APX, Five Diamond Certification, and policing dealer practices
So after receiving a few CSAA-directed comments of a bilious nature after I posted my APX gets Five Diamond certified blog post, I decided to consolidate said comments and rebuttals from the CSAA here for all y'all. Of course the news I blogged Monday was that APX, a summer-model company based in Provo, Utah, and one of the largest alarm companies in the country, had gone through the vetting process and had applied for and received Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. The blog post ran with a list of companies that have chosen to go out and spend the time and money on training in order to receive the certification. I love getting comments on my blog, and it wasn't long before a couple readers voiced their displeasure that APX (a company whose dealer base has employed the door-knocking sales method) had applied for a certification for their monitoring center and that CSAA had given it to them. Steve Nutt over at IP Alarms had this to say:
Pardon me for being controversial butâ€¦ Iâ€™m curious CSAAâ€¦. when going through the certification process, do you deduct points, or award extra points for the methods that companies use to 'attract' subscribers? I suggest that you use some of the money you earned from the APX certification to setup a help line to council victims of the door knockers that are traumatized on their own doorstep. As for the damage caused to the rest of us trying to earn a living in the security industry, I guess weâ€™ll have to earn our 'bragging rights' rather than pay for them. A sad day for the CSAA.Gary D over at Scientific Security also disapproved of APX's monitoring center's achievement, displaying a seemingly misplaced anger toward door knockers or perhaps an amorphous disenchantment with the industry in general. "APX CSAA certified? looks like Brinks and Protection One arenâ€™t the only things money can buy." Five Diamond certification is monitoring-focused, not dealer-focused. CSAA is the association for monitoring centers, not dealers. Please note, ESA has issued it's door-knocking code of ethics. They sorta got the whole ethical/non-ethical thing covered, I think. I mean, it's not really CSAA's business to penalize a monitoring center for the morals (or lack thereof) of the company's dealers, is it? Five Diamond certification is about vetting a monitoring center's compliance with UL standards, vetting its operators' understanding of communications technologies, alarm processing procedures and best practices, etc... I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with anyone's sense of right and wrong. Celia Besore, CSAA VP of marketing and programs addressed the implication that a company can buy certification, that CSAA is selling monitoring cred.
There is no fee to be certified as a CSAA Five Diamond company. Most certifications, such as ETL, UL, etc. (and others outside our industry) require a submission fee. Obviously, CSAA is not in the certification for the money since we do not charge for it--rather it takes many staff hours to process and deal with the CSAA Five Diamond process. We are in it to raise the standards and the educational levels in our industry.Besore did admit that there was a charge to take the online operator training course, but that does not mean a company is certified Five Diamond. Anyone can take the training. I did, but I don't have a monitoring center to bring into UL compliance, so I can't really get Five Diamond certified. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that one generally pays for most online training courses. Besore argued the value of the training was measurable, regardless of whether or not a company chose to go the extra mile and meet the other requirements for certification. "Weâ€™ve had hundreds of companies that have had their operators certified. The value of the training is that hundreds of companies (Five Diamond or not) have had their operators certified by it," Besore said. "Good training is good training no matter what the ultimate use." CSAA EVP Steve Doyle addressed the purview of the Five Diamond certification process.
There is no charge to become a Five Diamond Central Station if you meet the requirements which are, very basically, that you have a duly Listed UL Central Station, are a member in good standing of CSAA, have all operators trained through the CSAA on-Line Training program and agree to abide by the rules of Five Diamond Central Stations and CSAA membership policies. This only applies to the monitoring central station and does not include dealers. CSAA can and does set the standards. However, we stay away from individual company sales practices as this could have legal implications in the area of anti-trust.Is it wrong for a dealer to use dishonest sales tactics? Absolutely. I don't think anyone denies that. The question is, into whose jurisdiction does policing the actions of dealers fall?