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"Free" Brinks Alarm Inspection


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I could swear I saw something about a lawsuit against Brinks on TV recently but all I can find is the techs suing for unpaid drive time. Around here Brinks has a pretty bad reputation, and apparently elswhere too. The link is several pages of consumer complaints about system performance problems and shoddy customer service. You could probably do better with a local independant guy.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/brinks.html

Alarm systems are a royal PITA (I did a stint as a wire rat) and I for one am very happy to defer them to some one else, or better yet exclude them from my inspection.

Tom

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They just called me two days ago and followed up with this email. I asked them if they could pay for my hospitalization, salary and mileage as long as I was was selling for them. They declined.

Hello Terry

Let me introduce myself my name is ******* and I’m with Brinks National Inspection Program. And I’ve been trying to reach you. I would like to talk to you about two excellent programs, which would give you the edge on other inspection companies and grow your business.

Our programs are as easy as 1 2 3; plus we offer a scheduling center and marketing tips, to help keep your business on the fast track to success. We have 5,000 members in our National Alarm Inspection Program and growing, so you see we like to think we know a bit about success.

Please review the information and I will follow up with you by telephone next Monday, March 23, 2009. If you have any questions or would like to take advantage of the program right now. Please email or give me a call at the number below.

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After July 1st of this year it will be illegal for an inspector to participate in that kind of arrangement here in Washington State unless it's fully explained in writing to the client before commencement of the inspection.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike,

As far as I am concerned, this is an improper business relationship without disclosure. NJ does not allow referral fees or similar thinly veiled "Kickbacks."

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After July 1st of this year it will be illegal for an inspector to participate in that kind of arrangement here in Washington State unless it's fully explained in writing to the client before commencement of the inspection.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike,

As far as I am concerned, this is an improper business relationship without disclosure. NJ does not allow referral fees or similar thinly veiled "Kickbacks."

Yeah,

I think proper disclosure is the key. We tried to cover all of the bases here with our new COE but might not have covered this one very well, if at all. I'm going to shoot this off to the AG's office and see if the rules we have are sufficient to require mandatory disclosure of this kind of relationship; if not, I guess we've got time to add a new rule before kickoff on July 1st.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Here's the COE portion of the WAC as drafted and sent off to the code reviser:

The home inspector must:

(1) Provide home inspection services that conform to the Washington state home inspectors' SOP.

(2) Provide full written disclosure of any business or familial relationships or other conflicts of interest between themselves and any other party to the transaction. The parties may include, but are not limited to, buyers, sellers, appraisers, real estate licensees, mortgage representatives, title companies, vendors and service contractors.

(3) Act as an unbiased party and discharge his or her duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.

(4) Perform services and express opinions based on genuine conviction and only within the inspector's area of education, training, or expertise.

(5) Not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report that knowingly minimizes, compromises or attempts to balance information about defects for the purpose of garnering future referrals.

(6) Not provide services that constitute the unauthorized practice of any profession that requires a special license when the inspector does not hold that license.

(7) Not accept compensation for a home inspection from more than one party without written disclosure to the inspector's client(s).

(8) Not for one year after completion of the inspection repair, replace, or upgrade for compensation components or systems on any building inspected - this section applies to the inspector's firm and other employees or principals of that firm or affiliated firms.

(9) Not provide compensation, inducement, or reward directly or indirectly, to any person or entity other than the client, for the referral of business, inclusion on a list of recommended inspectors or preferred providers or participate in similar arrangements. The purchase and/or use of low-value advertising or marketing services or products that does not exceed ten dollars per item, is not considered inducement or reward.

(10) Not disclose information contained in the inspection report without client approval or as required by law. However, at their discretion inspectors may disclose when practical observed safety or health hazards to occupants or others that are exposed to such hazards.

(11) Not advertise previous experience in an associated trade as experience in the home inspection profession. An inspector's advertised inspection experience will reflect only the inspector's experience as a home inspector and inspectors shall not advertise, market or promote their home inspection services or qualifications in a fraudulent, false, deceptive or misleading manner.

(12) Not accept a home inspection referral or perform a home inspection when assignment of the inspection is contingent upon the inspector reporting predetermined conditions.

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The termite inspector is an odd relationship. We have been using the same Pest Control Company for many years and I trust them to do an honest inspection. As part of their report they provide an estimate for treatment if they find an infestation.

My opinion is that the work is almost always performed for the seller of the home and they have the option of seeking competitive bids from other treatment companies prior to closing. I do not receive any compensation for the treatment work if the company I know gets the job. I know I am unbiased. I just want a good inspection for my clients. Comments?

By the way, I explain this in my pre-inspection contract.

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I do the same thing with a termite guy; he's a sole proprietor, good operator, explains stuff, and does as good a termite inspection as anyone. He also gives a proposal; that's his gig. I disclose to my customer I've known the guy for 15 years, he's good, and I don't make a dime off him.

It's either that, or turn it over to an incompetent or unknown.

If we are supposed to be building consultants and experts, we should probably know a few folks that are competent, shouldn't we?

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I know many, many inspectors around the country that use Brinks. All of the ones I know use a disclosure form that says the inspector is receiving a $15 fee. I also know some that do not take the fee and just provide their client with the Brinks service, if they want it. All still have the client fill out a form the allows them to give their name and contact information to Brinks, this is a must in my state and I'm sure in other licensed states.

The few times that I have had a client request the alarm system to be inspected I have called Brinks to meet at the same time as I'm doing the inspection. Most of the time the client was not even around or had already left. Brinks did their thing and left. They then produce their report and send it to the client.

I have not heard any negatives from my clients about Brinks, and I have made a point to ask them about the "alarm company".

If it is done properly, I don't see or have any problems with it. The key is getting consent and disclosing everything upfront.

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Reputable or not, we're there to do a home inspection and alarm systems are not part of a home inspection.

How does this work? Do the Brinks guys come in at the same time as the inspector or are is a home inspector supplying the Brinks people with the name of the client or is it the other way around and the home inspector gives the client some 3-folds from Brinks that explains how they can get a free 90 day warranty by having Brinks come in?

A seller gives tacit permission for a home inspector to enter his home; I guess that it would be fine to bring along and electrician or an HVAC guy, because those inspections are directly related to what a home inspection is - but bringing along a guy to look at the alarm system? I dunno, if I'm the seller and I know that I'm going to be living there for the next 30 to 60 days before closing I'm not going to be happy about anyone sharing the details of my alarm system with someone else until I've moved out, closed on the house and no longer have to worry about the place.

Wasn't there a big stink about this with the TAREI guys a few years ago?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I know nothing about alarm systems, and I'm inspecting homes with systems that cost in excess of $30,000 on multi-million dollar homes. They are not typical and cover everything from wine vaults, outside motion detectors, pool alarms, automatic gate controls, etc. I also have homes with $500 systems.

I guess I could use any alarm company, but I chose Brinks and I have not had any problems. It is simple, I call them and tell them I need them to be at the home at X time and date. They produce a report on what is wrong, I have never seen or heard a sales pitch from the techs that do the inspection. I have elected to not accept the $15 fee.

When I have a client that wants a pool/spa inspection, I pretty much do the same thing. I call the company and set it up. I have a company that does not charge for pool inspections and I pass that along.

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Anyone that is offering a "Free" inspection is not doing it because they are kind-hearted. There is a chimney inspection company in our area that is offering a similar program to home inspectors.

It is a marketing opportunity for these companies and I don't want to participate in this type of business relationship. I feel it degrades the image as an unbiased, "Professional Home Inspector."

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Anyone that is offering a "Free" inspection is not doing it because they are kind-hearted. There is a chimney inspection company in our area that is offering a similar program to home inspectors.

It is a marketing opportunity for these companies and I don't want to participate in this type of business relationship. I feel it degrades the image as an unbiased, "Professional Home Inspector."

I can agree in part, but in the end all that the pool and alarm company wants is the service contract. This is what they make their money on, the inspection is just to find items that need repair and to show that they can provide a good service.

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I have never seen or heard a sales pitch from the techs that do the inspection. I have elected to not accept the $15 fee.

Scott-- good for you for not accepting the kick back. In that case, I would not have a problem with it. Especially if they are actually doing a service for the client (besides sales)

The guys that showed up to my jobs were the exact opposite. I am pretty sure they hired mostly salesman (this was several years ago), and not installers to inspect the systems. There was only one guy that used to show up and actually do anything worthwhile from what I could tell.

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I have a company that does not charge for pool inspections and I pass that along.

How long does the free pool inspection take? The guy I recommend needs about 2 hours to inspect the pool and equipment. I don't inderstand how a quality inspection can be done for free.

The last one that I used the company on lasted about an hour and a half. It was a good size pool with three pumps and filters for the different levels of the pool. They had about a dozen or so things that needed to corrected. Heck, it sure beats me doing the dang thing.

I'm sure that it they were not getting the chemical and monthly service contract they would not be doing them for free. I do know that if an individual homeowner calls that they will charge them $100 for the inspection, but if an inspector calls and sets it up then it is free.

Kind of like the pest control service I have on my home. As long as I have a service contract with them, they will also spray my yard for weeds and fertilize it for free. I asked the technician how they could afford to do this and he said it cost them about $7 in chemicals to do the yard, three times a year. They use it as a Lost Leader just to make them more of value added service. Since I have used them I have gotten just about all of the neighbors on our street to use them. Just like us, it is word of mouth marketing.

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When I have a client that wants a pool/spa inspection, I pretty much do the same thing. I call the company and set it up. I have a company that does not charge for pool inspections and I pass that along.

I'll never get involved with calling and setting up a contractor for a client. Here's the reason why.

I posted over on the ASHI board about a client that had a ceiling leak due to ice damming. They sent an email notifying me that they were putting in a "claim". They also asked me to supply them with the name and phone number of the mold remediation company I secured for them (attic had a slight amount of mold). I finally met with the couple and they didn't have a problem with the home inspection but since I was the first link in the "mold" chain they thought they would start with me. I told them that I make it a habit not to refer contractors for this very reason. I have a hard enough time accounting for my own actions.

I know your trying to be helpful but no good dead goes unpunished.

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