the contract in question was not backdated.
In addition, reports have said that Apx received a cease and desist order from the fire marshal in Louisiana. This is true, however, "while the fire marshal's office alleges that it has been doing an investigation of Apx Alarm's accounts for nearly two months ... the fire marshal has not provided the basis for all of the allegations in the cease and desist order," Dunn said.
Looked at one by one, the errors in the news stories are small, but collectively, the number of negative stories damages Apx's reputation, Dunn said.
The company, said Dunn, takes all of these complaints seriously and works hard with sales managers to deal with them quickly and appropriately. For example, following a complaint of sales people crossing a state line selling new systems, Apx is implementing a new procedure in its contact management software whereby salespeople will not be able to sell systems in zip codes where that salesperson is not specifically licensed.
There has also been at least one very positive mention in the press: The company is happy to have recently received J.D. Power and Associates "Outstanding Customer Service Experience" recognition, an honor it just announced Aug. 4. "It's important because it's outside verification by an independent third party of the fact that we really do focus on providing premier customer service," Dunn said.
And no one can argue with the sales numbers, which Dunn expects to reach between 185,000 and 190,000 for 2008. "We're the most proud and happy that 185,000 more families are being protected. That's the service we provide everyday as a security company, saving lives and protecting homes."