Pinnacle Security, based in Orem, Utah, began marketing in Anchorage and Fairbanks last summer. During the past week, they also began marketing in Juneau, with six systems installed in Juneau on Tuesday April 6th alone. However, concerns about their sales tactics immediately became manifest on Monday night when a woman called police after a man selling security systems door-to-door asked repeatedly to be allowed inside. The man said she had been chosen as the first to receive the system for $50 a month, which would then be monitored by the Juneau Police Department once installed. He provided a cell phone number but then told the woman she wouldn't be able to call the number in the future if she decided to buy a system at a later time. Juneau Police spokeswoman Cindee Brown-Mills said the department doesn't enter into such agreements regarding home security systems
In a separate incident Monday, a Juneau resident reported a similar encounter where a man attempted to sell a Pinnacle security system for $44.95 a month, if the homeowner allowed a sign be placed in the yard advertising the system. The witness told police the salesman, wearing a Pinnacle baseball cap and blue jumpsuit, didn't have business cards and spent a long time standing near the mailbox taking notes prior to approaching the residence.
Pinnacle Security COO Steve Hafen said the company's sales associates are required to undergo training and certification, and review the company's code of conduct. Hafen was unable to confirm if his employees, about half a dozen working in Juneau, were the ones described in the police reports. He also stated that legitimate Pinnacle employees have badges, shirts, and uniforms that identify them as a Pinnacle sales representative; imposters cannot process a customer through their system.
But although Pinnacle's behavior in Anchorage and Fairbanks has attracted no media publicity so far, this company has a very checkered past. Previously, they've received an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau due to contractors working without the proper licenses, deceptive sales tactics, improper conduct by workers and unlawfully selling of equipment and services (their current rating is still an "F"). But Hafen claims this is all in the past, and that most of the complaints were resolved out of court. The Empire reports that of the 1,140 complaints on file about Pinnacle Security in the last 36 months, 686 were resolved in the last year (based on the latest BBB report on the company). Read Illinois' litigation HERE. Additional customer reviews are posted on the AlarmSystemReviews website; while there are some satisfied customers, there's about a 1:1 ratio between satisfied and unsatisfied customers. That's just too high of an attrition rate.
In fairness to Pinnacle, COO Steve Hafen announced some changes on March 25th after settling the Illinois suit. Hafen said that Pinnacle has implemented sweeping changes in compliance and protocol that address the areas of personnel, training and detection and enforcement which continue to be implemented nationwide, including in Illinois, and are resolving current issues and dramatically reducing the potential for further incidents. He also said Pinnacle believes its internal initiatives will create a new industry standard that will be proven out over time. Further, he said that Pinnacle Security would not tolerate individuals that behave outside of our code of conduct. And Pinnacle’s has now created new ways to get feedback directly from its customers to improve service.
That was on March 25th. The complaints in Juneau are as of April 6th.
But none of these measures address concerns about their treatment of employees. Pinnacle Security likes to hire returned missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their summer sales staff because LDS missionaries are accustomed to cold-calling, experienced at public interaction, and have learned to handle rejection. As a result, their sales employee attrition rate is reportedly only 15 percent, half the national industry average. But a June 2009 New York Times article indicates that some of these guys are ruthlessly exploited by the company. A snippet:
Sometimes, though, it rains, and when it does, Pinnacle’s sink-or-swim mentality for sales reps, especially new, unproven ones like Brandon Rogers, is tough love at its toughest.
Newbies, for fear they may retreat to their cars, are dropped off and left on foot without shelter or access to a bathroom unless they can gain admittance into a house to make their sales pitch. Mr. Rogers, who is 21, had three energy bars and no umbrella to last him through a long, wet day.
He had made one sale by dark, when they picked him up.
I don't believe Pinnacle Security is "evil"; instead, I think they simply grew so fast that they forgot how to adequately supervise. Too much sales; not enough service. Nonetheless, Pinnacle's checkered past combined with their questionable treatment of employees makes them a company to avoid patronizing. We have other security companies in Alaska who do business more ethically.