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Cutting Down on Alarm Service Call Fees

cost-cutting

As with many major purchases, customers often ask more about security system maintenance costs than installation costs. Similar to car shopping, security shopping requires looks at both short-term and long-term costs. We always strive to keep the long-term costs of owning an alarm system as low as possible. We know that alarm service call fees make up the bulk of overall alarm maintenance costs. Having a technician show up to diagnose and fix an issue can create an unexpected dent in your budget. In this post, we share tips to help you keep your alarm operating smoothly for as long as possible for as little cost as possible.

Of course, homeowners understand that owning a security system may require some expense. After all, alarm systems get used just about every day, and involve many electrical and computer-based components. Additionally, homeowners often re-model their home or create additions, requiring us to fit the system around their new layout. However, you avoid many alarm service call fees through by following some very simple steps. We’ll start with some tips on how to deal with issues yourself without a technician’s assistance. From there, we’ll discuss making a technician’s job as easy as possible when your alarm does require service. Finally, we’ll discuss a way to minimize costs even when you require extensive service and even new equipment. Since we prefer being proactive over reactive, let’s look at ideas for stopping alarm issues before they even start.

Do as Much Preventive Maintenance as Possible

Our recent post on Security System Maintenance shares some ideas for staying proactive in this area. Keeping sensors and the surfaces around them clean and clear of dust and debris can cut down greatly on false alarms. Since false alarms initiate a large portion of our service calls, doing this can reduce some easily-avoidable issues. Since rough conditions often lead to sensor failure after time, keeping equipment clean can also help it last longer. This, in turn, certainly helps eliminate the need for service work.

Additionally, performing regular status checks can help us diagnose the issue when you call for service. Knowing your recent system status history will help you narrow down the issues that you need a technician to fix. If you can tell us exactly what you think the issue is and when it started, we can prepare to fix the specific problem at hand. Doing so helps the technician bring the right parts and tools to address the issue efficiently. This can prevent your technician from taking two trips — one to diagnose the issue, and another to pick up everything needed to fix it. Occasionally, this can also help prevent sending out two technicians when you only need one. Avoiding these types of scenarios certainly cuts down on the overall service bill. Now let’s look a tip that could occasionally save you from needing technical help altogether.

A credit card prompt on a smart phone with paperwork underneath.

Researching how to complete basic security system maintenance can help eliminate paying invoices for many alarm service calls.

Learn How to Complete Basic Service Tasks

If you’ve never done so, try doing just a very quick, consumer-based internet search on alarm service call costs. Posts such as this one on Angie’s list feature homeowners inquiring about these fees. Most security companies have a standard hourly rate for service calls. Customers must pay for the time it takes for a technician to get to and from their home and perform the required work. Unfortunately in this case, a customer paid a pretty penny for a quick swap of the alarm’s backup battery. We find that a lot of customers schedule an alarm service call without attempting to fix the issue themselves. As with this customer, this can lead to unnecessary and frustrating service call fees.

We highly recommend learning how to complete basic security system service tasks. We often talk our customers through these tasks over the phone when they ask for guidance. Just about any customer is capable of changing batteries, moving sensors, and adding or deleting user codes. Some manufacturers, such as Qolsys, even have their own YouTube channels showing you how to perform basic maintenance tasks. The more you know how to do yourself, the less you’ll have to pay your alarm company for service. Let’s look at another step you can take that eliminates the need for many  service calls.

Monitor Your Alarm through a Cellular Dialer

The Alarm.com app open on a smartphone, indicating an "armed" security system.

An interactive cell dialer, such as Alarm.com, allows you to arm and disarm your alarm system remotely. It also provides you with the knowledge that the system will call for help even if an unforeseen event knocks out your phone lines.

In the past, we’ve posted ideas on using interactive cellular dialing to achieve many goals. The most recent example comes in our post on Unique Security Monitoring Options. In that post, we discuss interactive cellular monitoring as a way to add extra security and convenience to your alarm system monitoring. However, adding this feature can also cut down on the need for service calls in many cases. When customers install an interactive cellular dialer, such as ours powered by Alarm.com, they receive the ability to connect to and control their alarm remotely.

Furthermore, this allows technicians to perform some programming tasks remotely, rather than showing up to do the work. For example, perhaps you need help with basic programming, or adding and deleting user codes. We can perform many of these tasks at our office using the Alarm.com web portal. We can also temporarily delete or rename sensors remotely in the case of home renovations. Interactive cellular monitoring can help curb alarm service call fees for customers, and also make a technician’s job easier. Now let’s look at some ways to make a technician’s job easier in the case that you do require a service call.

Make Life as Easy as Possible for Your Technician

If you find you cannot avoid an alarm service call, take steps to keep onsite time as low as possible. Remember that the majority of a service call bill often comes from the technician’s time on site. Unfortunately, a lot of that time is often spent finding security equipment, clearing things out of the way in basements and attics, and trying to do preparatory work that homeowners could have done themselves. If you have a hardwired security panel, your technician will likely need to access it. Finding the panel in advance and clearing out space to work on it can help technicians quite a bit.

A basement cluttered with trash.

If our technicians have to search through cluttered basements to find and work on security equipment, customers see it reflected on their service call bills.

Additionally, we recommend one of the “heads of household” being home when we arrive. Occasionally, our techs are greeted by babysitters, older kids living in the house, or family friends who are not able to help our technician get started efficiently. Having someone there to show the tech around can greatly reduce the bill at the end of the service call. Let’s look at one more tip that can help you save money regardless of how often you require technical support or new parts.

Take Advantage of an Extended Warranty

Most security companies — including ours — offer warranties that can lower or even erase alarm service call costs. Customers generally pay a monthly fee for these warranties above and beyond their monthly monitoring bill. If and when something does go wrong with your system, our warranties cover the cost of the parts and labor required to get everything up and running again. In the long run, this often saves our customers quite a bit of money. Furthermore, our top warranty level also offers a free annual system inspection. During this inspection, our technicians check and test alarm components and provide any repairs necessary to ensure your system runs as desired.

Creating Security with Minimal Alarm Service Call Fees

We hope that this post has given you some ideas on how to cut down on alarm service call fees. Unexpected expenses can frustrate anybody, but you can save yourself some unnecessary headaches by following the advice we’ve presented in this post. If you have any questions about the material here, or security in general, we encourage you to contact us. In addition to talking through any questions you may have on the phone, we also provide free site surveys for new customers. While on site, we can help you design an alarm system that provides the best security for your home. Additionally, when we install an alarm, we pass along maintenance advice specific to the type of alarm you purchase. This will help keep you and your family safe with as little added cost down the road as possible.

 

Feature Photo Credit: Nick Youngson at NY Photographic, used under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License.