Broadview Security Commercials Feed the Alarm Industry’s Poor Reputation

Broadview TV SpotThe security industry doesn’t have a great reputation for honesty.

Whether it’s unscrupulous door-to-door “sales”, aggressive sales practices, outright deception, misleading advertising or simply the fact that most alarm monitoring services could best be described as ‘incomplete’ the security industry hasn’t earned a very good reputation. It’s too bad because there are certainly many alarm companies in North America who provide great (and honest) service and are working hard to improve our industry.

As is the case in every industry, their will always be shady operators, but it’s frustrating when some of the biggest players, who are in a position to lead in a positive manner, do things that only add to the mistrust and bad reputation that the security industry has.

Case in point: Broadview Security (formerly Brinks Home Security) television commercials. They are ridiculous.

Being ridiculous wouldn’t be so bad if the message  they’re  selling wasn’t so serious.  In my opinion, their new commercials represent the worst kind of fear-based marketing.  More importantly, the ads are very misleading. The vast, vast majority of alarms simply do not work the way they are portrayed in the commercials (and certainly none of the $99.00 systems work that way).

Click below to watch the first ad, called “The Ex”…

Unfortunately, many people do not know how the alarm industry actually works… let alone what happens when an alarm trips. Rather than perpetuating false stereotypes about alarm systems, Broadview Security is doing the entire alarm industry a disservice with these reprehensible advertisements. As a Security company owner, these ads are simply embarrassing to watch. As an average consumer who doesn’t know how alarm monitoring service works, they could be very dangerous.

Beyond simply being offensive in general, here are a few specific reasons why this commercial should be pulled:

1. When the angry ex-boyfriend kicks in the door, the alarm instantly sounds.

Given that the woman had just armed the alarm less than a second before, the exit delay would have still been counting down.

The ‘exit delay’ is the time between when you arm the alarm, and the time that it actually ‘sets’. This delay is in place to allow you to arm your alarm and then get out of your home & lock your door without creating a false alarm every time.

The ‘exit delay’ can be customized, but in most cases it’s set for between 45 and 60 seconds.

With the way that almost every single alarm system that I have ever encountered in my career, if the scenario played out in the commercial happened in real-life, there likely would have been about 30 seconds left in the ‘countdown’ before the alarm was actually set… let alone triggered.

As a result, in the commercial when the ex-boyfriend broke in, the alarm would still have been counting down & no alarm would be tripped until the countdown was finished and the alarm was actually armed. Even then, most alarms are configured to send what’s called an ‘Entry/Exit’ alarm which treats alarms created within a very short time of the system being armed differently than an alarm that is tripped hours later.

Either way, with or without an exit delay time, the alarm simply doesn’t work that fast.

2. Once the alarm gets triggered the phone starts ringing immediately.

In fact, before the woman even has a chance to make it halfway up the stairs, the phone inside the house is ringing and it’s Broadview Security on the line wanting to know if everything is ok.

Once an alarm is tripped, it will still take AT LEAST 30 seconds for the alarm signal to be sent to the central monitoring station using the telephone line. The alarm needs this time to seize the phone line, dial the long distance number for the central monitoring station, connect with the receivers there and then transmit the alarm data. This process, using a telephone line, takes at least 30 seconds. Once the alarm signal is received, it will take more time for the signal to be presented to an operator who will then make a call back to the premises.

In addition, the alarm uses the telephone line to communicate with the central station. For as long as the signal is being sent, usually at least  30 seconds, the phone line is not available to call in or out.

Unless the woman in the commercial has two telephone lines, she won’t be able to use the phone right away…  either to receive a phone or make her own emergency call to 911 because the alarm system will be using the line to send the alarm signals.

The bottom line is that alarms simply do not work this way. A properly designed alarm can be a very important part of your overall security plan, but it is not a cure-all solution. A $99.00 (or any)  alarm will not save you from a stalker who is motivated and committed to breaking into your home.

While it is certainly possible to speed up how fast an alarm can send a signal (for example, by using BLINK monitoring) or minimizing the risk of dead phone lines by having a dedicated line for your alarm, none of these options are available for anything close to $99.00

This commercial is akin to seeing a car advertisement for a beautiful new car with every conceivable option (plus a couple that don’t exist at all) for an incredibly low price. But when you go to the dealership to pick up that new car you bought based on the ad you saw, you’re given an old bicycle with a flat tire and cracked frame. When you complain that the bike looks and operates a lot differently than that car in the commercial, you’re told that everything you saw on TV is actually not included in the pricing that was mentioned. Car companies aren’t allowed to do that. In fact, in every car ad I’ve seen the small print on the screen makes it clear that they are showing a specific model with specific options. Why doesn’t the security industry point out that the images you see have little or no relevance to the price that is advertised?

If you have a specific security threat/risk, like the character in the commercial, a $99.00 alarm is not going to do anything for you other than cost you money. To suggest that it will provide protection against a motivated criminal who is targeting you is irresponsible and simply wrong. Broadview Security knows this… they’re just hoping that most North Americans won’t.

In the spirit of belaboring the point just a little longer, it’s not like this is the only commercial that Broadview/Brinks has run like this. Far from it, in fact, it’s more of a specific formula that they use in most of their ads in order to terrify people into shelling out $99.00 plus a monthly monitoring fee.

Here’s a selection of some of their other TV spots vying for the ‘Most Offensive’ title:

This one is called ‘Backyard’ and shows a mother with her daughter going in for lunch… and instant arming the second that they do. Like “The Ex” the bad-guy breaks in a second after they’ve gotten into the house but takes off as soon as he hears the alarm sound. Broadview makes the magically quick call to assure the woman that they’ll get right on to calling someone else to help.

This one’s called “New Home”, and preys on the fear of a night-time burglary when everyone is asleep… despite the fact that the vast majority of residential burglaries happen mid-day … and after an attempt to verify that the house is empty

Or this one, called “Wrong Door”. Not sure why the burglar would spend so long trying the door knob, I suppose just for dramatic effect…

Or this one, called ‘Treadmill’ where the alarm scares off the two burglars (dressed like they just got off of a set where they were playing burglars in a movie) who again are targeting a woman, alone in her home at night…

Or this beauty, that shows the same bad-guy, all dressed in black who sees the family inside and then decides to smash out a large window with a crowbar before running off at the sound of the alarm…

Here’s another black leather jacket clad burglar smashing a window while a young mother and her kids are alone at home…

This one is called “montage”… and plays like the trailer for a really bad horror movie…

If this is what one of the largest, and most successful alarm companies puts out, it’s no wonder that so many others in the industry figure it’s ok to mislead people.

Here are a few links to other posts that I’ve written that fit in with this topic…

10 Reasons Why Most Home Alarms are Useless (and what you should do about it)

“The Alarm Industry is a Parasite on the Police”

Why Police Response to Burglar Alarms Doesn’t Work

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