Couple says $99 home security system initially cost much more

Couple says $99 home security system initially cost hundreds more

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The ad says the cost is only $99, but the Jewells were billed for hundreds more than that. The ad says the cost is only $99, but the Jewells were billed for hundreds more than that.
"The only thing they tell me is, 'You ended up signing for all this equipment, and that's what we are charging you for,'" Don said. "The only thing they tell me is, 'You ended up signing for all this equipment, and that's what we are charging you for,'" Don said.
"They tell you it's $99 and then they take more money from you," said Alfreda. "That's not right, they shouldn't do that." "They tell you it's $99 and then they take more money from you," said Alfreda. "That's not right, they shouldn't do that."

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - If the flood of the commercials are any indicator, competition is fierce among home security system companies.

To lure customers, companies will offer "free equipment" and a low installation charge.

But one South Knoxville couple says the bargain they saw turned out to be nothing like the printed advertisement.

The flyer spoke for itself. It advertised free home security system and the customer pays a $99 installation charge. The ad even says what the system includes.

But for Don and Alfreda Jewell, their bill far exceeded $99 once the system was installed.

The Jewells are paying a contractor to fix up their nearly 80-year-old home and they want it protected from intruders.

After receiving a flier advertising a free home security system, they hired a company called Protect Your Home last January to install several pieces of equipment.

"Just the front and back door sensed and a motion detector inside the home," Don said.

The system also included a digital keypad and panel as well as interior siren and a lawn sign.

The value of the basic system was listed as $850. The couple would pay only a $99 installation fee.

"That is not what we got," Don said.
     
What they got was a bill for $888. Originally, however, the couple said the fee was even higher when the installer put in the system five months ago.

"He said, 'That will be $3,500. We need to have payment today, but you can do it on a credit card,'" Don said. "I said, 'No way. We can't do that. We didn't bargain for anything like that.'"

Eventually, the Jewells bargained even more and got to nearly $900.
      
"They tell you it's $99 and then they take more money from you," said Alfreda. "That's not right, they shouldn't do that."

Don didn't have the flyer with him the day the installer was at their home, so he didn't challenge the big bill.

What they've been told by the company is they have more than the basic system; three extra motion detectors were put up last January.

Don said there was no mention about what the installer would be putting in.

They did sign the contract, so the company is claiming they owe the full amount.

Don has called customer service to dispute the charge, making reference to the flyer and a "free system."

"They do not answer any of my questions about this ad. All they do is scream at me and say, 'The contract is signed. The equipment was installed and you approved it,'" he said.

In West Knoxville a few weeks ago, 6 On Your Side went to the local office of Protect Your Home. Inside, we talked the local manager who then called the couple.

"The only thing they tell me is, 'You ended up signing for all this equipment, and that's what we are charging you for,'" Don said.
 
6 On Your Side contacted the corporate office of Protect Your Home ten days ago. Just recently they have come to an agreement and are offering the Jewells a discount on their system.

In an email to 6 On Your Side, a corporate representative for Protect Your Home said, "We take customer complaints very seriously.

"We have apologized to Mr. Jewell for the miscommunication," the spokesperson continued. "We have issued a refund for the equipment." 

Don Jewell said the refund is for $817. He's pleased with the outcome.

The Jewells plan to keep the security system with Protect Your Home and monitoring with ADT. 

Theys said they learned a lesson from their experience. Before they ever have anything installed again, they will find out what will be hooked up and what the charge will be. 


Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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