ADT is stonewalling me — should I stop paying my bill?

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By Christopher Elliott

Krishnan Ramanathan is receiving double bills for his home security system. Should he just stop paying them?

Question

About two months back, we moved to a new residence. Our ADT residential security service is in my wife’s name, although I handle most of the activities, including payments. We called ADT before our move and scheduled an appointment (incidentally on the same day that we moved into our new home). The sales rep who met us told us that since we have been longtime ADT customers (about seven years), the installation, activation etc. would be free of charge and I just had to pay the monthly charges.

Meanwhile, in our previous home, we had been making semi-annual payments, and the sales rep informed us that they would adjust our first statement based on past payments. The actual service activation for our new home was not until a month after we moved in, since they couldn’t find any earlier day that was convenient to us.

The installation and activation went smoothly until we received our first statement and discovered that they had not adjusted the past payment. So, I called ADT billing, and after almost an hour of being transferred between the billing, move, and new customer activation departments, they finally curtly told me that my wife, as the account holder, would have to call in to make any changes.

ADT’s communication breakdown

A day later my wife called and after the same merry-go-round with the phone, she was told that the service at the old residence itself has not been deactivated, which is why no credit had been applied. The rep on the phone asked us repeatedly whether we wanted to disconnect the service at the old home and we simply told him not to make any changes so that we could confer with the sales rep who had come to our home.

Of course, since then, the particular sales rep has been hard to reach and he hasn’t answered any of my phone calls. Though there is no record of the phone conversation, the only trail I have is an IM chat I had with the sales rep, where he confirmed that they had deactivated the service at our old home and that we should receive credit for the past payments already made.

ADT’s site has a web-based form to submit a request, which limits the user to 500 characters. Even after submitting a request online, ADT has not contacted us.

I have refrained from making any payments to ADT and I will refuse to do so until they acknowledge the fix on their end. However, I am worried that they might send the bill to collections if I do not make payments. Please help! — Krishnan Ramanathan, San Francisco

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Answer

ADT should have closed your account when it promised it would, instead of keeping two accounts open. While I can understand how the company might get confused if there’s a lag time between your move date and you activating your new home’s alarm system. It’s no excuse.

By the way, you shouldn’t feel limited to the 500 characters that ADT offers on its site. We publish the names, number and email addresses of the ADT executives on this site.

By the way, ADT is no stranger to our site. We’ve dealt with ADT problems in the past, and something tells me we will again in the future.

I’m not sure if you should have stopped paying your bill. Taking such an extreme measure can indeed lead to the closure of your account. It can also lead to a referral to a collection agency, as you rightly pointed out. I can think of several intermediate steps, up to and including an appeal to a manager, that might have yielded better results. (Here’s how to contact the CEO directly.)

By the way, nice job keeping screenshots of your conversation with the ADT representative. A reliable paper trail, as you know, is key to fixing a problem. It may even let you shortcut the seemingly endless “hold” times you and your wife experienced. But just as long as you send your message to the right person. (Related: My husband died. Can I get out of this ADT contract?)

I contacted ADT on your behalf. The company investigated your claim and agreed to close your old account. They will begin charging your new one when it said it would. It mailed you a refund of $97 to cover the erroneous billing to your previous account.

Should you ever stop paying a bill?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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