MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – 81 year-old Shera was home alone the other day when a couple of door-to-door salesmen from alarm company Alliance Security landed on the front porch.
Shera’s son, Darren, who is also his mom’s caregiver and power of attorney, said Alliance swapped out the old equipment with one of their systems after getting her to agree over the phone to a second contract with Alliance.
“I didn’t know what I was supposed to do anyway,” Shera said. “He just said ‘This man is coming in, my headman or whatever you call him, and go over there and start tearing it up.”
“It’s an older lady by herself, and she’s calling us at the time, trying to understand what’s going on,” Shera’s son said.
The Oklahoma Department of Labor regulates alarm and locksmith companies.
We alerted Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston about Shera’s family’s complaint.
“It’s about making sure they are registered in the state of Oklahoma, they have the proper insurance, they are following the proper rules,” Houston said.
We know the new alarm system was sold and installed by Rhode Island-based Alliance Security, which is fully licensed to be doing business in our state.
Here’s where it gets confusing.
The company that keeps sending Shera letters for payment for the new alarm system is a completely different company, Safe Home Security, out of Connecticut.
Safe Home is not a licensed Oklahoma alarm company.
Its vice president of sales told the In Your Corner team they purchased Shera’s contract from Alliance after the sale, which is perfectly legal, and since they’re only billing for services, they don’t need an Oklahoma license.
“This bill coming every month and them threatening they’re going to ruin her credit has really set off her anxiety.”
Safe Home’s VP of sales said he’s happy to release her from the contract but only after she proves her medical diagnosis and that she was already under contract with a second alarm service company.
He also claims a recording of the sales call proves the Alliance rep was patient with Shera and had no way of knowing she suffers from memory loss.
The rep can be heard asking Shera if she feels comfortable entering into the agreement on her own and Shera responds with a, “Yes, ma’am.”
In 2007, the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office sued Safe Home Security and its owner for violations, like unfair billing and collection practices.
A second investigation launched by Massachusetts’ Attorney General is still ongoing.
Back on Oklahoma soil, Houston said her enforcement officers are already looking into the matter.
“I think the most valuable piece is getting her out of the contract,” Houston said.
We’ll check back.
The In Your Corner bottom line:
- Alarm companies must display their license number on their paperwork and the side of their work truck.
- Anytime you you sign any agreement in your home, you have three days to cancel it.
In 2014, the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with Safe Home Security to resolved the state’s lawsuit against the company. Since entering the agreement, AG’s office said it’s received more than 325 consumer complaints and is currently reviewing the state’s options in response to the complaints.