Discovering that your house harbors insects or other pests usually elicits a strong reaction. If your response is to seek the immediate services of a pest control company, the BBB recommends taking time to select a reputable professional. Obtain at least three estimates and seek answers to the following questions when interviewing each company.
Is your company licensed? State and local regulations vary so check with your BBB or state pesticide agency.
What are the qualifications of your technicians?
Will you provide a written inspection report, with an itemization of charges if a pest treatment is recommended?
Do you provide a written guarantee?
Do you have references from local customers?
Do you belong to a professional pest control industry association?
Do you have insurance? Ask the salesperson to show proof on paper that the company carries general liability insurance, including insurance for property damage. You may also want to ask if it carries workmen's compensation insurance.
Do you guarantee your work? If not, be skeptical. Know in advance what steps you need to take to keep the service agreement in force.
Each company should thoroughly inspect your home prior to submitting a proposal for treatment and a cost estimate. Ask the following:
May I see the pest that you have identified as the source of my problem?
Why is the insect or pest in my house?
What damage will the pest cause? May I see any damage that is already underway?
Do I have an infestation?
Will your program eliminate this pest? For how long?
What pesticides will you use and why?
Are there non-pesticide remedies that will control my pest problem?
If you treat my home with pesticide, do I have to leave and for how long? What toxic side effects should I be aware of? Your safety concerns (allergies, age of household members, pets) should be noted in the contract and reflected in the choice of pesticide that is used.
Is the price you quoted an estimate or the actual cost of what I will be charged? Get the price and list of services to be provided in writing.
If the contractor offers only vague answers, cross him off your list. As always, check with the BBB and local consumer agency to find out if the company has a good track record.