A few years ago, after our next-door neighbor’s house was burglarized, I casually set out looking for a home-security service provider to help us keep an eye on our home and deter those looking for a quick and easy buck. Mind you, I don’t harbor the delusion that a home-security system will prevent our house from being broken into, but I think at the very least that it’ll deter the lazy, unmotivated thief looking for a quick buck.
Unlike most of my other purchases, my search was not especially detailed or thorough. Primarily, I found that just about everybody hated their home-security providers. Typically, their disdain coincided with three complaints: problematic equipment, lackluster service, and contract terms. The online reviews pretty much taught me that home-security services were pretty much universally disliked, and despite what my common sense was telling me, I opted to continue. I wound up deciding to go with Vivint. At the time I liked some of their home automation options. At the time, I liked some of their home-automation options.
All things considered, we’ve been relatively happy Vivint customers for the past four years. The one time we accidentally set off the home alarm, I was impressed with how quickly they reached out to me on my mobile phone to check in on the alarm, make sure everything was okay, and help get everything straightened out. Unfortunately, that was all about to change.
Beware of the Door-to-Door Salesman
Towards the beginning of May, on a Thursday evening shortly after dinner, our doorbell rang. It’d been a long day, and I was weary from the combination of workday, the soul-crushing commute, and persevering through my toddler’s newfound skill of obstinance. I opened the door and was greeted by a SmartHome Pro from Vivint who happened to be in the neighborhood “a few streets over” helping get one our neighborhood’s new homes fitted with their system.
I’ve long held a policy that I don’t buy anything from anybody who comes to my house uninvited unless they’re children doing fundraising for whatever club, sports, or charity they’re interested in. But for some reason, this evening I was too tired to say my usual “No thanks.”
Vivint’s representative was polite enough and said he was checking in on nearby customers since he was in the area and noted that we had an obsolete (his words) control panel that he wanted to talk to me about upgrading. He also gestured to my Ring doorbell and jokingly said that they’d like to “do something about that.”
The terms he laid out seemed to make sense, and he said that there’d be no lengthening of our contract. Altogether, the cost of the upgrade was going to be a few hundred dollars financed over 5 years with no interest. And the bottom line (or so they said) was going to be no impact to our monthly fee. My wife reminded me later that night that our “new” fee was actually going to be $15–20 more than what we were currently paying because she had negotiated it down earlier in the year.
Regardless, after some crude number-crunching, most of the math worked out. We’d be paying a tiny premium for consolidating our smart doorbell down into the common service. While it was a price hike, it wasn’t sizable enough for me to immediately reconsider. The technician came out the next day and installed all the equipment.
But that’s when our troubles began
The next morning, Saturday, I awoke to an alert from the Vivint app: two sensors had lost communication with the panel—an ominous failure from the prior night. Being an IT guy, I rebooted the panel, cycled power to the sensors, and hoped it was a one-time fluke occurrence. But it was not. A few hours later, the same error recurred, and I reached out to the Vivint support team. I explained in detail that we’d just had the panel upgraded and what I’d done earlier. Despite complimenting me for my troubleshooting prowess, the technician repeated the steps I had done previously and rebooted the panel, temporarily resolving the issue. Over my protests, I was asked to reach back out should the problem reoccur.
Unsurprisingly to me, the issue was not resolved, and the same two sensors failed to communicate with the panel the following morning (Sunday), and I was forced to reach out to the Vivint support team again. This time I was informed that I’d need to swap in a new set of batteries in each of the failing sensors. I protested. I told who I was working with that I didn’t think batteries were to blame and asked what happens during the replacement of the panel that would cause the sensors to use enough of the batteries to require their replacement. I received a weak reply back that the batteries were probably on their last legs prior to the technician’s arrival and that the new panel taxed them just enough to warrant their replacement. Begrudgingly, I ordered the batteries from Amazon, completely unconvinced they’d be of any help.
Surprise, surprise, new batteries didn’t magically make the sensors start communicating.
Amazon had the batteries delivered the next day (Monday), and I immediately replaced the batteries in both sensors. Lo and behold, the new batteries did not fix the issue. I reached out to the Vivint support team, exasperated. This time the Vivint support person concluded that the sensors were bad, that they were under warranty, and that I’d just need to pay shipping and handling to get a new pair of sensors sent out.
At this point, I’d run out of patience of spending more of my own time working on what Vivint had done incorrectly in the first place. Silently fuming, I demanded that they cancel the upgrade. The only solution I would be participating in would be allowing a Vivint technician to come out, remove the equipment they’d installed, and reinstall the previously working panel. Their reply to this? A ridiculous offer to issue a credit for the shipping and handling of the replacement sensors.
I informed the support person that I’d already spent more than enough money (hundreds of dollars for the new panel, new doorbell, and batteries) and time (an entire weekend) on what they couldn’t set up correctly in the first place. My earlier experience with the Vivint support team gave me zero confidence that what they’d suggested would actually fix the issue. I stated at this point that what I wanted was to revert back to what had been working previously. Vivint’s reply? They’d look into whether or not this was possible and get back to me in the next 1–2 days.
Notice of Cancellation
I ended this conversation thoroughly worked up. I’d wasted a ton of time and aggravation into resolving something that I shouldn’t have even been needing to resolve. I kept asking myself “Why won’t Vivint just send out a technician to take care of this?” And I was doubly frustrated when I couldn’t come up with any reasonable answer. It also began to gnaw at me, wondering what the fine print of the contracts I’d signed the previous Thursday night might hold in store for me.
I began digging around the paperwork that had been given to us and other paperwork that’d been digitally delivered via email, when I stumbled upon this: a notice of cancellation, which outlined that exactly the cancellation I’d requested earlier should be possible.
Upon reading this, I was incensed. Nearly everything that the Vivint support team had me do so far—buy new batteries, ship me replacement sensors, and get back to me in a day or two—all would’ve eaten into the three business days outlined in this Notice of Cancellation document. Immediately, I filled this paperwork out, emailed it to the Vivint SmartHome Pro, and made plans to send it to their mailing address via registered mail.
Vivint says a downgrade is impossible, repeatedly
Despite what is described in both their Notice of Cancellation document, given to me at the time we made this purchase as well as what’s described as their “Right of Rescission”, Vivint has steadfastly repeated that what I want is not possible.
After installation, you are given a Right of Rescission (ROR) period, which allows you to cancel your agreement without penalty. Please refer to your agreement to find your ROR.
According to Vivint, downgrading from the panel that they upgraded me to is impossible; no reason or justification for this impossibility has been offered. Their statements that this is impossible don’t jive with their own documentation regarding cancellation. The email that I received after 1–2 days earlier this week said that it was impossible, and my reply back with the notice of cancellation did not generate a subsequent reply.
Last night, I reached back out to Vivint’s support to ask why this was the case and got the same weak answer of that it “was impossible” to revert back to the hardware that I was using before. I have yet to hear an explanation or justification of why it’s impossible. Pathetically last night, they offered to credit the purchase of the doorbell back to my account if I were willing to have a technician come out and repair the sensors. Had this option been offered a week ago, I would’ve gladly accepted it. But having been through Vivint’s support for the past week trying to get this squared away, I’m not even sure I want to be their customer any longer.
In speaking with that person, I was offered basically two options, neither of which would be the removal of the new hardware and reverting me to where I was at the very beginning of this.
- A technician could be sent to repair the new panel’s problems: I would’ve accepted this offer at any point during the initial weekend I spent resolving this. But having been through the wringer of Vivint’s support, I don’t want any of the components that they tried to upgrade. I don’t really feel like spending hundreds of dollars on the hardware, and right now I don’t really feel like spending hundreds of more dollars for the level of service that I’ve received would be a wise investment.
- I cancel my service and buy out the remainder of my service contract: We’re under contract until 2021, and to cancel our service, Vivint expects that we’d pay the totality of our contract.
They’re both expensive choices, but right now the latter of the two choices is looking best to me. I’ll have nothing to show for buying myself out of the contract, but it’ll cost me the fewest amount of dollars. Paying for the panel and continuing to pay for the “service” might potentially yield some benefit to us, but at this point I think it’d be shameful to reward Vivint for this horrendous upgrade and their refusal to honor their own Notice of Cancellation for orders like ours.
So what’s next?
I’m not entirely certain! Supposedly, I was going to get a phone call back sometime today from Vivint’s “Loyalty Department” in order to work on a solution. Instead of stewing and getting even more pissed off as more of the day went by, I sat down and started writing this blog. It’s about 5PM and I still haven’t had a call back, and as I understand it, that department will be closed in about an hour.
As it stands right now, I don’t feel like Vivint values me as a customer. If they valued me as a customer, they would’ve dispatched a technician immediately to resolve their problematic upgrade. If Vivint valued me as a customer, they would’ve worked to honor their Notice of Cancellation.
But because they don’t value me as a customer, Vivint’s chosen to not honor their Notice of Cancellation and “Right to Rescission”. And because they don’t value me as a customer, Vivint’s wound up ruining another day of one of my weekends as I sit here awaiting a phone call that I was promised.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m beginning to think it’s time that Vivint reaps what they sow, let this blog be the beginning. If you’re considering becoming a Vivint customer, please read over how they’ve treated me and factor that into your decision-making.
I’m still hopeful of a positive outcome. I hope that they call me back any minute now. I hope that whomever talks to me can make me explain exactly why it is that it’s “impossible” to downgrade back to the panel that I was using. And I sure hope that they want to find a way to keep my business and offer some sort of compromise that gets them out of honoring their own cancellation terms. When something happens, I’ll come back and post an update.
How about you all, do you have similar experiences with Vivint or other home-security companies? Please share your experiences in the comments!
The Dramatic Conclusion?!
After being promised a call back for the following day last Friday evening, I finally received a phone call from Vivint the Monday afternoon following the second weekend of this fiasco. The timing of the phone call worried me, since it came toward the end of my workday while I was still at my desk. I was a bit concerned that the entire building might wind up hearing unleash all my frustrations if Vivint continued to claim that they couldn’t abide by their own agreement, as had been evidenced by numerous previous contacts with their customer support the prior 10 days.
I gritted my teeth, answered the phone, and a pleasant-sounding person greeted me and asked me to describe what the issue was and how they could help. I explained that our upgrade hadn’t gone well and that we wanted to have a technician come back out and revert us back to the state we were in prior to the upgrade. And wouldn’t you know it, she scheduled a technican to come out the very next day! It turns out that after all, a downgrade was possible!
The following day a technician came out and did exactly what we’d asked for two weekends prior, he was able to revert us back to the state we were in prior to the upgrade in a matter of minutes. As far as I can tell, everything is working completely fine. While I am both relieved and satisfied with the conclusion, it really bothers me that this had to be so incredibly difficult. From my point-of-view, it seems like the Vivint support team’s efforts were delbierate and intentional to stall until I was outside of the cancellation period or frustrate me into just accepting the upgrade.
Thankfully, in the end, I did wind up getting what I wanted. I’m glad I put in the effort and stuck to my guns. However, I’m disappointed that this devolved into a situation that put a huge damper on two weekends as well as severely damaged my opinion of Vivint’s services. They’ve got a tremendous amount of work to in order to get me to agree to extend beyond whatever I’m currently contractually obligated to.