ADT Vs. Protect America Home Security
It’s no secret that the ADT brand name is high on the list for anyone browsing home security systems. The company operates nationally and was among the first in the U.S. to offer home alarm systems over 100 years ago. The company would certainly like us to believe they’re the best option on the market. However, that may not necessarily be the case. Today, we’re putting ADT to the test against Protect America.
Sales Process Compared
We’ve reviewed ADT’s service before. However, we wanted to give ADT a fair shake, so we started with a clean slate. Our first stop was a trip to their website to see how much information we could glean about their services. It became annoyingly apparent that ADT was not going to give us any information unless we provided them with our information first. Though they claim to offer “free quotes,” this requires a conversation with a sales rep in your home.
After visiting the site to no avail, we called the 1-800 number displayed on their website. The sales rep went through the standard procedures (name, address, email address, home ownership status) and then transferred the call to a local rep without waiting for consent. We had the same experience when we pitted ADT against Frontpoint and Vivint.
Over the course of a half hour, we spoke to two different people. The first customer service person took our basic information: name, phone number, address, etc. He then transferred us over to a different customer service rep for a company called Protection 1. Though Protection 1 is technically a separate company, they are both owned by Apollo Global Management post an acquisition in early 2016. Most consumers wouldn’t know this, and neither ADT or Protection 1 explained this to upfront.
That aside, the entire 25-minute phone call was extremely friendly. The rep tried to curate a package for us which best fit our living situation. As we rent a home, he suggested a wireless package that involved a self-install — e.g., no professional installation required. He suggested that it would be no money down and that all we would be paying for is the equipment (a suspicious claim). It dawned on us that ADT probably transferred us to Protection 1 because we're renting. Calling back and posing as a homeowner confirmed this to be true. ADT does not service renters.
In general, the Protection 1 rep was more open to answering random questions about things like contract length (3 years, according to him, for the package he was trying to offer) and types of monitoring, although we felt at times like it was pulling teeth on some topics. At one point, when we asked about plans with shorter contract terms, he quickly mentioned a month-to-month option but did not expound on that much. By contrast, ADT refused to provide pricing information without an in-home visit.
- Extremely Friendly and Professional
- Overall Unwillingness to Offer Alternative Plan Pricing as Well As Month-to-Month Pricing
- Transferred Us to a Seperate Company Without Our Permission
After heading over to Protect America’s website, we actually couldn’t wait to get their sales rep on the phone. The company makes some rather bold claims about pricing on their website (Up to $1,400 in free equipment! No installation fees!).They also list different prices for different packages, giving us a bit to go on when secretly shopping customer service. We’ve reviewed their service before as well as compared them to other companies. And we’ve secret shopped them with mixed-to-positive reviews. What changes would we find this time around?
We called the 1-800 number listed on their website. We were greeted by the automated message which redirected us to a sales rep. Their sales representative was good, aside from the fact that he talked far too quickly for us to catch everything he was saying, and the fact that he almost peer-pressured us into buying a system then and there. The emotional tactics he used were daunting.
We did manage to drill him on their “no equipment cost” idea, in which he admitted that the cost is rolled into the monthly payments. That being the case, with Protect America, you don’t own the equipment. So if you end service before the 3-year contract ends (the only kind they offer), you’d have to return the equipment.
We spent some time going back and forth with him over whether purchasing a system from Protect America was better than other services we’d investigated, such as ADT. When it appeared we weren’t budging on the idea that Protect America might not be the best option for us, right that second, he offered us a “7-day matching” option. This option, which the company does advertise on its website, locks in whatever rate they offer you, while providing you the opportunity to “price shop” for a week to see if there’s a better deal to be found. If you find one, Protect America says they will match it.
For clarity, the rate he offered us was just over $40 a month, with a security camera included at no extra cost. That was something we demanded, and he relented a bit and threw us a bone for good measure. Originally the camera would have cost us $10.00 extra per month for service and equipment. This at least shows Protect America is willing to haggle on the price and included equipment. They do mention the 7-day matching, but they certainly don’t mention that they’re willing to negotiate.
- Few Upfront Costs
- Self-Install Devices
- Willing to Negotiate on Prices
- Aggressive Sales Tactics
- Do Not Sell Devices Directly
Sales Process Winner
- Protect America
Protect America’s rep was good at his job, and we like that he allowed some negotiation to occur, but his tactics were too aggressive. ADT's rep, or rather Protection 1's, was friendly, but their tactics are shady.
Monitoring Costs Compared
ADT Protect America both offer multiple packages ranging from basic security coverage to complete home automation. Below you’ll find a comparison of their top-level plans, including a look into 24/7 monitoring, equipment, activation costs, control panels, smart door locks, smart lights, and more.
The equipment below is included either in the top-level packages or as a part of the monthly monitoring cost. Protect America comes out as the least expensive option, and includes a lifetime warranty on equipment.
|ADT Pulse Video||Protect America Platinum w/ Cellular Monitoring|
|Equipment/ Installation/ Activation||$199+||$0|
|24/7 Monitoring||Burglaries (Others Extra)||Burglaries, Medical, CO, Flood (Fire Extra)|
|Monitoring Type||Cellular||Cellular or Broadband|
|Control Panel w/ Battery Backup||Digital||Digital|
|Door/Window Sensors||3 Included||14 Included|
|Motion Sensor||1 Included||1 Included|
|Key Fob Remote||1 Included|
|Mobile App Access|
|Smart Home Services|
|Contract Length||36 Months||36 Months|
|Return Period||3 Days||14 days|
|Installation||Professional||DIY (Guidance Available)|
ADT’s pricing structure is complex. They have business/corporate packages with separate pricing as well as reseller pricing for local affiliates. Here’s the pricing for Safe Street ADT, which is similar to, but not the same as buying through ADT corporate.
|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 or Self Installation
- Not All Packages Are Wireless
- Pricing Differs From Reseller to Reseller
Protect America has a somewhat complicated pricing structure between its business and residential packages. There are five residential packages and one business package. Furthermore, prices can vary for any of those depending on whether you use a landline, broadband, or cellular monitoring.
|Per Month Landline||$19.99||$37.99||$42.99|
|Per Month Cellular||$41.99||$49.99||$54.99|
|Fire Monitoring||$2.00 Monthly||$2.00 Monthly||$2.00 Monthly|
|Smart Home Services|
|Video Monitoring||$9.99 Monthly||$9.99 Monthly||$9.99 Monthly|
|Mobile App Access||Requires Cellular or Broadband Monitoring||Requires Cellular or Broadband Monitoring||Requires Cellular or Broadband Monitoring|
|Equipment Warranty||Limited Lifetime||Limited Lifetime||Limited Lifetime|
|Control Panel Included|
|Return Period||14 Days, $79 Restocking||14 Days, $79 Restocking||14 Days, $79 Restocking|
- All Plans Come with Free Equipment and Installation
- All Plans Have Cellular and Broadband Options with No Cost Difference Between Broadband and Cellular
- Free Equipment is Not Actually Free. Cost is Rolled Into Monthly Monitoring Rate
Monitoring Cost Winner
- Protect America
ADT takes this one because their pricing, while varied depending on reseller, are inclusive for what you’re getting, especially at the higher level. With Protect America, the use of the term “free equipment” is misleading since you are still paying for the equipment through something akin to a lease. Also, the plan differences are too slight to justify the cost increase between them.
Equipment Costs Compared
Both companies provide some equipment upfront. However, you can purchase equipment from each separately. The costs here vary.
Both companies can give you the option to self-install some types of equipment. For Protect America, you’re on your own all the way. ADT leans more toward providing installation services, as this nets them a bit of money. ADT installation bills can quickly reach the $1000 mark.
For ADT and Protect America, purchasing extra equipment is not so much a matter of “owning” it as it is “incurring more fees.” That statement is especially true if you purchase equipment not covered by your existing monitoring package. For example, with Protect America, if you buy fire monitoring equipment, you’ll need to add fire monitoring to your existing plan.
Also, with Protect America, you never own the equipment. They do. You’re simply renting it from them.
So how much does it all cost? Below you will find a chart that outlines the information we were able to obtain.
|App iTunes Rating||4.8 Stars||2.7 Stars|
|App Google Store Rating||4 Stars||3 Stars|
|Indoor Security Cameras||$199.00||$75.00|
|Glass Break Sensor||$120.00||$99.00|
|Other Equipment Available|
Equipment Cost Winner
- Protect America
Protect America takes the win. However, remember that with Protect America, you don’t own the equipment, they are simply leasing the equipment to you. ADT comes in second as their devices are expensive and require professional installation.
Who Has the Best Reputation?
|Return Period||3 Day||14 Day|
|Restocking Fee Charged|
|Moving Policy||May incur a financial penalty for moving.||Move For Free Anytime|
- Protect America
Both companies have fairly robust policies, all of which are well spelled out.
- Protect America
Protect America takes the lead. The company could probably ease up on its sales tactics a bit, but the fully DIY service makes it a worthy pick. The biggest downside is that you never own the equipment and must inevitably rent it.
ADT’s biggest downside is the upfront cost and all of the hidden costs, although you can wrangle out of some of these if you put in the effort.