We’re asked all the time…how much does Life Alert cost? It’s not an easy answer….
First, let’s make sure we are all clear on what someone is asking when they want to know how much Life Alert costs. While it may seem obvious what someone is asking, we have to draw a distinction between Life Alert the “company” and the term “Life Alert” being used as a generic term to describe a personal emergency response system.Some famous brand names have become the generic term, like Tylenol or Lipitor.
Life Alert’s company name has become synonymous with the industry. Life Alert® is a registered trademark of Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc. The standard industry term is a Personal Emergency Response System, also known as a PERS. But that’s what the industry insiders call it…not what consumers call it. Consumers will interchange lots of different names to refer to the same thing: a medical alert system, a senior response system, a personal help button, an emergency panic button, a medical alarm system, a mobile GPS alert system, and many more. But most people just call it a “life alert system”.
Just like big companies such as Xerox and Kleenex, Life Alert’s brand name has become so well known that it now represents the “generic” term by which all systems are referred to. Do you ever ask for a photocopy, or do you ask for a Xerox copy of a document? Do you ask for a tissue, or do you ask for a Kleenex when you have a cold? It’s the same idea.
Coca-Cola had similar issues, especially in the southern United States where folks commonly ask for a “coke”, and a server will then ask “which flavor?”. That’s one of the reasons why restaurants will always ask “is Pepsi OK?” if you ask for a Coke and they don’t sell Coca-Cola products.
Is it Generic, or Genericized?
The ones above are probably the most famous examples of trademarks or company names that have become generic or genericized. But there are a lot of others, some of which are surprising:
- Band-Aid for “adhesive bandage” – Often used as though generic by consumers in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, though still legally trademarked
- Crock-Pot for “slow cooker” – “Crock pot” and “crockpot” are common synonyms used by cooks to describe any slow cooker
- Dumpster for “front loader waste container” – A registered trademark of the Dempster Brothers in 1963, dumpster is originally a portmanteau of the word dump and the last name Dempster. It originally appeared in the 1951 product name Dempster Dumpster, while related patents date back to 1937.
- Google for “internet search engine” – have you “googled” yourself lately?
- Photoshop for “digital photo manipulation” – Adobe system’s brand name is commonly used as a verb to generically describe digital manipulation or compositing of photographs
- Rollerblade for “inline skates” – Commonly used name by consumers in the U.S. and Canada, but the name is still a trademark
- Zamboni for “ice resurfacer” – Also called a Zamboni machine. Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc. has taken a strong stance against its trademark dilution, the Zamboni name being used as a genericized trademark for ice resurfacers. On August 15, 2000, Frank J. Zamboni & Co, Inc. was awarded a registered trademark on the design and configuration of the Zamboni Ice Resurfacer by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company asks that Zamboni not be used as a noun or a verb. Ice does not get Zambonied—and the vehicle is a Zamboni brand ice-resurfacing machine
So to answer the question “how much does Life Alert cost?” we have two answers:
- A medical alert system costs around $1 day, depending on which system you choose and which company you get it from
- If you want to know how much a system from the company Life Alert costs, you have to call them directly.