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
We’ve been in the technology business since 2003 and a reviewer specializing in home security and smart home technology since 2013. We’ve tested multiple alarm systems including Frontpoint, Link Interactive, Xfinity, iSmartAlarm, and more. We’ve also had hands-on experiences with both Vivint and ADT while attending Consumer Electronic Shows (CES) in Las Vegas. Home security is our life. It’s what we write about and think about all day long. As such, we feel confident sharing our experience with you.
Sales Process Compared
ADT: The Best Known Brand
As mentioned above, we’ve had hands-on experiences with ADT at CES. We’ve also secret shopped them more than once over the years. And that’s exactly what we did for this article, “secret shopped.”
The first step was a visit to ADT where we called the number listed on the site. The “sales” rep asked the basic questions. He wanted to know our name, address, email address, internet accessibility, home ownership status, etc. For five minutes we answered all of his questions patiently. He seemed satisfied with our answers and informed us that he was going to transfer us 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 us to a third-party but proceeded to share our personal information.
The third-party, Safe Street USA, continued as if nothing was amiss. Though we could barely get a word in edgewise, we 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.” The only thing the sales rep got right was the figure-90%.
Unfortunately, red flags kept flying. During our 20 minute conversation, the rep dropped the word “free” 16 times. Yes, 16 times. We're not even sure how ADT stays in business as apparently everything is free. For example,
- He promised we could move for free at any time, which is not true.
- He promised we could return the equipment for any reason within six months, which is also not true.
- He claimed ADT has the fastest alarm response time in the industry at 7 seconds, which is, again, not true.
- He said our package would include free equipment and free cellguard. This is true, though he failed to mention we would have an installation and activation charge. When I asked if we 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, our heads were spinning, none of our questions had been answered, and we were being asked to provide a social security number. Apparently, ADT will not make a house call unless they’ve run a credit check first. And none of us wanted our credit pulled, the ADT sales experience ended there.
- Provides Professional Installation If Needed
- Uses Door-to-Door Salespeople, Leans on Scare Tactics
- Secretive, Misleading
Frontpoint: The Up and Coming Star
With Frontpoint, we’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 we were with one person from start to finish. Also, we were provided all pricing and information without a credit check. Though they did run our credit, this happened after we’d committed to buying the service and equipment.
Before calling Frontpoint, we had decided what package we wanted and what equipment we needed. We were worried that the sales rep would try to push us into buying more equipment or at least talk us into a more expensive package, but he didn’t. In fact, he encouraged our package choice. He said that we could upgrade our package at any time, but that we couldn’t downgrade while under contract without penalty. The pricing and terms were exactly as we had discovered online, no surprises, and we were able to talk the sales rep into including a free flood sensor.
The 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 we had to suffer through the sales script, we were still able to take our time, research options, make decisions on our own, and complete the entire process on the phone without an in-home visit.
- Upfront Pricing, Terms, and Conditions
- One Point of Contact
- Some Sales Scripting
- No Option for In-Home Installation
Vivint: A Mover and Shaker
Vivint’s process is somewhere in the middle of Frontpoint’s and ADT’s. They are upfront about pricing like Frontpoint, but also use an in-home sales process like ADT. However, what struck us most about Vivint is that they provide inaccurate information on their website. How? Instead of telling you, we'll show you via the video below.
- Professional Installation
- Transparent Monthly Fees and Equipment Costs
- Use Door-to-Door Salespeople
- Lean on Scare Tactics and Inaccuracies
So our 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.
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||Unknown|
|Equipment/ Installation/ Activation||$199+||$99||Unknown|
|24/7 Monitoring||Burglaries (Others Extra)||Burglaries, Fire, CO, Medical||Burglaries, Fire, CO, Medical|
|Control Panel w/ Battery Backup||Digital||Digital||Touchscreen|
|Key Fob Remote||1||1||Unknown|
|Other Equipment||NA||2 Light Controllers||Unknown|
|Mobile App Access|
|Smart Home Services|
|Contract Length||36 Months||12-36 Months||60 Months|
|Return Period||3 Days||30 Days||3 Days|
|Installation||Professional||DIY (Guidance Available)||Professional|
|Setup Service||Setup Service||Setup Service|
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.
|Essentials||Total Protection||Premium Protection with ADT Pulse|
|24/7 Burglary Monitoring|
|Fire/Co Monitoring||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
|24/7 Professional Monitoring|
|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|
|Limited Lifetime Warranty|
|Learn More||Setup Service|
- Simple Pricing Strategy
- All Packages 100% Cellular With Wireless Equipment
- No Option for Two-Way Voice
For more information on Frontpoint's equipment and monitoring pricing, head over to our in-depth Frontpoint review.
Vivint’s packages are unique in that you have options. If you want a no-contract option, you can pay for all of your equipment upfront. If you sign a contract, you can lease the equipment. The equipment we described above is priced under the 60-month contract option. Vivint also has a 42-month option which will increase your monthly fee.
|Monthly Fee for Service||$39.99||$49.99|
|Equipment Minimum||$9.17/month+||$549.99+ Upfront||$9.17/month+||$549.99+ Upfront|
|Contract Length||42 or 60 Months||Month-to-Month||42 or 60 Months||Month-to-Month|
|Mobile App Access|
|Severe Weather Alerts||Tornado Only||Tornado Only|
|Smart Lights and Other Smart Home Services|
|Security Camera Features|
|Touchscreen||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included|
|Door/Window Sensors||2 Included||2 Included||4 Included||4 Included|
|Motion Sensor||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included|
|Tech Support||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call|
|Return Period||3 Days||3 Days||3 Days||3 Days|
|Call||(855) 287-0018||(855) 287-0018||(855) 287-0018||(855) 287-0018|
- All Packages Include Touchscreen Panels
- All Packages Include Mobile App Access
- Certain Services and Devices May Increase Installation Costs
- Long Contract Required to Lower Equipment Cost
For more information on Vivint's equipment and monitoring pricing, head over to our in-depth Vivint review.
Monitoring Cost Winner:
Were calling Frontpoint in first with Vivint narrowly behind. Frontpoint has a middle option which might appeal to some, but Vivint’s pricing model is also attractive for those who want smart home services and 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 our research, we 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.1
So what does it cost to add equipment a la carte? Let this chart be your guide:
|App iTunes Rating||1.6 Stars||3.8 Stars||4.4 Stars|
|App Google Store Rating||2.9 Stars||4.2 Stars||4.6 Stars|
|Indoor Security Cameras||$199.00||$99.99||$199.00|
|Glass Break Sensor||$120.00||$74.99||$120.00|
|Other Equipment Available|
|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.|
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, we 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.
|Plan||Price||Promo Price||Contract Length|
|Total Protection||$42.99/mo||-||36 mo|
|Premium Protection||$52.99/mo||-||36 mo|
|Plan||Price||Promo Price||Contract Length|
|Protection Plan||$34.99/mo||-||36 mo|
|Interactive Plan||$44.99/mo||-||36 mo|
|Ultimate Plan||$49.99/mo||-||36 mo|