I am intelligent. I am opinionated. I get off on efficiency. I am frugal. I am direct. I can be a bitch when I need to be, and I own that term as one of endearment. I am a redhead. But I am also deaf. Every now and then, it seems like this fact means I am wearing a sign. “Disregard everything else about this person. This person is deaf, and that is all that matters.” It is like some people believe that not being able to hear also means not being able to understand. But I understand plenty, and I am never afraid of talking back.
This morning, there was an incident where such a person tried to take advantage of my husband and me. It was early, and my husband is clearly very ‘agreeable’ and I’m just there – deaf, so I am harmless. I love being underestimated, it kind of gives me a rush when the person reaches that, “oh shit,” moment. But I am getting ahead of myself.
My husband and I are getting a security system for the house. We have always meant to but between money and other stuff – it was never high on the priority list. But my husband begins a new job next week and he will be much farther away. Reason one, to act now. Another reason is it will give my husband peace of mind. When we first moved to Colorado he bought me “Life Alert” without telling me and then tried to sell me on the idea of having it. I told him to return it and there was no way I was wearing that stupid pendant. I mean I was twenty-seven at the time, it was embarrassing. I knew he was just concerned and it came from a good place, but it was never going to happen. Now with an alarm system that has a panic button, etc. and he can get text and email alerts – he feels much better. But the big reason why we wanted to jump on this now is our new homeowner’s insurance policy. The policy we’re getting offers an incredible discount on having an alarm system. I mean every insurance company offers a discount, but this is several hundred dollars we are talking about. Totally worth it. But said system has to be installed by September 30, so we’re kind of on a deadline.
We have done all of the research. We’re totally ready. And we decided to go with ADT because almost every other company has major upfront costs. They have these costs because you have to buy all of the equipment to get started. This makes sense and is the case with about 95% of the security companies out there (or in our area) so it isn’t necessarily bad, it just isn’t for us at this time. One company we were going to go with that didn’t have major upfront costs made us an offer: fire and carbon monoxide monitoring and equipment for free. We were holding onto this, because without the offer, it would be $400 upfront by itself. When we called ADT we told them we were not interested in scheduling a ‘no obligation’ appointment with them unless they could match the other company. ADT said they guaranteed it, and set up the appointment for this morning.
The ADT associate arrived at 8:00am this morning. She seemed nice, but I didn’t say more than hello to her while she went through the house with Roy (my husband). I really need that face-to-face to hear and understand what someone is saying, so when they were finished I would just listen to their findings then. They came to the kitchenette table, where I was reading a book (of course) and started in. Right away, she came across as trying to hard with me. Why? Because she claimed to be hard of hearing herself. Newsflash – that is not an ‘in’ with me. I mean if it was true, sure there are things that we both would ‘get’ that others don’t, but it isn’t a sure thing. And if it isn’t true, like in her case, it is pretty damn annoying for someone to do.
Within five minutes I could tell she was full of it. She spoke to me the way people who don’t know how to talk to hard of hearing or deaf people talk. Maximum volume, didn’t bother to face me, didn’t speak slowly or enunciate. My husband mentioned how great my audiologist was when she first mentioned it and she said she had never had a hearing test done and didn’t need to see anybody, and yet she was able to tell us exactly what was ‘wrong’ with her hearing. I could tell her what was wrong too. She practiced selective listening.
She ran up her numbers and told us it would be $1,004 upfront for equipment. I let my husband take the lead on this. I knew where he stood, he knew where I stood. It so was not happening! And it was not what we had been told. Roy told her as much and she replied, “Well the people in the call center don’t know the local promotions, but I am sure they just meant the $200 off that I applied because you are a first-time customer.”
Roy said that wasn’t it, but they kept going in circles and she just kept repeating the same thing.
ME: “No, that is not what they meant. Before we let them schedule you, we told them ‘This is what your competitor offered us. Can you beat it?’ And they guaranteed us that would be included. It was not a promotion; it was matching your competitor’s price.”
ADT Rep: “Well in their computer systems it is impossible for them to see what you need. They probably meant they would give you one alarm for fire and one for carbon monoxide, which is $200. See they’re the same.”
And this went loop continued for about five minutes. Each time she spoke she seemed to get more and more flustered with me, and louder. She even stood up and stared me down. I know all about body language and what she was trying to do (consciously or not) but this ice queen (me) stayed in my chair, never broke eye contact, arms crossed about my chest and the expression on my face read, ‘Don’t even try it.’ When I could take the loop no more, I interrupted her babblings.
“They are not the same. Your competitor told us that the fees they were waving for carbon monoxide and fire was normally $400, for four alarms. You’re saying two alarms is $200, which means the alarms your competitor was offering was the exact same price as your alarms. And they included all four. We would not have allowed you to even drop by if this could not be honored. It would just be a big waste of time.”
ADT Rep: “You think I want to be here? Trust me – nobody doesn’t want to be here this early on a Saturday more than me. I can promise you that.”
I didn’t bother to mention that I felt she just didn’t want to honor the quote because it cut into her commissions, which it did. I can stand my ground with sass, but being completely confrontational is another thing. I also never mentioned her aversion to math, as she made about two dozen mistakes when talking about our quote, even though she had the entire thing written down.
We did this loop and she tried to do the whole standing intimidation thing, and then I gave her my actual resolve face. I have been told it is different from every other ‘this is how this is’ face that I have. It almost dares the other person to push it. At least friends and my husband say as much. It is such a serious face that they have only seen me use it with others – none of them have ever crossed the line of needing that face.
ADT Rep: “I’ll just call my manager to see if he will allow me to honor the free fire and carbon monoxide equipment.”
Finally, some progress. It was better than her continual, “If I want to keep my job,” comment at the end of each loop before starting everything over again.
By the time she left, the price had been worked down to $604. But everything else we were being charged for, was included in the competitor’s and ADT’s earlier quote. So, I told Roy to call her manager.
Roy: “We don’t even know if he is working today.”
ME: “Yes, we do. She called him to get his approval. Obviously, he is able to be reasonable without fearing for his job so much.”
So, Roy called him. And guess what, now we’ll only owe $294 to get everything setup, which was more like it. We only have to pay this amount because we’re getting strobe lights for when I am home alone. I mean I will see a fire, see a burglar, but at least with carbon monoxide, or if Roy goes on a camping trip and I am alone at night (when I’m sleeping with my hearing aids out)… enter the strobe lights.
Roy was frustrated that they pulled the ‘bait and switch’ in the first place, so he didn’t want to go with them. But, I don’t take it personally. They want more money, and I understand this from a business standpoint. Were they shady and unethical about it – yes, and I told the woman before she left that they were at the bottom of the list for this very reason. But if I can get the best price and deal out of them, and they’re locked into that for the entire term of our contract… I really don’t care.
ADT offered to come out and install the system today, but when Roy told me what they came down to I said, “All right, but don’t schedule them until Monday afternoon.”
Roy gave me a skeptical look. “But they can do it today.”
ME: Yeah, but Monitronics won’t be out here for our quote until early Monday morning. If they can beat $294 and we get all of the same features, I say we cancel ADT. If they can’t beat ADT, we will still have our certificate for the insurance policy before Tuesday.”
Roy smiled and made the appointment. Afterwards Roy said, “I am never doubting you again.”
Yeah right, but I took the compliment. “I know you don’t love my methods, but you can’t deny they get results.” (I mean I love my husband, but this is a guy who will pretend to like something at a buffet because he doesn’t want to be disagreeable. Being direct and being confrontational are often the same thing in his mind’s eye.)
Neither of us are loving ADT, so if we can go with their competitor we will. If their competitor only matches their offer, we’re going with them, instead of ADT. If ADT’s competitor can’t beat or match them, then ADT is committed and it’s done.
The funny thing is if this woman hadn’t tried to take us for everything we were worth, talk down to me and treat us as if we were idiots, we would have had them install everything today. That was the original plan, and why we had scheduled them so early. But that’s not what happened and their misstep is our opportunity to go with a better company, for less.
So, I guess the moral of the story is… Just because someone is deaf, does not make them an idiot? Being a redhead trumps being deaf? Buyer beware? Don’t take someone for all they’re worth just because you think you can? All of these could work, but after it happened I have to say I felt good. I don’t necessarily like putting someone in their place, but when it has to be done in cases like this, the payoff is certainly sweet.