This post was originally published on February 3, 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The dreaded fine print—pages of small typeface and legal jargon that fill your home security contract. It’s tempting to just trust your vendor and sign on the dotted line, but there are a few reasons you shouldn’t.

While most vendors have your best interests at heart, some may throw in a line or two of unattractive clauses, hedging their bets that you won’t read the details.

Back in 2010, one computer game retailer made light of this “contract skimming syndrome” by adding an unorthodox clause to its terms and agreements. In signing the document, more than 7,500 online shoppers agreed to surrender their immortal souls to the company.

In a similar event, some Londoners agreed to give up their first-born children in exchange for free Wi-Fi.

While most security companies probably wouldn’t try something this drastic, don’t agree to any terms unknowingly. Look for these key items when signing your next home security contract:

1. Double Check the Salesperson

Some salespeople will say anything to close a deal—this is true for any industry, and some home security companies are no different. Read the contract to ensure all verbal or written promises made by the salesperson are included.

If it’s not in writing, it’s not guaranteed.

2. Be Aware of Automatic Renewals

Many companies will offer you special discounts or deals to entice you into signing a multi-year contract. These deals make a lot of financial sense; however, many have “automatic renewal clauses” stitched into the contract. Should you try to cancel after the contract has already renewed, you could be hit with pricey cancellation fees.

But there is an upside: Properly executed auto renewal policies provide homeowners with peace of mind that there will never be a lapse in security between contract signings. Your home security will not terminate without action on your part. This ensures you will not be without coverage unless you choose to cancel.

Check for an automatic renewal clause within the contract. Take note if you find one, so that you know to cancel (if needed) before it renews.

3. Uncover Hidden Fees

Some of the unhappiest security customers center their complaints on “surprise” fees. As you read through your contract, look for terms that outline the fees/prices for:

  • Installation
  • Equipment
  • Monthly monitoring
  • Repair/maintenance
  • Warranties
  • Cancellation

Tip: Negotiate Your Security Plan

When working with prospective vendors, be upfront about your security concerns to ensure your contract meets your expectations. Security systems are not “one-size-fits-all,” and quality vendors will offer flexible options on contracts and equipment that fit your needs.

For example, some security companies may offer the option to buy their equipment upfront versus bundling the equipment costs into your monthly monitoring fee.

There is no shame in asking questions. As you review the contract, ask the vendor to explain clauses or stipulations that you don’t understand.

Have questions about your current Vector Security contract or interested in learning more about the customizable setups we offer? Contact a member of our security team today.