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The company that sets alarm bells ringing...

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Joe Mather - series producer | 14:28 UK time, Thursday, 3 June 2010

This week, we're on the trail of Direct Response Security Systems Ltd of Sutton Coldfield. The company doesn't just sell burglar alarms, they claim to sell you a direct link to the police.

Katie Gall was one customer who heard Direct Response's unbelievable offers after being visited by one of their salesman in January this year. Katie, a teacher from Epsom, Surrey quickly became wary of the salesman's claims...

"They were offering a free security system which would monitor my house to make sure that if someone broke in, if there was a fire then it would notify the emergency services for me very quickly. It would take higher priority than me calling 999, it was going to be very, very reliable. So reliable that the police would definitely respond because they recommended it as a system".

Alarm bells were already ringing with Katie, and quite rightly too. As Direct Response do not have control over the police they cannot make any promises about response.

It didn't end there. After an hour of sales chat, Katie finally learnt just how much her 'free' alarm would cost her. "It was only at that point that he said there was a monitoring charge of £58 per month," she told us.

What's more Katie would only qualify for this special offer if she signed up for a contract - meaning she could end up paying a total of £3,400.

Katie didn't take up the alarm system offer, and was concerned enough by the salesman's promises that she researched the company on the internet later and found out they'd been reprimanded in the past for their sales practices.

In July 2009, the bosses of Direct Response Security Systems were pulled up by the Office of Fair Trading and asked to give undertakings that they'd clean up their act. They promised they would not guarantee a response by the police or describe their product as free without mentioning any ongoing fees.

Something's Not Ringing True...

We decide to put Direct Response's sales practices to the test. We found a house in Surrey, filled it with hidden cameras and used an actress to play householder. We also asked alarm expert Graeme Dow - who has 30 years experience in the security alarm business - to review the footage. What will he make of Direct Response's sales tactics?

The salesman arrives and introduces himself as Christopher Hook. He was not the salesman who visited Katie. He's keen to show off his credentials with lots of bits of paper to verify who he is. But they are not all quite as they seem. Christopher Hook claims to have a police identity card, Scotland Yard security clearance and verification from a Surrey Police Community Support Officer. The problem is, he doesn't have a police identity card, PCSO verification, or Scotland Yard security clearance at all, instead he just has a criminal records check dating back to 2006.

On with the Sales Pitch...

Christopher Hook tells our actress that if she signs up their contract he will give her £1000 worth of alarm equipment for free - tempting. We since phoned around, however, and found similar kit from other companies can be purchased for around half the price.

So what was the rest of the pitch like? Chris Hook tells our actress that in South East England alone there are 20,000 burglaries every week. But these figures are totally inaccurate. Home Office figures released in January this year, gave a much lower figure of 5,400 domestic burglaries a week and that's across the whole of England and Wales.

Our actress has told the salesman that she was worried about crime which is the reason why she's interested in purchasing a burglar alarm. Mr Hook uses this opportunity to prey on those fears and starts telling tales of how burglaries have destroyed the lives of people he has met.

"People have taken their lives as a result of burglary, people have got divorced as a result of burglary, it's one of the most devastating things. A gentleman said to me, 'I've no idea, you know, what a sexual rape feels like' he said 'but my wife feels absolutely soiled as a result'".

Graeme Dow is not impressed so far and thinks Christopher Hook is using scare techniques to win himself a sale.

"None of these have anything to do with burglar alarms, so it's quite a disgraceful approach to try and sell by fear".

But then Mr Hook makes an extraordinary claim. He says Direct Response is in "constant link and connection with the nearest police car to your home at the instant the incident occurs" and says they don't even have to call through to the police station. Graeme begs to differ.

"Absolute and utter tripe. All phone calls go through to the alarm receiving centre to the police control room. The police control room contact the police car. There is no way under the sun, that this could ever be remotely true. Blatant lies".

Blatant lies maybe, but Christopher Hook carries on making even more outrageous claims by claiming that they even have the power to deploy off-duty police officers and that by owning this alarm system the homeowner will get a 'priority response' from the police force. Not only that, he tells our actress that the police are under a 'binding contract' to attend an alarm call as that's what the customer pays for.

It seems Chris Hook thinks a registration fee you pay to set up the alarm is a financial agreement with the police, when really it's just an admin fee. Graeme Dow says these claims are extremely worrying.

We have since spoken to The Association of Chief Police Officers and they've also said that there is no alarm company should say their alarm guarantees a response from the police as it's against their guidelines.

We wrote to Christopher Hook with our allegations. He admitted he may have got his crime statistics wrong, but that was about all. He didn't address points about his scaremongering, or his lies about the system so Matt decided to make a surprise visit during a rigged sales appointment.

He isn't particularly surprised to see Matt when he finally pops out to say hello, nor is he in any hurry to answer the questions we put to him again instead reminding us he has put it in the hands of his lawyers.

We offer to go through the list of questions we believe he hasn't answered, but he says he does not want be filmed, and decides to leave.

Time to meet the boss...

As we have received other complaints about the company and about other salesmen, we head to Direct Response's HQ in Sutton Coldfield. We have already written to director David Price however we did not receive an adequate response so we want to see if we can get better answers face to face.

David Price says salespeople for his company don't say customers receive a direct or guaranteed response from the police. He says his sales staff say customers "get a guaranteed response from the monitoring station, who then phone the police."

David Price goes onto say his company makes thousands of visits every year and get lots of positive feedback. He says they investigate every complaint they receive thoroughly, and they're not doing anything institutionally wrong. He also denies being forced to sign the undertakings given by the Office of Fair Trading and he was merely "complying with the law which he is more than happy to do".

He tells us that Christopher Hook has been given a final warning, but is still employed.

Direct Response Security Systems Ltd has since written to us, and told us they think neither Chris Hook nor the company have done anything wrong.

We've heard from Direct Response security systems. They say that in light of the footage broadcast they have now informed Christopher Hook that he shall undertake 'no further work in any capacity on behalf of the company at any time in the future.'


  • Comment number 1.

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  • Comment number 2.

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  • Comment number 3.

    HI, I used to work in a call center in Dundee for [another security firm], They also offered a "free" burglar alarms. We were told to cold call people saying that we were calling from crime research uk, which we were not and to tell them that there postcode had been randomly selected and they had won one of the free systems! I cant believe this is happening in other place too. We were told to try and make an appointment by any means possible. As soon I realised what they were doing I left right away.

  • Comment number 4.

    How strange. We had a visit from Direct Response. The salesman soon changed pitch when he realised there were serving police officers in the family. However we refused to pay the amount they wanted. However we do have a Direct Response system but are not paying as much as this lady was quoted. I will say that our sale rep was no where near as pushy and did not use the Scotland Yard Clearance. We were shown a passport. I am dubious but so far the system does as it says. I have had the alarm triggered and they did follow the procedures promised. I will update when and if I become unhappy with Direct Response.

  • Comment number 5.

    It is disgraceful that salesmen use rape and strangulation to scare people into buying! I am a victim of rape myself, and no way would an alarm have prevented it from happening! As for the police being on contract, well, I am trying hard not to cry and hit the TV!

  • Comment number 6.

    i can't believe this guy. on the bottom of the hazards and site risks sent off to the Police with the application for a URN it clearly states the Police do not guarantee a response to the system. i'd like to see what systems they install too. i bet they have no idea what DD243:2004 states with regard to confirmed alarms and that their systems aren't compliant and so probably wouldn't get a Police response anyway. any viewers that are concerned should take a look at the ACPO security systems policy. its on line and it will clarify and weed out some of the lying salesmen and if this salesman worked for me he would be collecting his P45 in the morning

  • Comment number 7.

    My father-in-law from Hampshire, told us that he had aquired an alarm system from Direct Response earlier in the year. He was also told that he would have direct access to the police and believed this to be true. However despite our reservations, they are happy to have an alarm system to provide them with some security, but my husband and I feel that Direct Response Ltd are guilty of preying on vulnerable people who genuinely believe what they are being told.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    All alarm companies need to be NACOS approved before they can offer a police response service. However, police response is only applicable on the following criteria:

    1. There is a dedicated phone line linked into a monitoring centre. This can be by [removed].
    2. The premises has an agreement with the alarm company to monitor the site with a fully functional alarm system and has 3rd party monitoring through the alarm company.
    3. The only way a premises can get a guaranteed police response is if the company applies to the local police. Even then it would have to a confirmed alarm which means that there needs to be two subsequent alarm activations at the property.
    4. The simple fact that this company are not NACOSS registered rings alarm bells straight away.


  • Comment number 10.

    i agreed to have a system installed in 2008, we had just had a baby a week earlier and with what was said to us felt vulnerable and agreed to have the system, we paid the 5 year fee for servicing and monitoring but the only way to pay for it was on a credit card, we were never told that the emergency services would not necessarily respond quickly and now are wondering if it is worth it and if it does what it should do, as it is, it is going to take longer than the 5 years to pay off the card and so may not be able to pay the next service fee, also does this mean that the house insurance company may not accept them as a reputable company if as reported they do not have a good reputation with the police. "is this system what it says on the tin"

  • Comment number 11.

    I had 2 telephone calls in one week from Direct Response telling me that if intruders broke into my property the police would give me priority if i had there alarm installed. I was furious and demanded to know why the police would give priority over a 999 call as we pay our taxes for emergency services and anyway as members of the public we should all be given the same emergency responses!!!
    I then sent an email to our local Police Non Emergency (general enquiries) to date i havent had a reply from them over month ago.
    Wi felt the whole of the sales talk was intimidating especially to the elderly who might be frightened into buying product. so pleased its been brought to watchdogs attention.

  • Comment number 12.

    I have just got a direct response system and I am still within my seven day cancellation period. Now you've given me a quandary. I had already seen a Mirror blog about this, but here's why I went with the system. Nobody is arguing with the system itself. It works well and would scare the living daylights out of a burglar when they get spoken at by a complete stranger. I think the salesman I had was genuine enough... although a little hungover, arriving on a Saturday on a bank holiday!

    So now my problem is not the system... it's whether the combination of bad press will damage the ability of Direct Response to fulfill their contract - which is for 5 years.

    Ah - gotta love the Fourth Estate.

  • Comment number 13.

    i did get a cold call from another security company and was told the alarm system would be free, that my postcode had been selected and that it was part of a government initiative - i accepted a sales person to come to my house and was advised that the process would take about 1hr.
    when the sales person arrived he did say that although the alarm system was free we would have to pay a once off payment for the monitoring of the alarm - he advised us that we had to make a decision on the night if we wanted the system otherwise the alarm system would no longer be free of charge. after 2hrs we finally were given the price of the monitoring £6000 for 15y!!!
    i initially said no and the sales person then came up with ways to make this more affordable ie, deposit and loan, reducing the term of the agreement and so on - after 3hrs i did sign up but once the sales person left and i had time to think clearly and with no person sitting in my house awaiting a response, i decided to cancel the signed agreement.
    this all took place at night after my work, once i had time to think - i sent an email to cancel and the next morning i contacted my credit card company to block the taking of the deposit, i was informed the deposit had already been taken from my account the night before.
    the next day i was contacted by a manager in the company to arrange instillation, it was at this point i informed him i had changed my mind and had sent written confirmation that i wished to cancel the contract. i was informed that a manager would have to come to my house to get confirmation of cancellation - this i did not allow and to follow up my email i faxed the company my signed cancellation form. i asked when my money would be returned to my credit card. i was informed that as they were a huge multinational company that they had no need to keep my money and the money would be back in my account at the end of the month. at the beginning of this month the money was not back in my account - after contacting the company i was told that i had missed the cut off for payment this month and i would now not get my money back until the end of this month and that that is their final word on the matter. is it right that a company can take a payment overnight but take 38 days to return the money, is there anything i can do to get my money back sooner..

  • Comment number 14.

    Regarding "DIRECT RESPONSE" I have a letter with Northamptonshire Police headed note paper making reference to what the police will do, which cost me £47.58p at the time of signing the agreement in April 2009 the letter was received about a month later. Although the letter does not contain reference to "DIRECT RESPONSE" it is referenced on the Invoice contract of "DIRECT RESPONSE" when we had it installed.

  • Comment number 15.

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  • Comment number 16.

    I worked for Direct Response for 12 months,changing my job only last week,I can honestly say at no time during my time as a canvasser there was i ever told to scare,mislead,or push potential customers into a demonstration,Quite the opposite in fact,all canvassers are told to inform the public of the benefits of a monitored alarm system,the costs if they were to go ahead,and to have an informative,polite conversation at all times.I do hope people that have watched this programme have the common sense to be still openminded enough to maybe contemplate monitored security,because the benefits far outweigh the costs.The programme shown tonight was unfair and unjust,and i wish david price and the rest of the company all the best in the future.

  • Comment number 17.

    They cold called me to try and sell their alarm system, when I said I didnt require an alarm as I have a couple of dogs, the salesman advised me that they had a burglary in the past and the burglar poisoned 1 of their dogs with some poisoned meat through the letter box, and then got in a killed the other dog!
    I put the phone down but this is disgusting!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    We agreed the installation of an alarm and have had no problems. Our sales person was very different. The police have said they will not attend if we have too many false alarms. That implies they will at the moment. One thing that helped sell the system to us was the camera in one of the pir's.
    Another selling point was the ability to talk to the person at the monitoring station. My husband sometimes has to call for medical assistance for me which not all paramedics are qualified to administer.
    I do think Direct Response are rather cheeky nominating themselves for UK Security Excellence awards.
    One worry I have as a result of the programme is that burglars will think there is no way police will attend properties protected by Direct Response.

  • Comment number 20.

    We were visited by Chris hook last winter after a cold call selling Alarms, we were offered a package that was the alarm and 3 room sensors + 2 doors,

    Chris arrived and made comment to the nice cars on the drives and again uses scare tactics about the recent amount of car thefts around epsom, he later left without a sale, but before leaving asked to look around the house, his request was refused, We parted company and were told he would call in a couple of days to see what we wanted to do, We never heard from him or the company about a follow up call, but 2 days later, our house was [edited for legal reasons]

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi everybody, I am a current employee of the above company. I would like to take it upon myself to appologise to anybody that has been effected by the attatude and scare tactics that this sales person has done.We can not be totally sure why Mr Hook used these tactics as there was no need to, please be aware that Mr Hook no longer works for the company due to attatude to the clients.None of our current advisors use scare tactics or force the product upon people. Once again please accept my personal apologe to anyone that has been effected.

  • Comment number 22.

    I currently work for direct response as a canvasser, and to be honest i dont think its as bad as people and watchdog are making out. I've been working there for almost a year now, and i can honestly say, not once were we trained to mislead people or give out wrong information. What the actual script is, that it guarantee's you a response from an alarm recieving centre, not from the police. Neither do we make out to be the police, its only saving people's lives, and i dont think there's any harm in that! However i do agree that chris hook the rep was wrong in saying that to an elderly woman, but what we were all taught at the start to be clear about what we say, and have polite conversations with customers. We do mention the dont pay for the equipment itself, and avoid using the word free. And tell them about the 299 installation, if they are then interested after that, we mention about the monitoring and maintenace. At the above comments, im not too sure who's been rigning customers and giving out wrong information and using threats, but eevryone is trained very well before they get the job, and after that, if they still make mistakes, they get the sack straight away. But i hope god blesses Drs and all the members of staff. As there are also many other copanies out there who are doing even worse sales pitches!!

  • Comment number 23.

    i worked for direct response as a salesman for about 1 year, and could not beleave what this guy chris hook was saying in the house, since the programme as been on i have spoke to quite a few other people who did or still work for direct response and was shocked in what this guy said.

    when you go on direct response's training course which last for 3 days, you are told the exact opposite to what chris hook as done and said, dave price and the training people can only tell you what you should be saying and its not to scare customers and give them figures that are untrue. chris is proberly the type of person who will do and say anythink to get the sale. i remember selling a deal for direct reesponse once and when i came out the house i said to my manager i not sure but i think this guy as memory problems, within a couple of hours the company cancelled the sale and said we wont be installing the alarm.

    Plus if they ever contacted a elderly person on there own we was not allowed to see if customer unless they had a family member or neighbour with them.

    also the company made us all to sign form's saying we would not lie or mislead customers in the house. This means they are trying to do things right, once a man like chris hook is in the house it's out of the directors hands.

    Just remember this

    Chris hook is not the owner of the company so he dont care what he says.

  • Comment number 24.

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  • Comment number 25.

    To Mayhemuk. If you are paying monthly in arrears if you think about it its the Company who have to worry about whether YOU will keep paying -no disrespect intended. If you pre-paid I'm fairly sure you are smart and used a credit card then I believe that the Card Issuer is carrying the liability up until the Contract expires , at least thats what a customer who is a Solicitor has told me. regards.chris hook

  • Comment number 26.

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  • Comment number 27.

    Rob M. The current equipment is Honeywell , presume you have heard of them.

    Nearly 11,000 customers at last count , on recognised lists of most Police Forces.

    NSI and SSAIB membership , NSI GOLD monitoring.

  • Comment number 28.

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  • Comment number 29.

    I work in the Surrey Police control room, the force in question and I therefore know exactly how the alarm companies work and how my units get deployed. There is only one way a fast response officer will get deployed to an emergency and that is by me or another control room colleague telling them to go. I also know exactly how monitored alarms are brought to the attention of the police - the alarm is triggered, the monitoring company call the police contact centre, and the contact centre create an incident and send it to the control room for deployment. It is treated exactly the same as any other report where intruders etc may be on a property, or any other incident where a crime is in progress, and it does not receive any form of priority whatsoever. The claims the company make about being able to deploy the nearest available police car are absolute rubbish and have infuriated me enough to create an account on the watchdog website to comment on this post! There are alarm companies out there who will contact the police for you, but none of them are treated with any more urgency than a 999 call from any member of the public, and no one will deploy the first police response to an emergency other than a control room operator or supervisor in charge of those officers.

  • Comment number 30.

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  • Comment number 31.

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  • Comment number 32.

    if your phone line is interrupted there is no response so a robber will cut the line and know its safe further more if there is a break in the response is to ring the key holder not the house owner and tell them to be carefull as the thief may well be armed

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

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  • Comment number 35.

    My name is Sandy Ruffett I represent Direct Response Security as their Police Liaison Manager. My background is 30yrs West Midlands Police service, the last seven years of which were as the Crime Reduction officer for Coventry. This role involved visiting victims of burglary and advising people on how to prevent further attacks, advising on alarm systems and other forms of security. For 2 yrs I then worked as regional manager for an NSI Gold monitoring station. I am resposible for liaising between the police and DRS to ensure the company is kept fully up to date with the police's latest crime prevention initiatives and the strict regulatory standards which security companies like DRS have to adhere to.
    I have two comments to make about the posting by the person who posted on this site at 00.59am on 7.6.10, he or she should not be stating they work for Surrey police control room as Chief Supt Stephens from Surrey police has already commented on behalf of the force. Secondly if you read the ACPO CPI alarm policy a level one response is an immediate response (subject to priorities). Police will respond to a security systems activation confirmed through a remote monitoring station. There are other comments that should be addressed on this site, at 2100hrs 3.6.10 someone stated that DRS was not registered with NACOSS, this is not surprising as NACOSS has not existed since 2001 when it changed it's name to the National Security Inspectorate and since has been known as the NSI, which DRS is a member. At 2047hrs 3.6.10 somesone states the company has no idea what DD243 2004 states with regards to confirmed alarms and that DRS systems are not compliant so would not get police response. DD243 is the installation requirement under European legislation that came into force in 2004 under EN 50131 to PD 6662 standards a company has to install to these standards to be NSI certificated which Direct Response Security is

  • Comment number 36.

    to ifma 1342. For your information , the latest generation of honeywell equipment supplied INCLUDES dual path signalling via GPS/GRSM which takes over if the PSTN line is cut etc., the signal is said to be guaranteed . [edited]

  • Comment number 37.

    Reading some comments on here which are not impartial as they are from employee's or former employee's of Direct Response. The Daily Mirror recently ran a similar story on the practises of this company and have a blog with impartial comments from members of the public,it is well worth reading.I would have thought that OFT could have contributed to this programme having had dealings with this company in the past.It however beg's the question what are the SSAIB and NSI are doing in relation to this company. These are the inspectorate bodies supposedly policing security company's.Direct Response do pay these inspectorate's money for certificate's on all there installations.

  • Comment number 38.

    The NSI which is one of the inspectorates that regulates the electronic security industry (and the company in question) issued the following statement:

    “We have seen the BBC Watchdog programme transmitted on 3rd June 2010. The BBC recorded a salesman from Direct Response Security Systems Ltd, Mr Hook, using unethical and totally misleading techniques to secure a sale. As a result Direct Response Security Systems Ltd have dismissed Mr Hook and are no longer using his services.

    We have been assured by Direct Response Security Systems Ltd that the action of the individual salesman is not typical and that Direct Response Security Systems Ltd will not allow and do not under any circumstances adhere to unethical selling practise. We continue to monitor the situation and Direct Response understands that further serious breaches of the code of conduct by the Company may result in removal of their approval.”

  • Comment number 39.

    It is possible to get an alarm system without signing expensive contracts or spending lots of money.
    At the end of the day you require from an alarm that if someone enters your home the external siren sounds. its not rocket science and doesn't need a contract.
    The police will respond to an alarm wether it is approved or not IF there is some form of secondary confirmation. That means the Police will attend if as well as the siren sounding a witness can see an intruder of evidence of a break in. You don't need a monitoring contract for that. If you have an autodialling alarm it will call YOUR OWN NUMBER which requires no contract or monitoring station.
    You can then call a neighbour or family member to check your property and call the police if necessary.
    With regards to the monitored contracts the Police are only obliged to attend IF manpower is available even if your monitored alarm meets all the conditions. If you have 3 false alarms then you will be removed from the police response list.
    I know from experience that families can easily have 3 false alarms until they get into the habit and routine of using the alarm system.
    This company do seem to be stretching the bounds of credibility.
    It is also worth noting that some companies install monitored alarms but only use dummy bell boxes. This to me is a cynical way of keeping people paying for the monitoring while missing an important deterent and the possibility of informing neighbours. They explain that 30% of alarms are ignored while failing to point out that this may actually mean that 70% are responded to.
    The caveat as always is buyer beware.
    The claims made by the comany in question are indeed very sparing of the truth. The cost of £6k for 5yrs cover is also very high as other companies charge far less usually a third of that price.
    Sadly many people have alarms after a break in and are therefore more receptive to scare tactics but to be fair in my own experience all of the events described including poisoning of animals and any reference to break ins does actually happen.There are indeed many more harrowing tales of actual burglaries I have knowledge of so I feel the criticism refering to using scare tactics is possibly unwarranted. I feel that being in the security industry gives someone a perfectly legitimate reason to use annecdotal references where it relates to how your product can protect the end user providing of course that the stories are true and not made up.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Who is Sandy Ruffett to comment on who or who may not comment on this blog.If a control room member of staff feels they have a point of view they are quite entitled to express it.

  • Comment number 42.

    I applied for a job with Direct Response and recieved a phonecall inviting me for interview (which was held at Costa Coffee at the Motorway Services) which I immediately thought was strange. I was told that they paid their staff more than any other alarm company around and was offered the job a few weeks later.
    I went to Sutton Coldfield for training which was absolutely useless, and whilst there I was told that alot of customers would not have a "URN" which is a unique reference number that links their address to the police information, but I was told never to disclose this information to the customer.
    From the moment I got to their office at Sutton Coldfield I knew I'd made a big mistake accepting the job - all the staff were really unprofessional and seemed a bit dodgy. I was also made aware by one engineer that if they weren't keen on you they would just sack you with no questions asked as there was no contract or anything at all. This proved true as I was asked to leave after 3 weeks, and I had left a stable job to join them!
    When we were out installing the systems nearly every customer was elderly which gave me more concerns and there were often problems linking the wireless PIR's to the Panel which gave me doubts on the quality of the equipment. I later found the same equipment in an electrical wholesalers for between £30 - £40 per device (a fraction of what Direct Response were charging). Also when testing the installation the devices would sometimes take up to 2 minutes before detecting movement which in my eyes is far too long for an expensive burglar alarm.
    If you are offered a job by this company think very hard before accepting it as I can guarantee you'll regret it.
    Also if you are considering an alarm system go with someone you've heard of - they'll be reliable and a lot lot cheaper.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have just had a visit from Direct Response about 30 minutes ago and googled them to find this. I have no doubt that the alarm system is a good one and that a monitored alarm is probably the only serious way to alarm your property. But I think the sales tactics were disgusting. Lots of references to scaremongering figures and anecdotal scare stories were delivered in a patronising tone that some more gullible people might mistake for authority.

    Crucially the promises of a "guaranteed Level 1 response from the police and "better than calling the police" are still being made - this must be a company decision?

    "How does that work?" I asked.

    "Its because our alarm systems meet the specifications, they know that its a genuine call" the lady said. It sounded like rubbish to me.

    She refused to tell me the subscription cost of the service until she had gone through her sales pitch about the safety of sleeping children and how "50% of break ins occur when the occupants of the house are in".

    As I said, I am not concerned about the quality of the system, I'm sure its fine. I just don't like being treated like an idiot and I couldn't get this woman out of my house fast enough.


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