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Kwikset gets an A (from me)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Kudos to Kwikset, a door lock manufacturer and division of Black & Decker, which yesterday put out a study about homeowners' behavior and attitudes toward home security. I liked this study before I even read it because I noticed that it includes information about methodology. Here is the paragraph I love to see when someone sends me a study:
1 Telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,001 adults living in private households in the continental United States by CARAVAN®. Survey was completed during the period July 23-26, 2009. Margin of error +/- 3%.
This is good! And it's important. It gives the study instant credibility. Think about this the next time you want to put out a study, OK? And about the company and the content of the study: Black & Decker entered the security market last spring offering a new line of door locks that can be integrated into a security system. Here's a story I wrote about that. Seems like a smart and logical move. Black & Decker debuted their products at ISC West. This study appears to be new angle to get folks at ASIS to notice the product. The study says that most homeowners say security is important to them, but they're not "controlling access" to their homes. Almost half are not re-keying or changing their locks when they move into a new house. They're lending out the keys they have (and that former owners still have.) They've also got entries with different keys. (Now I know from the methodology that those surveyed do not all live on the coast of Maine, but I have substantial anecdotal evidence that the findings of this report are true, at least in small town New England. Here are the findings of my survey of the editors of SSN: Dan has keys, but doesn't lock his doors. I have a key to my house--it was given to us by the former owner. And, I know exactly where it is--on the floor of my unlocked car with the rest of my keys. Then there's Sam--he says he doesn't even have a key to his house.) But I digress... here's the release:
Kwikset® Study Reveals American Homeowners Are Living with Compromised Home Security National Survey Finds that Nearly Half of All Homeowners Did Not Change or Re-key Locks at Move-In LAKE FOREST, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nearly half of all American homeowners fall short when it comes to maintaining the security of their home, according to the findings of an American Security Study1 (July 2009), conducted by Kwikset®, the leader in innovative residential door hardware. Released today, the study revealed that an alarming 47 percent of homeowners did not change or re-key the locks to their home when they first moved in, and nearly one-third have never changed their locks or had them re-keyed at any point since moving in. This is despite the fact that more than half of homeowners surveyed routinely loan house keys to non-residents, and previous homeowners often continue to carry old house keys. The inaugural Kwikset American Security Study also revealed that although residential security often is cited by Americans as a top priority, data suggests that people are not managing access control to their homes accordingly. Of the half of all homeowners that loan-out house keys, nearly 10 percent reportedly have loaned out their key more than 10 times. What’s more, with 60 percent of homeowners having multiple home entries with different keys for each, there already is an increased margin of error for maintaining access control. “Probably the most significant insight from our study is that American homeowners may not even be aware that their home security levels are compromised,” said Brent Flaharty, vice president of Marketing, Kwikset. “Given that the majority of respondents have never changed or re-keyed their locks, combined with the fact that they’re loaning out keys to non-residents, there is a very real possibility of keys falling into the wrong hands and even being copied unknowingly.” The Smart Solution to Improved Access Control – As Easy as 1-2-3 Kwikset developed its SmartKey® re-key technology to help combat the disturbing national trend in compromised home security. This groundbreaking new lock technology gives homeowners the ability to re-key their own locks in a matter of seconds without even having to remove the lock from the door. In three simple steps, homeowners can re-key multiple SmartKey locks to one Kwikset key, or replace a lost or loaned key with a new key, all while the lock remains in place. “SmartKey has been hugely popular with home builders and homeowners alike since its introduction in 2007, and we want even more Americans to understand how this highly secure and affordable technology is a smart and simple solution for their home security needs,” Flaharty said. “With Kwikset’s SmartKey, homeowners won’t have to worry about how many lost or loaned keys are lying around; they can simply re-key the lock to a new key for improved access control and peace of mind.” How It Works SmartKey’s patented side-locking bar technology is central to the lock’s ability to be quickly and easily re-keyed. By using the included SmartKey Learn Tool and the existing functioning key, homeowners can safely match or change out keys without special training or outside contractors. Providing superior security, SmartKey deadbolts eliminate the typical sheer line, pin and tumbler mechanisms in its design, removing the most vulnerable points in residential locks. High-quality stainless steel internal parts ensure smooth operation, increased strength and exceptional durability. SmartKey technology is currently available in all Kwikset Signature Series keyed entry products, including handlesets, levers, knobs and deadbolts, as well as the new SmartCode® touchpad electronic deadbolt. Kwikset products are available in a wide selection of the latest styles and finishes at major home improvement retailers nationwide. About Kwikset For more than 60 years, Kwikset, manufacturer of America’s most trusted name in security, has provided beauty, security and peace of mind for millions of families. For additional information on Kwikset products, visit, or call 1-800-327-LOCK. Black & Decker Hardware and Home Improvement (BDHHI) Group is a division of Black & Decker, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of power tools, power tool accessories and security hardware. Today, the BDHHI Group includes some of the most recognizable hardware and home improvement brands in the world including Kwikset®, Weiser®, Baldwin®, Price Pfister® and K2™ Commercial Hardware by Black & Decker. 1 Telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,001 adults living in private households in the continental United States by CARAVAN®. Survey was completed during the period July 23-26, 2009. Margin of error +/- 3%.

ASIS day 1 impressions

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The show is slow. There's really no two ways around that. But I was chatting with Siemens' Carey Boethel and he says, "So, the show's not as bad as I thought it was going to be." I guess everything comes down to expectations. When you go so far as to not even grab a booth and you're Siemens, I guess you think the show is basically going to implode. When the building remains standing, you're happy with the turnout. Personally, I thought scenes like the below were pretty commonplace. show-floor Notice how there's nobody in the aisles? That was pretty par for the course unless you were right in front of the doors. I think the Stanleys and Pelcos, situated with numbers that end in 01 were probably fairly happy with the turn-out, actually, but if you were in the back of hall you weren't talking to anybody but your neighbors. Perhaps that's just about always the case. My theory on the turnout is that the big corporations, those that can actually afford to have an internal security department and a professional heading it, were spooked in the first and second quarter and slashed all the budgets, especially the travel budgets. And I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't know when I say you don't get your travel budget back in the middle of the year. For ISC West, the integrators and installers maybe brought fewer people, but they had to show up. It's their business. For the end users, it's not their business. I'm sure shows focused on HR professionals or, God forbid, editorial talent where absolute ghost towns this year. But, as noted by a few people who are rocking Twitter at the show (follow me at, hint, hint), the amount of product releases and the activity by the manufacturers has been pretty strong. Sanyo's new HD camera line is pretty impressive. Ionit has a cool new partnership that brings very in-depth business intelligence to mass video surveillance. Genetec's new network appliance is easy and inexpensive. Pelco's Sarix stuff looks great. American Dynamics and Software House are streamlining operations. AMAG has new video offerings. Avigilon is playing nicely with others. Arecont has all kinds of new cameras, including a 10 megapixel number. Seriously, things are pretty busy and I don't think the lack of end user attendees is as bad as it will seem on Wednesday afternoon, when everybody's already gone home and the exhibitors are itching to pack up early. I'm slightly concerned my 2 p.m. panel discussion on Wednesday is going to be deserted. Hoping not. I'll have lots more press releases and such posted tonight, assuming the Stanley party isn't too intoxicating.

Where else can you get FREE info on increasing RMR and net profit?

Monday, September 21, 2009
Just got my most recent issue of CSAA's Signals. Looks like they're offering a free webinar on on sales. I don't have a link, but here' the pitch:
Do you want to increase, not only your RMR, but also your net profit? We want to invite you to attend the first-ever CSAA Webinar. Participate with your whole sales team in this free webinar offered by CSAA on Thursday, October 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET - 3:00 p.m. ET.
Hey, free is good, right, especially in this floundering economy of ours. And the topic is certainly appealing. Bob Harris has been around the biz helping others battle attrition for nearly 30 years. You could do worse than sitting in on a free session led by this guy. Here's a little more of the pitch from CSAA:
The webinar, conducted by Bob Harris, president of Attrition Busters, will provide you with ways in which your company can stand out from the rest. It is very easy to participate. All that is needed is a computer and a phone or audio-enabled computer. There is no limit on how many people can participate from you company.
Education is important in maintaining a competition-beating edge, and free education can't be beat. Call in details from CSAA will follow shortly.

Are you an alarm company in VT or PA?

Monday, September 21, 2009
ESA, which until recently was the NBFAA, is holding legislative meetings in your state next month. It's your chance to weigh in on statewide licensing and other legislative initiatives in your states. Details are below:
Electronic security and life safety professionals are invited to attend these free events, sponsored by GE Security and Honeywell, respectively. The first event will be held on October 6 in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Burglar & Fire Alarm Association’s (PBFAA) quarterly board meeting. Attendees will hear State Representative Brendan Boyle talk about the PBFAA-sponsored statewide licensing bill (HB 1544) and other important topics. The event will take place at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg East, located at 4757 Lindle Road in Harrisburg, Pa., in the Harrisburg Suite from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A free lunch will be served courtesy of GE Security. The second event will be held on the morning of October 13 and is being coordinated with the Vermont Alarm & Signal Association. Industry professionals are invited to enjoy a free breakfast courtesy of Honeywell and hear a focused discussion on the introduction of industry licensing legislation in Vermont. This event will be held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, located at 100 State St. in Montpelier, Vt., in the Ethan Allen Room from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Those wishing to attend the events should RSVP to NBFAA Events Manager Michelle Whitaker at (888) 447-1689 or [email protected]. RSVPs are needed by October 1 to attend the legislative lunch in Pennsylvania and by October 7 to attend the breakfast in Vermont.

ASIS, early update

Monday, September 21, 2009
Some interesting things in the materials they're distributing to the press: • The exhibitor addendum, published after the major show program to include people who came in late, is pretty large. I don't have a past year to compare it to, but there are 109 exhibitors in the addendum. That jibes with my feeling that the show is bigger than many expected. It seems like a lot of companies decided late that, yes, things are pretty good, and they better not just not show up to the big show in California. • ASIS is on the Young Professionals bandwagon, too. They've got a room dedicated, 201A, for people aged 21-40 to stop in and provide feedback. "Conversations are informal, exploratory in nature, and take place on Monday and Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m." I say 50/50 there's never more than 5 people in there at any one time. But that wouldn't be ASIS' fault. I just never see security directors under 40 on the show floor. Would love to be wrong. • To go along with John Honovich's criticism of the ASIS Accolades, it's kind of shady that they've published a whole book, the "competition guide," which has as its sub head: "Security's Best." Or, you know, security's best buyers of advertising pages with the ASIS Accolades program. (I mean, come on: There's a back pack highlighted in the "coolest stuff" category; there's a flashlight in the "transformational product, service, or technology" category.) But, you know, ASIS are definitely NOT endorsing products. Also, if you're curious as to why people entered the competition, it's because they were guaranteed to at least get a full page ad in this little book about their product. That's worth the entry fee alone. For my part, I think people who can sell ads for money are pretty great (they pay my salary), but you've got to admit Honovich has a bit of a point. ASIS is not really a media organization first and foremost.

ASIS press releases, part 1

Monday, September 21, 2009
Here's a place to run down some of the news being put out there today. It's a bit of a firehose because a lot of companies requested a Sept. 21 embargo on their news. Why, I'm not sure, but I'll post these from time to time during the show when I have time (which means not that often). Also, those who sent hot links get bonus points. Those that didn't, don't. • IQinVision, Pivot3, Exaq, and Firetide are going to be demonstrating a cool little four-booth interoperability experiment.
Indianapolis, IN. – September 15, 2009 – Four leading open-system vendors announced today that they will be supporting a joint live demonstration of IP technology interoperability at ASIS 2009. Exacq Technologies, Firetide, IQinVision and Pivot3, will show how standards-based solutions from open-system vendors can be easily integrated and supported in the field. End users, specifiers, and resellers will see how these open-system vendors are collaborating to speed adoption of the latest technologies to the market. THE DEMO: The live demonstration will feature wireless distribution, storage, and playback of HD/megapixel video over a wireless network across separate booths on the ASIS show floor. High-resolution video from IQeye megapixel cameras will be streamed from vendor booths over Firetide wireless infrastructure mesh network. The video will be subsequently captured and displayed remotely using the exacqVision Video Management System (VMS) running on Pivot3 iSCSI SAN storage with embedded virtual servers. Centrally captured video will then be viewable and searchable from remote computers in each of the partner booths and on smartphones.
The cynic in me wonders why this is actually demonstrating anything particularly exciting. Wouldn't it be crushingly disappointing if these guys couldn't do this? Imagine if you were an integrator who wanted to use these four products, none of which are really any good all by themselves, and you were told, "sorry, that's not going to work." You'd be pretty pissed, right? I know the industry has a proprietary heritage it's working to shed, but, seriously, when are we going to start acting like we've been somewhere? I was proud of my kids when they could first walk, but it's getting to the point where I'm not all that impressed by them just getting from point a to point b without falling down (though they do often fall down to this day...). • Plextek has made their Blighter radar system better. Isn't Blighter like a British swear word or something? You dang blighter! • Steelbox makes its triumphant return, integrated into an offering by SRI International.
SRI’s IVE product solves the problem of managing large-scale video surveillance systems and uses Steelbox’s media appliances to organize hundreds of video sources within a single, intuitive interface.
• Onity integrates with Lenel. (Can't link directly because the press link is an auto-open pdf - ugh.) They are kind of the same company, so that would make sense.
Onity, one of the world's leading providers of electronic locking solutions, today announced that they have completed a successful integration of their CT30 offline locks into the OnGuard® security software platform, developed by Lenel Systems International. This integration makes it possible to program, manage, encode and monitor CT30 offline locks from within the OnGuard environment, allowing facility managers to address both interior and exterior doors from a single application.
• Smiths has a rad new way to people screen called Eqo. Apparently, it's so rad it doesn't need to conform to accepted rules of English spelling.
Pine Brook, NJ – 10 September 2009 – Smiths Detection will unveil and demonstrate its new people imaging scanner, eqo, at the ASIS International security industry conference in California. Designed to increase throughput while quickly detecting concealed weapons and explosives in security-sensitive buildings and areas, eqo features a unique open design using a fraction of the floor space required by conventional scanners. Using patented millimeter-wave imaging technology, the eqo screener generates a three-dimensional image revealing any hidden threats as a person passes through a portal and turns in front of a square vertical panel. A remote operator then checks the image for any threatening items hidden on the body or beneath clothing. Privacy filters built into eqo such as face blurring provide anonymity for passengers.
How long until we start seeing risque 3D images on the Internet? Are they there already and I'm missing them? Help me out. • AgentVI has launched a new search and analysis tool. It should also be noted that AgentVI's web site is all sorts of pretty.
TEL AVIV, Israel--(Business Wire)--Agent Video Intelligence (Agent Vi) announces the launch of its latest product -Vi-Search - a new video search and analysis software for instantaneous searches through stored video. The new software will be formally launched and presented at Agent Vi`s booth (#4325) at ASIS International Seminar & Exhibit, in Anaheim, California, from 21st through 23rd September 2009.
I'll get you some more stuff later. There are a LOT of releases to get through.

Largest-ever HD deployment?

Monday, September 21, 2009
IndigoVision is out with a release today touting the largest-ever deployment of HD surveillance cameras. Before I get started on this, may I ask why you would email a press release that you've posted to your web site and not provide the link? Links are the stuff of connectivity! Also, it's a pain to go hunt down the link so I can show people what you're talking about, rather than cutting and pasting the whole thing. And that way they come to your web site and might poke around a bit. Okay, on to the story:
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has deployed what is believed to be the largest ever High-Definition (HD) IP Video surveillance system to monitor its customs operation on the US-Canadian border and at Vancouver Airport. ... Five-hundred IndigoVision HD cameras were installed alongside 500 of the original analog cameras, which are connected to the network using IndigoVision’s 9000 series transmitter modules. The megapixel HD cameras stream high-quality H.264 video at 15 fps. Due to its advanced H.264 compression technology and unique architecture, IndigoVision allows both standard definition and HD video to be streamed and recorded side-by-side using standard IP networks and storage. This has allowed CBSA to significantly improve its retention period for recorded video, even when taking into account the increased storage requirements of HD video.
So, 500 cameras? Is that that the largest? How many of the 5,000 IP cameras at the Macau City of Dreams casino are "HD"? Also, note that nowhere in the press release do they define HD. They also use the term megapixel. Well, how many megapixels? Just one? I don't think that would qualify as HD for a lot of people, because I don't think that's quite 1080p. Isn't HD a broadcast standard that we can all agree on somewhere? Are they talking about 1080i or 1080p or 720p? Here's what Wikipedia says on the matter. I know that surveillance is not television, but when a term is understood in the mainstream in a certain way, that's kind of how you have to use it. And this is how I understand it:
An aspect ratio of 16:9 was duly agreed at the first meeting of the WP at the BBC's R & D establishment in Kingswood Warren. The resulting ITU-R Recommendation ITU-R BT.709-2 ("Rec. 709") includes the 16:9 aspect ratio, a specified colorimetry, and the scan modes 1080i (1,080 actively-interlaced lines of resolution) and 1080p (1,080 progressively-scanned lines). The current BBC freeview trials of HD use MBAFF, which contains both progressive and interlaced content in the same encoding. It also includes the alternative 1440×1152 HDMAC scan format. (According to some reports, a mooted 750 line (720p) format (720 progressively-scanned lines) was viewed by some at the ITU as an enhanced television format rather than a true HDTV format,[8] and so was not included, although 1920×1080i and 1280×720p systems for a range of frame and field rates were defined by several US SMPTE standards.)
Anyway, I can forgive IndigoVision for using HD kind of loosely, but I think it behooves the industry as a whole to either use "megapixel" to describe multi-megapixel resolution, or "HD" to describe something that conforms to broadcast standards. If you want to talk more about this (hint, hint), check out the panel discussion I'm leading on Wed. at ASIS: solutions theatre, Booth 1861, Hall C, 2 p.m. Sorry to finish with the shameless plug there - couldn't help myself. And it's not like I get anything out of leading this panel discussion anyway. (Although tips will be accepted.)

What I learned at the Flir event

Monday, September 21, 2009
In the past, we've covered Flir fairly loosely, with the basic idea that thermal imaging was too expensive for most of our readership base to be installing on a regular basis. That's increasingly wrong-headed of us. Their cameras still aren't cheap, but they're getting cheaper. In 2005, the company's low-end camera was $10,000. Now it's $3,000. That's a significant difference. Consider that the high-end residential market is real. We wrote about it back in January, but I heard tonight that residential sales now accounts for three percent of Flir's annual Commercial Vision Systems revenues, or roughly $12 million. That's nothing to sneeze at. Further, Flir will grow 15 percent in 2009. Not bad for a recession. So, who's doing most of the selling on the residential side? Apparently, it's more the A/V guys than anyone else. They put in a $200,000 sound and video system, what's another $3,500 for a camera? So, this isn't for residential guys who are used to making the $99 initial installation sale, that's for sure. Commercially, Flir is finding more acceptance as it uses volume to reduce price. The company recently sold its 100,000th camera since the launch of its CVS in 2006, so there's a fair amount out there, that's for sure. Of the new products they had on display at tonight's press event, undoubtedly the coolest was the H Series, which is a handheld thermal imager than can take jpegs and MPEG4 onto an SD card. Selling at $5,000, it would seem perfect for police departments, anyone scanning a large perimeter with patrolling officers, even big game hunters. It's cool as hell, really. The company also discussed for the first time its purchase of Salvador Imaging, which gives the company EMCCD technology, which is basically CCD chips with an extra layer of secret sauce that produces amazing color images in low-light conditions. Very impressive. This new EMCCD, now that's it's also dropping in price, could be an interesting way to avoid IR illumination entirely. Anyway, a nice presentation by Flir, including some cool capture of coyotes roaming the Anaheim hills and a zoom in on a multi-million-dollar home that had a sweet infinity pool. One can see how these cameras could be useful.

What's going on at ASIS?

Friday, September 18, 2009
Or, maybe better put, What's going on at ASIS. With a period because I'm telling you. But they say questions make for good headlines on the web. Maybe I should stop listening to my web optimization guy... Anyway, here's the drill: I'm going to be meeting with a ton of people, most of them manufacturers, unfortunately (not that I don't love you, manufacturers, but only about 1/5 of my journalist coverage is theoretically dedicated to you), but some integrators, too. Here's the list - let me know if there are questions you'd like to see answered: Flir - a press event on Sunday night? Better be good snacks to go with those 21 new products. G4S - talking about their "new" monitoring center. You know, the one we wrote about (cough!) in December? Diebold - a check in, more than anything, and some talk about new video monitoring offerings. Allied Telesis - a meet and greet. Apparently they make switches and are eyeing network-based security. Genetec - a booth tour, and catching up on that webinar we're doing together. Honeywell - a meeting with Ralph Maniscalco to talk about how the new app is doing and more about the First Alert and CSS programs. Abeo Technology - talking with this integrator about their AWARE program, which is fueled by Knowledge Switch. HID - a noon-time press event. I've sort of already written about their big news with that Genuine HID stuff, but there's other stuff going on, too. Stanley - a check in with Tony Byerly, but also an introduction to some new stuff with Stanley Health Care. AMAG - they say they've got a story for me, but I'm also interested in the new partnership with Salto. Tyco - In truth, I can't actually remember if this meeting is more about American Dynamics or more about Software House, or maybe something else. Object Video and Pelco - meeting with them together to see how it's going with porting OV onto the Sarix cameras. Speco - I kind of want to see the DVR in a panel. Ionit - last time I met with them, it was a bit of a boozy affair. Might be good to have a more formal chat... Reed Exhibitions - apparently, they're not the devil. Who knew? Sanyo - a majorly involved press event for what's basically a small player in the industry, but I said yes because a certain Cameraman is convinced their new products are "awesomesauce," if I remember correctly. Siemens - cocktail party. Carey Boethel is such a good dresser, though, that I feel like I need to stay business formal. GE - a press event. Think they'll be answering questions about their impending sale? I'm guessing not. Doesn't mean I won't ask them, though. Johnson Controls - smart building talk with Lisa Roy and her entourage. Verint - a check in, and some talk about their presentation at TechSec (wait, I haven't actually announced that yet...). Canon - oh, whoops, scratch that. But they weren't lying when they said they were reallocating resources. I'm going to meet with them at ISC East. Infinova - mostly meeting with them because Mark Wilson from Milestone is there now and asked for a meet and greet. I don't really even know much about what they do. Pacom - meeting to talk about their new new CEO (never did meet old new CEO Magnus in person - wow, that was 2006? I've been here too long already). Niscayah - John Nemerofsky is hosting a lunch Mon.-Wed. That's a lot of lunch for one man. Panasonic - Do they have a new president yet? North American Video - a sit down with Jason Oakley to see how the new initiatives to break beyond gaming are working. OnSSI - I meet with them almost every show. Is it just so I can see the cool touchscreen in action? PSIA - I'm going to the plug fest. Are you? Too bad ONVIF kind of stole their thunder (I'd link more directly, but they've only posted a pdf and it's kind of a pain to cut and paste the URL for some reason). Honeywell - this is Honeywell's solutions business (I don't think they talk to the security guys much), and it's a meeting with old friend Andrew Wray, with whom I went to Israel, yet it's still important, apparently, that their PR firm, Weber Shandwick, be in the meeting. Hope they're desperate to hear Andrew talk about taking his boat from California to Guam... Bosch - I'm hitting up their tent to see the camera contest and maybe have some snacks. SG Digital - these are the guys who actually make HDCCTV DVRs. They didn't get a booth, but I'm going to visit their suite. Suite visits can be creepy, yes, and I'm going first thing in the morning. Hope they've got their dirty socks packed away. Cernium - mostly, I like the name Archerfish (that's only partially true). Pixim - I like talking to these guys because they have lots of market stats they're not shy about sharing. John Monti is a great gossip. Hirsch - more of a meeting with Bob Beliles to talk shop in general. And that's pretty much it, other than some parties and that HD panel discussion I'm leading (did I mention that? It's at 2 p.m., on Wed., Booth 1861, Hall C - be there or be a rhombus). Do you think that's busy enough? I've only made one clone for the show. Is that lazy of me? I'm feeling kind of guilty about it. Also, make sure to check out all of Security Director News' coverage. Managing editor Leischen Stelter is going to be busting out all kinds of video. If you want to find me out in Anaheim, the best bet is to follow the Twitter tweets. I'm @sam_pfeifle. I'm slightly concerned my iPhone will self-combust from overuse, but we'll see what happens.

Check out the stats on alarm company complaints here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009
You know all those jokes about how everyone hates lawyers? Ha, ha, ha. Well, if the BBB can predict popularity, those lawyers may soon be telling funny jokes about how everyone hates alarm companies. And everyone's gonna get the joke. Did you know that more people complained to the BBB about alarm companies than they did about lawyers in 2008? That the alarm industry is the 93rd highest in terms of complaints, and that that number represents a 68 percent increase over 2007? Oooo. That's bad. Here's a link to my newswire story so you can read all about it. Why so many complaints? The door-knocking companies have taken a beating this summer, with complaints (maybe some whining?) that their sales people are using unethical practices and that's bringing the public's opinion of the alarm industry way down. Well, there may be some validity to this complaint. The BBB Here's their national Web site. puts out statistics on the number of complaints file by industry and some info on the nature of those complaints. They also have about 111 offices throughout the country. On this page you can see the number of complaints by industry. About two-thirds of the way down the page, you'll see "Burglar Alarm Systems-dealers, monitoring & service. On that line are columns for Inquiries --that includes people who even checked out a BBB reliability report for a company; and how that number ranks compared to the 3,900 industries that the BBB ranks. Next is the actual number of complaints filed--2,025. Next column--93, means how that number stacks up compared to other industries. The next columns are self-explanatory. Take note of the next line down from alarm companies--lawyers. OK. I wanted to find out how many complaints had been filed against a bunch of national companies in 2009. Not possible, at least not from the online data. What they do have is reliability reports on each company with data about the number of complaints resolved in the past 12 months. (Note: This may not account for all of the outstanding complaints.) They also have the nature of the complaints that were resolved. Now, if you search on Broadview Security for example, you come up with a gazillion reliability reports. For this story, I just looked at the reliability report from the headquarters office. OK Here's the reliability report for Broadview's HQ in Dallas. Go down section called "Customer Complaint HIstory." Click on "Detailed View" to see the numbers we used. Here's the information on how many complaints were resolved in the past 12 months and the nature of those complaints. The total number (upper left corner) is 201. The number of those complaints that had to do with selling practices is 15. According to our math, seven percent of all Broadview complaints (from its current HQ reliability report) had to do with "selling practices." Here's Apx's report Here's Pinnacle's report Here's Platinum Protection And here's Pro One OK, so what's up with the grades? All of these companies seem to resolve most, if not all of their complaints. So why do some get an F and some get an A? Jeannette Kopco, VP of communications at the Dallas BBB told me that the grade is based on 17 different factors, but a poor grade may have something to do with the number of complaints compared to the size of the company. It may also have to do with "government action" or the BBB may have detected a pattern in the complaints, ie, they're resolved, but the company isn't working hard enough to make certain kinds of complaints go away. What do you think of these reports? About the BBB? About your report? Leave a comment, or give me a call 207-846-0600 ext. 261 and let me know what you think.