Military Family Hit With Home Security Bill, Had Tried to Cancel 2 Years Ago

PHOTO: Elaine and Brian Bold wrote in to The ABC News Fixer about a problem with a home security bill.Elaine Bold
Elaine and Brian Bold wrote in to The ABC News Fixer about a problem with a home security bill.

Dear ABC News Fixer: I saw your recent story on Vivint. We had the same problem -- when my husband was medically discharged from the Army, they refused to cancel our alarm contract even though we followed their cancellation procedure.

We didn’t hear anything for two and a half years. Today I get a notification from my credit monitoring service that something new is on our credit report. Much to my surprise, I find a collection agency is trying to collect $1,950 for Vivint.

I just want to know how I can get through this nightmare. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for reporting these stories and protecting our military families!

- Elaine Bold, Grovetown, Ga.

Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

Dear Elaine: You had practically forgotten about Vivint until the surprise notification – years later – that a debt collector was coming after you for almost two thousand bucks. That would be enough to send most families into a panic.

You told the ABC News Fixer you had provided your husband’s military discharge papers, which cite his medical disability, when you first tried to cancel. When the issue resurfaced recently with the debt collector, you said you told them about Vivint’s military cancellation policy, which does allow for cancellations due to medical discharge. But, you said, the debt agency wasn’t hearing any of it.

We had better luck with this by going back to Vivint. After we relayed your problem and provided the discharge document, Vivint spokeswoman Liz Tanner took care of it right away. She said the company hadn’t received the discharge proof earlier. Regardless, Vivint called off the collections agency and zeroed out the account and promised to remove this from your credit report.

So we’ll count this one as fixed!

As for other consumers, if you’re considering a home security system, here’s some advice:

  • Take your time. Get recommendations from friends and family and check complaint records at the Better Business Bureau and your state’s attorney general. Never buy on impulse.
  • Check out the employees. Some shady door-to-door alarm sellers have pretended to be from a competing company just to get their foot in the door. Ask all salespersons for their ID – and better yet, ask them to leave information for you to consider later, when you’re not feeling pressured.
  • Be wary of sales pitches for a “free” system (but only if you sign up right away) or scare tactics about how crime is up in your neighborhood.
  • Read the contract carefully. Some companies tether customers to lengthy contract periods that automatically renew or contain hefty fees if you move and need to cancel.
  • Get everything in writing. As with any transaction, a salesperson’s word is only as good as what’s written in the contract. Don’t assume that verbal promises will hold up later.
  • No news isn't necessarily good news. If you're not sure a contract has been cancelled, don't assume it is. To avoid old unsettled accounts coming back to haunt you, check your credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com and address any errors immediately.

For more home alarm consumer tips from our 2014 ABC News investigation into the home alarm industry, CLICK HERE.

- The ABC News Fixer

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