Rogue Traders: Landmark Home Security (Landmark Security Ltd)
From the BBC Watchdog series. While we don’t usually report on industry news this item caught out attention as it is close to home. Just beware out there in Kent and Surrey.
BBC Rogue Traders is looking at a burglar alarm company called Landmark Security Ltd – trading as Landmark Home Security – based in Maidstone Kent (not to be confused with any similar sounding companies). The Rogue Traders team have received complaints that Landmark Home Security were putting the squeeze on customers by offering them ‘free’ alarm systems that ended up costing a great deal of money…
77 year old Nesta Hollis from Esher Surrey received one such phone call from Landmark Home Security and was told she was entitled to a free alarm system. The company sent a representative to her home to discuss the product – it was however a long discussion as the salesman was at Nesta’s house for three hours.
Nesta has suffered two strokes which means she can get very tired and a bit confused. She does remember the rep saying the alarm was free and that it would come with servicing and monitoring charges. She signed a contract for £7098 which was for a fifteen year servicing and monitoring contract.
Rogue is alarmed…
The Rogue Traders team wanted to find out whether Landmark Home Security were still offering these ‘free alarms’.
In usual Rogue Traders fashion we set up a house in Esher Surrey – rigged it with hidden cameras and to add the predictable icing on the cake – got an actress called June who was pretending to be terrified of the local hood-rats.
June called Landmark Home Security about their free alarm system offer and they sent out a salesman called Sam to tell us more. Sam explained that he was offering a promotion and the company does not always give away free alarms.
Sam explained to our actress – “We go from area to area offering these free alarms and then once we’ve given away between 5 to 8 normally, we move on to the next area. Giving away these free systems creates a huge impact and awareness of us as a company… Maintenance, the monitoring and response is what you pay for..”.
So we learnt – it’s only free when you pay a fee. But Sam is a little over the top when describing the monitoring service that comes with this ‘free’ alarm.
“Monitoring means there is someone sitting at a computer screen watching your home all the time… The second part is fire. Now ours is linked to the system, so if you have a fire that flags up as well – so potentially we’re putting out a fire in your home you didn’t even know anything about. Now that third part of the system is a remote panic button. June it might even be the difference between life and death”.
This is all very scary stuff for June particularly when after completing his risk assessment of her home, Sam told her that she is coming out as a high risk.
“Well we have been told this area is fairly high…a fairly high crime rate… Because of burglaries that have happened in the local area, some of them are only a stone’s throw. We are told the burglaries are not every single night but fairly frequent. So it is quite high”.
This is not true at all. In fact at the time of Sam’s visit within one mile of the stooge home there were in fact just three burglaries.
After all of that June did what any terrified home-aloner would do….and asked about the cost. Sam told us it was £6999.00 which he considered was a very good price. That’s nearly £7000 even with a free alarm! Frightening stuff!
When June was reluctant to sign up that night Sam put her on to the head office who again asked her why she was not interested.
Like any wise elderly actress, June asked Sam if she can sleep on it and decide another day – but Sam had some bad news for us.
“Well obviously you won’t be able to get the system for free unfortunately”.
Unless June signed on the dotted line right there and then, she would be charged for the alarm that was originally free. This would increase the price by £3000.
Thanks but no thanks, Sam.
With us was Security Alarm industry expert Graeme Dow who was ready to spot a scaremonger or seven. He had already watched how Sam sold the alarm system.
We also had new actress Beryl who was ready and waiting to play our femme fatale. Landmark Home Security had already told Beryl that she had been selected for a free alarm system as well – and now they were sending over salesman Joe to give her more details. New salesman, same old patter!
Joe began by explaining the great value of this free alarm.
“The alarm system is free – the monitoring and maintenance is what you’d have to pay for. Hopefully Landmark will help reduce crime in your area. And that’s like you correctly said, basically that’s what we’re doing. You can’t put a price on peace of mind”.
This is all very nice – but how much is this ‘free alarm’ worth? Joe told us the system was valued at £2619.
Graeme Dow disagreed with this valuation of the alarm.
“This is not a £3000 system, he’s just given a price. He’s just pulled that out of the air…Which? [Magazine] did a survey 3 years ago and said the average price of a system in south east of England was under £600.
But Joe was adamant that it was a bargain for Beryl.
“You’re getting the system for free bearing in mind we’re giving you a system worth the best part of £3000”.
Graeme was not impressed and stated that by making out something was free when there were additional charges would mean Joe was breaking the law – The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to be precise. Sam did the same thing.
So lies and law-breaking – Joe deserves to join Sam in detention. Still, he’s delivered his pitch to Beryl and said it’s up to her and her alone to decide whether she wanted to go ahead.
Beryl decided to decline at that time as it was quite a lot of information and figures to take in. Joe had been selling to her for hours.
Considering Joe only wanted a simple ‘yes or no’ you would think he would have left her to think about it some more.
But no – Joe kept asking Beryl why she wouldn’t join up. When Joe realised that Beryl may not sign that night he phoned through to Landmark Home Security’s head office. He wanted to see if he could get his boss to persuade her to sign up to the alarm system there and then.
Beryl told the head office that she was not interested and didn’t wish to talk about it anymore. The man from the office was straight to the point and continued to pile on the pressure.
“I don’t think you’re being truthful now Beryl to be honest… you’re not giving me a reason”.
Beryl told Landmark Home Security ‘no’ twenty-five times. Finally realising he was not going to get a sale, Joe made his feelings to our actress clear – crystal clear to be precise.
“It’s unfair what you’ve done… do you understand what you’ve done? Is this what you normally do, invite someone round to your house? …You won’t accept that I’ve been through everything with you. … it’s crystal clear what you’re gonna get for your money, okay? It’s been made crystal. Blimmin’ clear, to you”
Security Alarm industry expert Graeme Dow was unimpressed with the behaviour of Joe. Graeme explained that he couldn’t understand why Joe was finding it so hard to take no for an answer. He explained further,
“You don’t have to give a reason. If you don’t want it you don’t want it”.
As Joe left, he told our actress how much she had wasted his time.
“Well ya know, I think it’s been a complete waste of my time don’t you think so? … Ok well once again thanks for wasting my time…”.
As Joe left our stooge house, he decided to wheel spin in his car off our driveway. He obviously wasn’t used to people saying no to him.
Phone (and Alarm Bells) Ringing…
Even after this extraordinarily rude exit the company’s persistence wasn’t over. They called our actress a remarkable 12 times to try and get her to change her mind. So it got the Rogue team thinking -he clearly didn’t like having his time wasted, so who better to remind him of that than 80s chart topper Owen Paul – famous for his number three UK hit “My Favourite Waste of Time”.
So we arranged another booking with Joe but this time we had Graham our expert, cameras, monitors all set up and we also had singing legend Owen Paul to play. We wanted to know exactly why Joe thought it was acceptable to bully old ladies into buying an alarm system they did not want.
As soon as Joe turned up we noticed his tone was a lot different because Owen was in the room – he was a lot more factual for a start. Unfortunately for Joe Owen wasn’t really interested in talking alarms – he wanted to sing an old classic to him. We don’t think Joe remembered the song from 1986 as he probably wasn’t even born.
Owen started playing “My Favourite Waste of Time” – Joe unaware that Matt Allwright was ready to join in at the chorus – as soon as he saw the cameras however he left the house refusing to answer any of Matt’s questions.