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Termite and Pest Control: Read Your Contracts

TermitesWith the hot summer months bearing down upon us, bugs are quickly becoming a part of our lives whether we like it or not. After six months of bliss with nary a tiny ant walking over the back yard patio, we are now deluged with bugs, insects, creepy crawlies and multi-legged creatures seen only in horror movies.

As they move their entire families into our homes and yards, many of us head to the phone to call exterminators to rush over and rid us of our unwanted house guests. However, before deciding on which exterminator to use, or committing to lengthy contracts, make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting in exchange for your hard earned money.

A professional company will survey your home and yard to determine what needs to be eradicated. If you have “samples” of your problem to show the workers when they show up, great. Otherwise, show them where you have seen the offenders, or even where you have seen damage they have caused.

If you have a major infestation, don’t just hire a one man company that shows up with a few spray bottles. Exterminators at professional pest control companies have years of experience and many have degrees in biology and perhaps botany. (If you have never seen professional exterminators at work, do yourself a favor and catch the new show “Billy the Exterminator” on A and E on Wednesday nights. Billy might look like a red neck hillbilly but this guy is a genius when it comes to getting rid of pests of all kinds from hornets to ‘gators and everything in between.)

Before committing to long term service agreements with any exterminator, make certain you understand what you are signing up for:

  • What pests will they be treating for? Who identified them – you or the company? Too many times it’s the homeowner who describes the creature, incorrectly, and the exterminator won’t double check. Therefore, the treatment is ineffective.
  • How often will they be back? As needed? Once a month? Are they killing or preventing?
  • Are their chemicals safe for pets and children? You don’t want puddles of liquids all over the floor if your kids or pets will be walking through them.
  • What is the guarantee? Some companies say it’s impossible to guarantee an outcome. Baloney. If they don’t guarantee their work, you’re wasting your time and money.
  • Are they asking for something like a one year contract with a discount if you pay in full up front? Don’t! Once they get their money they lose interest in your critter problem.
  • Read the contract thoroughly to determine their level of liability. In other words, if your problem is really termites and not carpenter ants, yet they are treating for carpenter ants as your home is destroyed, do you have legal recourse?
  • Before signing a contract, have an attorney look at it. This might cost $50 or so, but it’s well worth it if you have more of a problem than a few bees buzzing around or an over abundance of spiders in your rose bushes.

Some problems can be taken care of in one visit, and a reputable company will be able to determine that right away. Again, check for their guarantee. If they say all your buggies will disappear by the end of the day but they are still hanging around the next weekend, will they re-treat for free?