Business

Thursday, Apr 11 2013 09:03 PM

ACTION LINE: Get the buzz on pest control

BY JOEY FERNANDEZ Contributing columnist

Editor's note: Action Line is a weekly column from the Better Business Bureau answering consumers' questions and concerns about money and business issues.

Dear Action Line,

I know it's the time of year for insects, mosquitos and the dreaded June bug to show up at my house. I absolutely loathe pests. Can you give me some advice on how to control them and what I should look for in a pest control company?

Dear Reader,

I am with you. I'm not a fan of creepy-crawlies! As we head toward the middle of summer, temperatures typically rise, and so do the odds for bugs and other pests migrating into your homes. Your Better Business Bureau can help you find an end to your pest problem.

Springtime is especially busy for exterminators, but there are some things you can do yourself to control insect infestation.

Make sure there are no holes in screens, cracks in the foundation or gaps under doors. Also, check around doors and windows and replace any worn-out weather stripping, and fix plumbing leaks.

Although professional services can be costly, it could be worth it. Many times, the product you find at the store won't do the trick. A pest-control professional uses specialized equipment, pesticides and their training to put an end to your pest problem.

If you find yourself in a position where a flyswatter is not getting the job done, keep the following tips in mind before hiring a company to perform pest control services:

* Check the company out with BBB. Check any pest control company's BBB Business Review before signing a contract. Look at the company's rating, how it has responded to past customer complaints and any advertising issues it may have had.

* Compare price quotes. Solicit bids from at least three different pest control companies before making a decision. BBB provides a free Request a Quote service to gather estimates from local BBB Accredited Businesses. Be sure to provide the details of the services you need, and keep in mind the lowest price may not always be the highest quality of service.

* Ask about safety and risks. Because pesticides and pest control strategies can be dangerous to touch or directly inhale, be sure to ask the company about the safety of the chemicals it uses. Let the company know if you have pets, children or sensitive plants as that may impact the products they select for your home.

* Check for licensing and insurance. Make sure the company meets state licensing requirements by verifying with the California Department of Agriculture. Also, be sure to ask for proof of the company's workers' compensation insurance and coverage for any potential property damage or personal liability.

* Carefully review your contract. Carefully go over any contract before you sign. Pay close attention to any warranties or termination fees if the contract is extended for monitoring or future services. Make sure any additional discounts or guarantees promised are included in the contract.

* Be cautious of guarantees. While pest control companies can help minimize the number of mosquitoes, completely eliminating the pests may not be possible. Be cautious of any company that makes guarantees claiming it can eliminate 100 percent of mosquitoes. This is a red flag. And finally, remember, you'll have to do your part fighting these pests. Make sure you keep areas free of food and keep your house or business maintained properly to keep pests from coming in.

-- Joey Fernandez is assistant director of business services for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or joey@cencal.bbb.org. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.

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