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Over the past decade or so, technology has been at the forefront of society, with advancements being made everyday. The more developments that were made, the more technology infiltrated various industries across the spectrum. Through these technological advancements, the alarm industry has been able to incorporate an array of new developments such as digital communicators and highly advanced control panel set microprocessors. Though technology has certainly been beneficial to the alarm industry, varying aspects remain quite troubling to me, specifically online auction sites. Admittedly, these online auction sites can be highly beneficial in most scenarios; however, buying security and alarm equipment from sites such as eBay, just isn’t one of them. In an excerpt from my book, The Alarm Science Manual, I share my concerns with such sites and the risks that they pose for the alarm industry!

On eBay you can buy batteries for wireless transmitters, smoke detectors, control panels, and every other type of security initiating detection device. My concern with eBay, as a source for security equipment is that there is no way for the buyer, presumably an alarm company, to actually quantify the reliability of these devices. How does the buyer know how the equipment they bought was handled or stored, and where the parts came from, prior to installing them for their unsuspecting subscribers?

How many used batteries do you install in your alarm practice? Do you install used equipment for your residential and commercial installations? How do you disclose the usage of such equipment to your customers? How many system repairs do you perform with used replacement equipment? How do you market used alarm equipment to your subscribers?

I’ve spoken to a number of dealers who admitted to purchasing equipment through online auction sites, but my question to them was, is this information disclosed to their customers? Their answer, more often than not, was no. Though sellers on these auction sites may claim that the equipment is in “new condition”, at the end of the day, despite the positive reviews that may be provided, the buyer can’t be sure it’s a reliable product.  

The conduct of installing used alarm equipment, in and of itself, is quite deceptive, if not disclosed to the unsuspecting customer, up front by the alarm contractor in writing. In my opinion, it additionally creates an increased liability to the contractor, especially if the device, detector, or battery that was installed fails prematurely, or at any time, and then a loss occurs. What if a wireless panic button is pressed and the unit fails? If a subsequent investigation determines that the unit and its internal battery were actually purchased on eBay to save the alarm company money, or that the date code is outdated, compared to the time at which it was installed, this revelation would prove seriously detrimental to the alarm contractor. We in the alarm industry have enough issues to be concerned about—including the effectiveness and reliability of the systems and equipment that we install, which customers rely on for their security, safety, and peace of mind—without adding unknown equipment from eBay into the mix.

Alarm companies that choose to exercise such practices are subjecting themselves to an increased liability. While purchasing equipment through auction sites might be the more cost effective option, should the equipment fail, you’ll acquire far greater costs than you had previously saved. Those in the alarm industry should avoid these intentional wrongdoings, if not for your company than for the safety of your customers!


Excerpts taken from my book, The Alarm Science Manual, which can be purchased on!