Common Pest Control Scams and How to Avoid Them

Lots of businesses are made up of good, honest people just providing a service and making a living. But the sad fact is that there are a fair number of people out there looking to scam or steal from you. This includes—yes—pest control.

How can you tell the difference between an honest, trustworthy pest control company and a scam? We’ll tell you. Keep reading to find out the scams that you should be on the lookout for—and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Scam #1: The Door-to-Door Salesman

In this scam, a salesman—often wearing what looks like a company uniform with a name badge—knocks on your door. He might offer a free inspection, or he might just tell you that your home has a pest problem. He might then show you proof of the problem, in the form of a dead insect or rodent that he found on your property.

In fact, the “proof” of pests might be something that the scam artist planted for you to “find.” This means you would end up paying to get rid of pests that were never there in the first place.

Worse still, the sudden appearance of a “pest control salesperson” at your door might not be a scam—but rather a burglar hoping to get a look around and inside your home to see if you have any valuables they can steal.

Reputable pest control companies do not go door-to-door in this way to advertise their services—and they certainly don’t skulk around people’s homes looking for evidence of pests!

If this happens to you, don’t fall for it! Firmly say “no” to the salesperson, and do not let them into your home no matter what they say.

Scam #2: The Untrained, Unlicensed Technician

This scam can come even from a company you call. The problem is that (especially online) not all ads you see are for legitimate pest control companies.

In this scam, the company you call sends out a technician to evaluate your problem. That technician is licensed and trained to apply pesticides. Then, when it comes time for your home to be treated, a different technician comes to your house—this one without a license or much training at all.

It’s important that any person who treats your home for pests be licensed and properly trained. Don’t be afraid to ask to see the license of each pest control company employee who comes to your home. And don’t be afraid to ask the technician questions about your pest problem: if they seem like they don’t know what they’re talking about, or they refuse to answer your questions, that’s good enough to end the service right then and there. You can verify any pest control company and its technicians with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Scam #3: Unclear or “Surprise” Pricing

This isn’t a scam so much as it is a dishonest, disreputable practice. While you do receive treatment for an actual pest problem (unlike in Scam #1), you pay more than a fair price for it.

This happens when a disreputable pest control company promises that a service or treatment will cost one thing, then turns around and bills you for more than the original, stated price. Or they’ll tell you that they can’t know for sure how much the treatment will actually cost until after it’s done.

An honest, legitimate pest control company will tell you what a service costs, up front. A quote from the company should involve a technician looking at your home and determining the scope of the problem—and the actual price of the service should not differ wildly from the quoted price. Finally, you should not be billed for things you did not request.

To avoid paying more than you bargained for, make sure that you are clear about what services you’re getting and exactly how much they cost.

Scam #4: The Endless Contract

Sometimes, a pest will return within a short time after treatment—and that’s when you’ll want the pest control company to come back to your home to finish the job.

Other times, you may want to sign a contract specifying that a pest control company come throughout the year for preventative treatments.

However, some disreputable companies will attempt to scam you into an endless contract for their services. They’ll tell you that while there are still pests, you’ll have to keep paying for their services. (Meanwhile, they’re doing a lackluster job that all but guarantees some pests will survive.)

A good, reputable pest control company will explain to you how long treatment will take for the specific pest and give you a schedule for treatment. If you sign a contract for regular, preventative treatments, the contract will specify the work that’s done.

To protect yourself from this type of scam, make sure you read any contract thoroughly and understand the terms and conditions.

Scam #5: The “Green” Pest Control Company

This type of scam involves promises that the company will get rid of pests in a “green” or “natural” way, instead of using pesticides or other chemical treatments.

The problem is that there is no regulation behind the words “green” or “natural,” meaning that these companies do not have to prove that the products they’re using are less harmful to the environment.

What’s more, the vast majority of so-called “natural” pest control treatments do not work. For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forced the manufacturers of ultra-sonic devices (said to use high-frequency sounds to irritate pests into leaving) to change their advertising because they were misleading customers into thinking the devices would completely get rid of pests. (They do not.) The FTC also issued refunds to customers who bought cedar oil-based bed bug “treatments” and fined the company who sold them. (The company made false claims about its products.)

Beware of any business that uses untested, unproven treatments, or advertises “green” alternatives to traditional pest control (without being able to tell you what that means).

Call Us Today

If you need reliable, trustworthy pest control, we’re here for you. We’ve been helping people like you to keep their homes and businesses pest-free for more than 80 years.

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and Columbus. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or, through the website, Facebook, or Twitter.