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Is low-priced Internet monitoring reliable?

Discussion in 'Security Alarms' started by blueman, Sep 5, 2006.

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  1. blueman

    blueman Guest

    We had a pretty high-end DMP XR200 alarm system installed about 18
    months ago, including Internet monitoring via the Icom module.

    Until now, we have been paying the local company that installed the
    system about $26/month for monitoring of burgulary sensors and
    smokes. That charge does not include any equipment/service warrantees
    or maintenance/inspection agreements. Recently, they raised our price
    to nearly $30/month.

    By comparison, I see companies on the web advertising Internet-based
    monitoring for $9-10/month or about 1/3 price. They presumably use a
    national call center to monitor alarms across the country using the
    power of the Internet to connect it all together, often with redundant
    networks and call centers.

    - Is there any good reason not to go with the cheaper Internet providers?
    My current provider talks about how they have faster response times
    (17sec average) and are local but is that really true or important
    and even if it is does that really justify 3X the price?

    (note, I no longer have any contractual obligation to continue with
    the original provider)

    - Is it important to have a local monitoring company or is it
    irrelevant in the Internet age?

    - Any suggestions about whom to recommend and whom to avoid in this
    space? (either nationally or locally in the Boston area)

    - Any hidden catches or gotchas that I should be worried about?
    (note, I am pretty experienced electrically and do not need someone
    local for service)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Mark Leuck

    Mark Leuck Guest

    It is likely they are not monitoring DMP Internet modules, if they don't you
    will be out of luck
    Its not a simple task to reprogram the DMP module for another central
    station
    It doesn't matter
     
  3. alarman

    alarman Guest

    That's a pretty hefty increase. I would try negotiating with them. Sooner or
    later yu will need professional service.
    js
     
  4. Crash Gordon

    Crash Gordon Guest

    The gotcha would be if you need service, a company you don't know on the
    internet will not be able to perform an on-site service call. If you're
    unhappy with your current company you should look for an authorized DMP
    dealer in your area, not every alarm co. can service every system out there.
    And remember, regardless of brand, the company that installed it will know
    the most about how they installed it...bottom line your service calls will
    be shorter in the long haul.

    $4.00 jump in price is unusual...I'd call them and see how interested they
    are in keeping your business.



    | We had a pretty high-end DMP XR200 alarm system installed about 18
    | months ago, including Internet monitoring via the Icom module.
    |
    | Until now, we have been paying the local company that installed the
    | system about $26/month for monitoring of burgulary sensors and
    | smokes. That charge does not include any equipment/service warrantees
    | or maintenance/inspection agreements. Recently, they raised our price
    | to nearly $30/month.
    |
    | By comparison, I see companies on the web advertising Internet-based
    | monitoring for $9-10/month or about 1/3 price. They presumably use a
    | national call center to monitor alarms across the country using the
    | power of the Internet to connect it all together, often with redundant
    | networks and call centers.
    |
    | - Is there any good reason not to go with the cheaper Internet providers?
    | My current provider talks about how they have faster response times
    | (17sec average) and are local but is that really true or important
    | and even if it is does that really justify 3X the price?
    |
    | (note, I no longer have any contractual obligation to continue with
    | the original provider)
    |
    | - Is it important to have a local monitoring company or is it
    | irrelevant in the Internet age?
    |
    | - Any suggestions about whom to recommend and whom to avoid in this
    | space? (either nationally or locally in the Boston area)
    |
    | - Any hidden catches or gotchas that I should be worried about?
    | (note, I am pretty experienced electrically and do not need someone
    | local for service)
    |
    | Thanks!
     
  5. blueman

    blueman Guest

    Really? I use RemoteLink and it seems that there are only a few
    trivial changes that need to be made on the customer side such as
    changing the account number, the Remote Key, the IP address/telephone
    number and the port/modem strings.

    I would imagine that similarly on the Central Station side they would
    only need to set up and assign an account number (along with billing
    and address details) and perhaps download the panel info for
    reference.

    Of course, the Central Station would need to physically support DMP
    panels, including (Internet) network connectivity.

    Am I missing something here?
     
  6. Dan

    Dan Guest

    You should also consider your technical capabilities. I use an internet
    service, and all three of my false alarms (Teenagers) were handled swiftly
    as per the contract. I have no complaints, but I have to maintain my own
    system. All they provided was the basic account and calling parameters and
    how to program them in, I had to supply them all the Zone info and how they
    were configured to respond to an alarm, IE silent, delay, etc.

    Dan
     
  7. blueman

    blueman Guest

    In my case, I am very familiar with the installation and would have no
    problem diagnosing and/or replacing broken sensors. I also have the
    RemoteLink software and have no problem reconfiguring zones
    etc. (especially with a little help as needed from Usenet friends).

    In fact, the reason I discontinued the $200/year charge for warrantee
    and inspection service is that I figured that I could fix and maintain
    the system for a fraction of that cost.

    Finally, while I know everybody hypes the importance of "safety" and
    how we shouldn't sacrifice even an iota of personal security by going with a
    cheaper service, the reality is that we live in a very safe
    neighborhood and having an alarm is just a nice extra protection that
    also offers some insurance relief.
     
  8. blueman

    blueman Guest

    I have no problem maintaining my own system.
    Also, I can easily "print out" our panel zone by zone giving all the
    information needed. I can even download it all into a spreadsheet. I
    also regularly download and backup my panel in case it every totally
    dies and needs to be reloaded.

    My only concern is actually false alarms since we seem to all too
    often make dumb mistakes and set off the alarm (not just our teenagers
    :) -- so, it is important that they call us (and the rest of the
    response list) first so as not to trigger unnecessary fines from the
    police or fire department.
     
  9. alarman

    alarman Guest

    Regularly?

    I'm begnning to wonder whether your alarmco isn't just trying to get rid of
    you.
    js
     
  10. tourman

    tourman Guest

    I am assuming what you mean by "cheaper" providers are those Central
    Stations that cater directly to the end user, and not those using VoIP
    or the internet. The answer is IMO, probably not !

    These "direct to end user" monitoring services are strictly for those
    who either don't require the services of a dealer (a small minority),
    or those who can service their panel themselves (likely an even smaller
    minority of the alarm buying public). Discount stations make more from
    dealing direct to the end user than they do selling services to the
    dealer (in the telephone industry, we used to call it "cream
    skimming"). For example, I can get ADT monitoring for $3 monthly, or my
    current supplier for $4.50 monthly, or I too can get service from these
    companies for a couple of bucks a month. From my perspective, it
    depends upon what they will do for me...test signals, cancel codes,
    daily trouble and alarm reports etc. ADT are by far and away the worst
    of the lot (no tests, cancel codes or reports and worst...hair trigger
    monitoring which is the source of major false alarms). My current
    station is nothing less than superb in every way on the criteria and
    station support I need to service my customers base! And if I went to
    the el cheapo monitoring stations, I would get basic signals only,
    which might be enough for many dealers and most end users.

    So the discount station sells to you direct for $10 and makes $9 a
    month. If they sell to me, they make $7 or $8 a month, and also have to
    keep a fussy dealer happy with extra support services.

    However, from the perspective of an end user such as yourself, if you
    don't need a dealer, and you don't require service, and you don't mind
    paying a year up front, then by all means use them. In my experience,
    you will experience just as good monitoring as you get from any of the
    major suppliers, but without the need for an onerous long term
    contract. Do ask exactly what they supply for the money they charge you
    though.

    Monitoring is just another service. It IS an important part of your
    alarm service though ! Unfortunately, the alarm industry has tied it
    down contractually for their own benefit such that the end user is at a
    disadvantage most of the time when he goes to get it !!

    However, don't plan on using VoIP in any of its forms for your security
    services just to save a buck. I know some of these outfits sound almost
    too good to be true, but don't try to go too cheap !! It's too "iffy"
    yet in spite of what many will say. Stick with the stations 1-800 lines
    to communicate if you are long distance from them and you won't have
    any reason to be second guessing your decision later on....

    R.H.Campbell
    Home Security Metal Products
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    www.homemetal.com
    www.flickr.com/photos/tourman
     
  11. tourman

    tourman Guest

    Sorry, my math doesn't add up. If they sell to you, they make $10 less
    their cost...$9. If they sell to me at $2 or $3, they make only a buck
    or so....

    Damn, havin' these "brain farts" more often these days.....

    RHC
     
  12. blueman

    blueman Guest

    Regularly as in whenever changes are made (usually just to user codes,
    infrequently to zones).

    Why would backing up my alarm panel make them want to get rid of me??????
    The alarmco obviously has no idea on when/whether I ever backup the
    panel since I do it myself over my internal ethernet. In fact, since I
    can do almost all changes myself, I surely bother them less than the
    average clueless homeowner.

    Now I do admit that they may be raising my prices since I wised up and
    discontinued the overpriced warrantee and inspection services so they
    may be using a price rise as a way to get back more dollars from me.
     
  13. blueman

    blueman Guest

    In my situation, I am looking for direct Internet monitoring
    (not VOIP) since I already have a network adapter (Icom module)
    connected to my DMP panel.

    I assume that your comments about VOIP being a bad solution don't
    apply to this setup, right?

    Interestingly, one national web-based company that I contacted
    advertised $9/month on their website but wanted $25/month for Internet
    monitoring of my panel which didn't make sense to me. The only thing I
    could think of is that the DMP Central office interface is nonstandard
    for them so they would need to buy/lease/use extra costly
    equipment. Any thoughts?
     
  14. blueman

    blueman Guest

    That is my situation - I am plenty capable of servicing my panel
    myself. I just need monitoring...
     
  15. alarman

    alarman Guest

    They probably don't want you because you are programming your own system,
    and this poses a liability to them. Just my guess.
    js
     
  16. blueman

    blueman Guest

    I doubt it.
    They actually like me because I have been something like a beta tester
    for their internet functionality. I also got to be quite friendly with
    some of their techs talking shop and trading technical
    computer/electronic insights -- their most experienced techs
    paradoxically perhaps are the ones who are least experienced and
    comfortable with "new-fangled" computer and Internet functionality.
    (Plus they are the ones who gave me the software tools to access and
    program my panel via the Internet.)
     
  17. Crash Gordon

    Crash Gordon Guest

    ah,,you're the NYC guy then?
    did the Aux2 zone thing work?


    | > The gotcha would be if you need service, a company you don't know on the
    | > internet will not be able to perform an on-site service call. If you're
    | > unhappy with your current company you should look for an authorized DMP
    | > dealer in your area, not every alarm co. can service every system out
    there.
    | > And remember, regardless of brand, the company that installed it will
    know
    | > the most about how they installed it...bottom line your service calls
    will
    | > be shorter in the long haul.
    | >
    |
    | In my case, I am very familiar with the installation and would have no
    | problem diagnosing and/or replacing broken sensors. I also have the
    | RemoteLink software and have no problem reconfiguring zones
    | etc. (especially with a little help as needed from Usenet friends).
    |
    | In fact, the reason I discontinued the $200/year charge for warrantee
    | and inspection service is that I figured that I could fix and maintain
    | the system for a fraction of that cost.
    |
    | Finally, while I know everybody hypes the importance of "safety" and
    | how we shouldn't sacrifice even an iota of personal security by going with
    a
    | cheaper service, the reality is that we live in a very safe
    | neighborhood and having an alarm is just a nice extra protection that
    | also offers some insurance relief.
     
  18. alarman

    alarman Guest

    I imagine it would be a management decision. The techs have no worries about
    liability; they are employees. Anyway, as I said, it's just a guess.
    js
     
  19. blueman

    blueman Guest

    It's an uninformed guess -- everyone got the same raise -- they blamed it on
    increased cost of fuel, transportation etc.

    Plus, I have spoken previously to the president of the company (it is
    one of the largest companies in New England) and we are on very
    good terms.

    Please, no more guessing or flame bait... the purpose of this thread
    was to inquire about 3rd party Internet monitoring not question
    whether or not there may be ulterior motives in the company's price
    increase.
     
  20. blueman

    blueman Guest

    Yes, thanks for the help!!!!!
    I have done all the research but admit that I have not yet had the
    free hours to install the sensors (My wife has me busy with outdoor
    projects that I need to complete before the weather turns :)

    Admittedly, my interest in installing he temp & water sensors has as
    much to do with my desire to experiment and learn more about alarms as
    it does with any sudden immediate need for such monitoring. Although
    it may be hard to believe, I am a DIY more from the fun I get from it
    than from the money I save -- in fact, economically, I would do better
    to put more hours into my own business and hire someone experienced to
    work on my house but then I wouldn't have any fun...
     
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