This is because you’re dealing with an item that is a long-term revenue source for the company that sells it, especially if you’re buying a contract with a monitoring center. Whether you’re doing a month-to-month system or you’re locked in for a series of years, the salesperson earns a commission on the value of what you spend with the company.
Because of this, they are often more interested in getting you to make a purchase then they are really finding out what your needs are.
There are a few ways you can defend yourself against pushy salespeople.
The first is to educate yourself. This website has a lot of information about the different kinds of systems that are available. It can help you understand the options and the terminology.
When you call a company for more information, you may get someone very helpful who explores your needs and isn’t pushy. But watch out if you get someone who tries to get you to buy your medical alert system right now, on this first phone call. Also be cautious if they try to badmouth other companies. It’s certainly fair for them to compare their company to others, but they shouldn’t be doing it in a negative way.
Most of the equipment that’s out there is perfectly good. There are a few different types of systems, some that call out and provide one-way communication, others that provide two-way communication, and still others that allow you to talk through the pendant instead of through the base station. You can find out all about these options on this website.
So you’re not really dealing with a quality difference in the equipment if you’re comparing the same kind of equipment from two different manufacturers. What you are comparing is the service environment and if you have a monitoring solution, the quality of the monitoring. The way the sales person treats you is a good indication of the corporate culture of the company and may give you a hint as to how you’ll be treated if you need customer service or when you have an emergency.
If you’re buying monitoring service you want to check into the quality of the monitoring service. One of the questions to ask is whether the company staffs its own monitoring center or whether they use a contract monitoring center. Of course, neither answer here necessarily means that the monitoring center is of good quality. You might want to ask what the employee turnover rate is and compare that to other companies. Certainly you want to ask for testimonials. Though be aware that these will be selected to be positive. You might want to ask a difficult question such as, “I’m sure that sometimes things go wrong. Can you give examples of when you’ve had problems with your monitoring service and how you have resolved those?” If the person you’re talking to claims that their monitoring center never has problems, then you know you’re not getting a real answer. Every business and every system has problems sometimes. You want a company that’s willing to own up to its mistakes and tell you how they have a process in place to make it better.
Monitoring centers can be UL certified, and you want to check to see whether the monitoring center you’re considering is UL certified.
In the end, you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what kind of system is best for you based on how the person you’re buying it for lives and how you want to be notified if there’s a problem. It’s worth the effort to get it right. Buying a medical alert system can give you a great deal of peace of mind.
Photo: Kids pushing by Passtalane via flickr