FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — Confusion cost a Fort Worth couple thousands of dollars in false alarm fees, but the Ones For Justice found it wasn’t entirely their fault.
As power of attorney, Joy Herring kept track of every bill her parents received.
“It’s like having three jobs in one,” Herring said.
She was shocked to receive an invoice of $3,300 from the City of Fort Worth for false alarm calls.
Herring’s mother, Lillian — who has dementia — opens doors at all hours, setting off the alarm. Adding to the problem, Herring’s stepfather, Edd, is hard of hearing.
Police responded to her parents’ home 45 times in the past year, according to records obtained by the Ones for Justice.
The city starts charging alarm permit holders once they exceed a certain number of false alarm calls, according to an ordinance. Homeowners who incur four to five false alarms within 12 months will be charged $50 per subsequent call, six or seven false alarms within 12 months will result in fees of $75 per call and after eight false alarms within the same year, the penalty jumps to $100 per call.
Fort Worth’s Planning and Development Director Randle Harwood said false alarms are a drain on police resources.
“About $450 per call is what our folks estimate the cost is to send somebody out on a call,” Harwood said.
He said the city emailed the couple every month about the mounting bills.
However, the email address was incorrect.
Someone with Brinks had requested the city alarm permit on behalf of Edd and Lillian. During that process, that person listed an email address for Edd. But Edd doesn’t have an email account, according to Herring. The email address also included incorrect spelling of his name.
“This instance is very strange to me, and I’ve heard very strange stories in this room related to alarms,” Harwood said.
Herring said the story doesn’t end there.
She recalled a conversation she had with her stepfather where he said, “Joy, I have to pay two alarm companies.”
It turns out not only was the couple paying for their service with Brinks, they’d also signed a contract with another alarm service, Safe Security.
Edd said a salesman came to his door promising a cheaper deal and the man even offered to void the couple’s contract with Brinks, but that never happened.
Herring took her concerns to the city and they ultimately reduced the bill to $1,100.
“I’m going to waive some of it, but I can’t waive all of it,” Harwood said.
But after the Ones For Justice reached out to Safe Security, the company agreed to cancel the contract and credit the couple their remaining balance.
Brinks did not respond to requests for comment.