Friday, May 20, 2005

Maybe I'm too distrusting.

It’s funny how some things work out. Yesterday a guy knocked on my front door. I was on the computer (of course), so my wife answered it. I didn’t catch the beginning of the conversation, but I caught my wife say to the guy, “My husband owns it.” Now, me being a normally distrusting individual, I had little warning bells going off in my head. So I get up from the computer and go to the door. There is this white male, about 6 foot 175 pounds short brown hair, brown eyes, slightly tanned complexion wearing a white polo shirt with a company logo on hit for Honeywell, and blue jeans. He has an ID badge around his neck with the same company logo and his picture on it. He was holding a metal, compartmented clipboard. I have no idea who this guy is and why he’s talking to my wife and what he’s asking. I knew it was time for me to take over the conversation. So in mid sentence, wearing one of my “I don’t like you” faces, I interrupt him with, “May *I* help you?”

He goes on to tell me that he is an intern for Honeywell security systems. He was wondering if I owned the house. I responded, “I do.” Quickly he went on to explain that he liked our front porch and thought it was an eye catcher for passer bys. Three years ago, my father and I tore down my old rickety front porch and built a new one from scratch. My father custom made the sunburst designed railings. It does stand out; I’ve never seen another like it before. We get many compliments on it, so it wasn’t unusual that he liked it, him coming up to my door to tell me made me want to tell my wife to, “Get the gun.”

He explains that he was walking through the neighborhood looking for houses to advertise for his company. He asked if he could place a sign in my front yard by the porch as an advertisement. It wasn’t a big sign, about the size of your standard sheet of notebook paper. I was getting ready to boot him off my porch when he says, “My company will pay you...” Okay, I’m a whore, he had my attention. “…well they won’t actually pay you…” Loosing my attention “…we will give you one of our new state of the art security systems for free…” He had my attention again, my wife and I had talked about getting a security system for the house, but the cost of them was a little more then what we wanted to spend at this time. “… all you have to do is keep this sign in your front yard for 3 years.”

I make eye contact with my wife. The kind of eye contact that people whom have a close relationship and have known each other for years make where you can communicate with out saying a word. I tell the guy I’m game, and ask what he has. So he comes into my house looking at the doors. Now I’m not sold this guy is legitimate yet. I’m wondering if he’s casing the joint. I tell him, “I don’t really need a security system, everyone leaves me alone. Whenever someone in the neighborhood moves in, the other neighbors warn them that about me. I’m a re-enactor so I’m constantly outside practicing with swords, cleaning muskets and firearms, working on my artillery pieces or just burning off black powder. Most people in my neighborhood won’t even talk to me.” While showing him the doors I’m giving him a tour of my scary looking primitive weapon collection. He showed interest in some of my swords so I showed them to him, explained how they were used and what it feels like to cut into someone while holding that type of sword. He saw my Blunderbuss and asked about that. I told him, “It’s a primitive meat grinder. You put black powder and what ever you can fit down the barrel, and when you shoot someone at close range you make a fine red mist out of them.” It’s not exactly how they work, but he didn’t need to know that. It was a scare tactic.

He finished his assessment of the house. After performing an ownership confirmation on the property, he asked me when I’m home. Yea, I’m just going to throw that out to some guy whom walks up to my door. So I lie and tell him that I have sporadic hours and don’t know my schedule from one week to the next. Calling his office, he looks up for when they have someone available. They tried to set up for installation next week, but that was bad for me. He comes back with, “We have a crew up the street installing another alarm. They can install it tonight.” I’m very skeptical now. How convenient that they are available to install it that day. I say sure, why not. The whole time I’m pumping the guy for information. The more information he gives up, if it’s a scam, the more likely he is to make a mistake. The guy starts to fill out the paperwork. He starts talking about installation fees. I’m thinking here’s the catch. Then he says I’m not responsible for that since we are a demo home. He then goes on about tax and permits. Okay, here’s the catch. Nope, I’m not responsible for those either. He tells me the only thing I have to pay for is the monitoring fee, if I want it, and that will be discounted and locked in for 3 years.

If I don’t pay the monitoring fee, the alarm still works; it just won’t call the police/fire/medical. The fee for monitoring isn’t that much, and it gives me a discount on my homeowners insurance. All right, I sign up for the monitoring. The guy gives me all the paperwork, brochures, and pamphlets for the installation. I finally start to believe this is legitimate.

The technicians arrive and the original guy leaves. The technicians install the security system, get it all set up and tested. Confirm it works with the monitoring company and have my system synchronized with theirs. It took them a little longer then normal because they forgot to check if I had DSL and hooked up the lines wrong. They also tried to install a motion detector too close to the main panel, so they had to move it. When they finished, they left.

Today I checked out their company, and sure enough, it is legit. As long as I keep that sign in my front yard for three years, all the equipment is mine, free of charge. I don’t have to pay anything for it. If the sign was to be stolen, I call them and they bring me a new one. After the three years is up, I can get rid of the sign and keep the equipment. It’s a win/win situation for us!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so distrusting of people…. Nah.