ADT is stonewalling me — should I stop paying my bill?

Robinson/Shutterstock
Robinson/Shutterstock
Krishnan Ramanathan is being double-billed for his home security system. Should he just stop paying it?

Question: About two months back, we moved to a new residence. Our ADT residential security service is in my wife’s name, although I handle most of the activities, including payments. We called ADT before our move and scheduled an appointment (incidentally on the same day that we moved into our new home). The sales rep who met us told us that since we have been longtime ADT customers (about 7 years), the installation, activation etc. would be free of charge and I just had to pay the monthly charges.

Meanwhile in our previous home, we had been making semi-annual payments and the sales rep told us that our first statement would be adjusted based on past payments. The actual service activation for our new home was not until a month after we moved in, since they couldn’t find any earlier day that was convenient to us.

The installation and activation went smoothly until we received our first statement and discovered that the past payment was not adjusted. So I called ADT billing and after almost a hour of being moved around between the billing, move, and new customer activation departments, I was finally curtly told that since the account was in my wife’s name, she would have to call in to make any changes to the same.

A day later my wife called and after the same merry-go-round with the phone, she was told that the service at the old residence itself has not been deactivated, which is why no credit had been applied. The rep on the phone asked us repeatedly whether we wanted to disconnect the service at the old home and we simply told him not to make any changes so that we could confer with the sales rep who had come to our home.

Of course, since then, the particular sales rep has been hard to reach and he hasn’t answered any of my phone calls. Though there is no record of the phone conversation, the only trail I have is an IM chat I had with the sales rep, when he had confirmed that the service at our old home has been deactivated and we should get credit for the past payments already made.

ADT’s site has a web-based form to submit a request, which limits the user to 500 characters. Even after submitting a request online, ADT has not contacted us.

I have refrained from making any payments to ADT and I will refuse to do so until they acknowledge the fix on their end. However, I am worried that they might send the bill to collections if I do not make payments. Please help!

Krishnan Ramanathan, San Francisco

Answer: ADT should have closed your account when it promised it would, instead of keeping two accounts open. While I can understand how the company might be confused if there’s a lag time between your move date and activating your new home’s alarm system, it’s no excuse.

By the way, you shouldn’t feel as if you’re limited to the 500 characters ADT offers on its site. It lists the names of its executives on its website. Email addresses at ADT follow the convention [email protected] So with a little guesswork, you can appeal your case directly to someone who can find a fast resolution.

I’m not sure if you should have stopped paying your bill. That’s an extreme measure, and you’re right, it can result in your account being closed and referred to a collection agency. I can think of several intermediate steps, up to and including an appeal to a manager, that might have yielded better results.

By the way, nice work in keeping screenshots of your conversation with the ADT rep. A reliable paper trail, as you know, is key to fixing a problem. It may even let you shortcut the seemingly endless “hold” times you and your wife experienced, as long as you send your message to the right person.

I contacted ADT on your behalf. The company investigated your claim and agreed to close your old account and begin charging your new one when it said it would. It mailed you a refund of $97 to cover the erroneous billing to your previous account.

Should you ever stop paying a bill?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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