by Heidi Nestor, Writer and Editor, Life Alert
It seems like every day there’s a new company popping up claiming to be the new, best, medical alert product. Many of their hooks include no contracts, water resistant, wide communication range, wallet card ID, panic button, out of range notification…etc. The list is as long as a fast-food drive-through at lunch time. So, which program is the best? Let’s look at all the bells and whistles to see which one will be most effective for you.
Though some companies may promote “no contracts” this may not be in your best interest. There's no point in purchasing a medical alert system with a company that's not going to be as invested in you as you in them. Contracts are implemented for your security as well as the company’s. If you have a contract with a company they must uphold their commitment to you. A contract is your price protection so you’re guarantee a fixed cost and the company can not raise their monthly charge or implement hidden fees like other companies do without contracts. Moreover, having a contract with a known, secure, company, like Life Alert, establishes a relationship and puts you in a position to be able to renegotiate a discount once your current contract expires.
The average contact consists of 36 months and should include:
- The company’s commitment to you
- Guarantee price for the life of the contract
- 48 hour cancellation period
- Contract and service termination upon the death of the user of the product
- Contract and service termination if the user enters into a nursing facility or has 24 hour in-home care.
- A monitoring fee refund that states if the user dies for any reason at home alone during the term of the contract the company will refund all monies paid.
O.k. so now you know contracts isn’t a dirty word that’s going to have you regret signing the bottom line and wondering if you just joined the hearing-aid of the month club.
Water Resistance vs. Water Proof:
A Medical Alert product that is water resistance means if it gets wet, it can resist the moisture. So, if you’re washing your hands and some water gets on the medical alert device it won’t short it out. However, if it’s submerged the water can still penetrate and ruin the product. Some companies may promote that you can bathe or shower with their water resistance system but you may want to really check the fine print to verify that the item will still work if it gets submerged in a bath.
Whereas, Water Proof means it’s impervious to water and can be submerged. Life Alert’s pendant and watch are water proof giving you the freedom to shower or bathe knowing that if you slip - help is just as button push away.
Adaptable to changing phone providers:
Most medical alert systems work through the phone line, and they promote the fact that your phone bill will not increase with their system, however this is standard with most companies and shouldn’t be considered an added bonus. What you need to look for is will the system adapt to a different service provider if you decide to switch telephone companies.
There are horror stories in the medical alert industry of clients changing phone services only to discover that their new phone system isn’t compatible with their medical alert providers. So, while shopping around a good question to ask is if the medical alert system is compatible to any phone service you decide to use or switch to.
Where is the dispatch center?
Why should you care where your call is going, or who is answering your call, or even who that dispatch representative works for? Because your life may depend on it!
Some companies outsource their dispatch centers, meaning, a third party answers the emergency call. This removes the medical alert company from having control and responsibility.
A company that has their own dispatch center is a company that reinvests in the client’s safety because it continuously upgrades security technology and qualified personnel. Moreover, the dispatch personnel are more apt to be personally invested in the success of the company based on their abilities. If the company has a dispatch center on site you know they are a strong and secure corporation that didn’t just pop up over-night and won’t be gone in the morning.
Whereas, outsourcing the emergency dispatch center (which is the most pivotal part of the medical alert process) may allow for a less expensive cost but just where is that company cutting corners to give you a cheaper price? The emergency dispatch personnel! A company’s biggest expense is payroll. Companies that can offer lower prices usually have a smaller dispatch center. Fewer employees mean more opportunities to miss or drop calls. Furthermore, as the outsourced company grows the dispatch center becomes stressed, thus producing poor customer service.
To keep prices low a company must also keep payroll down. To keep payroll down means that employees are paid less, and are less qualified for the job. So, if you have low-paid employees, that are overly-stressed and under-qualified for the job, they will be less likely to be invested in their job of saving lives.
Life Alert houses and maintains its own dispatch center, but more importantly, invests in their personnel with extensive training to ensure our members are receive the best quality service available.
Monthly testing availability.
One of the top reasons for a medical alert system to fail is because it wasn’t tested regularly.
Some products on the market have a direct link into 911 so if a problem occurs, you press the button and 911 comes on the line. But did you know that a non-emergency 911 call can lead to you paying fines as much as $200. This eliminates a user’s ability to test their pendant for any irregularities or weak batteries.
A medical alert service provider should allow for monthly testing at no extra cost.
Here are some basic standard features that should come with your service:
- Free Activation
- 24/7 Emergency response center
- Stay on the line help representatives
- Out of range or lost transmission notification.
- Power failure back-up
- Wallet medical ID
The short cut:
If all of this information seems like you need to get a P.I. license just to investigate which service is best for you possibly the quickest and most effective way to determine this is just to read the testimonies of people just like you. What? You say! Why didn’t I tell you this paragraphs ago? Because I wanted you to at least review all of the services you need to consider when deciding which medical alert program is best for you. By reading the testimonials look for which company has the most and why. You also may want to check their rating on the Better Business Bureau too.
In choosing a medical alert product focus in on the most important issue at hand, your safety, and how is the company you choose going to secure your safety? A strong product, balanced contract, testimonials, name recognition, and longevity should all be part of your decision making and not the flashy promotions from the new guy in town.
The information provided above is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to research any statements made and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.
For more information about the Life Alert system and its many benefits for seniors as well as younger adults nationwide, please visit the following websites: