In news of the incompetent, six Rutland,Vermont, households had to relocate after an exterminator used a banned pesticide to combat bed bugs. The same exterminator may have used the same banned pesticide in 262 other homes and apartments that now need to be tested. In 2011, a 50-unit condominium in Edmonton, Canada burned down when exterminators incorrectly used heat-treatment to get rid of bed bugs. Unfortunately these are not isolated incidents of unlicensed, untrained, or simply incompetent pest control companies.

UPDATE: Here’s a truly sad story about what happened to one family in the hands of an incompetent exterminator Vermont NPR Report.

Hiring incompetent pest control technicians is #5 on our list of the Top Ten Bad Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs. However, it’s a rare individual who will shake your hand and say, “I’m really incompetent but I still want your business.” People desperate to get rid of bed bugs sometimes leave good sense behind when hiring a pest control company. Remember, bed bugs are upsetting and annoying but not life-threatening. Take the time to thoroughly check out any pest control company before you contract for bed bug extermination. To assist you in hiring someone who won’t poison you or burn your house down, follow the suggestions in this excerpt from my recent book, Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention available on Amazon

Selecting an Ally: What to Look for in a Pest Control Company

Not all pest control companies have experience with bed bugs and not all self-proclaimed bed bug specialists know what they are doing. If you suspect bed bugs, you need an experienced professional on your team. A bed bug infestation is a very distressing event and can lead you to hire quickly rather than wisely. Make a good decision by looking for the following:

  1. The pest control company is licensed. State licensing protects consumers. Licensed companies are bonded, have workers compensation insurance, and have a proven level of training. Unlicensed contractors do not pay taxes, insurance, or follow safety laws. Don’t just ask for the license number, go on-line and check that the license is active and that there are no complaints against the company. (In California, visit
  2. The pest control company is a member in good standing of the National Pest Management Association (, the state pest management association, and bed bug specific organizations, such as the bedbugFREE network ( Participation in NPMA means that the company is serious about following pest control best practices.
  3. The pest control company has a good reputation. First, ask for a referral from friends and family members who have had a good experience. Also check consumer review sites on the internet such as and (If you do rely on internet reviews, don’t let one really bad review keep you from calling a company. Even the best company can’t satisfy everyone.)
  4. The pest control company is experienced. Ask how many infestations the company has controlled and how long they’ve been doing bed bug work.
  5. The pest control company puts the agreement in writing. A contract sets out what you can expect from the company and what the company expects from you.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs offers excellent advice for residents in any state to follow before signing a contract:

-Do not sign anything until you know exactly what you are signing. If you sign without reading, you may use lose the benefits of legal protection.

-Read each document—particularly the written-in portions—before you sign it. The document may have things in it that you would never accept if you were aware of them.

-If the sales presentation has been made in a language other than English, insist on getting, reading, and retaining a copy of the document in that language.

-Get important oral promises in writing, and keep a copy. If an oral promise is important to you, it is essential that you also get it in writing. You can write it in the contract if the seller will not do so.

-Make sure that the contract has no blank spaces that can be filled in later. Otherwise, you may be surprised what someone has later promised in your name.

-Make sure your copy of the contract is the same as the seller’s copy of the contract.

-When you sign the contract, check to see that portions of it are not hidden from view, and that the contract pages are not stuck together. The law requires that a contract must be written in the same language that is principally used in the sales presentation. For example, if the presentation was primarily in Spanish, the contract must be in Spanish

For additional helpful information, purchase a copy of Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention  today!

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