Certain brands have become synonymous with the generic form of certain products, such as Kleenex being used for tissues and Life Alert Systems being used to cover the broad category of senior alert systems. In actuality, Life Alert is a brand just as Kleenex is also a brand. The misuse of such brand names often causes confusion amongst consumers.
A senior alert system and other medical alert systems use wireless technology to connect users with the press of a button with a live person on the other end of a phone call. The live person can either be an operator at a call center or a family member or even a 911 operator depending on the type of alert system. Life Alert is a company that offers several types of emergency alert units all of which connect users to an operations center where help can be obtained.
Founded in 1987, Life Alert is one of the oldest companies in the emergency alert business. They offer not only medical alerts systems, but also fire and CO alert systems. Life Alert Systems for seniors is perhaps best known for their commercials and their trademarked slogan: “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Though often used as the punch line of insensitive jokes, that tagline succinctly describes the fear that many seniors living alone face.
When evaluating any product, including system such as Life Alert, it’s important to not only investigate the features and technology of the system, but also the business model employed by the company in order to make money. It’s somewhat akin to evaluating companies that you considering purchasing stock in and can often times prove to be rather enlightening.
Being one of the pioneers of the senior alert systems industry, Life Alert utilizes a well-tested and proven system for putting seniors in distress with live operators at a 24/7 monitoring center. As they attest on their Website with various counters, they have helped numerous customers in their time of need and have perhaps saved many lives. The equipment appears to be well-made and reliable and from many customer reviews works as advertised.
Where consumer opinion appears to drop off is with the customer service end of things. This is where some due diligence with regard to the company’s business model is in order. It’s a common business model these days for companies in certain industries to make the bulk of their revenue from recurring subscriptions either on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Companies such as cable companies, wireless carriers, and even movie rental companies use this model to garner huge profits. There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with a subscription-based model, however, it should be an indication to look more closely at the contract terms and level of customer support as both will have a big impact on your long term satisfaction with such an arrangement.
The cost of the monthly subscription fee and the term of the contract are a good place to start. If the contract is for multiple years, then you will need to multiply the number of months in the term by the monthly fee in order to determine the real cost for the system. Sometimes the actual number may startle you, which is a signal that you should have a look at other systems, particularly ones that don’t involve on-going subscription fees. You will have to decide if not having the option to speak with an operator at a 24/7 call center is acceptable to you. In some cases, just having the ability to auto-dial a child or neighbor or even 911 while you’re incapacitated is sufficient. Only you and your loved ones can determine if this is the correct choice for you and your personal circumstances.
Life Alert Systems is a well-respected company with a long history in the business, however, it’s in your best interest to search online consumer review sites and check out some of the reviews regarding them and their service. This is the kind of informed purchasing decision that all consumers should take upon themselves regardless of the product or service they are considering buying.