Utah Alarm Companies Atop BBB’s Most Complained About Businesses

By Ashley Willis

SALT LAKE CITY — Alarm companies have earned the top spot on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Utah‘s Top 10 Industries for Customer Complaints for 2011.

The BBB of Utah received 17,156 complaints last year, and of those, 13,723 were in areas of consumer concern. Overall, consumer complaints were down 8.6% compared to last year, according to a press release. However, with 1,130 complaints in 2011, grievances against alarm companies increased 2.4% over 2010.

Utah Alarm Association (UAA) President Nathan Wilcox, who also serves as general counsel for Provo, Utah-based Vivint, says the complaints do not all come from Utah residents; rather, they also come from customers throughout the United States and Canada.

“From the UAA’s perspective, this report is not an indication that there is a problem with Utah alarm companies and how they’re treating customers in the state,” he says. “The BBB is national and the Utah chapter handles complaints across the nation for any company headquartered here, and there are several alarm companies based in Utah. So if a customer in Maine files a complaint against one of the alarm companies here, then the BBB of Utah handles that complaint.”

That’s not to say that UAA takes the complaints lightly. Noting that most of the complaints received are a mix between sales practices and service, the association, which has 26 member companies, has taken steps to help improve business practices at alarm firms. The association is currently in talks with the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing to develop required training courses to help sales representatives earn burglar alarm agent licenses. Additionally, UAA encourages all of its member companies to adopt the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) code of ethics, which focuses on providing excellent service to customers.

Additionally, Wilcox agrees with the BBB’s suggestion that businesses review the complaints made against them to determine how to eliminate or reduce customers’ concerns.

“Every complaint is important to us,” he says. “It’s also important to mention that the BBB reports on the number of complaints that have been resolved or unresolved. Anytime that you have an opportunity to have a public, third-party involved in resolving the dispute with the customer, I think that helps to improve business practices for any business.”

Despite numerous customer complaints levied against Utah-based alarm companies, as a whole the alarm industry on a national level is performing well. In the BBB 2010 Annual Report, which ranks all industries throughout the nation, the alarm industry ranked in the 80s for industries that received customer complaints, Wilcox says.

“Industries that have high contact with customers are going to see a greater likelihood of complaints,” he says. “So, if you look at it from a national level, the industry is doing well in terms of the number of complaints. We’re not even in the top 50, so that’s a good thing.”

Currently, there are 116 BBBs throughout the United States and Canada. Each chapter compiles its own top 10 list. The BBB 2011 Annual Report will be available in March.

Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.

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