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forum section for PCO client reviews - a la Trip Advisor?

(9 posts)
  1. persona-non-bugga

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Aug 17 2007 14:40:41
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    Hi everyone. Locating a conscientious, capable PCO can be a challenge. Would you consider setting up an area for reviews or feedback from clients of PCOs and their services.

    I've seen the site FAQ on hiring a professional, and it makes terrific suggestions on what to look for. I've also seen a lot of suggestions that folks contact the pros at the bedbugresource site for input on their PCO's protocols. A user review area could supplement and enhance this process. It would be an efficient way to possibly weed out a bad egg or give deserved attention to a PCO that delivers superior service.

    I can understand being wary of advertisers setting up fake reviews or an unreasonable grudge-holder submitting an unfairly harsh review. But if a larger body of feedback emerges, these incidental exceptions can be accounted for. In writing this, I'm thinking of the way user reviews work on sites like tripadvisor. I've used and relied on them - with happy results - time and time again. In addition, I know hotels pay careful attention to tripadvisor and make improvements and adjustments to their services in hopes of getting better reviews.

  2. (deleted)

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Aug 17 2007 21:49:16
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    This has been suggested and I think Nobugs said she is willing to consider it. I initially thought this would be a good thing to do and very sorely needed, but thinking about it some more I now believe two things are virtually guaranteed:

    -the signal to noise problem is not going to be trivial;

    -having bitter negative reviews as well as positive reviews that others (rightfully or not) mistrust will generate a lot of friction. Protracted arguments and a lot of pointless back and forth.

    I think it would change the character of the forums, and require a lot of administrative attention.

  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 18 2007 0:59:13
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    I have been considering this for some time.

    The reader reviews would indeed be very tricky, for the reasons you both state. There would be some trolls. I think I could rule that out by prohibiting people from posting a review until they had written x number of (legit) messages, or waited a certain period of time after subscribing. Plus my BS detector is pretty good

    The biggest problem, I think, is that user experiences can vary due to four significant factors:
    1/ the actual tech used (the person the PCO sends to do the job),
    2/ the customer and their involvement,
    3/ infested neighbors in multi-units,
    4/ how bad the infestation was, and how dispersed.

    My sense from talking to lots of customers and lots of PCOs is that when PCO treatment is not hugely successful, quickly enough, it is not always easy to see where blame lies.

    On the one hand, I have heard of reputable firms having techs who don't do a good job, and others who do a great one.

    I have also heard of customers who do not participate fully with the PCO's mode of treatment. This can mean not following prep instructions, true. (Most here are not guilty of that!) But it can also mean doing lots of things--from steaming to vacuuming to putting down DE--strategies that are not in themselves bad, but which may contradict the PCO's strategies. (Which is why we always tell people to talk to the PCO about them and make sure they're okay with what you're doing, where, and when.)

    And then, often, PCOs treat properly, and customers do everything they should, but the neighbors have bed bugs which keep streaming in. Or the customer unwittingly keeps picking bed bugs up at their job or school or taxi service. And so they write a horrid review...

    Allowing PCOs to respond is what tripadvisor does for managers. But PCOs are under confidentiality agreements. If I let them write back to reviews, they can't ethically say, "This is a hopeless case. The landlord has had bed bugs in this entire building for five years."

    So those are some thoughts I have. I guess the main problem is that it's a lot easier to say, "the hotel had a great breakfast buffet," or "the bathroom smelled like mold." You can identify what's wrong in a hotel. With a PCO, it might not even BE the PCO. And the customer may unfairly assume it is.

    It may be possible to circumvent this by having a list of set questions for reviewers to answer. But the bottom line is we want a PCO to get rid of our bed bugs completely, and fast. And whether they can do so is not really in their control, but depends on neighbors, size and messiness of infestation (is this a follow-up to someone else's crappy treatment plan involving bombs?), and customer's work, as well as the PCO's skill and persistence.

    So are we just rating personalities? Cost? Bedside manner? I fear it would become very shallow, if we end up rating just what it is fair to rate them on.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  4. persona-non-bugga

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 18 2007 10:15:23
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    nobugsonme: --> "So are we just rating personalities? Cost? Bedside manner?"

    Even this basic info could be enormously helpful. PCOs have professional organizations through which they protect their interests. Fortunately, the interests of PCOs and the general public frequently coincide. But occasionally, our respective interests conflict. When that lone bedbug sufferer - overwhelmed and isolated - has some doubts about her PCO, a collection of user reviews could provide concrete, real-life benchmarks for measuring her own expectations. User reviews can be an advocacy tool for consumers in an extremely vulnerable position.

    Recently, I wanted to distribute some info about bedbugs to my condo's board of directors and the building's management. In the process of researching this, I talked to three PCOs, following the interview guidelines in bedbugger's FAQ. I'd previously spoken with two of these PCOs back in spring 2005 (when I was battling bedbugs and seeking to a hire a PCO.) Here are some thoughts that popped up after my conversations.

    PRICES:

    Over the course of two years, the prices for bedbug treatment of two of these PCOs have doubled. It's their right to charge prices that the market will bear, and I don't want to jump to premature conclusions. But it struck me as just a touch exploitative. Quite possibly it's not. I'm not making outright accusations; just airing some of my own admittedly-uninformed impressions.

    Throwing some disinfecting light on pricing practices can only be a help to the public. Who knows what trends might emerge? For instance, if prices for all PCOs in a particular geographic area suddenly jumped up 35% in lockstep, certain conclusions would necessarily have to be considered.

    Also, knowing things like whether a second treatment is included in the price is one indication that a PCO acknowledges the reality of fighting these things.

    BEDSIDE MANNER:

    To me, bedside manner is crucial. It's not only about a sympathetic demeanor. I think it encompasses a willingness and availability to answer questions - to thoroughly explain the client's prep process and impress upon them the need for it to be thorough and comprehensive.

    I get the impression that some PCOs just deliver a photocopied checklist for the treatment prep without any verbal discussion of the process. The reading level or state of mind of an individual stressed-out bedbug sufferer might make written communication alone totally ineffective.

    INSPECTIONS:

    In talking to three PCOs, this topic surprised me. The site FAQs state the importance of professionals inspecting an infected residence to find harborage sites as well as inspecting adjacent apartments in a multi-unit building.

    None of the small sample of PCOs I talked to inspect adjacent apartments as a pre-emptive measure. One PCO, who struck me as knowledgeable, said that professional inspections "clearing" a residence of a bedbug infestation are frequently not reliable due to the stealthy nature of the bedbug. Therefore he doesn't do these inspections, lest he unwittingly "clear" a home that in fact does have bedbugs.

    In addition, in response to my questions, none of these PCOs communicated the importance of carefully inspecting a known infestation. One PCO specifically put the onus on the customer.

    Yet I've read reports on the Internet (can't recall exactly where) of people describing their PCO spending over an hour poring over their bedroom during inspections - removing outlet covers, pulling apart furniture, etc. I want to know who these dream PCOs are.

    hopelessnomo: --> "I think it would change the character of the forums, and require a lot of administrative attention."

    No doubt there'd be real risk of that. Perhaps putting user reviews on the main blog in its own category - such as FAQs - might protect the conversation in the forums.

    Having PCO users fill out a survey-style form, like nobugsonme suggested, is a great one. The questions could focus on specific descriptive "facts" or observations as much as possible, and less on judgments like "omg my pco was da awesomez!!!1!!!" or "MY PCO SUX!!!"

    Example: Under the heading of "Inspections"

    - Did the PCO inspect the premises for the presence of bedbugs?
    - Did the PCO inspect furniture and/or items within the premises?
    - How much time did the PCO spend per room on inspection?
    - If you wish, please describe in your own words the PCO's inspection process.

    The survey could strive to focus on the quality of treatment in addition to results. There could be a big caveat printed on top repeating the importance of customer cooperation, the need for multiple treatments, the time it takes for new generations to die off, etc.

    At the beginning or end of the survey, there could be some non-inflammatory general assessment questions like:

    - What is the best estimate of how long bedbugs have been in your home?

    - Would you consider bedbugs to have been eliminated from your residence? Or is your bedbug problem on-going? Is the answer uncertain?

    - If the bedbug problem is on-going, do you detect an improvement in conditions, eg. reduction in number of bites?

    - How long ago did you last see a bedbug or direct physical evidence of a bedbug such as a cast skin?

    - How long since you suspect you or a family member/roommate was bitten by a bedbug?

    - Would you recommend this PCO's services to others?

    As for the administrative burden, I recognize it would be a serious undertaking for nobugsonme. And knowing that, I make this request of you, nobugs, humbly. Perhaps a trusted site member could help manage the section (?).

    Thanks for reading and considering my request.

  5. persona-non-bugga

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 18 2007 10:15:59
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    Wow, that was a long post. Sorry. I know they're difficult to read.

  6. Bugalina

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 18 2007 10:43:27
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    I think all of you raise excellent points. Maybe it could start out as Nobugs says with a "list of set questions" so that no one can "plant" a review or no one can disparage a PCO , like a digruntled employee. A generic set of questions....Maybe it could be tested and if it didn't work then just end it. Personna non bugga....Last year I paid a small fortune to exterminate a small home on Long Island and I have actually seen prices go UP from already inflated prices. I do think that PCO's here are taking advantage of people..I speak for Long Island....On the other hand, bed bugs require a lot more skill than any other pest I can think of...and they require a very good bedside manner. I want so much to give the name of a company ( whom I did not use ) who was nothing short of cruel to me when I requested bed bug treatment from them...from the saleman to the entolmologist....they were cruel...I did NOT use this company...they actually refused to treat the home because of lack of sufficient evidence....forget the bites all over me...anyways I get all upset recalling it so I 'll stop. But I like many of the issues you raise as per PCO's...

  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 18 2007 13:43:28
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    I will keep thinking about it, Persona. These are good ideas.

    The truth is, it is hard getting people to help with the site. And I am already spending a lot of time writing and managing the site as is. It is nevertheless something I have been working on, but I want to do it right and be fair to the PCOs as well as helping us users.

    I am skeptical, though, about PCO recommendations, having watched MANY people review their PCOs informally on the internet, seen others use the same folks, and their experience be very different.

    There was also a long thread on another site extolling the virtues of a large NYC PCO. It must have had 50 raves--genuine ones, from registered users of the site, by all appearances. I believe this PCO was once very good. And now, we hear complaints about them. They grew too fast. Or maybe bed bugs did.

    So my sense is still that it's just not as easy to rate your PCO based on your bed bug treatment, as it is to rate any other provider of goods and services. Because it is such a crap shoot, because the customer needs to be involved, because the problem may have been handled poorly by the last guy.

  8. Bugalina

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 18 2007 19:51:27
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    I know this site is a lot of work...I can't help because I am pretty much computer illiterate...maybe someone else can come up with a simple review...something like a Star System....1 - 5 ..like they do for restaurants....and limit a comment to one line....
    for example.... Arrow Exterminaters 3 * out of 5 - Comment : Highpriced.. staff, in general, very nice, are willing to guarantee work .

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sun Aug 19 2007 0:16:01
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    HI Bugalina,

    I have a good sense of how the review might work. That's not an issue. But it does take time to put things together. And I do think that the other issues above are a concern.


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