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Last updated: 1 October, 2023

Helpful Tips to Avoid Being Ripped Off

Choosing the right home security system is becoming a mind-boggling task

The ever-increasing number of alarm systems as well as  ‘smart’ gadgets, cameras, video intercoms and cloud services make choosing the right system for your home a time consuming job.

Once you decide on a particular product you need to make sure you don’t get bamboozled into buying add-ons and services you don’t need.

That’s the aim of this article.

I have lots on information on helping you find the right home security system HERE

Mistake 1 – Choosing an alarm package that forces you into a monitoring contract

Some alarm companies will only install a system for you if you agree to have ‘Back-to-Base’ monitoring. They may offer you a lower up-front price for alarm installation however it works out a lot more expensive in the long run. If you’re considering getting an alarm system installed at home, you probably DON’T need back-to base monitoring.


Well, there are lots of reasons but here’s 3 to kick things off

An Expensive phone call

So what happens if you have back-to-base monitoring and your alarm is triggered? You’ll receive a phone call (or a text message) from the monitoring company to let you know that your alarm has been activated.

That’s about it!

The police won’t attend a residential alarm based on a phone call from a monitoring station. If you want a patrol sent to investigate an alarm you’ll pay a hefty fee for the privilege. Expect to pay between $80.00 – $100.00, but don’t expect much for your money.


  • It could easily take over an hour for the patrolman to arrive.
  • Unless you’ve already handed over a set of house keys to the monitoring company (and you’ll usually be charged an additional  monthly ‘key-holding fee’), the patrolman won’t be able to do a thorough inspection of your home or even confirm if you’ve had a break-in. “At least he can do an external inspection and look for signs of forced entry…..right?”


It depends on how security conscious you are.

If, for example, you have a locked gate preventing him accessing the side of your house or the  backyard the patrolman won’t be able to check the back door or side windows. So he can certainly check your front door and front windows for signs of a break-in.

But in my experience an intruder is more likely to enter a home from the side or back of the house, not the front where there’s more chance of being seen. So you could find that you’ve paid for a patrol visit, and on returning home, find you’ve had a break-in might even find that you’ve had a break-in and the patrolman didn’t know.

It would be possible then for a customer to pay for a patrol visit after his alarm was triggered, be told that everything seems OK by the monitoring room, only to return home to find that he has in fact been broken into.

What Are The Alternatives?

Consider monitoring the alarm system yourself.

A modern alarm system can send you real-time notifications, usually quicker and certainly in more detail than a professional monitoring station. Depending on the system you also receive a series of color snap-shots or a 30 second video clip showing you exactly what caused the alarm. Most reputable companies offer affordable systems that have these features. And there are no contracts and no on-going fees.

  • Back-to-base alarm monitoring for homes is an outdated concept.
  • Modern technology is better suited to this task and does it more efficiently and in most cases for free.

There are always exceptions of course, but for most of us I believe professional back-to-base monitoring is a complete waste of money – the monthly monitoring fee can be anywhere from $25.00 to over $60.00 each month. That’s a lot of money to pay for what really amounts to a phone call if the alarm goes off!

You also have to sign a monitoring contract from anywhere from 1 to 5 years.

The contract re-news automatically UNLESS you notify the company IN WRITING at least 1 month before your contract expires.


And yet this is how some of the best-known and largest alarm companies behave.

It makes you wonder if they really care about your security or if the real motivation is getting you to hand over that monthly monitoring fee each month. It’s free money to them in a lot of cases. As with a lot of industries, technology is disrupting the professional alarm monitoring business. Some of these operators are getting desperate as they see more and more customers not renewing their contracts.

MISTAKE 2 – Choosing An Alarm Company That Only Sells One Product

It takes a degree of knowledge and skill to do a decent job of installing an alarm in a home. Of course it’s not rocket science but no one wants to see exposed cables or wiring. Or have equipment mounted in odd locations or not installed neatly. A knowledgeable and experienced installer will take pride in his work and respect your home.

He or she will also consult with you every step of the way when choosing locations for the sensors, codepad and sirens. At the end of the job, you’ll have an effective security system in your home that’s also aesthetically pleasing. Professional, highly skilled installers are always in demand by reputable companies.

Their skills are recognised as valuable and they are paid very well.

Less reputable companies on the other hand tend to employ low skilled ‘technicians’ that don’t have any in-depth knowledge and most likley have never been taught how to carry out an installation properly.

The companies that employ these workers usually only offer 1 product. It will be a simple all-in-one system that has the codepad, control unit and keypad in one box. These systems require almost no skill to install. They are really just plug-and-play and offer limited customisation options to suit your individual needs. The technician can be in and out quickly and get 3 or 4 of these systems done in a day.

There is certainly a place for these systems, such as one or two bedroom apartments in the city.

But it’s ridiculous to suggest that the same system will provide satisfactory protection for a 4 bedroom home with pets that have free range of the house when the alarm is on is. Yet there are alarm companies that advertise here on the internet and elsewhere that would have you believe otherwise.


When discussing your needs with an alarm company, I would suggest that you don’t accept their first offering. Ask them what other products they have or could recommend that would be suitable for your requirements

MISTAKE 3 – Not asking for the installer code and programming manual

As I mentioned earlier, I receive regular calls and emails from customers that are unhappy with their home alarm system and are unable to get in touch with their installer. When I visit these customers to try and help I find that the installer has left neither the installer code nor the installer manual with the customer. This might not seem like a big deal and you would probably never think to ask your installer for it.


If a problem occurs and the system settings or programming needs to be changed, the installer code is needed. Without the installer code the system needs to be set back to it’s original settings and programmed from scratch. Now while this normally isn’t a problem, it can add unnecessary time (and money) to what would otherwise be a simple and straightforward job.

Some alarm companies get very protective about ‘their’ Installer Code because they use the same one on all their installations. If they give you their code you would now have an Installer Code for all the other systems they’ve installed. The real reason though is so that you’ll be “locked-in”  to using them for all future servicing and add-ons should you need them.

But at the end of the day, it’s your alarm, you’re paying for it and you have every right to be given the Installer Code and a copy of the installation manual.

You shouldn’t be forced to use a particular company if you’re not happy with their performance.

I would suggest that you select an installer code of your own choosing – it can be any 4-digit number – and ask the installer to make that the Installer Code if he objects to giving you the one he normally uses.

MISTAKE 4 – Getting Talked Out Of Having An External Siren Installed

A good alarm system is an important element in making your home unattractive to intruder. But it’s the last or second last line of defense. You want to make sure an intruder doesn’t even consider breaking in to your place. The other important elements are physical barriers  (locked gates, fences and security doors) and visual deterrents.

The best visual deterrent on a home is the alarm system’s external siren. An intruder can see it from the street or footpath and doesn’t need to get close to your home to check what security measures you’ve taken. There are so many homes without an alarm it makes sense for a thief to target those homes rather than deal with an alarm. The stuff that he is interested in stealing from you (jewellery primarily) is just as likely to be available in any other house in your street.

Why tackle the house with more obstacles for the same reward?

It’s becoming more common for alarm companies to not install this important component. As I mentioned in Mistake 2, you need to have some skill to install the siren in a location that’s pleasing to you, the homeowner, and also so it can act as a good deterrent.

This takes time, in fact it can take longer to install the siren than almost any other component of the system. Maybe that’s why some alarm companies don’t install them. Some will even tell you that your local council are going to ban them so that’s why they don’t offer it. That is complete rubbish. I believe it has more to do with using lower skilled installers that may not have the necessary knowledge to o the job properly.

Whatever their reasons, insist on having an external siren installed.

It doesn’t have to be so prominent so as to become a main feature of your home but it should be visible from the front of your house

In Summary

You made it!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! My aim with these tips is to give you some ‘inside information’ so you don’t get the essentials in your home security system without being forced to buy unnecessary options.

Want More? Here are 4 ways I can help you right now…

What our customers are saying…

“I wish to thank Steve and Robbie, for the installation and service I received,when my new alarm system was installed. Professional installation, courtesy service . Steve spends time acquainting you with the alarm system. He is so methodical, cleaning up after installation. I thank you both”

Dawn –  McLeod

“Just want you to know that the Bosch alarm is so easy to use and suits us down to the ground – thanks you so much for taking all the techno-babble out of the advice and providing us with clear factual assessment in everyday language. Your service has been outstanding and your eye for neatness and detail when fitting out the sensors etc, was so professional. Sincere tha​nks for everything and it’s so good to know you’re local and only a call away”

Nancy – Eltham

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