Are You Selling Your House And Want To Cancel Your Alarm Service When You Move? Too Bad
The internet is teeming with horror stories about trying to cancel alarm contracts. But this one stood out as particularly egregious.
It's a "Warning about Vivint," which recounts what happened when this guy sold his house, the new buyers moved in, and alarm service company Vivint refused to cancel the alarm contract at the house:
If you buy a house with Vivint, be very concerned. After I sold my house, I called to cancel, and they wouldn't let me. For over 3 months, I maintained access to the account, including the ability to view indoor and outdoor cameras, lock doors, set alarm, change pin, change the thermostat, etc.
Imagine that: an alarm service company, purportedly in the business of protecting people, refusing to back down even when the known consequence of that refusal is that a stranger is granted access to your home's camera feeds, doors locks, and even the temperature of the air you're breathing.
Now, you really don't need any more context than that to conclude that Vivint probably did something wrong in that case. But, just for the sake of being thorough, let's compare Vivint's stated cancellation policy (on its website) with this scenario of a Vivint customer moving away from the house at which Vivint's alarm service is currently setup, and that customer then asking Vivint to cancel due to the move.
Vivint's website states, in part:
At Vivint, we understand that sometimes the unexpected happens. We also know that when the unexpected happens, changes must be made in your life. Because of that, Vivint is proud to offer a cancellation policy that is sensitive to unfortunate circumstances.
Whether it’s down the street or across the country, Vivint is proud to offer a program that allows you to take your peace of mind with you to your new home.
That's some nice-sounding "sales speak" and all. But it's probably not obvious to most people who would read this cancellation policy that the part about "offer[ing] a cancellation policy that is sensitive to unfortunate circumstances" in no way applies, in practice, to this common scenario of a current Vivint customer requesting cancellation when moving--this according to dozens of former Vivint customers who have reported on their individual experiences with trying to cancel their Vivint contracts due to a move.
This issue gets even worse when you add in the alleged fact that, again, according to dozens of reports from current and former Vivint customers, Vivint's salespeople commonly misrepresent the cancellation policy at the point of sale, right before they ask you to sign the contract. For example, in recounting what the Vivint salesperson represented to him about the Vivint cancellation policy, he flatly warns readers to "Stay away from Vivint!" given what eventually happened when he tried to cancel:
In 2013 I got a knock on the door by a salesman representing Vivint. I was actually thinking about security systems at the time, so I listed (sic) to him. One of the things I asked was what would happen if we had to relocate due to a job change. I knew at the time that there was a pretty good chance that we would have to move due to my wife's work. He told me it would be no problem and we could cancel. He also said that the security system would help when we go to sell the house and that the new owner could simply take over the account.
...and, to be clear, the record on Vivint's apparent bad habit of misrepresenting its cancellation policy is not limited to anonymous internet posters, either. There have been several lawsuits against Vivint alleging this exact same complaint, often among other complaints of misrepresentation (for example, see Why This Attorney Sued Vivint In Wisconsin).
What many consumers don't realize is that, in this kind of scenario, in which you simply issue the cancellation request you were initially led to believe you had the right to make at any time, you don't need the alarm company's permission to cancel--whether it's Vivint or someone else. Now, of course, companies like Vivint want to try to convince you otherwise, which is why they will typically tell you that you do not have the right to cancel; that they have the right to continue billing you; and that they'll put your account into collections if you stop paying. But you should not let the conversation end there, for, if you do, you will lose by default.
Instead, if you have the appetite to stand up for yourself, but just need a few pointers, you might consider booking a micro-consultation with an expert who can discuss your case with you over the phone (if you're not familiar, you can usually get this kind of micro-consultation for around $30-$40, and those, and any other, costs you incur to resolve the matter may even be fully recoverable under certain legal claims you might be able to make against the offending alarm company).
In any event, I would, at the very least, encourage you to stand up for yourself. Plus, if this gives you the added boost you need to do it, note that, in doing standing up for yourself, you'll also be helping other similarly situated customers in a way, as your efforts in your case could reduce the alarm company's incentive, even if just by a little bit, to keep taking advantage of people in the same way moving forward. So, you might also consider it to be your civic duty for the month.