Life Alert Cost Comparison and Review

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Starting Monthly Monitoring Cost$69.90$19.95$29.95$29.95$24.95$29.95
Start-Up Costs (shipping, activation…)$96-$198$0$0 $69.95 $0 $0
Equipment Costs$0$0$0 $0-$149 $0 $0
Range420 ft1,000 ft 1,300 ft 600 ft 480 ft 600 ft
Response Time33 sec59 sec25 sec 35 sec 48 sec 29 sec
Emergency Buttons112112
Backup Battery Life72 hrs32 hrs 32 hrs 30 hrs 32 hrs 30 hrs
Fall DetectionNot Available$9.95/mo$10/mo$15/mo $5/mo $10/mo
Wall Mounted Button$1.95/mo$2/mo N/A $39.95 $2/mo
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Life Alert is famous for its wildly successful "help, I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials, bringing medical alert systems to the mainstream. Unfortunately, despite its early popularity, our Life Alert cost comparison and review reveals that it disappoints when it comes to price, transparency, quality and customer service.

Not only does Life Alert cost more than most of its competitors, it offers fewer features and locks customers into long term 3 year contracts, when many competitors offer no contracts with 30 day money back guarantees.

What was most concerning however, was the high number of customer complaints made to the Better Business Bureau. In the last 3 years, there have been 249 complaints lodged against Life Alert to the Better Business Bureau, compared to only 28 made about Philips Lifeline, another leading medical alert company. This could speak to some of its aggressive sales tactics, poor transparency and inflexible contracts.

If you're looking for value (low cost with quality product and service), we recommend Bay Alarm Medical. At $19.95 per month, with free shipping, no activation fees and a 30 day risk free trial you're getting a great deal, fantastic equipment and benchmark service without the fine print.

Quick Assessment:

Life Alert Base Station

  • Life Alert cost far exceeds its value;
  • Life Alert costs nearly $30 a month more than other leading medical alert companies;
  • Life Alert has upfront fees of $96 to $198. Many top medical alert companies offer $0 in upfront fees;
  • There is no 30 day money-back period. We are strong believers in try before you buy, especially for seniors;
  • You must sign-up for a 3 year contract when most competitors offer month to month;
  • Red Flag: Life Alert has more Better Business Bureau customer complaints than any other leading medical alert company in the United States.

Our conclusion is that there are far better medical alert systems available, offering more flexibility at a much more reasonable price than Life Alert, as can be seen in the chart above.

Life Alert Pros:

Monitoring Center

Life Alert owns multiple monitoring stations, all of which are located in the United States. Because it owns its own monitoring stations, and doesn't outsource calls, it has more control over quality and training. Its monitoring stations have also been accredited by a 3rd party and are UL listed.

Monitored Fire / Smoke / Carbon Monoxide

Life Alert can also monitor for fire, smoke and carbon monoxide. The cost is extra, but the service is available.

Long Back-Up Battery Life

If there is a power outage, Life Alert's devices do have a longer back-up battery life than the average medical alert device of 5 days. Most other medical alert devices offer back-up battery power of close to 3 days.

Life Alert Cons:

Life Alert Cost For Monthly Monitoring

The Life Alert cost for the basic system is $69.90 (confirmed by company sales associate). That is significantly more than the average of $29.99 per month most other medical alert systems charge. Life Alert basic doesn't even come with fall detection and offers no additional product feature or service that merits a higher price. At a full $20-$25 more per month, we just don't think Life Alert is worth the extra cost.

Start-Up Fees

Life Alert Help Button

In addition to its monthly charge of $69.90 for monitoring services, the Life Alert cost also includes up-front fees between $95 and $198, for things like shipping, programming and processing fees. Many other companies offer $0 start-up fees.

No Automatic Fall Detection

One of the big advancements in medical alert systems is the development of automatic fall detection. In the event a senior falls and is unable to press their emergency button themselves, the automated fall detector will call the emergency response center and they will send help within minutes.

Life alert does not offer fall detection. They said they had researched fall detection, but ultimately determined it was unreliable. While we agree that fall detection does not detect 100% of falls, we understand the best systems catch around 90% of falls, we think it performs an essential service and is a great back-up plan in the event the user can't press the button themselves due to shock or loss of consciousness.

Long Term Contracts

Another big drawback of Life Alert, is that it locks its customers into 3 year contracts. The best medical alert systems have migrated to no contracts, allowing customers to cancel at any time, for any reason with no penalties. Life Alert only allows contracts to be terminated upon death, if you move into a senior living facility or if you receive 24 hour care, however, you will have to provide a letter from your doctor or the long term care facility as proof.

The problem with long term contracts for medical alert systems, is that sometimes people's needs change, especially those of the elderly. Perhaps you don't like the way the equipment looks or feels, you move in with a family member, get a full-time caregiver or simply don't use the equipment often enough to make it worth your while. With Life Alert, you're stuck paying $49.95 a month until then end of your 3 year term - not so with the competition.

No 30 Day Money-Back Guarantee

Life Alert does not offer a trial period, plus you're locked in for 3 years. Many of the leading medical alert companies will give you a 30 day money back guarantee - get your money back, no questions asked - and a month to month contract. This is important for a few reasons. First, sometimes you may find that you or your loved one don't end up wearing your help button. Second, if you order a mobile alert system, you may find that you don't get good reception. Third, you may find it's too uncomfortable, big or unpleasant and want to try a different system that's a better fit.

Lack of Transparency

Life Alert Cost

We find Life Alert's sales and marketing practices less than transparent, especially given their target population. Neither the monthly Life Alert cost, nor its upfront fees are disclosed on their website. Once they have you or your loved one on the phone, we found they

engaged in high pressure sales tactics, which was also a frequent complaint with the Better Business Bureau. We're not fans of the high pressure sales tactics, especially for a vulnerable senior population that is already feeling stressed or fearful.

Lots of Customer Complaints

One way to get a feel for a medical alert company's customer satisfaction levels is to check out the number of complaints lodged against it through the Better Business Bureau. Unfortunately, no medical alert company had more complaints against it than Life Alert - a total of 249 complaints. Some companies like Philips Lifeline, which is of similar if not larger size, only have 28 complaints!

Of the 249 complaints against Lifeline, 157 were for problems with the product or service, 56 were for advertising or sales issues and 35 were for billing and collection issues. We just can't recommend a medical alert company who has so many more complaints against it, than its competitors.

Conclusion

We do not recommend Life Alert if you are looking to get a medical alert system. We believe the Life Alert cost, a full $30 per month more than other leading medical alert companies, plus up front fees up to $198 and an inflexible 3 year contract are not merited given that it doesn't standout from other leading brands in the industry.

Despite its early success, we believe the customer complaints and negative reviews on the Better Business Bureau website offer a cautionary tale to prospective customers.

The bottom line is, we believe you can find medical alert systems that are as good or better, at far more reasonable prices and much more flexible contractual terms.