Tuesday, June 21, 2005

False alarm

I woke up at 1:35 am because my burglar alarm was beeping. I'd been asleep for over an hour so at first I wasn't sure if I'd heard anything. It wasn't the alarm going off but, rather, the sound it makes after you set it or open the door--three short beeps. Then, one minute later, another three beeps. I started to freak out. I was wide awake and my heart was pumping and I felt the uncomfortable tingle of adrenaline in my arms and legs. I knew there couldn't be anyone in the house, but why was that damn thing beeping?

I sat up in bed and decided that I had to check out the alarm. It was beeping at one minute intervals (perhaps it was in labor?). I wondered if I should put on pants before leaving the bedroom. Really, because you don't want to bump into a burglar dressed only in a t-shirt and underwear (if that's all the burglar were wearing it would be rather disconcerting too). I didn't put on pants.

Nothing was amiss, but there was someone yelling out on the street. The cat thought I was crazy, but that's nothing new. I went to the alarm panel and pressed the "status" button. The electronic voice told me "front door armed, system phone communication failure." The damn thing was beeping because the connection between the alarm and the call center was not working. Good to know, I suppose, but not at 1:35 in the morning. A good night's sleep was out of the question. I considered calling them then, but couldn't imagine that it would resolve anything. I went back to sleep and had many strange dreams.

This morning I got in touch with the alarm people and they had me test the alarm, "Open your door and let the alarm sound for a full minute."

"A whole minute? You know it's really loud."

"They are supposed to be loud."

"Yes, I understand that, but it's going to bother the neighbors. Is that the only way to test the system?"

"Yes, you need to let the alarm sound for a full minute."

I did the test. It didn't register the first time. Well, duh, because the phone connection is kaflewy. I did the test a second time, just in case. After each test, I had to call back and speak to a different person. After the second test, I called back and spoke to my third person, "How did you do the test?"

"I opened the door and I let the alarm sound."

"That's what you did?"

"Yes. Are you saying I'm supposed to do something else? The first two people I spoke to told me that that was what I was supposed to do."

"If that's what they told you then it's fine."

I was really starting to lose it. "Look, the first person I talked to said I had two accounts, so maybe you are looking at the wrong account." It turned out she was. She said the service people would call me to schedule an appointment. She also said, "If it was bothering you at 1:30 you should have called us."

"Oh, and do what? Test the alarm then? I would wake up everyone in the building. I don't think so."

I asked to speak to the billing department so I could cancel the ghost account.

"That second account is cancelled. You only have one active account." Good to know I'm not paying for two alarms for the same house.

"When I talked to the monitoring people they were pulling up both accounts and it was a problem." I pointed out.

"But that second account is cancelled."

"Can you make it so the monitoring people aren't pulling it up?"

"Please hold."

Eventually he said he'd resolved it, but I'm not confident.

I waited for the call to schedule the service. I got on line for about ten minutes and I called in case someone tried to reach me and got a busy signal. "They'll be calling to make an appointment within 24 hours."

"You're kidding, so you have no idea when they're coming? This is nuts. What am I paying for if the stupid alarm won't even work and you are never going to fix it!"

"I'm going to call them and make sure they get in touch with you today and make an appointment." She did. They called. I have to be home and wait for them tomorrow between 2-6. And you know how I love that.

The alarm does work in the sense that it makes a most horrendous noise if you open the door. I also sprang for the ridiculous service plan so the repair will only cost me $25. As the third person put it, "The rest is free." Except it's not free because I've already paid for it, but it is free in the sense that--um, yeah, it's not free in any sense.

Grateful for: being alone in the house.

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