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Comprehensive PCO Recommendations for NYC (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, etc.)

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  1. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Jun 23 2008 10:45:42
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    There are already multiple posts on the subject of NYC PCOs (click the relevant tag, upper right, for prior discussions), so I hope I won't try NoBugs' patience a little bit with this question, but so many of us who post or lurk on the site are located in New York City that I thought it might be helpful to aggregate information in one post, and ask that all of you who've had success or are still dealing with infestations in the area take a minute to post (in a straight-forward, non-libelous way!) about the pros and cons of the exterminators you've used or are using.

    I've already posted ad nauseum about my situation, but, in a nutshell: When my former crummy landlord failed to warn the building that his crummy exterminator would be treating an apartment two floors above mine for bed bugs, the problem spread to my apartment.

    My husband and I were already gearing up to move at that point, but we had the landlord's (again, crummy, almost certainly unlicensed) exterminator treat our place twice.

    More importantly, we packed all of our things in boxes and had our items fumigated in a Ryder Truck with Vikane by Bed Bugs & Beyond, and we had our new place treated by Pest-Away before we moved in. We followed up with Pest-Away's post-treatment regimen: daily vacuuming, generous use of Steri-fab, alternating BEDLAM and Permacide every two days. From the start I was paranoid that we might somehow have transferred bugs with us (although as you can imagine, we were insanely careful), but about a month ago it became clear that it wasn't my imagination -- I was still being bitten. A classic row of three very red, very itchy bites proved it. (Other bites had appeared in clumps, and were itchy, but this was like a textbook photo of a bed bug bite.)

    We were still under warranty with Pest-Away, so we had one more treatment, but I am fairly sure after several weeks of the vacuuming, BEDLAM, Permacide, etc., regimen that I am continuing to be bitten.

    I don't blame Pest-Away or Bed Bugs & Beyond -- I'm not sure what went wrong, at what stage, and many others have had great results with both companies -- but I don't want to rehire a PCO who didn't eradicate the problem for me before.

    As all of you know only too well, the cost of battling bedbugs quickly escalates into the thousands of dollars. And that's not including all the lost time, the hassle of storing clothes and linens in Ziplocs, sealing up bags and shoes the moment we enter the house, the sadness of seeing all our books encased in plastic and knowing we can't access them for 18 months, the stress of not being able to put our bedroom together lest we provide harborage.... Etc.

    One thing in hindsight that I don't like about Pest-Away's approach is that they treat but don't inspect beforehand. This time I want to hire a very thorough PCO, with or without a dog, to come out, inspect my place, prescribe a course of action, and treat. Ideally successfully.

    Below I'm aggregating some information from prior posts and from other websites, but please add your comments: Who do you recommend, and why? If you disagree with anything I say here, fire away.

    Comments from PCOs in the area are welcome, too, but please identify yourself.

    To get us started:

    Bed Bugs & Beyond

    Vikane fumigation treatment that has been proven effective in tests, has worked for some Bedbuggers, and involves tenting of a dwelling or, in the case of those who live in multi-unit residences, a Uhaul containing one's belongings. Has been effective for many. 90-day warranty period. The Vikane is supposed to kill all bugs, but has no residual effect.
    Consequently, in a multi-unit situation, if the company does not tent the entire building, the problem may persist and belongings will have to be removed for re-treatment.

    Pest-Away

    The owner of this company is the go-to source for bed bug quotes in newspapers and appears to know his stuff. A friend of mine had a great experience with the company a few years ago, and traditionally the reviews have generally been positive. I've seen some grousing on this site, though, and since Pest-Away did not eradicate my problem, I'm looking for a company that will inspect before treating.

    Freedom Pest Control

    Recommended here. This company uses a bed bug K9. Several Bedbuggers say that Cesar (the owner?) really knows his stuff. Everyone seems to agree that he genuinely cares. One person had concerns about his protocols, but another user (partly) rebutted. I am leaning toward Freedom.

    Standard Exterminating

    What I've found so far are a couple "I've heard good things"/"have a good impression" comments. Does anyone have actual experience with this company?

    Stern Environmental Group

    There are doubts about whether the Cryonite procedure this company uses actually works. Some comments suggest it doesn't, although some have claimed that it seems to speed up the overall treatment process when used in conjunction with other methods. Also, it does have the benefit of sounding like something Superman would have used.

    Broadway Exterminating

    Many user reviews online seem mixed to negative, although something called The Franklin Report (I'm not sure what this is) offers a glowing assessment. Any Bedbuggers had personal experiences with this company?

    Some of the other companies mentioned in passing on this site:

    Metro Pest Control
    Assured Environments
    Horizon Pest Management
    Advanced K-9 Detectives

    (Apparently there's a debate about the relative effectiveness of various bed-bug-sniffing dogs. Some say you should ask who trained them.)

    I'm sure I'm missing a number PCOs and other details, but I'm running out of steam.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer, guys.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Jun 23 2008 15:49:49
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    Hi theprey,

    I don't have any problem with this thread.

    But given its nature, let me remind everyone that they must adhere to two rules:

    1/ If you have a relationship with a PCO or other service (own, work for, date the manager, etc.), you must declare your relationship with them. Pretending to be a happy (or unhappy) customer or someone who has "heard good/bad things about" a company, when you are affiliated with the company or a competitor, is dishonest and misleading, and is grounds for banning from the site. The terms and conditions govern everyone's participation, so please do read them:

    http://bedbugger.com/terms-conditions/

    [Note: if you are an anonymous participant who is a bed bug pro, you are totally welcome to participate, but please don't compliment or dish on specific companies unless you declare your professional affiliation.]

    2/ If you are a customer, please be careful to only state the facts. Making allegations that aren't true can get you into legal hassles. (Read the terms and conditions!)

    Finally, I want to note that people often wonder -- since I am in NYC and read these messages all the time, why I won't just tell them which PCO is best. The answer is, it's a whole lot more complicated than that.

    Your success as a customer has to do with many factors:
    --Did you get and follow the PCO's prep instructions?
    --Are your neighbors infested? Is the landlord paying the PCO to do what needs to be done as far as inspecting and treating, if necessary, all adjacent units (above, below, all sides)?
    --Are you being reinfested by an outside source you are not aware of? For example, is your workplace / car / mother's home / boyfriend's place infested?
    --Does the tech who comes to treat your home know how to treat bed bugs?
    --Does the PCO support the tech with enough time to do the job, the right tools, and up-to-date training?

    I am sure there are many other factors. The point is, when we have a bad experience of treatment, it can be caused by a lot of factors. The party to blame might include the PCO, the individual tech(s) who treat, the landlord, the neighbors, the resident, and so on. Most times, it's hard to say.

    I have had the experience many times of hearing one person rave about how awesome their PCO is, and to hear another in tears about how the same PCO just could not get rid of the problem. In such cases, it can even come down to a different tech doing wildly different work. Yes, that would also be the company's responsibility, but my point is, it is worth remembering that you can get varied service even if all other factors are consistent. Just wanted to throw that out there.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Jun 23 2008 17:46:07
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    In echoing some of No Bugs comments. The question that comes to mind for many companies really is how do you rate and perhaps filter your clients. Are they realistic in the time it takes to prepare? What about how they got bbs and what are the reintroduction odds? Do they really have bbs.
    A number of companies give people a hard time about specimens and rightfully so, many folks don't like that but it is important. While some folks can ID a pest over the web and some may have other resources I have seen spider beetles, psocids, pseudo scorpions, clover mites, bird mites, lint, mucus, German roach nymphs, carpet beetles, scabs and a number of other items "IDed" ( by clients)as bed bugs not too mention the DP cases and the truly out there folks who all seem to find there way to the Internet. In a number of cases management companies may also put constraints on the pest control companies. Different companies have different protocols and ideology. Pest Away for example seems to have clients do a lot of the work which in some cases may be overkill in terms of effort, work, expense and chemical application. Other companies may take a different attitude. Some companies insist you throw everything out while others try to be sensitive to the expense but sometimes it is necessary but how can you tell that over the phone. Some companies go out and inspect first but someone or something has to bare that expense. Some firms will do some of the vacuuming and prep work for you and charge for it. One of the reasons prices for a stdio could range from $400 - $1400 and more.
    (If a price sounds too good to be true, it is)
    Sometimes it is a matter of matching the client with the company. Availability can also be a factor. Some folks are willing to wait some want it yesterday, I certainly understand the urgency but sometimes people act against their own interests as do companies who I guess should just say no and hang up because it is a tight squeeze to schedule another job into the schedule. And then of course there are always the little cimex, certainly one of the hardest pests to control. I guess perhaps a decent barometer is unless you hear several reliable bad reports about a company it may be hard to really judge. And certainly not in a categoric post as such.

  4. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Jun 23 2008 19:37:08
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    Thanks, nobugsonme and Winston O. Buggy. I'm attuned to the legal issues by virtue of my day job work, and I understand that the efficacy of treatment can vary based on tech, customer-company match, and a host of other factors. (If you'll notice, I was careful not to blame anyone apart from my original [expletive deleted] landlord. And I agree that defamatory statements should be avoided.)

    Of course I'm also sensitive to the inherent incompleteness of anecdotal reports, but right now, having dealt with this problem for four months, I'm hoping that accounts of others' experiences will help me pinpoint a PCO that meets my new, more informed, specific-to-me requirements.

    For instance, others' needs may vary, but given the specifics of my situation I now know that I want someone to come out and inspect my apartment before treating.

    I was also hoping to collect previous recommendations and accounts into a slightly-more-comprehensive format, so that others can easily locate links to various kinds of treatment options and a range of local PCOs. I tried to present things in a balanced way and hope I was successful.

    And in the end, for those of us living in multi-unit buildings, there's not much to go on right now apart from other people's accounts and recommendations.

  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Jun 23 2008 20:08:06
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    Hi theprey,

    Just to be clear, I totally understand the purpose of your thread, and as I said, I have no problem with it.

    As I also noted, my warnings were directed not at you, but "at everyone," meaning people who would be responding to your query. I simply want to avoid a few scenarios we've seen in the past.

    People are welcome to participate in this thread, as long as they heed those caveats.

  6. grossedout

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Jun 23 2008 20:22:32
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    If you want a thorough inspection before treatment, Cesar at Freedom is extremely thorough and knowledgable. I highly recommend him and his company> he does have a dog that I have not used, so I cannot speak to that. In terms of effective treatment, I also recommend them. Good luck and I have no affiliation with the company.

  7. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 9:38:16
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    Thanks, grossedout. Someone also puts in a good word for Freedom Post Control on a recent thread at Metafilter. I continue to lean toward that company but don't want to make a hasty decision this time.

    (And nobugs, I completely understand.)

  8. Itchybutdealing

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 10:30:54
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    Cesar's guys are great and very thorough. Just don't expect them on time! Take the whole day off of work.

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 11:23:48
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    One more thing people should remember: other discussions on the same companies may yield varied responses. Clicking the "tags" above will lead you to them.

    (I realize the point of this thread is not having to read other threads, but for a fuller picture, it really is the only way.)

  10. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 25 2008 20:30:29
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    Can anyone post about experiences with heat/ dry steam treatment in New York City?

    I know this approach can be effective, but I don't know which companies in NYC do the kind of treatment advocated by California's ThermaPure or Minnesota's TempAir.

  11. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Fri Jun 27 2008 15:12:32
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    Just a quick answer to my own question, in case anyone ends up on this page through a search for heat treatment providers: At present (6/27/2008), as far as I know, there is no word of any pest control operators using thermal heat treatment to combat bed bugs in the New York City area. Which seems unfortunate.

  12. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Fri Jun 27 2008 15:58:05
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    And some of the reasons heat is not a hit in NYC are .....Some of the issues are the generation of heat. Their in building system is designed for I believe propane and the FDNY has issues with it’s use inside buildings. When they produce the heat from a truck unit, as of a year or so ago, they could only sustain it up to the fourth floor. Works if you have a 1 -2 family home but not for most apartments.When they substitute electric heat as a power source it starts tripping fuses circuit breakers etc.

  13. BakedBedBugs

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Fri Jun 27 2008 20:13:07
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    For more detailed reasons on why heat can be challenging to get started in look here:
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/thermal-treatment-available-in-new-york-state

    Winston, you are on the right track there. It starts to become a cost issue when you talk about highrises. There is equipment that can deliver up to the 20th floor, but the cost makes it impractical for all but the realitively wealthy, or entire buildings embarking on complete building protocols. Electric heaters could be used, if the client was willing to pay for a stand alone generator. I have done several aprtments where I put the LP tanks and the heaters on the balcony and it works. The other issue is sprinklers. Lets just say you better KNOW what you are doing, or the client has to pay to have them capped and drained which is impractical unless you are doing a whole building protocol.

  14. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 29 2008 17:25:23
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    Thanks for the explanation, BakedBedBugs and Winston O. Buggy. I hope heat treatment becomes an option here, but we have to work with what's available.

    I called Cesar from Freedom Pest today. I liked him right away. He's going to be inspecting our place soon. Based on my description of the problem, he says we likely have a light infestation, which is not necessarily good news.

    "Because they can be harder to detect?" I said.

    "You got it," he said.

    He said even a bed bug dog can have trouble locating the infestation when it's very light. He advised me to stop the former PCO's spraying regimen immediately and forever -- and, at least for now, we're even to stop vacuuming.

    Interestingly, he didn't seem too worried about our cats spreading the problem through the house. I've been wondering if I should keep them out of the bed, but he said, as I understand it, the bugs want a human host and when one is available they won't be hanging out near other warm-blooded creatures that are always moving around.

  15. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 29 2008 17:33:47
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    The only problem I see with cats in bed is if they have claws -- they can easily puncture an encasement (even if there are sheets over it).

  16. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Jun 29 2008 17:42:33
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    That's a great point, NoBugs, but I (anally!) check my encasement every time I change my bedding, and I do that at least every three days.

    I still feel neurotic about the zippers on my National Allergy covers since the recent test results came out, though. I've tried four or five different kinds of tape -- including the paper tape sold on the site -- and am not satisfied that any of them are truly adequate. The best option, I think, was clear duct tape that my husband once bought as an experiment; unfortunately, he now can't remember where he found it! We're using plain old silver duct tape, but I'm open to suggestions (although I recognize that I'm getting off-topic).

  17. theprey

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jul 17 2008 11:02:29
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    Just wanted to post an update and invite others to share their recent NYC PCO experiences. Cesar of Freedom Pest inspected last week. He was incredibly thorough. He didn't find any fecal matter or bugs, but he agreed that, given my history and the appearance of my bites, I was still having a problem, and that it would be better to get the jump on the situation now than to wait.

    Long and short, he's coming out to treat on Monday, and I feel optimistic about his strategy. Apart from heat treatment (not yet available in NYC) and Vikane (not an option for a single apartment in a multi-unit building), from what I've read (see, e.g., Pest Management Professional magazine's "What's Really Working") it sounds like an integrated approach involving pesticide application, professional steaming, high-power vacuuming, etc., is most effective. That's exactly what Cesar has proposed.

    (He also independently mentioned that he's looking into heat treatment and thinks it may soon be legal, in some form, in this state.)

    How's everybody else in the five boroughs doing, PCO-wise?

  18. chicken

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jul 24 2008 14:00:34
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    I just had a really positive experience with Cesar of Freedom Pest Control. I suspected that I had bed bugs, he did a thorough and reasonable inspection and determined that I do not. YAY! He gave me a lot of good information to go on and helped me to better understand the detection and prevention of bbs. I would absolutely recommend him.

  19. mrsmaglite

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jul 24 2008 14:45:29
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    Hi Chicken - that's really good to read. I am in a similar situation and a bit concerned that the PCO organised for me is not on the ball - no prep advised, spraying and then vacuuming. No bagging seems odd to me... I can't find Cesar's number - could you give it to me please?

  20. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jul 24 2008 18:50:35
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    mrsmaglite,

    Just go to theprey's first message in this thread and click on the name Freedom Pest Control to get Cesar's info.

  21. manhattan bugs

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Jan 28 2009 10:54:39
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    Thanks for the helpful information. Does anyone know about Bell Environmental from NJ? They advertise on these pages. They seem knowledgeable, and use dogs, cryonite and diatomaceous earth.

    Also I know an integrated approach is best, but can anyone advise as to cryonite vs. pesticides? Thanks, manhattan bugs

  22. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Jan 29 2009 1:00:47
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    BTW this thread is 7 months old as of now. There is now at least one company offering thermal in NYC (even in single apartments).

    Bell Environmental and Stern both offer Cryonite. I suggest you click "cryonite" in the tags at top right. We have heard from a number of people who had Cryonite done by Stern. (I don't think anyone has reviewed Bell's Cryonite treatment here, but I am aware of it, having seen an ad on NY1).

    At least several of them report having multiple treatments (as many as 3-4 or more) and at least one other person reports success (in how many treatments, I do not know).

    Some of the entomologists also comment in some of those threads about the procedure. I think some of them had some experience of the technology.

  23. Bedbugloco

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Jan 5 2014 15:13:43
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    Does any one has used the services of First Choice Environmental in NYC....?


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