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A conspiracy of security agencies?
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Did you know that the effectiveness of security systems at your premises does not depend on cameras or intervention patrols but on... an agreement that you signed?

This article contains several interesting provisions from agreements that agencies require their customers to sign. Of course, to protect themselves, not their customers.

The majority of security agencies assume that nobody analyses provisions of agreements very thoroughly. So you can write there whatever you wish.

Do you know what you approve with your signature?

One of agreements of a certain security agency contains the following provision:

“After receiving an alarm signal from the Contractor’s facility, the Contractor employees shall immediately undertake all possible actions, and the intervention patrol shall go to the specified location taking the shortest route possible. The arrival time shall depend on weather and road conditions, as well as on events outside the Contractor’s control, such as, for example, road incidents, roadworks, and other works or activities affecting duration of travel on a given route.”

This indicates that the agency will immediately undertake all possible actions. But what kind of actions? Who decides what is possible? This is what the agreement is for, isn’t it? But what happens when the agreement does not contain any specific provisions?

This is just the beginning. Because, as we read on, we learn that:

  • rain can stop the intervention patrol;
  • roadworks can discourage them from further travel;
  • actually, everything influences the time of their arrival, as there can be “other works or activities affecting duration of travel on a given route”.
So a thief can roam around “protected” premises, while the agency looks for a bypass and is not held responsible for anything? One provision of the agreement, quoted above, relieves the security agency from its responsibility for the fact that a person that broke into premises under its protection run away too soon. While they could be kind enough to wait for their arrival. However, a question remains here, what could guards from the patrol do? Are they sufficiently strong and agile to react to the incident, or do they just sound the horn to scare the evildoer away by their arrival alone?
What does this have in common with the agreement?

The agreement should clearly specify things for which the customer pays.

For the arrival? 30 minutes of parking (we will go back to this later)? Or maybe you pay for Netflix at the construction site? Do you think this is a joke? Then check another example out…

This is a provision of one of agencies concerning this issue:

“Agreement No. … for performance of video monitoring services using a monitoring tower”.

It is very easy to perform this agreement. Did we switch the monitoring on? Yes, we did. So now you must pay us! But what for? For the video monitoring service. But what are the results of this monitoring? None… It is not known, who watches what. But it is known that the customer gets nothing out of it. And it may turn out that as a customer, you must pay additionally for this!

This is an example from one agreement:

“When any technical problems with normal operation of the CCTV tower occur, in particular, a connection between it and the Contractor’s Monitoring Centre is broken, the Contractor shall undertake necessary and immediate activities to diagnose and remove the failure. The Parties jointly agree that should the incident provided for in the preceding sentence occur, prevention and monitoring vehicles of the intervention patrol shall be used as a replacement security measure until the failure is removed, unless, for objective reasons, e.g., difficult access, a fortuitous event, and/or insufficient number of intervention patrols available, such service cannot be ensured in a given case. The replacement measure shall be used when it is possible to organise and operate it in the area where the protected facility is located.”

Again, we see very clearly specific actions of the agency: it will undertake necessary and immediate actions.

Meaning what? It is not known, who, when, what and how. But wait a minute, we have a prevention and monitoring vehicle ensured! Oh well… the grounds are secured, we can wait for the repair. But wait a moment: unless this service cannot be provided in a given case! Of course, for objective reasons. “The replacement measure shall be used when it is possible to organise and operate it in the area where the protected facility is located.”

So, you have a CCTV system. It broke down or there is no connection. According to the agreement signed by you, not only the repair can last for ages, but also now you will be left without any protection. For objective reasons?

You get what you pay for

Now, do you understand why these services are so cheap?

Because the security agency basically bears no costs. Pure business. If it started to act whenever necessary, its costs would be higher, so the price also would be significantly higher. The price of “security” is of enormous importance, because it immediately tells you what you can expect. You get what you pay for, meaning, you get almost nothing when the amount is small. And sometimes you pay a contribution to the agency business! You know now that you have to be lucky for the monitoring to operate correctly, because when it is down then usually your premises are without any protection.

But wait, what are power generators for? Here is a brief comment for those unfamiliar with the subject. Power generators need fuel to operate. This means that somebody must provide this fuel. Who? Obviously, not the security agency! They have other things on their minds, as we can read in one of the agreements:
“The Contractor shall be obliged to monitor the level of fuel in the power generator and to inform the Customer about a need to refuel the power generator tank. The Customer shall be obliged to provide fuel and to cover costs of fuel required for normal operation of the power generator ensuring operation of the Monitoring System.”
If you can stomach costs of fuel for the power generator owned by the agency, then what would you say about the following case? A weekend, a bank holiday weekend, or holiday. Power outage occurs at the construction site and the generator runs out of fuel. Somebody must come and fill that tank. Or even buy it, and it is not a question of a small canister. Who will do this? Certainly, nobody from the security agency, because it secured itself with the agreement and can legally ignore a problem of no monitoring.

One of these agreements sums it up as follows:

“The Contractor shall not be held responsible for any damages resulting from incorrect operation of the Monitoring System caused by the Customer’s failure to provide fuel in the power generator.”

Should it be this way? Who protects who in this case?

Definitely, the agreement protects the contractor, but who will protect the construction site at that time?

OK, you can foresee the lack of fuel and fill the tank to its capacity. Maybe you are lucky. But what about situations against which you cannot secure yourself? For example, when weather conditions deteriorate? 

One of agreements explains this situation in the following way:

“In the event of any image disruptions defined as no picture due to precipitation or other physical factors, the service of the video-analysis is suspended for the disrupted camera, until precipitation ceases or other physical factors are removed. The Contractor undertakes to immediately notify by phone the Customer representatives specified in the notification sheet about accumulated snow, mud, dirt and other factors distorting images generated by a given camera. The Customer is obliged to immediately initiate actions aiming at restoring normal picture for a given camera.”
And what about when it is a weekend or a holiday, and the customer left the construction site and went home, there is a snow or a rainfall, the construction site is hundreds of kilometres away, and security officers sit in a warm office and call you: the camera needs to be cleaned!
Who is working for who?

Do you think it is an exception when the agency transfers its problems with security onto the customer?

Now I will show you one of more interesting provisions suggesting that even a thief must be authorised to steal:

“The Contractor shall not be held responsible for damages resulting from incorrect functioning of the Monitoring System in consequence of interference with the Monitoring System by any third parties unauthorised by the Contractor”. 

A simple GPS jammer is enough for the security agency to wash its hands of the theft. ‘We looked and we looked, and suddenly, the image disappeared because the connection was broken, so we ceased to look.’

This is the case when the site is only observed, without being protected. Because agencies undertake mainly to observe:

“The service consists of watching over the Site by video-analysing video images (…)” The video-analyses of the video images are understood, in particular, as searching for and finding intruders using pictures from cameras installed as a part of the Monitoring System.”

Watching over and finding intruders. It is a kind of an agreement that is easy to perform. “We watched and we found.” Aha. And there are no grounds for paying any damages for theft from the construction site because it was not what the agency agreed to do!

These phrases are very important for the Insurer whose policy protects the agency, because with such provision, contractual terms and conditions are met when the intruder was discovered, and the compensation is not due!

What can an average customer of a security agency think?
“I do not care about the insurer, I am concluding an agreement with a security agency, let them worry about compensation”.

Unless the situation is as follows, as one of such agreements specify:

“In each case of a loss, the Customer undertakes to notify it first to the insurer with which the Customer signed an insurance agreement.” “The Contractor’s liability can only be established in court after liquidation proceedings before the insurer are completed, or without such proceedings if the incident was not covered by the insurance of the Parties.”

Do we pay for the loss from our own policy and bear costs of higher premiums?

Not always:

“The Contractor shall be held responsible for losses resulting from wilful failure to perform or improper performance of the subject matter of the Agreement by the Contractor, and only for those resulting from events covered by the third party liability insurance held by the Contractor. The Contractor shall be held liable for total losses to the amount of the third party liability insurance held by it related to conducted business activities, and the Customer shall pursue all claims solely from the third party liability policy provided for in Article 8.2, which contents and scope it read. The Customer represents that it shall not pursue any additional damages from the Contractor for the losses provided for in preceding sentences, exceeding the limit of the established responsibility, i.e., exceeding the third party liability insurance held by the Contractor.”

Now, let us think, the agency “protects’ many facilities. A theft occurs at a few of them, and the payment is made from one pool of the sum guarantee under the insurance policy. And what will happen when that amount is too low?

Nothing. According to the above contractual provision, the “protected” company is not entitled to anything. The Customer cannot stop paying amounts due to the Contractor in relation to claims notified to the Contractor to remedy its loss, and cannot deduce amounts of notified claims for damages from amounts due under invoices. Additionally, the discussed agreement contains a reservation that the Customer is obliged to pursue all claims directly from the insurer!

Why is it so difficult to receive compensation from an insurer?

Insurers are not so keen on paying compensations, and their GTC may contain traps like a requirement to install on a protected construction site a permanent masonry fence understood as a fence permanently attached to the ground that is stable and permanent. Whoever has such fence at their construction site, has a chance to receive a compensation from the policy. Those who do not have it, each time can expect a refusal to be paid the compensation according to that provision of GTC. And when the insurer does not find any catch to refuse to pay the compensation, then it at least will reduce its amount by the deductible. One of the agreements specifies it as 10% of the sum insured, but no less than PLN 2000. This means that no compensation will be paid for losses below that value, and payments for those exceeding that amount will be reduced by it.

Security agencies also have their catches.
For example, according to one contractual provision, a lack of transfer confirmation or a failure of the banking system is enough to lose the protection immediately at the least expected moment:
“In the case of any delay in payments for the services, the Contractor shall be entitled to terminate the Agreement with an immediate effect, without a need to call upon the Customer to pay the amount due”.

The agency gives itself a right to terminate the agreement at any time, without clearly specified criteria.

Because the soup was too salty:

“When the Contractor is not able to provide services specified in the Agreement, for reasons independent of the Contractor, it is entitled to terminate the Agreement with an immediate effect.”

Who knows what those independent reasons really are?


What is certain is that a merest trifle will suffice to be called by the agency and hear: that’s it, from now on you are not protected by anybody.

What is more, in such case an old Polish saying ‘the agency may sit or lie, it is still due its pay’ comes true:

“Should the Agreement be terminated earlier by the Contractor, the Contractor may charge to the Customer an amount corresponding to the amount due for the notice period, as if the Agreement was terminated in the standard way.”

Of course, the presented examples do not cover all provisions used by agencies in their agreements to protect their interests instead of customers’ facilities. I hope that your next agreement with the security agency will be fair and specific. Because, in fact, on this document depends what you pay your security agency for. And a question may come to your mind:

Is there any agency in the Polish market that does not use any catches in its agreements, but informs about the scope of its services in an honest and specific way?

Yes, there is one such agency. Storm Gray Unit.

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