Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Beware Free Offers - they often come at a price

I had a phone call from my husband today letting me know a company called Landmark Security had telephoned and were offering us a "free" alarm system.  This call immediately rang alarm bells as I had received a similar call from a company called Direct Response last year.  They had also offered a "free" alarm system but a little investigation showed that this offer usually came with hefty charges.  I wrote about the experience to warn residents back in October and reported the company to local police, Trading Standards and the Telephone Preference Service.

I did a little searching on this latest company, who had told my husband that they were in the area and offering a limited number of "free" alarm systems.  It didn't take long to discover that the BBC programme Rogue Traders had investigated Landmark Security.  The Rogue Trader coverage came about after an elderly lady in Surrey had been charged over £7,000 for servicing and monitoring of a "free" alarm system.  The programme set up two scenarios using actors to illustrate tactics employed by the company.  These included spending up to three hours with prospective customers, insisting prospective customers sign up there and then to get a "free" system and accusing those who did not want to sign of wasting their time.

I am now reporting this company to Trading Standards and the Telephone Preference Service.  It is all too easy for us to ignore these calls but as we have TPS we should not receive the calls in the first place.  Older residents and those who live alone may see this as a good offer and could be persuaded to spend a lot of money.  An expert on the Rogue Trader programme says a burglar alarm system of the type offered costs on average under £600 in the South of England.

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