A Winnipeg senior is advising homeowners against buying an alarm system from door-to-door salespeople after the system she paid for was poorly installed.

Margaret Fentum, 82, says she paid hundreds of dollars to a company called Vivint Canada for a residential alarm system that created headaches for her rather than security.

Fentum said she signed a $50-a-month contract in June 2011 from a salesperson working for Vivint but she started regretting her purchase within days.

"I should have taken longer to think it over," she told CBC News.

Fentum said a couple of days after signing the contract, she was home alone when the alarm sounded.

"This horrific alarm was going off, and I had to get out because I would've had a heart attack," she said.

A neighbour later found an improperly installed sensor on the third floor that was setting off the alarm.

Fentum said she called Vivint saying she wanted to cancel her contract but the company refused to do so and told her to unplug the alarm system instead.

So Fentum paid the $50 monthly fee for two years even though she said she didn't use the alarm system during that time.

"Dreadful. I can't sleep at night half the time. I wake up and it goes over and over in my mind," she said.

Fentum stopped payment last summer but then calls came in demanding money, she said.

Contract will be cancelled

Vivint spokesperson Steve Dixon said there are conflicting timelines from Fentum's account as far as if she contacted the company while still eligible for a refund, but he acknowledged to CBC News that the right thing would have been to cancel Fentum's contract earlier.

Dixon said her contract will be cancelled and Fentum's money will be refunded.

"I would suggest, if I could turn the clock back and we would look at it with our special cancellation folks, we would have had a different outcome. Because as I look at the details, the right thing would have been to cancel this contract earlier," he said.

Dixon said Fentum will be released from her contract, and she will be refunded the amount of money she paid for the alarm while not using it.

Edmonton-based Vivint Canada has been the subject of 209 customer complaints investigated by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in the past three years, according to the bureau's website.

In the United States, the BBB dealt with 2,614 complaints in that same period regarding Utah-based Vivint Inc.

The majority of complaints against Vivint were related to problems with the product or service, according to the bureau's website.

The BBB in the United States also noted that various state governments launched action against Vivint in recent years, with most of the cases ending with settlements or voluntary compliance agreements.