As a locally owned security company that Richmond homeowners have trusted for over 35 years, Dynamark Security of Richmond takes pride in being transparent and honest in our marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, many companies in the home security industry do not take this approach.
In one recent, high-profile example of the type of deceptive advertising used by some home security companies, SimpliSafe—a company that produces DIY-security equipment—was forced to retract certain claims they were making after an investigation by the National Advertising Division (NAD).
As a division of the Better Business Bureau, the National Advertising Division is responsible for monitoring national advertising in all media outlets to ensure businesses make truthful claims about their products and services. The NAD accepts complaints about advertising from local Better Business Bureaus, consumers, competing companies, and other sources. NAD’s goal is to promote truthful advertising and resolve disputes more quickly than through the traditional court proceedings.
What SimpliSafe was Claiming
The investigation by the NAD found three main issues regarding SimpliSafe’s advertising.
False claims regarding response times:
First, one of their marketing campaigns strongly implied that SimpliSafe dispatches police to an alert 350% faster than other companies, and that emergency services arrive on the scene 3.5 times faster after such an alert when compared to alerts from other security systems. This is false.
The truth, according to the NAD, is that SimpliSafe did not collect data about police response times to SimpliSafe alarms compared to response times to other alarm systems. Their claim was not based on any supportable data.
In another advertisement, SimpliSafe implied that they instantly respond to alarms and emergency calls with statements like, “Our monitoring staff calls you the second trouble is detected.” The NAD recommended that SimpliSafe amend this claim about their alarm monitoring service, since they “had not demonstrated” this to be true.
Misleading claims about battery life and range:
The NAD also studied some of SimpliSafe’s claims about the battery life and range of its products. The company claimed its wireless security system has an “unparalleled range” of up to 1,000 feet and a battery life of almost ten years.
In the case of the claim about the “unparalleled range”, that was not an accurate statement, and SimpliSafe agreed to stop making the claim. Regarding the claim about battery life, the NAD recommended that the company clarify that the life of the battery depends on usage, and thus many users would not get “almost ten years” out of their batteries.
Failure to disclose affiliate relationship
Finally, the NAD found that in one instance, SimpliSafe had used a testimonial from a police department in its advertising campaigns without disclosing the fact that it had provided the police department with free equipment.
Consumers not aware of this fact might reasonably assume that the police department had purchased the equipment on their own. If they were aware the equipment had been supplied for free, that might make the testimonial appear to be some kind of “quid pro quo”—which is probably why SimpliSafe didn’t disclose that fact in the first place.
Implications for Consumers
The results of the NAD investigation have several important implications for consumers who are trying to make a buying decision related to their home security needs.
First, it begs the question—if SimpliSafe is making inaccurate claims about their equipment, how trustworthy are they in general? This question is especially important when you consider other previous issues regarding SimpliSafe equipment that have come to light, including the use of ineffective alarms and sirens and issues related to hacking.
The obvious follow-up to the point raised above is that if there is a question about SimpliSafe’s reliability and honesty, then why would someone want to trust them with protecting their home? The answer, in our humble opinion, is that you probably shouldn’t.