Military Families Share Home Alarm Troubles After ABC News Investigation

After investigative report, families came forward with their home alarm stories.

December 18, 2014, 2:09 PM

— -- Several military families have come forward to say they, too, were victims of door-to-door shenanigans from salesmen from the home alarm company Vivint, following an ABC News investigation that revealed some salesmen for the Utah-based company had been repeatedly accused of misleading the families of American troops for profit.

In the original report featured on “Good Morning America”, five military families said Vivint promised them they could cancel their service if they received military orders to move, but when they tried to do that later, they were denied and stuck with cancellation fees of up to $2,000.

Since the broadcast last week, four more families have contacted The ABC News Fixer to say something similar happened to them.

Vivint, based in Provo, Utah, is known for its door-to-door sales force. It also has racked up more than 3,300 complaints at the Better Business Bureau over the past three years, where it has an “F” rating. It has been the subject of legal action by seven state attorneys general – investigations that the company said it cooperated with to “resolve any concerns.”

“They came to the door with a deal that couldn’t be beat,” said Army Capt. Robert Mixon, who wrote to the ABC News Fixer after the “GMA” report. Mixon had signed up with Vivint two years ago when he was living just outside Fort Sill, Okla. “They said we could get out of the contract if we couldn’t continue it.”

Mixon said he specifically asked what would happen if he received orders to move, and the salesman said they could either transfer the service to their new home or cancel. After the Mixons moved to a rental home just outside Fort Bragg last summer, however, Mixon said they were told they were stuck in their contract at $68.99 a month until September 2015.

Chad Crosby said a similar thing happened to him when he returned from an assignment in Pakistan. He had been living in Fort Wainwright, Alaska when a door-to-door sales crew sold him on a Vivint system, but when he relocated to Fort Hood in Texas, he was told he couldn’t cancel the contract.

Benjamin Cashion said just about the same thing happened to him when he moved from Cheyenne, Wy., to Little Rock Air Force base in Arkansas. And Andrew Baumgartner, who like the Mixons bought a system while leaving near Fort Sill, said that when he moved to Fort Carson, Colo., in 2012, he was told he couldn’t cancel the security service even though he said the salesman had told him he could. The family is due to move again in 2015.

“They told us that it would be an easy out,” Karen Baumgartner, Andrew’s wife, said of the sales pitch. “With the military clause it would be no big deal.”

On the heels of the “GMA” broadcast about other military families’ problems, Vivint jumped into action when ABC News asked them about the new cases.

A Vivint spokeswoman said the company is allowing the Mixons to cancel their contract; they said the Crosbys’ account is closed and they will remove it from collections; they are canceling the Chasions’ contract and providing a refund for six months of payments while the system was inactive; and they said the Baumgartners agreed to keep their system until they move again in June, at which time they will be allowed to cancel.

“It really takes a huge burden off of us,” Mixon told the ABC News Fixer. “It means the world to all you help.”

Vivint spokeswoman Jenna Cason told ABC News they “take customer concerns seriously” and work to resolve them.

The company has said that the overall number of complaints to the BBB represents less than 1 percent of its large customer base.

The company also said it has updated policies for military personnel discharged for medical reasons and has “improved our internal communication to our front line teams.”

- The ABC News Fixer

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