published Friday, April 4th, 2014

Biz Bulletin: How to choose pest control firm

By Jim Winsett

Q. I hoped the harsh winter would limit pests. However, spring time has brought the bugs to my new home. Does BBB have advice for selecting a pest management company?

A. Coincidental to spring, April is National Pest Management Month, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). In 2013, Better Business Bureau's nationally received more than 3,300 complaints against pest control services.

When your pest problem gets too big for a flyswatter, a mousetrap or do-it-yourself sprays, it is time to call in a professional service. Take the time needed to select a reputable business, and make sure you are doing business with someone you trust.

BBB and NPMA recommend the following tips for finding a qualified pest management professional:

1) Check them out. Evaluate pest control professionals and companies that are members of national, state or local pest management associations. Always check out the business' BBB Business Review at bbb.org first and check to see that the business is a certified NPMA Quality Pro, www.npmaqualitypro.org company. Ask friends and neighbors to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.

2) Always deal with a qualified and licensed pest management company. Ask to see the license or other credentials of the pest control professional that comes to solve your pest problem.

3) Do not rush. If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest management companies. Since you are paying for professional knowledge as well as skillful application of pesticides, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.

4) Understand before you sign. Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the household pest to be exterminated, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem. Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment. If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management are necessary.

5) Do not fall for high-pressure sales tactics. Buy value, not price. Beware of companies that offer bargains that sound too good to be true. Be wary of companies that come to your home uninvited and offer to give your house a free inspection for pests. They may try to scare you into authorizing immediate and costly treatments.

For more home improvement tips you can trust, visit bbb.org and for the latest, follow us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BBBTNGA. Homeowners can also call state pest control regulatory agencies for information regarding the status of pest management companies. In most states the regulatory agency is the State Department of Agriculture: state of Tennessee, www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/licenses.shtml and state of Georgia, www.agr.georgia.gov/1pesticide-applicator-licensing-and-certification.aspx .

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga.

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