What do free trial offers, auto repossessions, and do not call violations have in common with BED BUGS?
According to a recently released report by the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI), and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), bed bugs and other landlord/tenet violations now rank among the fastest growing consumer complaints in the country.
Some pest control operators report being bombarded by do-it-yourself landlords who just want an invoice to satisfy city inspectors when they are reported by tenants. They don’t seem to care much about solving the pest problems; they just want bargain basement pricing.
Bed Bug Violations
It’s not just hotels that are having problems with bed bugs. Tenants are increasingly complaining that their homes and apartments are infested by these blood-sucking parasites. According to the report, the agencies received numerous complaints against landlords who failed to respond quickly and adequately, or at all, to bed bug problems.
Not only are bed bug violations cited as one of the fastest growing consumer complaints, they also rank highly in “The Worst” category. “The Worst” category is designated only to violations that cost the most money to resolve, have the biggest impact on a susceptible consumer, that have a high frequency of complaints, and are overall ridiculous in nature.
Consumer Complaint Survey Report
The joint agency report, released July 31, 2012, provides a national snapshot of complaints consumers make. It’s based on information from 38 different state, county, and city agencies from January-December 2011. The 38 agencies received 289,732 complaints last year, and were able to recover $146,714,069 through informal complaint resolution and legal action.
You can Read the NACPI/CFA report in its entirety here.
What it Means for Pest Control Companies
Bed bug complaints are still continuing to rise, and consumers are frequently left feeling vulnerable and taken advantage of by their landlords. As pest control operators, we need to instill confidence in our consumers during this vulnerable time by providing excellent customer service, and offer a surety that the infestation can be correctly resolved.
Bed bug marketing efforts need to be geared to both landlords and tenants. Both need to be properly educated on the appropriate professional measures that need to be taken when an infestation is discovered. One contract with a landlord or property management company can offer big opportunities for a pest control operator. If one apartment has a bed bug infestation, it is likely that multiple apartments in the complex do as well. K-9 inspections can quickly identify exactly which apartments in a complex are infested.
Some landlords have started to include clauses in their leases requiring tenants to pay a portion of the extermination costs. While this is legal in most states as long as it is part of the rental contract, consumers’ rights in this regard may vary from state to state.
As bed bug infestations and tenant/landlord violations rise, it’s important that pest control companies understand consumer’s rights in their state so they know where to best gear their marketing and customer service efforts.
What have been your experiences with tenant/landlord bed bug conflicts?