In the process of evaluating many home security companies, I found Protect America. They assert themselves as the, “largest authorized installer of GE Home Security”, and on the phone I was told that they were the, “third largest home security company in the US”.
My initial phone call was pretty good. The woman, Michelle Scully, was to the point, if a little pushy, but seemed very knowledgable about their products and the industry in general.
She explained that no other company offers a fully wireless system like they did, and she was very proud that they used the GE Simon 3 system. Their prices were reasonable, although their monthly was one of the highest I found at $34.95. She boasted how, “98% of their customers could install it themselves”, and trumpeted its ease of use and numerous features.
After telling Michelle I wanted to look around some more, she seemed a little upset and even said to me, “If I may ask, why do you need to talk to your wife?” and “We have the best product and prices, so why do you want to look around?”. I explained to her my reasons, and this handled her.
She then went out of her way to tell me that if I found any better deal out there, to call her back to let her know so that she could, “better know her competitor’s” and not “tell her customers they have the best deal if in fact they do not”. These are not word-by-word quotes, but pretty close.
I had called her on the car ride into work, so when I got to my desk, I went looking for other companies to call. Somehow, I stumbled on some websites that sold the Simon 3 directly to consumers.
Reading specs for the Simon 3 seemed to confirm everything she was telling me about the system. And the fact that I could buy it for $210 and install it myself blew my mind as to why I would need to buy it through Protect America. Looking further, I found that I could set it up without monitoring, where it would just call our cell phones for free, or add monitoring for as little as $9 per month. This was so cheap!
I was very shocked on how easy it was to find such a better deal 10 minutes after talking to Michelle who assured me that $35 a month was THE BEST out there, period, full stop.
The next day I called her back to tell her what I found.
Her first question to me, cutting me off from telling her of my discoveries, was “What warranty are they offering?”. I replied that I didn’t know since I found no less than 3 sites offering it and hadn’t bothered to read through each site. She said, “We offer a lifetime guarentee” and that the site I was looking probably only offered a one year.
When I told her that I found monitoring for $9 a month (I actually rounded it to $10 when I said it), she told me, “Are you O.K with calling outside the country? Because there are document cases where police officers can’t understand through their thick accent.”
This reeked of lies. For one, although I didn’t know it at the time, the $9 a month service I had seen was for Criticom, which Metro Guardian also uses and charges you $33 a month for and are based in the US. Secondly, I didn’t believe that a company would hire people who had to say VERY FEW sentences, but could not speak english understandably. Rather than argue, I just let it go.
She then went on and told me, “We offer the NEW Simon 3 system. You can only buy the old version of the Simon 3 on the internet. It is the difference between Windows 95 and Vista.” Yes, that is an exact quote.
This is where I stopped her.
I told her I was a Windows programmer, and that Windows 95 and Vista were two COMPLETELY different products, while she was referring to two Simon 3 systems. I told her that something didn’t sound truthful here. As soon as the word “truthful” left my lips, she became angry.
“Are you calling me a liar? It sounds like you just called me a liar.”
“No, I am not calling you a liar, just something doesn’t sound right, because Windows…”
“Sounds like you are calling me a liar, so if you want to insult me..”
“I am not calling you a liar, it is just what you are saying…”
This went on several more times. I finally got her to calm down and she amended her statement saying, “Fine, Windows 95 to Windows 98”. I still had a problem with this, but once again, just let it go.
I asked what specifically was different between the two different Simon 3’s and finally got her to concede, “There have been many bug fixes. And if you buy the one online, you will have to spend more money later upgrading to the newer system.”
I then told her that I was upset that I had been mislead by these websites and wanted to find out what her model number was so I could compare it with the model number offered online, but she was unable to tell me. She told me I would have to get in touch with the parts department. She did tell me her model was the “Interlogic Peacekeeper” and she thought the operating system version was up to “version 6” but she wasn’t sure.
After she had been insisting this long that her model was newer than the online stores, yet could not produce a model number, I was pretty sure I was being lied to. And after telling her that I didn’t want to “trust her” and that this was just “lip service”, she had enough of me and told me how i “have insulted her too many times”. I hung up on her before she had a chance to.
I then called Safemart.com, one of the sellers of the Simon 3. The guy even knew that Protect America sold the system. He also recommended the Simon 3 over any other wireless system and was very pleasant to talk to.
When I asked him if their model was different than the one Protect America offers, he said, “uhhhhh, If anything, I think theirs is older”. I told him that theirs was the Interlogic Peacekeeper, to which he said, “yeaaah, I am pretty sure that is the older model.”
After being lied to like this, I googled about Protect America and found a LONG list of complaints on the company. Most of them revolve around deceptive practices when someone tries to cancel their service:
“I called Protect America to cancel a 2 yr commitment. I called 4 business days after the contract end date of April 22, 2007. After a long wait I was told I could not cancel until April 2008 because they had renewed my contract for another year because I did not send them a written cancellation letter 60 days prior to the expiration date…”
Even the BBB notes them having an “unsatisfactory record” due to a pattern of complaints going unhandled.
So it turns out, I was lucky that my research allowed me to see the true colors of the company before I signed a very costly contract. And hopefully, this information will help others to better evaluate Protect America for themselves, since there are scant reviews about them online.
You would have just have to be OUT OF YOUR MIND to go with Protect America.
- 2 year contract
- $35 a month – Required
- Hard to reach technical support during install (based on complaints)
- Difficult to leave contract (based on complaints)
- Hundreds of BBB complaints
- No contract
- $189 base system
- Free and happy technical support during install
- $9 per month monitoring if you want it
- Numerious success stories from their happy customers
- Debt advisor