Life Alert Emergency Response

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Life Alert Emergency Response
TypePersonal Emergency Response Services
Founded1987; 34 years ago (1987)
FoundersIsaac Shepher, Zohar Loshitzer, and Arik Amir
HeadquartersEncino, California
Websitewww.lifealert.com

Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc. is a nationwide American company, with headquarters in Encino, California, which provides services that help elderly contact emergency services. The company was founded in 1987 by Isaac Shepher, Zohar Loshitzer, and Arik Amir. The company's system consists of a main unit and a small wireless help button that is worn by the user at all times. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop appeared in commercials for Life Alert starting in 1992, stating that he used one. He remained a spokesman for the company until his death in 2013.

Service[edit]

Life Alert offers a main unit contacted to a telephone line and a pendant-shaped device, typically worn on a necklace or a wristband. Pressing a button on the pendant contacts a Life Alert call center, and a Life Alert dispatcher then contacts 9-1-1.

Trademarks[edit]

The phrase "I've fallen and I can't get up!" was originally used in 1987 television commercials and trademarked in September 1992 by LifeCall, which went out of business in 1993.[1] After LifeCall's trademark expired, a similar phrase, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!", was registered by Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc., in October 2002.[2] The classic commercial featuring this slogan was ranked number one by USA Today in its 2007 list of the most memorable TV commercials from the past 25 years.[3]

Lawsuits[edit]

In September 1991, nine district attorneys sued Life Alert for high pressure sales tactics and misleading consumers about how the Life Alert system sends calls to emergency service providers.[4]

The lawsuit said that Life Alert had falsely claimed that its system had special access 911, that local emergency agencies react faster to Life Alert calls compared to other 911 calls, and that Life Alert customers receive preferential treatment from public emergency service providers.[4] District attorneys said that Life Alert's sales representatives had fabricated fictional stories about victims of crime in order to instill fear and anxiety in people.[5] Life Alert's sales training manual encouraged sales representatives to say that people were in danger without the system and to "go for the emotional sale, not a logical sale."[6][7] Life Alert's sales representatives would initially quote an inflated price and then quoted a lower price in order to make the person think they were receiving a large discount.[8] Prosecutors said that Life Alert sold systems for $1,700 to $5,000 that could be rented from local hospitals for $25 per month, and that the systems did little more than relaying calls to 911 operators who then called for emergency service providers.[9]

In response to the lawsuit, a representative said that Life Alert is a burglar-alarm company that offers an additional communication device.[10] The company later claimed in court that, while there may have been some isolated incidents of exaggerations by sales people, there was no evidence of a pattern of such practice by the company.[11]

In 1993, a court judgment required Life Alert to stop making the false claims, and it required Life Alert to pay $700,000 to a victim restitution fund, $350,000 in civil penalties, and $300,000 in prosecution costs.[4]

In 1992, the Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Life Alert for consumer fraud.[12] Life Alert agreed to stop soliciting business in Arizona, although it can continue to provide service to existing customers in Arizona.[12]

Notable employees[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'I've fallen and I can't get up!' trademark info". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  2. ^ "'Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!' trademark info". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  3. ^ "Ads we can't get out of our heads". USA Today. July 22, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c "Life Alert to Pay $1.35 Million". The Napa Valley Register (Napa, California). p. 2.
  5. ^ Klose, Bob (February 1, 1992). "Court Prohibits Hard Sell of Service". The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California). p. B1.
  6. ^ Holding, Reynolds (September 13, 1991). "$2 Million California Lawsuit Claims Life Alert Pressures, Deceives Elderly". Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona). p. A11.
  7. ^ Pyle, Amy; Cheevers, Jack (September 15, 1991). "Suit Accuses Alarm Firm of Pressuring Elderly". The Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ "'Fallen and Can't Get Up' Firm Told to Change Pitch". Gannett News Service. The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan).
  9. ^ "Help! Life Alert Is Falling and May Not Get Up". Associated Press. The Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin). p. 19.
  10. ^ Simross, Lynn (November 6, 1991). "Safe at Home". The Los Angeles Times. p. E7.
  11. ^ "Life Alert Trial Gets Under Way". Associated Press. Petaluma Argus-Courier (Petaluma, California). p. 13A.
  12. ^ a b Whitting, Brent (July 16, 1992). "Emergency-call Firm Settles Suit, Jeers Woods". Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona). p. B1.

External links[edit]