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Revising the "Questions to ask when you call a PCO" FAQ

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  1. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Mar 5 2011 14:29:20
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    The following FAQ was written by Sean Rollo (thebedbugresource) in 2006. Sean did a great job and it has served many people well.

    It occurs to me, though, that we may want to revise it, since when it was written, there were probably far fewer pest techs who really knew their bed bugs. It may also be revised to reflect questions which should be asked of Vikane or heat treatment providers, etc.

    Feedback and suggested changes -- based on your experience as a professional, or on your experience of hiring one -- most welcomed.

    Thanks!

    FAQ: advice on getting treatment to eliminate your bed bugs

    The following post was written entirely by Sean, a Pest Control Operator and entomologist in Vancouver, and is posted with his permission. Check out his Bed Bug Resource page. Thanks Sean!

    If anyone wants to add to this topic, click comments, and let us know what you know!

    Treating a Bed Bug Infestation: advice from a Pest Control Operator

    I can not stress enough how important it is to do a bed bug treatment correctly right from the onset. The slighest misstep can literally make a solvable problem a nightmare.

    All too often you get do it yourselfers that think they can do the job just as well as a licenced technician can. This is simply not the case 95% + of the time.

    As I have said many times … leave this one to the pros.

    The trick is for the general public to decipher who the pros are in their area. I will not lie to you, there are good companies and bad companies. There are also good companies with some bad individuals.

    Two things to watch out for; underpricing and overpricing. Ask them what the job breaks down to on an hourly basis per technician that they are sending (some companies use two techs per job). This puts all companies on equal footing for comparison.

    Underpricing means you will get what you pay for; poor service and inexperience.

    Overpricing means that the company likely does not want to do bed bug jobs. They price so high that they are looking to discourage people from hiring them. They just plain can’t or do not want to do bed bug work.

    Look for a company with middle of the road pricing. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have received complaints recently. Ask the company to provide references from clients that have been satisfied with their bed bug work. Many companies will have letters of praise on hand.

    Some other things to look for;

    1) Do they offer a guarantee?
    2) If so, what does it entail?

    Keep in mind that many companies will NOT offer guarantees to hotels or multiunit dwellings because the chance of reinfestation is too great. If you live in an apartment ask what their guarantee is for a freestanding home. This will give you an idea of how confident they are about their work.

    3) Do they have liability insurance?
    4) If yes, how much does it cover?
    If no … walk away.

    5) Do they have dedicated bed bug technicians?
    Many companies are now forming bed bug task forces if you will. These companies will likely have more experience.

    6) How long do they expect the treatment to last?
    A thorough bed bug treatment (inspection plus application) is going to take a minimum of two hours (based on a normal hotel sized room).

    7) How many treatments does the price include? (Editor’s note: it should include at least two, spaced about two weeks apart).

    Ask the company how many treatments it will take to rid the bed bugs.
    If they say one … walk away.
    If they say two-three they are being honest.
    If they say several (3+) they likely are not doing the job right.

    The last thing is that people need to realize that they are going to need to be bait for the treatment to be most successful. They essentially need to carry on their routine of sleeping in the bed, etc. This will maximize the chance of the bed bugs coming in contact with the pesticides.

    Sean
    Entomologist / Pest Professional
    http://www.thebedbugresource.com

    Update 11/2007:

    This is what one PCO posted on the forums in this thread, in answer to the question of what traditional treatments entail:

    Bugologist
    Member

    This is what you should look for (as a person knowledgable in the topic):

    1. They don’t rely solely on pesticides. Non-chemicals measures are a plus and they should use bed encasements or at least recommend them, vacuums and hopefully steam. Current research is showing tolerance and resistance to a lot of pesticides we have available so relying on them may be a mistake.
    2. Some sort of crack and crevice treatment, and hopefully a dust, is an absolute must, these bugs hide in cracks and crevices and if you’re not getting to them you’re not addressing the problem.
    3. Follow-up treatments. Having done lots and lots of jobs I almost never get rid of the problem in one treatment and depending on the conditions (infestation level, clutter, construction, etc…) is will take 3 or 4 typically, maybe more.
    4. They address most if not the whole structure. If they just do the bedroom that has the known problem, or the bedrooms or just the couch it’s a mistake. These bugs distribute throughout the structure and you can’t limit yourself to one area. The treatment should encompass the entire structure.

    I could probably go on and on but these are the big ones. The rest is a personal decision.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  2. jrbtnyc

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Mar 5 2011 17:52:14
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    If this is a standalone advisory, isn't it overlooking, except for a cursory mention under item 6, the huge first step which is that the PCO must verify the problem is indeed bed bugs, not something else, including a thorough inspection for that purpose. If the PCO nonchalants that part and agrees to treat for bed bugs merely because the customer tells them bed bugs are the problem, wouldn't that be a gigantic red flag.

  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Mar 6 2011 1:46:46
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    For those who do not have obvious cases, the question would probably be, "What will you do to verify I have bed bugs?"

    And the answer might include a careful inspection, inspection and (if necessary) placement of active and/or passive monitors.

    I welcome other suggestions.

  4. bedbugman

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Mar 6 2011 5:49:41
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    OK I agree with the first bit and the underpricing / over pricing and insurance bit, in fact is looks OK right up to number 7.

    Maybe in the US you have different regs but over here you can't apply pesticide to non existent pests so after the first treatment if they are all dead that's it job done.

    There are lots of pest controllers in the UK who take advice directly from suppliers and are instructed to do 3 treatments with 3 different chems. I don't take advice from the suppliers and very rarely have to do a second treatment although I do 1 sometimes 2 follow up visits to see how its going.

    The next bit that's wrong is "They don’t rely solely on pesticides" 90% of the time I do if its really grotty I may pull the steamer out but that's it don't use dusts.

    "Some sort of crack and crevice treatment" well that's all I do anyway I don't spray carpets and walls just cracks and crevices.

    And the last bit "if they just do the bedroom that has the known problem, or the bedrooms or just the couch it’s a mistake". Again I can't and won't treat where there are no bugs.

    A good question to ask is what chems are you using and why. I had a call last night where the client grilled me for half and hour on exactly what products I would be using and why. (seems like she had called every pco in the area) I wish they all would do this, as most PCO'S in the UK have not got a clue of the actives and formulations in the stuff they are using.

    Other good questions,

    Do I get an inspection first?
    Do you charge for inspections? “The answer should be yes”
    What prep is required?
    What's the post treatment routine?

  5. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Mar 6 2011 7:02:25
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    I think these should be viewed as informational background and not definitive questions with set answers. As company polices and pricing vary. Many do not charge by hour. Prep sheets can vary. And treatment should utilize different techniques. I think you need to asses that who you are dealing with has a knowledge of the subject and pricing you are comfortable with. AS far as references, that can be tricky many people don't want that info given out or want to be called. And yes they should ascertain whether you actually have bed bugs.


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