March Madness

Our March Madness Special is going on now. Stay connected to your home or business with a Total Connect system from Custom Alarm. Log on remotely from your web based device and arm and disarm your system. Even get notifications when certain activities occur like your kids come home from school or your dog sitter has arrived to walk Fido.DSC_0430

We are waving the installation fee and we are giving you the first 3 months of Total Connect Service FREE.

* Contract must be signed between March 1st and 31st and requires a 5 year contract.

* Requires compatible Honeywell Security equipment.

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Updates

You may have noticed that we just put up our first post since July (we even missed our blog’s first birthday!).  The reason for that is we are making some internal changes here at CCi and it has disrupted our blogging and social media activity.  Look for us to put out more posts and get back to a regular schedule after the new year.

Until then, enjoy the series of posts we did last year regarding winter weather safety, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

Wishing You A Safe and Happy 4th of July!

All Custom Alarm offices will be closed on Monday, July 5th in observance of the July 4th holiday.  Rest assured that our Central Station will be staffed 24/7 as usual, and we will have a service technician on call for emergency situations.  We will be open again bright and early at 7am on Tuesday, July 6th.

Here are some tips to help you and yours celebrate Independence Day safely:

Additionally, here is a link to a list of fireworks laws by state – be sure to check the regulations in your area and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

June Tip of the Month

Our security tip for June is to treat your portable electronics like cash.  You wouldn’t leave cash sitting unattended on your car seat, dashboard, or on a table in a public place, so don’t leave your laptop, cell phone, GPS, etc. lying around for anyone to walk by and steal.

This is important not only considering their monetary value, but also for the fact that many of these devices have sensitive or important information stored in them.  From phone numbers and other contact information in your cell phone to private documents and financial information (do any online banking?) in your laptop, thieves can get more out of your electronics than a few bucks at the pawn shop.

Protecting Your Electronics

What can you do if someone walks off with your cell phone or laptop?  Symantec has a great article on laptop security – both physical security (preventing laptop theft) and data security (protecting information if the laptop is stolen/accessed).

As for cell phones, mp3 players, and other portable devices, common sense rules the day.  Keep them on your person (in a pocket is best, but out of sight in a purse, briefcase, or bag is better than nothing) even if you are only leaving the vicinity for a minute.  It only takes seconds for thieves to pick up and pocket a small electronic device, and most times these are crimes of opportunity that happen when someone is distracted for just a moment.

The main danger of cell phone theft isn’t so much the thief selling the phone, but using it to make calls and sticking you with the bill.  Snopes.com has some good advice about what to do if your cell phone is stolen (#1: contact your provider to disable your account) and I have also found it to be a great website for investigating possible scams, rumors, etc. that always seem to find their way into your e-mail inbox.

Hopefully we’ve made you think a little more about your personal electronics and keeping them, and your personal information, safe.  Check out last month’s tip, subscribe to our RSS feed, and stay safe this summer!

Updates and the Tip of the Month

It’s been a busy month or so at Custom Alarm and we thought we’d share all the happenings here in one spot.

First and foremost, THANK YOU to everyone who helped with donations to Custom Alarm’s March for Babies team.

The CCi Team: (Front Row) Leigh Johnson, Chris Streiff, and Liz Hauger. (Second Row) Melissa Brinkman, John McMahon, and Ryan Olson.

You helped us raise almost $1400 for the March of Dimes and their research and education programs.  We may have gotten wet, but the walk was a lot of fun as all of the walkers would attest – just look at our smiling faces! Our Wellness Committee continues to look at upcoming walks to see about putting teams together, so keep an eye out for more announcements and look for the folks with Custom Alarm shirts at your next event!

Speaking of the CCi Wellness Committee, they have developed a new tobacco policy for the Custom Alarm grounds and employees.  As of January 1, 2011, Custom Alarm will be a tobacco free company.  This means that there will be no tobacco use of any kind allowed on CCi property, in CCi vehicles, or by CCi employees while on the clock.  It’s just one of many things the Wellness Committee is doing to help improve the health of everyone here at Custom Alarm.

Continuing with our theme of physical fitness and activity, the Custom Alarm softball team celebrated our first victory of the season last night with a 10-8 victory over “Miller Time”.  Our next game is this upcoming Wednesday, May 12th at 7:15PM on McQuillan Field VII (all the way at the end of the complex on the right side), so come on out and cheer us on to a 2-0 record!  More info on the softball team, including links to the schedule, standings, and directions to McQuillan Field can be found here.

I also wanted to post another reminder about the construction on Salem Road SW as it is affecting traffic getting to our office.  More info can be found in the previous post I did on the subject.  Also, a friendly reminder to give yourself some extra time and to be patient (no pun intended) when traveling around the downtown Mayo campus on 2nd Street SW.  The construction is not just affecting 2nd Street, as shuttles are being rerouted to different pick-up and drop-off points as well.  More info on that can be found here.

Last, but certainly not least, we are kicking off the first in an ongoing series of posts: The Custom Alarm Security Tip of the Month.  This month’s tip seems pretty obvious, but it’s one of those things that people don’t think about all that often:

May is the time of year to get your lawn and garden ready for a summer full of BBQ’s, bocce ball, bean bags, and badminton, but remember to put away all your tools when you are done working in the yard.  Burglary and theft are crimes of opportunity, so don’t leave anything lying around that a thief could take, or a burglar could use to gain entry into your home.  Things to be especially aware of are shovels, rakes, and other things that can be used to break windows or pry open doors.  Also, don’t leave your extension ladder out after cleaning the gutters, it’s an open invitation for burglars to gain access to a second story window in your home or one of your neighbors’ homes.

In addition, think about the types and placement of trees, shrubs, and other plants in your lawn and garden, and make sure they are kept neat and trimmed.  Poorly placed and/or overgrown plants can give burglars all the cover they need to break into your home unseen.  Keeping your yard neat and tidy not only looks nice, but it makes your home less appealing to would-be thieves as well!

Check back or subscribe to our RSS Feed or e-mail updates for more monthly tips from CCi, and check out these past posts for tips on dealing with door to door salespeople and help with operating your security system.

The Boys of Summer

Custom Alarm is once again sponsoring a softball team this summer.  Members of the team from Custom Alarm include Erik Lee, Luke Payne, Rowland Ploenzke, Bill Wood, Joe Manning, Josh Zunk, Ryan Olson, and yours truly.  We’ll be playing in the Men’s Pacific Softball League at McQuillan Fields on Wednesday nights.  Our first game is this upcoming Wednesday, May 5th at 8:15PM on McQuillan Field VII (7 for all the non-Romans in the crowd).  You can find the schedule and standings here if you want to come out and give us some support this season or just to see how we’re doing.  In the words of The Sandlot’s Hamilton “Ham” Porter: “PLAY BALL!”

Warning! Road Closed Ahead

As you know it’s orange barrel season once again, and this time, it’s affecting how you can reach our office.  There is road construction on Salem Road SW from the intersection with Greenview Drive SW to the intersection at Bamber Valley Road SW, and the road is closed for that entire length (see a map here).

Thankfully, the construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of August.  Until then, the easiest way to get to the Custom Alarm office is as follows:

  • From the North: take Highway 52 South to the 16th Street SW Exit.  Turn left onto 16th Street SW.  Turn left onto Greenview Drive SW.
  • From the South: take Highway 52 North to the 16th Street SW Exit.  Turn left onto 16th Street SW.  Turn left onto Greenivew Drive SW.
  • From the East (coming into Rochester on Highway 14): Turn left onto South Broadway Avenue.  Turn right onto 16th Street SW.  Turn left onto Greenview Drive SW.
  • From the West (coming into Rochester on Highway 14): Take the Highway 52 South Exit.  Take the 16th Street SW Exit.  Turn left onto 16th Street SW.  Turn left onto Greenview Drive SW.

As you can see, the moral of this story is that the ONLY way to reach our office is off of 16th Street SW, and the easiest way to get there is via Highway 52.  Hopefully these directions help those of you who need to see us in person while the construction is going on.

One last, but very important note, please remember to be safe and slow down in construction zones this summer.  Not only will you be protecting yourself and the construction crews, you won’t have to worry about this guy coming after you…

Slow down in construction zones or else...

Protect Yourself This Summer

The warming weather has us all looking forward to the picnics, swimming, cookouts, and parades of summer.  However, it also means the return of door-to-door sales companies.  Many of these companies are legitimate businesses, but there are always a few bad apples that practice high pressure sales techniques, do not apply for a license, or attempt to defraud people out of their hard-earned money.  Below are some tips for protecting yourself and your money when confronted with door-to-door salespeople:

  • First and foremost, ask to see their license.  Anyone who is trying to sell products door-to-door in Rochester (and many surrounding communities) is required to apply for a license with the city clerk.  If the person at your door does not have a license, you can report them to the police or the city clerk’s office.  The ordinance also restricts door-to-door salespeople to selling between the hours of 9AM and 6PM.
  • Ask to see a photo ID.  All salespeople should have a photo ID that clearly identifies their name and the company they are representing.  If they cannot produce an ID, be aware that they may not be who they say they are, and it may be difficult or impossible to recover any money you give them if it turns out they are not legitimate.
  • Read all paperwork thoroughly before signing anything.  Make sure you are clear on the terms of the contract (various costs, fees, length, termination requirements/fees, etc.) and are comfortable with all of them.  If something is missing from the contract or unclear, ask to have it added or explained in writing.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Take your time.  In addition to reading through the paperwork, take time to make a decision on whether or not to purchase the product or service being sold.  Ask for a night to “sleep on it” and let them know you will contact them the next day.  Do not allow the salesperson to pressure you into a buying decision with tactics like telling you “the deal is only good for today.”
  • Know your rights.  According to state and federal laws, anyone who has purchased an item or service from a door-to-door salesperson has three business days from the day they sign the contract to notify the service provider in writing that they do not want the service.  Within this three-day window, you can change your mind and the service provider is required to remove any installed equipment or merchandise and fully refund any money collected with no penalties or fees to you.  Also according to this law, any door-to-door salesperson is required to present you with an “Effect of Rescission” form that explains this right in detail (See Custom Alarm’s Effect of Rescission).
  • Remember that it’s your home.  If for any reason during the sales presentation you feel threatened, pressured, or uncomfortable, it is your right to ask the salesperson to leave the premises.  If the salesperson does not comply, you can call the police and report them for trespassing and/or harassment.

Hopefully these tips will help you make good decisions if you have a salesperson come to your door this summer and ensure a pleasant experience if you do decide to buy from them.

As you may or may not be aware, the last couple of summers have seen a couple of security companies come to the Rochester area and make door-to-door sales.  Custom Alarm has received many phone calls each summer asking about these companies, including complaints about high pressure sales tactics and false representation.

On a national level there have been enough issues with door-to-door security companies that the Electronic Security Association (ESA), the national association for the security industry formerly known as the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) and of which Custom Alarm is a member, has adopted a new door-knocking code of ethics effective immediately.  The basics are as follows (summary courtesy of Security Systems News Magazine):

The new code of ethics and standards of conduct include: Enhanced identification: sales representatives must carry photo ID cards and clearly state who they work for when making a sales call; more respect for consumers: when requested by a consumer, a sales representative shall immediately discontinue a presentation and leave the premises; no false accusations about competition: sales representatives may not make any false statements about competing organizations; improved customer contract requirements: written materials, which clearly and conspicuously disclose all terms and conditions, must be presented to customers when closing the sale; better refund policies: prior to the sale of any product or service, sales representatives must disclose all termination fees and must honor all refunds in accordance with their company’s policies.

Any member of the ESA who is found to be violating this code of ethics faces the possibility of expulsion from the ESA.  You can find out more about this code of conduct and the ESA on their website.

Please also note that Custom Alarm does NOT practice door-to-door sales, and anyone going door-to-door stating they are from Custom Alarm is making a fraudulent claim.  If you have questions regarding any of the information in this post, please contact us via e-mail, at 507-288-5522, or leave a comment below.

Muzak Rocks the Airwaves on CBS Sunday Morning

When people think of Custom Alarm/Custom Communications, Inc, they often think of our security and fire alarm systems.  What many people don’t know is that we also have a large Sound & Media Solutions department.  As a part of our service offerings in this area, we have been SE Minnesota’s Muzak affiliate for 25 years.

We would like to extend our congratulations to everyone at Muzak for their feature story on CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday, March 21st (see the video below or click here).  Muzak went through a somewhat well-publicized bankruptcy, as did a number of companies in 2009, but they have bounced back strongly and have enhanced their service offerings following their restructuring.  Custom Alarm is proud to continue providing Muzak services including music on hold, messaging on hold, and sound masking as part of our Sound & Media offerings.

Custom Alarm is Marching for Babies

Walking for a Reason

Please help the Custom Alarm Team as we raise funds for the March of Dimes’ upcoming March for Babies.  A number of our employees will be participating in the six mile walk on Saturday, April 24th, 2010, and we would love your help as we support this great cause!

As you may or may not know, the March of Dimes is an organization that helps mothers to healthy, full-term pregnancies as well as providing support to help babies born prematurely.  You can find out more about the March of Dimes and sign up to walk in the March for Babies here.

If you would like to help us out, you can donate online by going to our team page.  Also, feel free to leave a comment letting us know if you’re walking in the event and we’ll see you at the Eagles Club on April 24th!