A couple of years ago, around two in the afternoon, my doorbell rang. I hadn’t been expecting any company or express mail, and my street was normally very quiet, particularly during the work week, a definite plus. If my job required me to produce something before a deadline, I knew I could always get the job done at my home office without any distraction whatsoever. In the four years I lived on Pershing Avenue in Alexandria, only four complete and total strangers ever rang my doorbell– not counting trick-or-treaters or mail carriers. Of those four people in those four years, three were earnest and well-intentioned Mormon kids.
Ironically, the fourth person was also a Mormon kid, but he wasn’t well-intentioned. And he didn’t show up on my doorstep to share the story of Joseph Smith and the angel Moroni.
“Do you feel safe in your home?” He said he’d been interviewing my neighbors about crime. He even mentioned a couple of my neighbors by name. “I just moved to Alexandria,” he said. “Your neighbors say there is a crime problem around here. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
I will admit, in hindsight, that I was completely deceived. I didn’t have a security system in my house. But I’d also had my car stolen from my driveway in the middle of the night, and I knew that a security system was usually value-added. I listened to the kid’s pitch. At the time, he seemed genuine. He said he was selling alarm systems, that he could install a system in my house within an hour. It’d be seamless. I’d only have to pay a flat monthly service fee. He’d survey my house and determine my needs: Three glass-shatter alarms, a couple of control panels, and alarms on all of the exterior doors.
Looking back, I can’t believe I ever let him even walk into my home, but hey, he knew my neighbors; he was a new resident, and he was pitching a service that I’d considered. I gave the kid a chance. I signed up. He said my neighbor had signed up only an hour before.
But as it turns out, there are a few things I didn’t and couldn’t have known at the time: The kid, who worked for Silverline Security, hadn’t “moved” to Alexandria. He was staying in a motel down the street. He hadn’t signed up any of my neighbors. He flat-out lied to me.
And poor kid, even though I now know I was completely and totally ripped off by Silverline, he unwittingly threw his own company under the bus. If only I had understood the importance at the time, I would have ended the discussion then and there. While waiting for his technician to arrive, he tried to make small talk with me. He told me that his company, Silverline, was founded by a Mormon entrepreneur from Utah, that the company had recognized the persuasive power of door-to-door sales, and that he’d been traveling around the country, staying in motels; Alexandria was his newest “home.” He was fresh off of his year of service with the LDS, and Silverline offered him the opportunity to continue going door-to-door, except this time, he could make a little money. Later, I discovered that my neighbor had never signed up for the service; he already had a security system.
Silverline installed a security system in my house, and I paid for the system for over two years. A couple of months ago, I sold my house. I alerted Silverline that I no longer needed their service and that if they needed to, they could remove the system entirely. I’d been paying $49.99 a month to rent out their service and their equipment, which I’d likely already paid for several times over.
In response, Silverline claimed that I had actually signed a binding 60 month-long, $5,000 contract; the contract, according to them, wasn’t actually for a security system, it was for “membership.” If this is the case, then, in my opinion, Silverline actively engages in deceptive trade practices. I never intended to sign up for a Silverline “membership;” I paid thousands of dollars for a security system, a service, not for a membership into the Silverline club.
There are other problems, which I’ve only discovered since severing my ties with Silverline (by the way, I issued a stop-payment on any of their claims):
1) Silverline is likely violating numerous provisions of the Alexandria Code of Ordinances. Seriously. Silverline’s violations are all over the place, particularly Article X, Section 7-198:
An alarm business performing monitoring services shall:
(1) Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by the alarm administrator;
(2) Attempt to verify every alarm signal, except a duress or hold up alarm activation before requesting a police response to an alarm signal. The above does not apply to a system certified by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.;
(3) Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the city in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator.
(4) Communicate verified cancellations of alarm dispatch requests to the city in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator.
(5) Cease communication of a non-verified intrusion alarm signal on any alarm site that has its certificate suspended or that has received a notice of non-police response.
Obviously, Silverline needs to familiarize itself with the law.
2) And while Silverline’s at it, perhaps they could also file their paperwork with the Louisiana Secretary of State:
Ordinarily, I’d refrain from writing about something like this. It’s embarrassing. I got totally ripped off, and I’m being treated like a fool. But I believe (and hope) this is the most obvious and clear-cut example of deceptive and/or unfair trade practices I will ever encounter. I’m not afraid of calling these guys out, publicly, because I’m actually holding back a lot here; their salesman isn’t the only person associated with them who unwittingly threw their company under the bus.
I imagine someone associated with Silverline will eventually stumble upon this. My e-mail address is listed on this website. And look, I’ve learned my lesson: I won’t ever be duped and I won’t ever allow my loved ones to be duped by strangers who stalk around neighborhoods in an attempt, couched in deception, to sell “security” to stay-at-home parents, the elderly, and the disabled.