Door-to-door alert

A WSB reader is a little leery about a door-to-door security-system salesperson that hit his neighborhood this week; he did some research and wants to share it with you in case you get a similar visit.

I thought maybe I should let you know about a representative from “Firstline Security” that was walking through our neighborhood & came by my house on Ida Monday evening offering a free security system in exchange for placing a sign in our yard (near the street). He was really nice (probably right out of high school) and made a good pitch and made sure to let us know that we would have to pay $45 per month for service but otherwise all equipment and installation would be free if we agreed to let the sign be in our yard for 3 years.

I told him that the offer sounded good but we’d have to read the paperwork and talk to our landlord. He asked if I could call him then and when I tried to say that they wouldn’t be home he said “might as well try?”. I went to the phone and pretended to call and said he wasn’t home but I’d take his paperwork to read so he gave me a portfolio with info about their service and his cell number. As soon as he left I googled “first line security” and the autofill in Firefox’s google search bar offered “firstline security scam” as a search option.

I don’t know if these guys are actually a scam but google has enough results that when he came back this afternoon I told him that based on our google search we weren’t interested (and he continued on down the block, probably knocking on more doors).

and a few topics here.

Like I said, I don’t know if these guys are legit or not but his sales pitch was strong (and slightly aggressive) and I could see someone possibly signing up before having a chance to research them so maybe you can make a post that will at least help them be a little more prepared for a possible visit.

40 Replies to "Door-to-door alert"

  • MargL July 12, 2007 (9:38 am)

    We’ve had some guy wearing a blue Honeywell shirt stop by a couple times in the last couple months in the Arbor Heights area. It just feels weird to have a solicitor come door-to-door selling a security system. An online search makes me even more wary:

    “Honeywell does not solicit business door to door.”

    I just tell him we’re not interested, take us off our offer list, and shut the door.

  • Mani July 12, 2007 (10:23 am)

    I also had the same guy from First Line Security come by my house in Westwood on Sat afternoon. Same pitch as mentioned above, didn’t push the subject when I told him he probably should leave me alone.

  • K July 12, 2007 (10:28 am)

    We had a similar thing happen the other night but it was Orkin salesperson. Or at least a very young man dressed in an Orkin uniform. I had just returned home from a long day and let him know that now was not a good time. He was a bit aggressive and continued with, “I should let you know that I’ve been seeing a lot of poisonous spiders in your neighborhood…” I then insisted that it was not a good time and he left. I have hear that Orkin salespeople go door to door, but I’ve never seen them in our area in the 10 years I’ve lived here.

  • Tish July 12, 2007 (11:04 am)

    As a rule, no one should accept services from a door-to-door, e-mail, or phone solicitator. My roommate is a fraud attorney and I can’t tell you how many scams she tells me about on a daily basis. It’s simply not worth it.

  • Flowerpetal July 12, 2007 (11:34 am)

    The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Washington did some investigating of First Line when their were a number of inquiries in the Spokane area last month. Firstline Security is registered as a member of the Utah BBB. The company trains and sends out salesman in various states. Complaints in Spokane mostly by seniors were the agressive methods used by the salesmen. The E. Washington BBB contacted the company in Utah about complaints and were thanked for the information and that they (the company) would “review” it.

    So, legit? Yes. Have BBBs had complaints? Yes, for service, sales, and installation.

    I just told the salesman to move on and don’t come to the back door of my home again in Westwood again.

  • Shawn July 12, 2007 (11:58 am)

    I agree with Tish. We don’t get many door-to-door (except potter’s house people) but do get a lot of phone calls. Even when they claim to be with the police union I always ask for a website I can go to for more information. I don’t like giving out anything over the phone and would hate it even more if someone was standing at my front door.

  • Nate July 12, 2007 (12:26 pm)

    I live on Austin and haven’t been bothered by them yet.

    A Firstline sales guy visited us two years ago with a similar pitch (they would install for free in exchange for a sign). At the time the guy said the company was just getting in to the Seattle market. He was damn pushy (but courteous), kept calling us (I mistakenly let him make more than just the sales pitch, rookie homeowner mistake). He finally left us alone, and we promptly called ADT and had a system installed by them. We also now politely decline all door-to-door sales/charity offers.

    At the time a Google query didn’t turn up much info on Firstline (no company web site, no info on scams). I did notice that a few houses in my area ended up with a Firstline sign in their yard. Anyone with those signs represented here?

    Maybe a month or so ago I was busy in my yard and saw a similar looking group of guys walking up and down the block. They maybe passed me 6 or 7 times over the weekend. They had the company logo blue polo shirt and a small clipboard with sales materials — I’ll bet they were the honeywell guys. Funny thing, though, they never once approached me with a sales pitch — maybe the ADT stickers on my windows deterred them.

    That is all. The normal curmudgeons on the forums can now comment on how useless home security systems are.

  • Angie July 12, 2007 (12:55 pm)

    We’ve had the same situation happen 6 different times at our house in Arbor Heights, each time with a different company. Last time it was a young man from GE and I asked him to take us off of their solicitation list but he seemed unaffected and unprofessional about my request.

  • Sage July 12, 2007 (1:26 pm)

    Some young guy saying he was from GE with a GE patch on the sleeve came by me in Sunrise Heights in the last couple days with a similar pitch about security systems. He was extremely persistent. A pretty good salesman too. We said we didn’t want it, he said it would be doing a favor for our neighbors by getting a free system. (Didn’t explain how that would be.) Of course, it sounded quite absurd to think that GE would install a system for free. Doesn’t sound like their M.O.

    In any case, I’d love to hear about anything sold door to door for “free” that’s *not* a scam!

  • Leah July 12, 2007 (1:28 pm)

    It was a man and a woman who came to our house on Tuesday claiming to be with GE Cellular Home Security System. The website they gave me was Same pitch and same $$ amount of $ $45 was quoted. They also gave me their phone numbers. Is (801) Utah? Seemed a little odd that I could have a cellular home security system when I can’t even get any cellphone reception at my house.

  • Jiggers July 12, 2007 (2:25 pm)

    I only open my door if she’s hot and wearing nothing..:)

  • The House July 12, 2007 (2:28 pm)

    Ok, guys stop freakin’ out. Normally I would tell you to be leery of people knocking on your door, but I spoke with this “kid” yesterday when he came to my door. There is no need to get all frazzled about him. First of all, he was is a college student from the University of Utah. Second, I would barely call his presentation a pitch or “high pressure”. He was the worst salesperson I’ve ever encountered and was very easy to disarm and confuse. The actual system is junk and not worth the $$$. If you truly want a security system there are many on the market that are better and cheaper (no, I don’t sell them) and that are based locally rather than in Utah. The kid actually told me that he makes $200 per sale!

    This company apparently recruits young Morman college students, puts them up in apartments for the summer and pays them well (he divulged all of this to me). They absolutely aren’t fraudulent, but I definitely would not select them to be a company I do business with.

  • Teresa July 12, 2007 (2:47 pm)

    As a former employee of a the alarm industry, some people or would be burglars use this pitch to see if they can determine if you have a security system. If you do not, you could be targeted for a break in if they are watching your house. Scary but true.

    Always answer that you already have one and hopefully they will be beleive you and leave your house alone. They could be legitimate but I would not bet my money on it.

  • Flowerpetal July 12, 2007 (3:37 pm)

    I am somewhat surprised at people’s reactions (including my own reaction!) to door to door sales people. This used to be a legitimate business, selling things door to door. Its indicative of something even bigger I think. We have become so insulated in our homes, our own little coccoons that we are offended when people come up the walkway. Look at a lot of the newer construction, houses without sidewalks leading to the street and only from the driveway.
    I’m not saying it is necessarily bad; just different, and less friendly in the way we were friendly before.

  • Todd in Westwood July 12, 2007 (3:55 pm)

    There have been 3 different alarm company reps trying to sell door to door down here is as many weeks. I already have an alarm, so I shoo them away asap. Next time we should ask them for their supervisor’s phone # and see if they will comply or run off.

  • k July 12, 2007 (8:06 pm)

    Flowerpetal- We should all be very aware of what is going on in our neighborhoods. Door to door is NO LONGER a viable or safe way to conduct business. It’s the perfect opportunity for people to case your home. This has been happening more often than not in our West Seattle. All someone has to do is show up, ring your bell, you answer and they can see what is in the main room of your home. NOT SAFE, PERIOD. If people want security for their homes, they aren’t going to buy it from someone ringing their door bell. Come on!

  • JP July 12, 2007 (8:19 pm)

    I no longer live in WS but, a year or so ago I actually had this “company” come to my door… at least, from what I remember, it sounds like the same deal/name.

  • Burienite July 12, 2007 (10:31 pm)

    One sure way to find out if someone selling door-to-door is legit is to ask to see their residential sales license which is required by law and should be on the outside of their clothing. See Seattle Municipal Code 6.260

  • pam July 13, 2007 (6:45 am)

    This kid came to my house the other day, too. He was well-mannered enough, but it’s not like I was going to buy an alarm system from a guy on my porch without doing research. I DID find it a little odd that he wouldn’t leave information with me, he couldn’t leave me a brochure and didn’t have a biz card, he just scribbled his number on a piece of paper that I had to provide.

    His presence on at my door did remind me to put up the “no soliciting” sign.

  • Carole July 13, 2007 (8:39 am)

    I just read about these guys the other day on some news t.v. station’s website warning about their tactics. I checked them out on Ripoff Report, and found what you did–lots of complaints about them. In general, I don’t answer the door to anyone I don’t know, keep it locked all day, and tell my kids to do the same. Wherre i live we’ve had 5 rapes recently on girls who opened their door to a stranger. Best to be safe and have someone you know call you if they want to be let in!

  • Jiggers July 13, 2007 (10:20 am)

    With all the psycho’s and scammers today, we have to worry.

  • Flowerpetal July 13, 2007 (11:29 am)

    Too much worry is bad for your health. Although some worrying is normal and is actually a function of our basic instincts, chronic worry can become a serious problem that requires treatment. If we have a “need” I believe it is the need to keep our worrying within a normal range. I protect myself, I’m aware of my surroundings and the safety of my house, and I take cautious measures. But I don’t have the need to worry.

  • Lachlan July 13, 2007 (11:48 am)

    Chronic worrying is not the same as being self-and-situationally aware.

    I am immensely skeptical of people who come to my door, and generally, if a stranger knocks, I don’t answer. It’s a simple way to avoid being sales-pitched. But you better believe I get a good look at who it is.

    And though I am vigilant about unfamiliar cars or people in my area, I am not worried. It’s that vigilance that KEEPS me from being worried.

  • Lachlan July 13, 2007 (11:48 am)

    Chronic worrying is not the same as being self-and-situationally aware.

    I am immensely skeptical of people who come to my door, and generally, if a stranger knocks, I don’t answer. It’s a simple way to avoid being sales-pitched. But you better believe I get a good look at who it is.

    And though I am vigilant about unfamiliar cars or people in my area, I am not worried. It’s that vigilance that KEEPS me from being worried.

  • Jiggers July 13, 2007 (1:13 pm)

    Whole Foods CEO in big trouble…


  • Flowerpetal July 13, 2007 (2:21 pm)

    Yep, you’re absolutely in agreement with me Lachlan. We don’t have to chronically worry because we take reasonable measures like being vigilant. Have a safe and happy WS weekend.

  • Colt July 18, 2007 (3:58 pm)

    I just found this blog today and I think it is prepostorous that anyone would think Firstline is a scam. Anyone doing any real research other than listening to bloggers would relize that these door to door kids are working a summer internship. They go door to door promoting the new cellular equiptment because the older stuff like ADT and Brinks run through telephone lines that get cut. I had the system installed about 2 months ago and haven’t had a problem yet. Don’t be a bunch of Scarrdy Ghosts, if you want home security the cellular systme is the way to go.

  • Chumong July 19, 2007 (8:17 am)

    I think it’s a scam but if not he was probably going to case the houses. First off for a door to door salesman he didn’t look very legit. He had a blue honeywell shirt on but he was selling first line. He was carrying a binder and the binder looked really messy. He then wanted to come into my house to look at my security system to find out what kind it was. I then asked for his card and he said he didn’t have any and that he was going to be in the area for only the next couple of days. And then when I told him I have to call ADT first he got really pushy. Looks really suspicious to me so you guys should be more cautious and not let this guy in your house.

  • Josh July 20, 2007 (6:48 pm)

    Firstline Security is not a scam per se, they’re a legal and legitimate business. BUT, the sales pitch may be exaggerated, this goes the same with any door-to-door sales. I would always encourage reading paperwork and remaining skeptical, it’s YOUR money, nobody else will watch it for you.

    I have some info on my blog.

  • Josh July 20, 2007 (7:01 pm)

    As for ‘casing houses’ that’s a reasonable reactionary fear, but unnecessary, people smart enough to commit crimes are not stupid enough to knock on your door to talk to you.

    As for ‘cellular’ alarm system, they will make sure it works. It’s on a ‘cellular radio’ that has a different standard as your cellphone, even with no cellphone reception, your phone is good enough for emergency and GPS.

    When they say “free”, they mean “hardware & installation” is free, no upfront cost. A security system isn’t a bad idea, but shop around, there are better monthly prices.

    The ripoffreports are old, and you can find just as many complaints for ADT, Protection One, or even Brinks.

    Firstline works with several partners, ADT, Honeywell, GE, and Criticom …etc. They like to pitch the big names to be better recognized.

    Here’s a link I found myself about Criticom contracts

  • Brandon December 15, 2007 (8:16 pm)

    I’ve been selling door to door for 10 years and make more money doing this than I would using my degree in education.

    There are many legitimate door to door sales people. However; there are some companies that are scams. If the person says they are in college and earning points or anything similiar to that as their sales pitch it is a scam.

    Magazine sales are notorious for being a rip-off. Vacuum sales are overpriced, unless you feel like you need a vacuum of that caliber.

    Alarm sales are perfectly legitimate, I have never once actually seen someone sale alarms and end up robbing houses. Alarm salesman most pass a background check to sale alarms. Alarm salesman must get a license from the state. If they don’t have a license then that might be a problem. Just ask them for their license or license number.

    There is nothing wrong with going door to door. It is a way for small companies to compete against the mulit-million dollar marketing bugets of larger companies.

    It is extremely effective if done right. Watch the Donny Deutch show, there is someone on there just about every night that started their business by direct sales.

  • Ron May 15, 2008 (10:41 am)

    I had the free system installed almost a year ago by firstline. Part of the deal to get the free system was to have a 3 year contract and to allow them to display a sign somewhere that is visible from the street. I am satisfied with the system, the work and service I got on installation. But Firstline is only the equipment and installation vendor. Once installed, you are contracted to a monitoring company. In my case, it was Security Associates Internationl (SAI).
    By the way, I had a young guy come by yesterday with a black windbreaker with the name of a security company on it, and I now can’t remember the name of it. He told me that Firstline was going bankrupt but the company he worked for was in the process of buying it. He said he was sent from his company to talk to Firstline customers to make them aware of this and that that his company would be contacting me. He asked me while he was there if there was anything I may want to add or needed. I did want a couple of added window sensors and showed him where. When he left, I realized he had not left a card or anything, and I had already forgotten the name of the company that he said he worked for. Got a little nervous at this point. Was this guy just casing my place? I called the firstline customer service number and got transferred to talk to SAI. They rep. told me that yes, Firstline was in bankrupsy but she didn’t know anything about another company buying them out. My action at this point is to ensure I arm my system always when I leave the house. I was getting slack about it sometimes but if the guy wasn’t legit, then he got a pretty good look at my house and whats in it. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Jean June 21, 2008 (3:34 pm)

    Firstline Security lost their license to operate in California. It was reported on ABC KGO TV Channel 7’s Michael Finney On Your Side earlier this week.

  • Mad Maxine June 23, 2008 (4:35 pm)

    I just had this goofy kid stop by my place. He was wearing a blue GE shirt and sporting an apparently official badge. He had the IQ of a ping-pong ball, and was pretty inarticulate about what he wanted from me. I think it was the “can we put our sign in your yard” thing.

    He tried using the old hash of scare tactics about the cops not responding promptly, burglers using oven spray on dogs, and the “fact” that there have been more break-ins in my neighborhood (Ballard) lately. I told him that I actually have had really good response times from the police when I do call, and that my familiar neighbors are the best alarm system I could possibly have. I also told him that if he really wanted to sell more systems, he might want to take a different tact other than fear-mongering, told him to speak clearly, and to make his point more quickly.

    Because the kid was such a dope, I didn’t feel right about the interaction. So, I checked google and found your blog and traced the links. Then I called the police to see if they were hunting for scammers of this sort. They put me on hold for a bit, then came back and said that the GE folks appear to be legitimate.

    However, I think it’s always a good idea to watch out for potential people looking to scope out your property. These kids are in a great position to find out whether you have an alarm system, figure out if you’re the homeowner, and get a look inside your house (if you let them).

    Best to be vigilant and informed without being paranoid. Cheers!

  • Anonymous June 28, 2008 (10:10 am)

    I work at a security system office where we take the calls for our representatives who go door to door. I have to say it really does upset me to see how many people do try to rip off innocent people enjoying being at home. However, I trust my company 100%. We, and many other companies probably do as well, use honeywell and ge equipment depending on your system. Honeywell/GE are the equipment, NOT the monitoring company. The monitoring companies do send people out door to door but honeywell and GE may not because they do not actually monitor your home. It takes multiple companies for an alarm system. At my company, you can get online and look at our website and check the salesman’s name and badge id number. You can also call us directly at the call center or call their main office. my company has a licensing number, a business number, etc. We have many people call to ask us if we are legit and I am very glad to say that my company has everything to show you. And every company should be able to prove to you that they are real and are not a scam

  • Kristen June 28, 2008 (5:47 pm)

    Thanks for this blog! I live in Georgia and just had a GE rep come to my door (wearing a black shirt and touting an “official” GE badge). I have a Brinks system installed in my house and he was selling me the line of “my system not being upgraded to the non-telephone line monitoring.” I have to be honest and say that my first thought after I shut the door was “He was probably casing my house and is going to try and break in at a later date.” But having read your blog, it sounds like he was just some guy trying to make a living. Sorry to hijack the thread with someone from outside Seattle, but in case people, like myself, find this blog, I wanted them to know it happens outside WA and CA.

  • brooke July 21, 2008 (5:33 pm)

    Although it’s been a year since he posted, this is a response to Josh – just a heads up that people WILL knock on your door in order to case your place. I live in a neighborhood very close to downtown Minneapolis, and a couple summers ago, our neighborhood had a problem with a specific group of people who were going door to door offering to do chores (mostly yardwork) in exchange for spare change. Halfway into doing the agreed upon chore, the person would ask for a drink of water or if it was okay to use the homeowner’s restroom – a seemingly simple request that would allow the person access to the house. Once inside they would case the place, and then later, after the chore was completed, pass on the information to an accomplice. The accomplice would later go back and burglarize the home. It took the police a couple months to catch on to what was going on, but they eventually put it all together.

  • Death of the (Door-to-Door) Salesman « Matt’s Marketing Musings August 30, 2008 (9:20 am)

    […] commentary that supports the statements made above can also be found on West Seattle Blog where area consumers who read and subscribe to the blog detail their own experiences with […]

  • Lori September 8, 2008 (12:40 pm)

    I too thank you for this blog. I just had to have Brinks reinstall a “legit” system. I was one of those saps who didn’t do any research on First Line and signed. With in 4 weeks we were billed over 8 times for our services. That amongst other issues had us cancel the contract. When our installer today took down the panel it wasn’t even hooked up to be monitored. No phone lines plugged in and no wireless capabilities. So whether it is bankrupt now or not you may want to have your system looked at to see if you have been paying for monitoring that wasn’t even plugged in to do so.

  • Andy December 20, 2008 (10:32 pm)

    Ok, here is what you should understand about firstline and it’s reps. They are an independent company that sells a security system that is manufactured by GE, and they sign you up for service with a big monitoring company (usually ADP or the like). The guys that sell are mostly college students out of Utah which is the biggest recruiting ground for sales companies. They don’t leave you with sales materials (brochures, cards, etc.) because firstline doesn’t give them any. My experience with firstline (mainly with my room mates who sold for them) is that they teach their reps to be somewhat dishonest and they make it hard for reps to receive the commissions they’ve earned.

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