That Time I Said No to the Man on the Phone



We had a security alarm incident at our house last weekend. Thank goodness we were home, because one of the fire/heat sensors fell off the ceiling and set off the alarm. It also set off all the smoke alarms and the security panel announced FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! and flashed that the fire department was on the way. The animals were either barking or cowering. I was running around the house carrying the broken, bleating alarm that wouldn’t turn off while trying to talk to the security people on the phone. After eight minutes of this madness, sensible husband told the boy to take it out in the garage where the alarm panel couldn’t hear it. That worked.

I didn’t realize the sensor had been provided by the security company, so when I got off the phone and figured out how to turn the thing off, I assumed that was that. The next evening, I got a text from them saying the fire/heat sensor was offline (not sure why the 24 hour delay…) So I called the company again, and the woman said that their service department would call me back.

Monday, 8:15 a.m.

Duncan: Hello, this is Duncan at the [—] Security Company. [verifies my information] I understand you had an issue with a piece of equipment. How can I help you?

Me: Well, the fire sensor  fell off the ceiling and started going off. There was no fire. And every time I put the code in the panel, the “Calling Fire Department” message would go away, but because the sensor was blaring, the message would come back and the panel would start screaming, FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!, after 30 seconds. This happened four or five times. It was a nightmare.

Duncan: I’m sorry to hear that happened. Do you have the sensor with you now?

Me: Somewhere. I think it’s in the kitchen. I finally figured out how to get the batteries out. But I had to do it out in the garage wearing ear protection because I couldn’t bear to get that close to it. Plus, I couldn’t bring it back into the house because it would set off the panel.

Duncan: No problem. Is it going off now?

Me: What? No. I took the batteries out. It would’ve been on for more than 36 hours. Who could live like that?

Duncan: No problem. That’s good news. Let’s see if we can get it working so you’ll be up and running again. Your family’s safety is important. Will you please get the sensor? I can help you with it.

Me: It. Fell. Off. The. Ceiling. It’s in three parts. I’m not putting it back together.

Duncan: No problem. They go back together very easily.

Me: No. It fell off the ceiling. I’m not putting it back together. It went off four times. If I put batteries back in–seriously it was traumatic. I’m not going through that again.

Duncan: No problem. I understand. They go back together very easily. Sometimes there’s just a bit of dust in the…Or the on button is stuck. We can easily remedy that and get it working again.

Me: No. No. No. I am not putting it back together again. I am not testing it. I’m certainly not putting it back on my ceiling. IT. FELL. OFF. THE. CEILING. And what was the deal with the sticky stuff holding it to the ceiling? Why weren’t there screws?

Duncan: No problem. You can always mount it on the wall as long as it has one foot of space around it in each direction.

Me: Sorry. In my frantic scrambling to open the back of the thing to get the batteries out, I tore off all the sticky pads and they are lying all over my garage like some person being driven insane by a siren might have done. There are no sticky pads. Also, it fell off the ceiling and I’m never using it again.

Duncan: Oh.

Me: You need to send me another one.

Duncan: That shouldn’t be necessary.

Me: It’s necessary. I’m not putting this thing back up and have it fall off the wall or whatever when we’re not home, and go off, and get the fire department and police here. My dogs will bark madly, and the firemen will want to get in to see where the fire is, so the cops will  probably shoot the dogs. You don’t want to be responsible for my dogs being shot, do you?

Duncan: [long silence] *sighs* I’m going to go ahead and send you a new one. Your sensor is still under warranty.

Me: Thank you.

Duncan: [sounds surprised] Oh, you’re welcome. [verifies address] But you have to send the old one back within thirty days, or we will charge you for the new one.

Me: Fine. Will it have screws?

Duncan: It will not come with screws. But there are holes on the mounting for screws.

Me: So we have to buy screws. Do you sell screws?

Duncan: No, ma’am. We do not sell screws. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No. I’m not going to put it on my wall.

Duncan. No problem.


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