Bringing it all back home

Friday, June 1, 2007

Well, it finally happened: One of my good friends, a newly married couple, purchased a home security system (though they didn't consult me). I'd been waiting for this to happen so I could ask rude and overly personal questions about their decision and thereby get some real insight into the residential market.
Traditionally, not very many people here in Maine have had alarms systems because the crime rate has been so low, but, as in many rural states, drug addiction has led to an increase in home robberies, in particular. Recently, Mark and Morgan had a robbery, where somebody, likely a heroin or methamphetamine addict, broke in through their front door, grabbed a laptop and iPod, and scooted. As you might imagine, this got them thinking about all the other valuables they owned (Morgan is a jewelry maker), and they started investigating home security systems.
Mark told me he wanted to support the "local guy." So which company did he choose? Protection One, of course. It just so happens that Pro One just opened a new sales office here in the sprawling metropolis of Portland, Maine. It's got a nice high profile on Riverside Ave., near the golf course and the Joker's where people take their kids to play when it's rainy. In the process, they won a contract from my buddy Mark.
He and Morgan said they considered true locals Cunningham Alarm, but were scared off by the initial installation price, which they said was more than $1,000, compared with around $300 for Pro One. Even for affluent couples living in the 'burbs with no kids, up-front price matters, and thus so does having the size to be able to comfortably finance growth and new contracts.
Mark and Morgan have cats, so they went with the pet-sensitive motion detection, but they've got an old house, so they turned down sensors on the windows, as they were worried the wind would rattle them and cause false alarms (though Portland doesn't have an alarm ordinance). Just five nights after getting the system installed, the couple was awakened at 3 a.m. by the 150 db alarm sounding through the house. Mark jumped up, grabbed a baseball bat (yes, really) and headed downstairs. He found the front door ajar. He can't remember if he locked it or not, but when Protection One's operator called to see if he was okay, he told him it was his own fault.
Even so, "I just feel so much safer now," Morgan told me, with an air of the converted. "I always used to think about all our stuff at home when we went away. Now I don't worry about it anymore."