ST. LOUIS — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit against Pinnacle Security this week, claiming the company engaged in unethical door-to-door sales practices.
In the lawsuit, Koster states that the Pinnacle door-to-door sales team used scare tactics to sign people up for service, reports the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Ken Kirschenbaum, who pens SSI's "Legal Briefing," says overly aggressive sales personnel can ruin the reputation of any industry. "Encouraging professionalism on all levels of business is something that all companies should strive for," he tells SSI. "It often seems like some alarm sales forces are modeled after the old aluminum siding salesmen years ago. It gives the entire alarm industry a negative connotation."
Koster alleges that salespeople told Missouri residents that Pinnacle acquired the homeowners' existing alarm company or that the company went bankrupt. Those clients were given a prepared contract supposedly authorizing security upgrades. Instead, the contract permitted installation of Pinnacle products, leaving patrons with two security bills, the lawsuit states.
Customers were also told that the new system, which included a panic alarm pendant, would not increase their monthly bill. Sales reps said homeowners insurance would pay part of the service fees and that the system would include carbon monoxide monitoring. Consumers were falsely told they could cancel the service within 30 days without financial penalty, according to the lawsuit.
However, when patrons learned of the deceit and tried to cancel, Pinnacle refused to refund their money. In fact, the company threatened legal action if customers did not pay, Koster says.
Kirschenbaum says door-to-door sales are closely regulated in all jurisdictions. "Perhaps the best known regulation is the three-day cooling off period that permits cancellation without penalty," he says. "There are a slew of other consumer protection provisions that must be adhered to and included in the residential contract offered to the subscriber."
Koster has asked the St. Louis County Circuit Court to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions against Pinnacle. He also requested that the company fully refund all victims, pay all court fees, and pay the state a civil penalty.
For his part, Kirschenbaum warns about making judgments without having all the facts. "While issues important to the alarm industry, Pinnacle in particular, have been raised, we should reserve decision until all the facts are in," he says. "We should be mindful that the fact that the attorney general has brought charges is far from establishing the truth."
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune