The internet can be a great place to shop. But the old adage: “Buyer Beware” applies even more so online.
New Personal Alarms (hereafter: PA) generally cost in the hundreds of dollars, so it’s worth spending a bit of time researching WHO you can trust; which is not necessarily the same business paying Google to be at the top of your search page.
Here are a few links that may assist in your research:
They began performing independent testing, publishing reviews and recommendations of PAs in 2017. Two years later, CHOICE® was receiving so many “complaints [about] a number of brands and models. . . ” that they concluded there were “problems with the personal alarm industry as a whole.” Other than being “faulty” or “not working as advertised”, there was no further elaboration.
One plausible explanation is that during the period when CHOICE® was recommending PAs, high ratings were awarded to an identical popular model offered by several new, online sellers. As it was the smallest PA on the market, it also had the smallest antenna. In areas where cell reception was weak, it wouldn’t work as advertised and would be thought of as faulty.
If this was the case, it’s no wonder CHOICE® received so many complaints. The issue wouldn’t have been that highly rated models were a problem, but rather there was a substantial percentage of buyers who innocently purchased a model that was inappropriate for them.
A registered charity, they are an excellent resource when searching for any assistive technology product like a PA. ATSA is the leading industry body with over 150 businesses as members throughout the country. ATSA members must adhere to a strict Code of Practice.
ATSA provides guidelines for it’s business members, where CHOICE® provides information for it’s consumer members.
When CHOICE® recommends a product, it’s the product that’s tested; not the seller of the product.
When ATSA screens a business before acceptance, it’s the reputation of the business that’s scrutinised; not the products sold by the business.
While CHOICE® “no longer recommends any personal alarms”, they “will continue to test, score and publish personal alarm reviews.” Due diligence is left entirely with the buyer to determine whether or not they are getting the best advice from a seller.
If an ATSA member does not abide by their Code of Practice, the business is at risk of sanctions or expulsion from the organisation (page 23, Article 19.1).
To learn whether a PA seller is an ATSA member in good standing, go to the Directory of Members and type in Search Listings the name of the business you want to purchase from. If the business you are contemplating giving hundreds of dollars to is registered, you can be assured that they are professionals that have been dutifully screened to provide ethical business practices safeguarding your interests.
There are many websites in the US that review products sold in the US, but it’s easier to focus only on Australian websites. The fact that companies cannot alter or remove reviews from ProductReview.com.au increases the likelihood that you’ll get an authentic review.
Check out this sad example of why it pays to investigate who you’re dealing with before handing over any money.
If the reviews or testimonials are on the same website that is selling the products you’re researching, beware that such may be cherry-picked or fabricated. Fake reviews and testimonials are unfortunately far more common than we like to believe. This is a topic that has been well-covered by online articles such as this one: How to Spot a Fake Review.
This is where an online discussion can be had in which people can ask questions and/or share experiences. People who write into forums often include far more detailed information than you might find in a typical review. Try entering in the search bar the name of a personal alarm brand you’re considering and see what comes up.
Armed with the information you will have learned, you’ll be far better educated to make an informed choice.