Are you looking to purchase or rent an alarm system for your home? The following tips may be of interest to you before you sign a contract.
Before you purchase or rent an alarm system, the Office de la protection du consommateur recommends that you assess your needs. Find out about the types of contracts that exist: fixed length contracts and open-ended contracts.
These questions should help you choose a service that meets your needs :
- Why do you need an alarm system?
- Are you away from you home for an extended period on a regular basis?
- Do you have valuable items or belongings that are difficult to replace?
- Is your residence isolated?
- What kind of protection do you require? Do you need your alarm to be connected to a remote monitoring centre?
- Would you like a camera system to allow you to remotely see what is happening at your home? Is an alarm sufficient?
- Determine your budget. Calculate it over 4 or 5 years, as this is often the length of contracts. Also, check with your insurance company whether having an alarm system will entitle you to a discount on your home insurance.
- Do you wish to purchase or rent the necessary equipment?
Fixed length contracts
If you choose a fixed length contract, you will be bound by an agreement for a fixed period of time, lasting, for example, 5 years. During this time, the price of the services cannot be raised. The page Contract amendments provides further information on this topic.
If you cancel your contract, you may have to pay cancellation fees. Before signing an agreement with a service provider, find out about these fees. They vary depending whether or not you received a discount from the service provider on the purchase price of equipment (such as an alarm system) necessary to use the service. For further information on this topic, please see :
- Cancellation fees: fixed length contract with an alarm system discount;
- Cancellation fees: contracts with no discount on the price of the alarm system.
If you choose an open-ended contract :
- • you will receive a bill each month, but you will not be bound by a contract with a fixed length. You will pay to be connected to a remote monitoring centre until you terminate the contract;
- the price of the services may increase. The page Contract amendments provides further information on this topic.
- you will not generally have to pay cancellation fees if you cancel your contract.
Are you considering purchasing or renting an alarm system and signing a contract to have it connected to a remote monitoring centre? The Office de la protection du consommateur recommends that you always ask questions about the features of the agreement to the service provider.
Check if the following fees are charged :
- fees for the purchase or rental of necessary equipment, such as an alarm system;
- service fees to have your system connected to a centre;
- alarm system installation fees;
- fees for activation or start of service;
- maintenance fees;
- fees in case of false alarms.
Also inquire about :
- applicable rates for items that are not part of the basic equipment that may be provided to you (for example, extra motion detectors or motion detectors that do not react to pets);
- payment terms and conditions, particularly the obligation to pay a month in advance at the time you sign up.
All the fees you will be charges, except for taxes, must be included in the price advertised by the service provider. See What is included in the advertised price for more information.
Ask the service provider about :
- the length of the proposed contract;
- the possibility, for you and the service provider, to amend the contract conditions, and under what circumstances;
- a clause explaining the contract's cancellation terms;
- the renewal terms of the contract;
- the service provider’s policy if you move.
Remember to inquire about :
- the alarm system warranty;
- the person to contact in case of a problem.
The service provider must give you a written contract for connection services to a remote monitoring centre. Check if the contents are consistent with what you were told.
Required content for all remote monitoring service contracts
As of June 30, 2010, all remote monitoring service contracts must include the following elements on the first page :
- a detailed description of each of the services specified in the agreement;
- the monthly fee for each service;
- the total amount you will be charged each month;
- a description and the list price of goods sold or offered free with purchase, such as the alarm system.
- the duration of the contract and the date on which the contract ends;
- the cancellation terms of the contract.
Contract concluded online or by phone
Before you enter into an agreement with a service provider on its Web site or by phone, the service provider must give you information including :
- their name, address, phone number and, if available, their fax number and email address;
- a detailed description of each of the services specified in the agreement;
- the total amount you will have to pay, according to your contract, and the terms of payment;
- the cancellation terms.
The service provider must send you a copy of the contract (for example, by email or by standard mail) within 15 days of its conclusion. The contract must contain :
- the information that must be included in all remote monitoring service contracts;
- all the information that the service provider was required to give you before your acceptance of the offer.
To find out more about the required content of an agreement concluded online or by phone, see the pages about :
- getting all required information before concluding an agreement online;
- getting all required information before concluding an agreement by phone.
Contract concluded with an itinerant merchant
If you sign a contract at your home with a service provider using door-to-door vendors or a merchant who came to your home after requesting permission by phone, the contract must contain information specific to itinerant merchants in addition to the information required in all remote monitoring contracts. For further information, refer to the page What a contract with an itinerant merchant contains.
All contracts concluded in person
All contracts concluded in person with a service provider, for example in-store or from an itinerant merchant, must be clearly and legibly written on paper in two copies.
The service provider must first sign the last page of the original and the duplicate, and must then :
- allow you look it over;
- ask you to sign the last page of the original and the duplicate;
- provide you with a copy of the contract.
Filing a complaint
If your service provider has not respected the above regulations, you should contact the Office de la protection du consommateur to report the merchant. The Contact us page provides the ways to reach us.
If a service provider offers you a discounted or even a free alarm system, free installation or other promotion, you should be aware that other charges will be added to your bill.
Telephone solicitation and advertising
Advertisements boasting of free products or services are common. Service providers may also phone you to inform you of various special offers.
Check the conditions necessary to benefit from the promotion being offered. Are you required to conclude a 5-year service contract to have the alarm system connected to a remote monitoring centre? Do you have to pay for installation or de-installation of the alarm system, even if it is free?
If you do not wish to be solicited by telephone, you can be registered on a list to reduce the number of calls received.
Before you sign a contract, shop around. Compare the proposed price with at least 2 other service providers to make sure it is competitive. In general, an offer made one day will still be valid the next. If a merchant pressures you into concluding an agreement, make sure to still take some time to carefully consider their offer. The Office de la protection du consommateur advises you not to sign a contract on the spot.
It is advisable to ask the representatives for a copy of the documents relating to the agreement they wish to conclude with you. You will be able to look it over and consider the value of the offer with a clear head.
Last update : February 28, 2023
Were you unable to find an answer to your question? Please call us.
The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.
You can reach one of our customer service officers by telephone or in writing using our information request form.