Rounding out the top ten brands of medical alarm systems is Life Alert. It’s an appropriate name as it typically signifies the industry as a whole. Some might say that being “number 10” only means that there are nine others that are better, and though that may be a correct sentiment, it doesn’t mean that Life Alert is a bad product.
When it comes to the sharp end of any industry it’s the small things that separate and differentiate one from the other, and very often those small differences can be a major factor with customers. In fact it is largely the customer’s preferences and needs which govern the most suitable product; just like someone buying a motorcar – there may be better and more advanced brands available, but the ultimate choice is left up to individual.
Life Alert is a long standing establishment in the medical alarm industry, and unlike many others, they started their company with the singular goal in mind to provide care and monitoring services for the elderly. Being in the game this long though (24 years) doesn’t mean that they’ve perfected every area of service or feature, in fact there may be a few folks who claim that Life Alert may be stuck in their old ways and thinking.
Although their product is very capable and in many ways matches the top brands, there are a number of areas where they fall short – perhaps struggling to keep up with new trends and advancements – although in reality, the medical alarm system industry hasn’t really evolved all that much since its inception, with the latest and biggest improvement being the advent of fall detection.
The Life Alert system has all the standard installation features including free equipment delivery and a console that typically plugs into your phone jack. The customer is also not obligated to enter into a long term contract. Where Life Alert falls short here is in their pricing because there is a very hefty activation and installation fee – the enrollment fee could well be up to $295. Another irksome issue is the absence of a no cancellation fee policy – the only way to cancel the service with no charge is if the user of the system requires permanent 24/7 personal care. This category alone offers up several stumbling blocks for any prospective client.
As with quite a few medical alert systems, the Life Alert system does without two main features; the multilingual service and a pendant that is able to answer phone calls. All the standard features one would come to expect from any top alert system are present – the 24/7 monitoring is there, as well as the different panic button options and importantly the back-up battery (with 24-48 hours battery life). The pendant or wristband is both waterproof, and since their equipment is UL certified you can rest assured and be confident in the fact that it’s all reliable.
Sadly though, their transmitter range (the console to pendant radius) is the least of all when compared to their competitors – just 150 feet. It has to be said though that Life Alert does offer two packages for different age groups (the senior package, and the 50+ package), so customers will have to call their customer service line to find out if there’s a difference in their range capability.
A bizarre fact about the Life Alert system is that they offer no additional features whatsoever. This of course means you’ll be without a lock box, a check-in service or an additional button to be mounted in the house. Needless to say fall detection is also off the table. The neglect of this category is rather strange for a company that’s been around for longer than two decades as the features offered in this category are often used to increase sales and trump competitors.
What all this illustrates is that Life Alert is the veritable base level, or standard medical alert system on the market; so to use the motorcar metaphor again, the car would have no luxury or special features.
One review though did claim that life Alert offered smoke alarm detectors.
For an established company like Life Alert , with their scant additional services offerings, you’d expect their customer service to be exemplary. It is strange then that they don’t offer all that they can even when it comes to twenty four hour technical support or email notification of any changes or altercations that a customer wants to make to their account.
The only positives they offer are the customary 24/7 monitoring facility (which every medical alarm system has) and possessing UL certification for their equipment.
With the variety of short comings in their service as well as their equipment, it’s really odd that Life Alert doesn’t even offer a FAQs service for customers to field their queries – and by the looks of things, there should be a few. Life Alert offers a toll free phone service for anyone looking to find out anything about their company. They do offer a brochure detailing their features and services, but that will only come through in the mail.
From their small list of customer service features, it’s apparent that this may not be one of Life Alert’s strongest areas and gaining technical assistance in certain instances may be difficult.
What are the Pros and Cons of Life Alert systems?
- Life Alert is a company with a decent background including almost a quarter of a century of history and experience specializing in medication alarm systems
- They do have the option of deploying a qualified technician to your home for a professional installation
- There is a ‘no long term contract’ policy
- Life Alert delivers their equipment to you free of charge
- A limited after hours service for technical support is available
- If a patient happens to die alone under their monitoring service, Life Alert will issue a full refund of up to three years
- They offer two package options; one for senior citizens and then another for the younger fifty plus customers
- Life Alert has the availability of a smoke alarm feature
- An industry veteran, Life Alert has a rich history with thousands of customer endorsements though years of competent service
- Life Alert does offer different contact packages, including an exclusive 911 only call service – in the event of an emergency the monitoring service will call 911 immediately and bypass any other contacts
- Life Alerts premiums are higher than most others, in fact, of the top ten ranked medical alarm systems, Life Alert’s monthly charge of $49.95 is the most costly of all
- They also have a very steep ‘enrollment fee’ of $295, which to many will seem rather exorbitant
- There are no discounts available
- Life Alert offers the lowest transmitter range of only 150 feet, which is also very well short of the industry standard average of 510 feet
- There is no twenty four hour technical support – the assistance they do offer is limited to a few hours
- Some prospective clients and reviewers did comment that gaining accurate information about them from their sales reps was somewhat challenging
- Life Alert has no additional services whatsoever, so there’s no chance of features like motion monitoring (alternatively known as activity monitoring), fall detection, a lock box or voice extenders. Another handy feature absent from Life Alerts features is the monthly equipment test – good companies run automated tests of their product to ensure transmitter integrity between their monitoring station and your in-home console
- Their customer services features and abilities are somewhat sketchy – curious for such a well-established company
- they are known for some really lengthy sales pitches and sign-up processes. Many would regard their sales practices, techniques and procedures as being somewhat outdated
It’s certainly hard to see the logic or foresight in Life Alert’s marketing strategy or sales techniques, not to mention their rather standard equipment. The biggest thing this company has going for it is their twenty four year history, and hence their recognisability among citizens due to their trade mark ad campaigns (featuring fallen senior citizens in need of emergency help).
Over the years they’ve established a healthy client base; the catch here though is that they’ve somewhat been found wanting, perhaps resting on their laurels of years past. Many new companies that have popped up in recent years have surpassed Life Alert’s package, in equipment features, services, cutting edge advancements and most of all, the overall cost of their services.
Life Alert’s customer service seems somewhat circumspect, and with less than impressive alert system equipment, their overall package seems a tad uninspiring – curious because they’re such an experienced company. It further enhances the feeling that Life Alert is stuck in dated ways, as their service offers less than most, and at a higher price.