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Consumer Alert

On security systems, know what’s yours, theirs

Q. I am writing to you about problems I have been having with a Protection 1 home security system. Since the system was installed a year and a half ago, we have had problems with three different smoke ­detectors giving off false alarms. The company ­charges close to $200 to come fix the problem, even though it is their equipment that is faulty. The ­company did waive a couple of those fees but has stopped doing so. We have had to make four service calls in the year and a half, in some cases to fix errors that their service people made on the previous call. Now, we are forced to buy a $10-a-month warranty on the Protection 1 equipment so that we do not keep paying service fees every time there is an equipment problem. How can a company charge us money to fix equipment that is not owned by us?

A. This home security stuff is complicated. Part of the problem is when one company swallows another company, which then makes fuzzy who owns what and who is responsible for what.

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In this case, Protection 1 executive customer ­relations supervisor Nicole Green explained that the only equipment they consider to be the company’s property is the control panel. Smoke detectors and other devices that talk to that panel are the ­homeowner’s property, she said, even if they were ­installed by the company. Customers are offered ­warranty plans, Green said, because of that. Given that your ­situation appeared a bit more tangled, ­Protection 1 — without explaining what provisions they made — have resolved your concerns.

The company offered this statement: “We have contacted the customer and this situation has been satisfactorily resolved. Protection 1 has maintained a 95% customer satisfaction rating and an A+ Better Business Bureau Rating. On this occasion, we were able to satisfactorily answer the questions the ­customer had and clarify the facts surrounding this particular instance.”

For others dealing with home security companies, particularly if there’s a different company involved than the one you started with, it’s important to ­understand what you’re responsible for and what ­additional costs you could be facing.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and ­also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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