Nationwide doesn't always mean what you think

October 4, 2012 3:45:19 PM PDT
Alarm systems are a great way for home owners to get peace of mind, but one local family says that peace of mind ended when they started getting ready to move. They thought the alarm company offered nationwide coverage but found out their new state is not included.

Not only is the state not included in the alarm company coverage, the family was going to have to pay for monitoring anyway, because they signed a three year contract. After we called the company the homeowner got at least part of that contract voided.

Central Security group's sign proudly displays the word nationwide. It's why Marcus Wheeler says he signed a three year contract with the home alarm company.

"They said they were a nationwide service which was important to me because I do move quite often," Wheeler said.

Wheeler says for a full year things were fine, until Wheeler found out he had to relocate to Ohio. Wheeler says that's when he learned Central Security group would not be providing alarm monitoring in his new home.

He said, "To my surprise they do not have support in Ohio."

In fact, if you take a closer look at that Central Security group sign, you can see fine print that says the company has license numbers in eight states. Ohio is not one of them. That left Wheeler with two years on a contract without service.

"They were like, 'Well, we are sorry for that but if you read your contract it says you have to pay whether you leave or not.' I tried to make a deal with them," Wheeler explained. "I tried to offer them 50 percent of what I they wanted me to pay over the next two years."

Wheeler says the company refused his offer, but while we were interviewing Wheeler, his phone rang and the alarm company was now willing to make a deal.

"I think that is great," he said. "I think you guys did your job."

Wheeler still has to pay $500 to get out of his contract but he says that's fine.

As for the wording on the security sign, officials at the Houston Better Business Bureau tell us, in their opinion, it is deceptive.

Monica Russo with the Houston BBB said, "If you asked any consumer on the street and showed them that advertisement and asked them, 'Well, do you think this company is located across the nation?' I guarantee you 100 percent of them would say yes."

We contacted the alarm company several times, but so far no one has returned our calls.

The best advice for everyone, if a company claims to operate nationwide, ask for a complete list of the states they operate in. Their version of nationwide and yours could differ.


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