Terminix, Get Bugged, but Not Hosed! Boomers Beware!

by Papa Boomer on December 19, 2008

Terminix Rip-off

Terminix here. Get out your check book.

I recently had Terminix Pest Control quote adding Blown-in insulation to my upstairs attic.  I didn’t even know they were in that business.  It was recommended by my monthly Terminix “bug guy” as a possible way to eliminate the few rare silverfish he has not been able to completely resolve and also reduce my heating and cooling bills.

The Quote!  Holy … how much?

A sales professional came to my house, borrowed my ladder, looked in my attic, drew up a sketch of the area to be insulated, and prepared a formal quote.  Fortunately, prior to all that, I did a little research on the Internet pricing blown-in attic insulation myself.  I found two sources that were consistent at $0.40 – $0.45 per square foot; installed about $375.  I checked material cost at Lowe’s and found I could purchase the material for approx. $159 (21 bags x $7.56 per bag).   Before he presented the quote, I warned him that I didn’t believe he would be able to be competitive, since the reason I changed my annual termite contract to another company was because Terminix was way out of line on their prices.  Nevertheless, he completed his survey and proudly presented his quote.   $1,740.00 Installed! He pointed out that that was “right out of the book” and he may be able to do a little better with some seasonal discounts.

WOW! Out of the park!  But not a Home Run!

My jaw must have dropped to the floor and all I could say was WOW …(dead silence)… WOW… (dead silence) …WOW! He asked if maybe that wasn’t what I expected?  I said, I told you in advance that I didn’t think you could be competitive, but not only are you not in the ball park, you’re not even on the planet.  I told him he must have misfigured something (like maybe a decimal place).  He quickly pulled out his three ring binder and showed me a fancy set charts to defend his quote.  I quickly pulled out my Internet research on wrinkled “post-it” notes from the pocket of my flannel shirt and showed him how I arrived at prices more in line with $350 to $400 installed.

Terminix Blows the Blown in Quote! - Minor Bugs!

In reviewing the details, we agreed on the square footage of 868 within a few sq.ft.  We agreed that I already had 6 inches of R-19 rolled fiberglass insulation installed properly.  We agreed that I needed approximately 5+ more inches of blown-in insulation to get me up to today’s new government recommended standards for our area of R-38.  We totally disagreed on the number of bags required to get the coverage I needed.  With the help of his handy dandy chart he arrived at 45 bags of insulation required, instead of the 21 bags I calculated.  The number of bags then drives all the other costs in the quote, especially the labor.

After I showed him how he was misreading his own chart, he agreed he needed to re-calculate his quote.  I showed him how to read his chart correctly and he returned to his car to re-figure the new quote.  His new estimate, 21 bags.  This took his original quote down from $1740.00 to $710.00.  Then he added some seasonal discounts to take it down to a total of $640.00.  WOW! again, $1,740.00 down to $640.00 with the stoke of a pencil.  Believe it? Just by asking a few questions.

Boomers Beware! - Whatever it takes to Boom-bazzell the Boomer!

Next he was proud to tell me that it included the environmentally safe pest control chemical of Borax and that unlike most other insulation it was fire retardant.  I told him that I believed that most rolled insulation like the type already in my attic was also fire retardant.  He said it wasn’t (sorry, he is wrong).  I pointed out to him, that if it wasn’t then I would be wasting my money because the old insulation wasn’t going to be removed per this proposal.  He said that putting the fire retardant material on top of the other insulation it would smother out any fire that started in the other layer of insulation.  Do you think that made me feel a whole lot better?

He also guaranteed it against “bugs” and went on to tell me that if I ever saw a bug again that I could call and Terminix they would come out to re-spray free of charge.  By now I was getting amused.   I pay a monthly fee for service with Terminix that has the same guarantee.  Since I wouldn’t see any bugs in the future, I asked him if I could get rid of his buddy and the $36.00 per month I now pay for my monthly service.  Of course he backpedalled and said, “not really because it would only cover the upstairs of my two story house”.

My Concerns – What really “Bugs” me!

What bothers me about this whole thing is this was a very simple job.  Any sales professional(?) should have been able to walk up to my house without taking a single measurement and known that $1,740.00 was not a reasonable number.  What also bothers me, is that if I had not known anything about construction or had not done some research on my own I would not have asked the questions I did.  He would have been happy to sign me up to a contract to sell me a $640.00 job (or really a $350.00 Job) for only $1,740.00 without blinking an eye.  Furthermore, it concerns me that some little old lady has probably unknowingly already paid prices like this in the past.  Obviously, I declined his offer!  I was nice however, and told him I would consider it in the future, thinking that he must have felt lucky that I hadn’t thrown him.  He then said that I needed to hurry because after late spring they wouldn’t do these jobs because it was too hot to be working in attics.

The Follow up!  DEAL? or NO DEAL?

Two weeks later the sales professional actually called to ask what I intended to do about the insulation job?  I honestly told him that, due to his lack of knowledge on the subject, I had no confidence that Terminex should even be in the insulation business.  I said it really “bugged” me but, I was giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was all an honest mistake.  Because I was considering it an honest mistake, I had no intention of filing a complaint to the Attorney Generals Office or the Better Business Bureau.  He agreed that he had misread his charts, but thought that I really should re-consider this great deal.

You gotta be Kiddin’ me.  $1,740.00 down to $640.00 which is still almost twice as high as it should be.  And, if I act now, 0% financing for 12 Months!  How do you pass up that deal?  … I did!  … NO DEAL!

Papa says, Don’t be “Boombazzelled”.  Get competitive quotes!

Also read:

Consumer Affairs: Complaints On Terminix

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam January 9, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Interesting story! I too feel bad for the unsuspecting old ladies that he more than likely ripped off. It is a shame that these people are allowed to conduct business like that. I would have called the BBB and had them conduct an investigation of some sort. I bet they would look at their records and come up with MANY violations!

Adam’s last blog post..Master’s Degree, Now Off to Work for Me!

Funny about Money January 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Gasp! Tell me I’m not reading this right. This chucklehead proposed to charge you SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND FORTY BUCKS to insulate EIGHT HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHT SQUARE FEET with R-38 insulation? And you managed to get the guy down to a mere SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY BUCKS???

Spare me, lord. Monday morning I’m paying $670 to install 1300 square feet of R-38 insulation.

I got the name of the insulation company off Angie’s List. At the time, A.L. was new to the area and you didn’t have to pay to access the site–now you have to pay a small annual fee. But…with rip-offs like that going on, it might be worth the subscription fee.

Here’s something else to watch for: Ask the salesperson how long it should take to install the product. Then be present while the crew is working. If they claim to be finished in much less time than the sales rep predicted, that’s likely because they’re installing less than you’re paying for. A$k. This happened to a friend: turned out the company was trying to short her by about half the amount of insulation she’d purchased.

BTW, I have yet to encounter a nationwide bug-spraying company that appears to be honest and ethical. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

Funny about Money’s last blog post..Later!

David Wear November 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Yes, it might be pricey but you are not factoring in the labor costs, the amount ouf time which is usely about 6 hours, the baffeling, and all that. Of course it is cheaper to do it yourself. You also forgot the $522 you would get back on your federal tax rebate so now you are down to $1218 (if you were qouted R49). You also forget the 2 0 – 30% cost cutting on your energy bill. I have blown this in myself, I will never do this myself again. It took me 2.5 days…..Forget it. Now, he may have been a bad sales rep. You should have called the branch manager to let him know, Pricing fo insulation is based on what you have for insulation, the current R value of that insulation and the required number of inches you need to obtain the correct R value. Ohh and the guy that said he is getting R-38, 1. that is not enough for the tax rebate and 2. I hope it is not fiberglass since it is a carcinogen……

jason July 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

You pretty much hit the nail on the head. I was a Sales Rep for Terminix and I wholeheartedly felt like a damn used car salesman every time I stepped into someone’s house. I always tried to give the best quotes I could, but if I was the buyer I’d even tell me to go F off. That and on top of the economic state of FL there would be no way (again, if I was the buyer) would even pay for the normal pest control that ran $35 a month. It’s amazing how some just need to educate themselves a little on their pest issues and how easy it is to fix it. Mind you, this can be applied to all pest control companies, not just Terminix. I was there when they rolled out the insulation deal, and it sounded like crap right from the get go. The rep. that is spoke of in this article sounds like a piss poor one, bad knowledge of the product and tried to high ball right off the bat. The ONE thing that all CONSUMERS need to realize, sales reps are trained to high ball right off get go, some do “inspections” in 10 min. This is unfair to both the rep and customer if something is missed. Best advice I can wholeheartedly give anyone seeking pest control services, educate yourself on what the issue is, what products commercial pest control compnaies use, buy some yourself and spend the time to do it yourself. IT IS NOT REALLY THAT HARD. Promise.

Earl October 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm

ONE BAD APPLE…seems to spoil it for the rest of the barrel. I too work for terminix and hate the fact that not all apples are the same. I will agree that the sales rep in this article needed a little better training, but he should not be the poster child for all the other hard working, honest sales reps and technicians. Terminix is an international corporation with tens of thousands of employees. You’ll be hard pressed to read a blog about those who do a great job for their customers. Unfortunately those types of blogs are just not that entertaining. There are alot of negative responses on the internet concerning Terminix and its employees, but for every negative post I would bet that there are 99 others that do an excellent job that you’ll never read about. If this is true, then it would appear that we would have 99% customer satisfation rating. With that in mind, please understand that no one hits it out of the park…or even gets a hit every time they are at the plate. But I think that it is safe to say that you don’t stay in business for over 80 years and become number one in your industy by constantly ripping people off. Being a former used car salesman, I will say that working for Terminix is nothing like selling cars. I know that I can’t speak for every employee at every branch in every state. But for me, Terminix is the best secular company I have ever worked for. It has been my experience that they really do try and take care of their customers.

Now concering Terminix’s Insulation Service. I do agree with Mr. Wear that there is a whole lot more that goes into an installation quote than the price you see down at the local home improvement store. There is a lot of labor intense work that is well worth the extra cost of having someone else break a sweat over…and I literally mean break a sweat over! Not only are you paying for the labor but you are also paying for a product that you can’t purchase at Lowe’s. The insulation used has a pest control element that kills common household pest that seem to thive in the attics homes with normal fiberglass or blown in insulation…this also includes mice and other rodents. Terminix is in the pest control business and this is why we are promoting this product. The other advantages out side of pest control is the tax incentive and energy savings.

I will conclude with this thought…

I agree with Jason that each customer should be well informed about products and services they are interested in purchasing. But the well informed customer will read more than just the blog of a person who feels the need to express his dissatisfaction or negative experience. There is always another side of the story that will give you a different perspective of the situation. Take what Jason said for example…$35 a month being too expensive for pest control. In fact that is really cheap for this service, compared to doing it yourself Especially when you take into conderation the following: 1. The cost of the products. 2. The time needed to go and purcase the products. 3. The time to prepare the products. 4. The time to apply the products. 5. The time to properly clean up and store the products. Heck, I guess $35 could be considered too much money if your time isn’t worth much to you. But for me… I would rather be fishing or golfing and I am sure I spend more than $35 on bait or a round of golf.

Finally, let every man speak for himself and stand on his own character. Why did the price go from $1740 to $640? Its hard to say. Most people will conclude that it is because the company or salesman is ripping someone off. But I will say that the bug business is no different than any other product or service oriented company. Supply and demand control prices. If the price you feel your are being quoted is too high, shop and compare prices, but make sure you are getting the same product and service for the price. Not all companies offer the same coverage, protection or guarantee. If price is all that you are interested in, then don’t be suprised when you get what you pay for… or don’t get what you thought you paid for. Remember that it is really hard to get a Lexus ride on a Kia budget. Here is a good industry tip for you. Sales in the pest control industry becomes particularly hard during cold weather months. Bugs are an “out of sight, out of mind” business. Since most sales people are compensated on a commission basis… a sales person who goes 7 days, or longer, without making a sale becomes extremely hungry…both he and his manager. Like the housing market… you are more likely to get a better price on pest control when everyone is selling and no one is buying..but also like insurance…it is better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.

The Good Salesman.

Dan December 2, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Total Public Ripoff,

I also worked for Terminix as a sales rep up until end of 2010. I also worked for a very large insulation and building materials company for 15 years. I am also a contractor and energy consultant. I am only working for Terminix as a learning experience and to see how they market the products they sell. I have been astonished by their business ethics. They are completley ripping the public off. Employees are getting 10-15% on all sales while they are making 65-70% of the profit after buying materials which usually calculate too 20% of a job.
It makes me sick to know they are pricing jobs 2-3 times higher than should be priced. For example- I had to price a crawl space insulation job plus the vapor barrier @ $4,100 per their price list. Knowing the material cost was $707 & it takes two guys 4 hours to install it.It takes 1 guy selling the job @ a total of 30% commision for all which equates to $1,230. OK now we are up to $1,937 minus the $4,100 for tatal cost equals $2,163 profit for Terminix. What do you think?
That is absolute greed!!!! The sad part is that they sell a sh!!!!t load of them. What will it take to wake up the puplic and let them know what Terminix is doing?

You can justify this all you want but this is a real public ripoff!!!!!! And it is not only insulation but every thing you buy from Terminix.

Bob February 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Anyone looking for the exact same products that all pest control companies use on your homes, just do it your self & go to http://www.pestmall.com

Daughter of Scammed Old Lady August 12, 2011 at 9:25 am

My mother bought a $1,000 Terminix contract — that involved some liquid spraying and a “lifetime guarantee” (which is only good if you keep renewing their annual contract for LIFE.)

She is elderly — and accidentally paid for the contract twice. Sent $1,000 and then sent another $1,000. Terminix realized she had overpaid, but instead of telling her or refunding her — they re-routed her money to pay for several other products and services they offer (even though most of these extras overlapped with the big contract she had already paid for.)

When I caught the error and called them on it — they guility admitted that she had not asked nor signed up for the other services. And after more demanding on my part — they refunded her money.

One word: DISHONEST.

The name of their game is sales, not integrity or relevant service.

mtb June 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Re: Dan:
Good points, but you lost me with this: “I am only working for Terminix as a learning experience and to see how they market the products they sell. I have been astonished by their business ethics. ”
Isn’t that a bit unethical?

pete July 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

trugreen is no better

John hawkins August 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Terminix has insect killer in their cellulose insulation? Interesting. I’ve never heard of that before. Insecticide in insulation that is. For the sake of argument, okay. The shelf life of that isn’t more then 6 weeks, then it’s gone. Terminix is owned by service master. Service master owns tru green. Tru green is now selling blow in insulation. Their sales pitch isn’t pest control. I assume service master will have the same supplier, so why doesn’t tru green use that as part of their pitch? Anyway, I used to do insulation as a sub contractor. Not a fun job. I only did cellulose in attics. It’s inexpensive & the rental of the machine isn’t much if anything. Depends in how many bags u buy. If any tells u “their” insulation is unique is lying. It’s newspaper. Look it up. The only thing companies mix with cellulose is glue, so they can blow it in your walls, new construction only. They mix it as they spray it in. As far as labor, easy. Two man job. Buy your buddy a 12 pack and away you go. If he fills the hopper, he can drink while he does it. Besides, terminix only pay their guys, at most, $15.00 an hour. Buy from whoever u want. These are facts.

HF August 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Perhaps the salesperson made a mistake or perhaps it was intentional. Either way, anyone that singles out negatively a company because thier product or service is more expensive than they feel it should be, or twice or triple the price of doing it themselves or from a competitor must either be writing a lot of articles of everything they buy or they live in a box. You ever buy a soda at Wal-Mart and pay a $1 for it? Or perhaps you bought that same soda at a Convenience Store and paid $2.50 for it. Or you bought the same soda at a MLB stadium and paid $8 for it. How is that fair? Maybe it’s fair, maybe it’s not but the point is it is all around us. Doesn’t make Terminix the bad guy because they charge more than the guy down the street would. There is a lot of prep work that goes into a correctly installed insulation job that the guy down the street probably isn’t doing either. With the increase in overal height of the additional insulation there are certain items that need to be added and installed as well that the original poster didn’t mention. Regarding the fire retardant and “bug killer” in the cellulose and it’s longevity, it’s probably boric acid that is added. Same thing they use in cotton for things like mattresses and other everyday items. It doesn’t really diminish over time like a pesticide may. Cellulose is treated shredded paper, yes, but cellulose insulation also has better insulation and sound muffling charachteristics than that of fiberglass batts or blown plus it isn’t as itchy. If you don’t believe it, do some research yourself. It’s not apples to apples.

Like it or hate it, it’s the truth.

Reide August 19, 2012 at 1:11 am

The attic insulation Terminix sales is TAP insulation. Google it. It is a good product, fire retardant and does have pesticide in it. Fire retardant is an understatement, you can’t make it burn with a blow torch. You should see what fiberglass insulation does when a house burns. Just thought all you gents declaring what is fact should get yours straight! And yes, any idiot can do their own pest control. Most try and only call a pest company when they fail. Many simply don’t want to bother with it and pay someone else to do it. It’s called capitalism! There is nothing I can’t fix on a car but I pay someone else to change my oil because I work 70 hours a week and value my down time. I don’t see too many websites calling the oil change industry a rip off. No one forces anyone to buy pest control service. As far as the salesman grossly over pricing the TAP insulation, who knows, he may be a crook or just an idiot. Our branch manager reviews every TAP sale to make sure it is sold properly and at the correct price. Terminix is only as good as the guy who services your account. Just like any other business, some employees are great, some not. As far as the price sheet rate, it’s not unreasonable. I’d do my own attic insulation myself, but I can’t see the average old couple or lady getting up in a 200 degree attic and doing it for 4 hours. It’s dangerous! Hell, I’ve seen grown men who can’t change their own tire much less get in the attic without killing themselves. Those of you who say Terminix is all about the sales and not the service, well I’d have to agree with you there. Sad but true. Those of us in the service side though who view this as a career put the customer’s first! Some see it as just a job. As far as termite contracts go, the average person complaining about them simply hasn’t read the words that are in the contract. It’s pretty simple language that anyone with an IQ above 30 should understand. One thing I’ll give Terminix is that they pay out on a hell of a lot more termite damage claims then they should. When in doubt we side with the customer. The ones who say we don’t are pissed because we won’t pay for termite damage caused because you wouldn’t fix your damn roof and the agreement clearly lists that as a conducive condition that is not covered, or some other similar reason. Read the agreement people. I have a GED and it’s pretty simple to me! Stop using words like “all” and “every” when referring to the pest industry. For someone who sits at work till at least 8:00pm every night to make sure I call back every customer who asked me to as quickly as is humanly possible, I find that rather offensive. Kind of like saying all contractors, or all plumbers, or all teachers, are crooks liars and cheats just because yours pissed you off. Grow up. If you don’t like them, fire them and quit bitching about it! But most of all, if you are going to trash someone else’s career, at least make an effort to no what the hell you are talking about. The volume of inaccurate information on this thread is mind boggling!

Teresa December 28, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thanks for the good read , I am in the Insulation bussiness and we usally charge about .42 cents a foot to reblow attics . And the funny thing is Terminix has hired us before to do there attics for them I had heard that they were making alot of money off of people who dont do there homework.

Thanks Teresa @ Anders Insulation

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