As 3M HomeFree Resident Monitoring closes in on shutting down their operations, they send out a new customer letter than adds insult to injury.

This is from the 3M website:

“Our personal integrity, our shared values and our ethical business conduct form the basis of 3M’s reputation around the world. . . .” “We all have an ongoing responsibility to share and live our corporate values:

  • Act with uncompromising honesty and integrity in everything we do
  • Satisfy our customers with innovative technology and superior quality, value and service”

Except . . . when it comes to hundreds of senior housing communities that care for thousands of seniors who were protected by 3M resident monitoring systems.  It would be one thing if this were a small struggling call system company that gave it their all, and just ran out of resources, but that is not the case.  In fact, I suspect that many of 3M’s customers, in part, based their decision to purchase these systems on the size and stability of this multibillion dollar company. 

It was misplaced trust

On October 1, 2012 3M sent a letter to their customers telling them that “effective 5:00 pm central December 31, 2013 neither equipment or support will be available. 

What this meant was that this vital, and in most states mandated system, would no longer be supported.  It didn’t matter if you had purchased your system a number of years ago or early 2012. 

At the end of 2013 you were going to have a sophisticated life safety system you could no longer trust.  It was actually worse than that, here is part of what the letter said:

“Your 3M Resident Monitoring (RM) system will no longer operate properly in the absence of qualified maintenance and support.  Specifically, in the absence of regular database maintenance the system will stop sending alert messages to your employees and to the central monitoring station.  This is likely to mean that your staff will not know based on the system when a resident has exited your facility or is in need of assistance.”


“If you choose to continue to operate the 3M Resident Monitoring system or any of its components or software after December 31, 2013, you do so at your own risk, and neither 3M Resident Monitoring Inc., 3M company, nor any of their affiliates shall assume any liability for the outcome.”  

In effect “thank you for your money, goodbye good luck.” Then on May 31, 2013 they sent out a new letter (you can read it below), that included the above language, but offered an additional 6 months of limited phone support. Here’s what you get in return:

  • Limited basic over-the-phone service Monday to Friday 7 am to 7 pm. No weekend support at all.
  • You should expect no training, on-site service or maintenance, or software updates.
  • You should expect no help with data back-up, repair services or spare parts.
  • If you sign there agreement you are to have no expectation that they have any actually obligation to fix your problem.
  • Finally the agreement requires that if they cannot fix the problem you have to agree to immediately remove and replace the system.

To me, the most insulting part of the May 31 letter is this: “We understand that the transition to a new resident monitoring system is a difficult one and that it may be inconvenient for some customers to replace or disable their systems by December 31. Difficult and inconvenient . . . How insulting!  This is an expensive resident life safety system.  This is not a batch of milk that went sour, or linens that wore out.   It appears this “offer” is a thinly veiled effort to get senior communities make a hard commitment to decommission their systems by June 30, 2014 thereby reducing 3M’s liability.  


The hardest part of this is to figure out what lessons can be learned from this:

  • Purchasing products and services from a big company does not automatically mean it is a safer bet.
  • When you purchase from a smaller company that has bet the farm on a single product line, like Vigil Health Solutions (I have to get my plug in) you will get their full attention and you will know they are putting everything they’ve got into giving you the very best product and service.

  Are there other lessons I am missing? Steve Moran  

3M Customer letter by seniorhousingforum