Faulty home security system, lack of RCMP response, leaves homeowner frustrated
© Bonnie Learning photo
Raymond Godwin was recently let out of a five-year contract with Reliance Protectron Security Services, after a bad experience with false alarms.
A false sense of security.
That’s how Raymond Godwin described his experience with Reliance Protectron Security Services.
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay man had two separate systems installed last September – one in his own home and the other in his rental property that is connected to his home.
He recently got out of his contract after false alarms with the system he had installed in his rental unit. But that wasn’t the reason why he wanted out of his contract.
The most surprising factor was that he was told that RCMP would not respond to this particular company’s alarm system.
Godwin noted he recently heard through a friend of his daughter that the RCMP would not be responding to alarms.
“I didn’t know if it was true or not, so I called the local RCMP detachment myself to ask,” he said.
“I found out it was indeed true, and that unless someone was at the break-in or was witnessing the break-in in progress, than the RCMP would not respond, due to such a high number of false alarms with this system.”
In a copy of a letter provided to The Labradorian, RCMP NCO for the Labrador district, Cpl. Kirk Fitzpatrick, recently wrote to Reliance Protectron, “We have noticed a large increase in the number of residential alarm calls at residences in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area. There appears to be some discrepancy as to the role of the police in the response to a triggered residential alarm which I would like to address.”
The letter states that the national policy of the RCMP regarding alarms is that, “the RCMP will ensure public safety by responding to all panic and verified alarm calls.” A “verified alarm” means a confirmation that a criminal offence has, or is in the process of taking place, e.g. witness, security guard, alarm company employee, real time video monitor, person responsible…We can no longer be the first point of contact due to the huge increase in residential alarms, as well along with the increase demand for police service in this area. We have responded to 58 alarm calls in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the last month alone and this is no longer sustainable.”
Reliance Protectron then drafted a shorter version of this letter to its customers in the Upper Lake Melville area.
“About five months ago, we had a call from the monitoring company for Reliance Protectron, telling us the alarm for our rental property had been going off for about 45 minutes and we had no idea why.”
Godwin said he would have expected the RCMP to have shown up, but no one ever did. And now he knows why.
“Our tenant wasn’t home at the time, so my wife had to go into the apartment to re-set the alarm and make sure everything was okay,” said Godwin.
After determining everything was okay, Godwin said he contacted the company, who said a company technician would be in the area within the week, and would come by to fix the system.
But Godwin said no one every showed up, and when he emailed the company again to inquire as to why, he was told because Godwin hadn’t contacted them the week their technician was in town, they assumed everything was okay.
But eventually, a technician did come by a few months later, removed the entire system at Godwin’s request, and even said he would get Godwin out of the five-year contract.
“The form I signed states I am ‘released from contract, no penalties,’” said Godwin.
He said he is currently awaiting his monthly bank statement to ensure his bank account is not still being accessed for the pre-authorized payments.
“I want to make sure those payments are stopped,” he said, noting the system contract was for approximately $45/month.
“Over five years, that adds up to about $3000…for nothing.”
Godwin said he unless someone can guarantee the RCMP will respond to a residential alarm, he will never invest in another alarm system every again.
“It’s a false sense of security,” he said.
‘Letter sent too early’
Patrice De Luca is the vice-president of marketing and customer service for Reliance Protectron.
He said the letter the company sent out was probably a “bit too early,” as he said the company is now in talks with the RCMP to get a procedure in place for handling alarm calls.
“We did not expect the RCMP to pull back on us,” said De Luca in an interview with The Labradorian on Aug. 28.
“We want to make sure we can deliver the service to our customers.”
De Luca noted the systems have two-way voice technology, where their monitoring company can listen and talk on-site.
“We have received validation from the RCMP that this is a good method of validating a real alarm,” he said. “But we are still working with them and to work out the details of the service they can provide.”
De Luca noted Reliance Protectron works with police forces across Canada to ensure there is “not too much of a burden on them with regards to false alarms.”
“We want to make sure we can deliver the service our customers expect and we are looking at different solutions with the RCMP.”