ADT vs. Frontpoint vs. Vivint Home SecurityBy - 11/08/2016
When most people think home security, they think ADT. And if you’ve ever talked to one of their salespeople you might have been led to believe that there is no other “safe” choice. That statement simply isn’t true. There are lots of options, so many that the process of selecting a company can be daunting. Today we’re going to make that process a little easier by comparing three options for you: ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint.
Why You Should Trust Us
I’ve been in the technology business since 2003 and a reviewer specializing in home security and smart home technology since 2013. I’ve tested multiple alarm systems including Scout, Frontpoint, Link, Xfinity, iSmartAlarm, Armorax, and more. I’ve also had hands-on experiences with both Vivint and ADT while attending Consumer Electronic Shows (CES) in Las Vegas. Home security is my life. It’s what I write about and think about all day long. As such, I feel confident sharing my experience with you.
Sales Process Compared
As mentioned above, I’ve had hands-on experiences with ADT at CES. I’ve also secret shopped them more than once over the years. And that’s exactly what I did for this article, “secret shopped”.
My first step was a visit to ADT.com where I called the number listed on the site. My “sales” rep asked the basic questions. He wanted to know my name, address, email address, internet accessibility, home ownership status, etc. For five minutes I answered all of his questions patiently. He seemed satisfied with my answers and informed me that he was going to transfer me to a local rep. In the same breath he rapidly relayed, “offers, terms, and conditions may differ.” Without waiting for consent, he not only transferred me to a third-party but proceeded to share my personal information. I felt violated.
The third-party, Safe Street USA, continued as if nothing was amiss. Though I could barely get a word in edgewise, I managed to ask, “What’s Safe Street USA?” He replied that Safe Street is an ADT reseller responsible for 90% of all ADT installations. The grandiose claim sent up the first of many red flags. A quick Google search revealed that Safe Street doesn’t do 90% of ADT’s installs, but they do have the potential to cover “90% of the U.S. population in 39 states” should those people need help. The only thing my sales rep got right was the figure – 90%.
Unfortunately, red flags kept flying. During our 20 minute conversation, my rep dropped the word “free” 16 times. Yes, 16 times. I’m not even sure how ADT stays in business as apparently everything is free. For example,
- He promised I could move for free at any time, not true.
- He promised I could return the equipment for any reason within six months, not true.
- He claimed ADT has the fastest alarm response time in the industry at 7 seconds, not true.
- He said my package would include free equipment and free cellguard. This is true, though he failed to mention I would have an installation and activation charge. When I asked if I would be charged for installation, he danced around the question.
The sales rep winded his monolog down with scare tactics. At the end of the call, my head was spinning, none of my questions had been answered, and I was being asked to provide my social security number. Apparently, ADT will not make a house call unless they’ve run a credit check first. And as I didn’t want my credit pulled, my ADT sales experience ended here.
- Provides Professional Installation If Needed
- Uses Door-to-Door Salespeople, Leans on Scare Tactics
- Secretive, Misleading
With Frontpoint, I’ve been through the sales process from A to Z. A major difference of working with their phone sales team vs. ADT’s is that I was with one person from start to finish. Also, I was provided all pricing and information without a credit check. Though they did run my credit, this happened after I’d committed to buying the service and equipment.
Before my call with Frontpoint, I had decided what package I wanted and what equipment I needed. I was worried that the sales rep would try to push me into buying more equipment or at least talk me into a more expensive package, he didn’t. In fact, he encouraged my package choice. He said that I could upgrade my package at any time, but that I couldn’t downgrade while under contract without penalty. The pricing and terms were exactly as I had discovered online, no surprises, and I was able to talk my sales rep into including a free flood sensor.
My sales rep did make a few scripted and cheesy claims citing Frontpoint’s customer service record and their 30-day risk-free trial period. Though I had to suffer through the sales script, I was still able to take my time, research options, make decisions on my own, and complete the entire process on the phone, no in-home visit.
- Upfront Pricing, Terms, and Conditions
- One Point of Contact
- Some Sales Scripting
- No Option for In-Home Installation
Vivint’s process is somewhere in the middle between Frontpoint’s and ADT’s. They are more upfront about pricing like Frontpoint, but also use an in-home sales process like ADT. However, what struck me most about Vivint is that they provide inaccurate information on their website. How? Instead of telling you, I thought I would show you via the video below.
So my question is, if they stretch the truth on their website, how can we expect their salespeople to do any different? After all, they learn what Vivint wants them to learn.
- Professional Installation
- Transparent Monthly Fees and Equipment Costs
- Use Door-to-Door Salespeople
- Lean on Scare Tactics and Inaccuracies
Sales Process Winner
Frontpoint wins as they provide all pricing information upfront without requiring credit approval or an in-home visit.
Monitoring Costs Compared
All three companies offer multiple packages spanning from basic service to full-blown home automation. Below is a comparison of their top level plans which include 24/7 monitoring, home security camera service, smart door locks, smart lights, and more. If you want to learn more about lower cost monitoring plans, don’t fret, we’ll get to that shortly.
The equipment shown in the chart below is either included in the upfront fee or the monthly monitoring cost. With Vivint, you get points toward equipment purchase. Below is an example of how you can use those points, though you can technically spend them how you want.
|Package Name||Premium Protection with ADT Pulse||Ultimate Plan||Smart Control|
|24/7 Monitoring||Burglaries (Others Extra)||Burglaries, Fire, CO, Medical||Burglaries, Fire, CO, Medical|
|Control Panel w/|
|Key Fob Remote||1||1||1|
|Other Equipment||NA||2 Light Controllers||Smoke Detector|
|Mobile App Access|
|Smart Home Services||Choice of 2 Smart Home Services|
|Video Surveillance||Choice of 2 Smart Home Services|
|Contract Length||36 Months||12-36 Months||48-60 Months|
|Return Period||3 Days||30 Days||3 Days|
|Installation||Professional||DIY (Guidance Available)||Professional|
ADT’s pricing structure is frustrating. They have corporate packages and pricing, and they have reseller packages and pricing. That said, here is the pricing for Safe Street ADT, which is similar to buying through ADT corporate, but not exact.
|Premium Protection with ADT Pulse|
|24/7 Burglary Monitoring|
|Fire/Co Monitoring||Extra Fee||Extra Fee||Extra Fee||Extra Fee|
|Mobile App Access|
|Smart Home Features|
- Some Resellers Offer Same Day Installation
- Not All Packages Are Wireless
- Pricing Differs From Reseller to Reseller
|100% Wireless & Cellular|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring|
|Crash & Smash Protection|
|Email & Text Alerts|
|Mobile App Control|
|Geo Location Services|
|Live Video Streaming|
|Motion Activated Video Recording|
|HD & Night Vision Video|
|Door Lock Automation|
|Energy Management Control|
|30-Day Risk Free Trial|
|Possible Insurance Discount|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
- Simple Pricing Strategy
- All Packages 100% Wireless
- No Option for Two-Way Voice
|Mobile App Access|
|Special Feature||Vivint Live||Vivint Live||Vivint Live|
|Severe Weather Alerts||Tornado Only||Tornado Only||Tornado Only|
|Equipment Points||5 Points||7 Points||9 Points|
|Smart Home Services|
|Smart Home Equipment||Choice Between 2 Smart Home Devices or 1 Premium Service|
|Tech Support||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call|
|Contract Length||60 Month (48 in AR, WI, CA)||60 Month (48 in AR, WI, CA)||60 Month (48 in AR, WI, CA)|
|Return Period||Right of Rescission Only||Right of Rescission Only||Right of Rescission Only|
|Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote|
- All Packages Include Touch Screen Panels
- Equipment Points Can Be Used at Your Discretion
- All Packages Include Mobile App Access
- Certain Services and Devices May Increase Installation Costs
- Pricing Differs From Reseller to Reseller
- Long Contract Required
Monitoring Cost Winner
- Frontpoint and Vivint
I’m calling Frontpoint and Vivint a tie. Frontpoint is less expensive on the top end, but Vivint is less expensive on the low end, and they include extra services like mobile app access.
Equipment Costs Compared
Though all three companies may provide some equipment upfront, you will be asked to purchase any devices not covered, and the costs can add up. Installation and activation fees will also add to your initial expense.
With Frontpoint, the installation of new devices falls on you. As the equipment is wireless, you simply use a 3M style adhesive to secure the devices in place. As installation is self-directed, it’s free. With Vivint and ADT, an additional equipment purchase requires additional installation services. The cost of adding equipment can quickly add up. For example, ADT has been known to pull in electricians, and the cost can quickly rise to $200 for such services. It’s not uncommon to see an ADT installation bill soar above $1000. Even their promise of free or cheap installations can be tricky. For example, during my research, I found a deal for a $49 installation on Pulse® Video Lite. Sounds great right? But the fine print paints a different story. Yes, you will pay $49 to install ONE camera, but only if you’ve already paid a $25 fee, a $449 or more installation fee for other devices, and signed up for a plan that costs at least $55.99 per month. ADT is the queen of fine print.
So what does it cost to add equipment a la carte? Let this chart be your guide:
|App iTunes Rating||2 Stars||3.5 Stars||4.5 Stars|
|App Google Store Rating||3 Stars||4 Stars||4.5 Stars|
|Indoor Security Cameras||$199.00||$179.99||$199.00|
|Glass Break Sensor||$120.00||$74.99||$120.00|
|Outdoor Camera||$249.00||$399.99||Cost Unknown|
|Other Equipment Available|
Equipment Cost Winner
- ADT and Vivint
Frontpoint offers the best price on equipment purchased after point of sale.
Who Has the Best Reputation?
|Return Period||3-Day Right of Rescission||30 Day Risk Free Trial||3-Day Right of Rescission|
|Restocking Fee Charged|
|Moving Policy||May incur a financial penalty for moving.||Move For Free Anytime||May incur a financial penalty for moving.|
Frontpoint has the most customer friendly policies. They will let you return the system within 30 days, no questions asked. Also, as the equipment is wireless and self-installed, you simply pack it up when you’re ready to move.
The overall experience from sales to support is most consistent with Frontpoint. It’s no secret that Frontpoint is our top recommended home security company. If you are capable of installing the equipment on your own, I recommend them over both Vivint and ADT.
Though there are those who have had good experiences with ADT and Vivint, your outcome will greatly depend on the tech/reseller they select. Make sure you carefully review your contract and get all promises in writing.