Ask the Attorney: I frequently do work for builders who want me to sign a subcontractor agreement with an indemnity clause. Should I sign it? Continue reading
My customer had a loss. What should I do now? Continue reading
Two high profile legal matters have been in the news involving allegations of alarm companies’ unfair and deceptive practices. What are these cases about? And what can you learn from them to protect your business from such claims? Read on to find out. Continue reading
Ask the Attorney: I have started texting my customers about service appointments, is there anything I should add to my contract?
Yes, you will want to add a provision to your contract (or by a contract addendum, or separate written and signed disclosure) that the customer is giving consent to contact from you.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts telemarketing calls and the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and prerecorded voice messages. Under the TCPA, sending text messages or autodialed calls to cell phones requires previous consent from the recipient. The TCPA also governs calls and texts to land lines of residences and businesses.
Running afoul of this law can get you in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and subjects you to private penalties of $500 to $1,500 per call/message. Private penalties are typically sought via a class action lawsuit, alleging millions of dollars of damages on behalf of class members.
To satisfy the TCPA, a consumer must give express written consent and receive “clear and conspicuous disclosure” that the consumer will receive future calls that deliver prerecorded or autodialed telemarketing messages by or on behalf of the business. Here is an example provision to include in your contract (including email consent):
Consent to Telephone and Email Contact. Customer expressly authorizes [Alarm Company] to contact Customer using an automated calling device, text, or email to deliver a message to set/confirm a service/installation appointment, notify of alarm alerts, for marketing related purposes or other updates at the telephone number(s) or email address shown above (in addition to those currently on file with [Alarm Company]).
Ask the Attorney: Do I need to give the customer a right to cancel notice if he or she is an existing customer and I am merely servicing the system?
Whether you need to give notice of the right to cancel will depend on whether you are simply doing routine maintenance or service, or more (such as upgrading the system).
First, a refresher on the right to cancel: The Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases over $25.
The Cooling-Off Rule applies to sales at the buyer’s home, workplace or dormitory, or at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary or short-term basis, such as hotel or motel rooms, convention centers, fairgrounds and restaurants. The Cooling-Off Rule applies even if the consumer invites the salesperson to make a presentation in their home.
Under the Cooling-Off Rule, the consumer’s right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale.
Under the Cooling-Off Rule, the salesperson must tell the consumer about the cancellation rights at the time of sale. The salesperson also must give the consumer two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send if they decide to cancel) and a copy of the contract. You should also have a third copy of the form that the customer signs acknowledging receipt of the form, which you keep. Further, the customer’s contract should explain the right to cancel directly by the place for the customer’s signature, in at least 10-point, bold font.
Getting back to the question: One of the exceptions to the Cooling-Off Rule is where a consumer’s purchase is made as part of a request for the seller to do repairs or maintenance on personal property.
So, if you are performing regular service or maintenance for a customer, you probably do not need to give the customer notice of the right to cancel, even if the amount owed is over $25. If, however, you are doing more than routine maintenance or service—say, for example, upgrading a system, or installing new equipment—then you will want to give the customer notice of the right to cancel.
Rivalry among alarm business competitors might be fierce, but it also should be fair and legal. If your confidential information such as customer lists or pricing data get into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster for your business. As can a key employee’s departure to a competitor with all the details about your business in hand. What can you do to protect your business’ confidential information in the first instance? And what are your options if you are subjected to competition that is not fair and legal? Continue reading