Never buy a medical alert from a company that forces you to sign a long-term contract.
Just don’t do it.
Each year tens of thousands of people make this mistake. They make a ’til death do us part commitment to a fast-talking, high-pressure salesperson. It’s a $1,000 mistake for many of them.
Here’s why it’s a bad idea:
- You don’t get any benefit. The contract does not protect you. It protects the company.
- It’s often more expensive. Oddly enough, the companies that force you into a contract often don’t even have the cheapest rates. Usually they are the MOST EXPENSIVE in the category. Maybe to pay for all those TV ads?
- You can’t get out of it except by dying or getting a very specific letter from a physician in the case that you’re moved to a specific nursing home situation. There are a lot of perfectly reasonable end-of-life situations that are not grounds for ending the contract.
- If the service is bad, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t quit, because you signed a contract. All you can do is wait it out ,or buy another system and be paying twice.
- The equipment is old. The companies that force you to sign a contract are generally using older, outdated equipment.
- If your needs change, you’re stuck. For example, if you start needing automatic fall detection, and the company doesn’t provide it, you can’t change.
- If better equipment comes along, you can’t get it. The medical alert industry is changing rapidly. If an innovation comes along that will make your life better, you should be able to jump on it. With a contract, you can’t.
- It makes things more difficult after your passing. With a contract, your survivors have to prove that you’re dead to stop the contract. That’s the last thing they need to be worried about.
- Companies that have long-term contracts are all-but admitting they wouldn’t be able to keep you as a customer unless they force you to stick with them. Kind of a big red flag, right?
The single most well-known brand of medical alert equipment forces its customers to sign a 3-year contract.
Worse, they used to have a clause in the contract that auto-renewed unless you cancelled it within a specific 30-day period. This caused a lot of people to get stuck with them for 6 years!
Wouldn’t you rather work with a company that has to earn your business each month? A company that knows if they don’t meet your needs that you will go elsewhere? Which company do you think will provide better service?
The good news is that MOST medical alert companies do not require a long term contract.
Prepayment plans are common with medical alert companies that don’t have contracts. These plans allow you to get a lower monthly rate by paying for 3, 6, or 12 months in advance.
Pay careful attention to the cancellation policies with prepayments. Some companies will not refund your prepayment if you cancel before the end of the year. In effect, this is a one year contract. I don’t have a huge problem with this, as usually the discounts are pretty good and a year isn’t that long. But it’s something you’ll want to consider carefully. Plenty of companies offer good prepayment deals and will refund unused months if you need to cancel.