When Robertann Usher’s home security company merges with ADT, he discovers he has a five-year contract with a higher price. Getting out will cost him $527. Is that legal?
I have a problem with my ADT bill and was hoping you could help me. Here’s the situation: I had a home security system through Ackerman Security, which recently merged with ADT. I recently received my first bill with ADT and decided to discontinue my service.
I paid $63 quarterly for security service with Ackerman Security. ADT’s prices are higher.
When I called ADT, a representative told me I was under a five-year contract with ADT and that I could not cancel.
This is a mistake. My agreement is with Ackerman Security. I appealed to a supervisor who said that in order to end the contract, I would have to pay a $527 cancellation fee. The representative placed me on hold and promised me a call back in 48 hours. I have not heard anything back in weeks.
I don’t want ADT to charge a $527 cancellation fee for a contract I know nothing about. Can you help me? — Robertann Usher, Snellville, Ga.
You’re right. Your agreement was with Ackerman Security. Even though ADT acquired Ackerman, that does not give it the right to start charging you more and impose a $527 cancellation fee.
Or does it? Contracts like these can be filled with consumer-unfriendly clauses that allow the company to raise rates without notification and impose cancellation fees. I’m sure the ADT lawyers reviewed the Ackerman contracts before they signed off on the acquisition. So maybe they shouldn’t have raised your rates, but they probably could. (Related: My husband died. Can I get out of this ADT contract?)
Still, this doesn’t look right — and it isn’t right. A business must notify its customers before raising its rates, and it should give them a way to opt out of its services if the cost is too high. A $527 cancellation fee seems outrageous.
I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the ADT customer service executives on this site. A brief, polite email to one of them might have helped.
Your case is a cautionary tale for anyone who is interested in a home security system. These can certainly be worth it if you live in a high-crime neighborhood or need a sense of security, but the contracts can be tricky. You need to read them from front to back before signing, and be sure to monitor your monthly bill for price increases. If you don’t, the systems can quickly become unaffordable, as they did for you. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)
You might want to check out this site, too. We’ve had a few ADT cases in the past.
I contacted ADT on your behalf, and it agreed to cancel your account without penalty.