Attorney General settles with Life Alert, seniors could get refunds

Local News

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — The company is best known for helping folks who have fallen and they couldn’t get up has run into some hot water with New York’s top prosecutor.

They are called Personal Emergency Response Systems, and Life Alert is arguably the best known of the businesses that monitor those medical devices.

The Attorney General accused the company of skirting the law in their consumer contracts, and now they have reached a settlement.

New York’s attorney general accused the Los Angeles-based company of skirting state law in their consumer contracts, failing to clearly indicate consumers are afforded a 7-day cooling-off period after signing a contract, and they have the right to cancel any time.

Tim Creenan, Amherst Alarm told us, “If someone did change their mind with our system they just give us a call, they return the equipment, and then we would return any moneys they have paid to us, and the transaction is cancelled.”

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Creenan says, state law is clear on the medical alert contracts and there is a lot of competition among companies that provide the portable devices and operate the communication responses.

A quick check on the Internet shows the crowded field of providers.

“When someone needs help they simply press the ‘diamond’ button on the mobile PERS device.”

Amherst Alarm is best known for operating home and business security systems, but Creenan says medical alerts are part of their commitment to their customers.

These portable devices operate on cell phone networks, so a customer can take their PERS with them anywhere in the country that has cell service.

“It will give information about the person’s name, their home address. It will also give GPS coordinates as to where the person is. So if they are not at home, the dispatcher will know where they are so we can dispatch the appropriate people,” Creenan added.

In the settlement, called an Assurance of Discontinuance, Life Alert did not admit to any wrongdoing and the company will notify customers of their rights.

Customers who tried to cancel a contract but were turned down between 2014 and 2020 may be entitled to a refund.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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