Unable to determine whom to contact regarding inquiries of pest control companies from the State of Florida’s web site, I sent an e-mail letter on December 6, 1998, to the web master requesting information regarding the number of complaints filed against Terminix.
On December 7, 1998, I received an e-mail response stating my query had been forwarded to the Division of Legislative Information Services.
An e-mail letter from the Division of Legislative Information Services on December 15, 1998, stated, “Regarding the number of complaints filed against Terminix with the regulatory agency in Florida, you may wish to contact the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Agricultural Environmental Sciences at 850-488-3731 or visit their web site at http://doacs.state.fl.us/~aes-ent.
On February 22, 1999, I sent a letter to Florida’s Office of the Attorney General, and on February 24, 1999, I sent a letter to Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Agricultural Environmental Sciences, requesting the following information:
- What is the name and address of Florida’s pest inspection/pest control licensing and regulating agency?
- How many years does Florida’s licensing and regulating agency maintain records of complaints against pest control/pest inspection companies?
- How many Terminix branches are currently operating in Florida? (My records, taken from the Yellow Pages on the Internet, indicate there are currently 41 Terminix; aka Terminix International; aka Terminix Pest & Termite Control; aka Terminix Service; aka Terminix Services Inc.; aka Terminix Termite & Pest Control branches operating in Florida.)
- How many complaints, if any, have been filed in Florida against Terminix International (and its aka’s); including the nature of the complaints, name and location of Terminix branch involved; and disposition of complaints (dismissed, settled, fine, suspended or revoked license, probation, etc.)?
A letter dated March 1, 1999, from the Office of the Attorney General stated they had forwarded my letter to Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Consumer Services (DCS) for any information they may be able to provide on complaints against Terminix.
To date, there has been no response from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regarding the above; and I have not received any answers.
On August 23, 2001, I wrote the following to Wayne Gale, Bureau Chief of Florida’s Agriculture and Consumer Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org:
I have a web site at http://www.syix.com/emu, which is entitled, "Terminix - Consumer Alert!" I routinely receive complaints from Terminix customers throughout the United States; and oftentimes, I am asked for advice, which I am not qualified to give. Can you please advise me how I should respond to the person who sent the following to me?
I live in a condo in Seminole, Fla. We have a contract with Terminix on a monthly basis. After living here almost four years, Teminix has discovered live termites in our building. At a recent board meeting, a rep from Terminix informed us how we needed to be tented and fumigated by Terminix. Thinking we were in the hands of a very fine company gave us a feeling of security. On the day of tenting, a truck with a single word appeared -- fumigation -- with the most unprofessional men who carried out this procedure. Forty-eight hours later, a man from the same company said it was all right to reenter our units. We did and almost right away began experiencing tearing eyes, problems with breathing, burning skin, coughing, and so on. Now here we are one week later using fans supplied by the truck marked "fumigation." NOW PLEASE TELL ME WHERE HAS TERMINIX BEEN FOR THE PAST WEEK? WE ARE
4-WHO DID THE JOB?
Normally, I would have the person contact you directly; however, based on what I've heard, Florida's regulatory agencies aren't always helpful. Perhaps it's because the wrong agency was contacted. In any event, I attempted to receive information from Florida; and my unsuccessful attempts to obtain information are chronicled on my web site at http://www.syix.com/emu/html/fl.html
Can you help this person? Should I refer them to you -- or to whom? Can anything be done?
In response, I received the following letter from Joseph Parker on the same day:
Your message to Mr. Wayne Gale was forwarded to me for handling. Mr. Gale is our Bureau Chief, but at the moment, is away from his normal duties in order to devote the attention necessary to the West Nile Virus outbreak within the State.
I'm very sorry you have had trouble directing correspondence to our agency. I can tell you that you have reached the proper agency to investigate ANY consumer complaint against ANY structural pest control company. We would very much like for you to have the individual mentioned in your e-mail to contact us.
Our mailing address is: Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control, 1203 Governor's Square Blvd, Suite 300, Tallahassee, FL, 32301-2961. Our phone number is 850-921-4177. We are the Headquarters office for the Bureau and are open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, EST, excepting state holidays. The Bureau also maintains six field offices throughout the state. Field offices are not always staffed on a full-time basis and our field inspectors are often away from the office handling complaints.
Our website address is: http://doacs.state.fl.us/~aes-ent (I noticed on your website, the tilde (~) is omitted from the address you were trying.) We have also registered http://www.floridatermitehelp.org with Internic and that address will also resolve to our website.
I appreciate your efforts to help Florida consumers. Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions.
I responded with the following:
I'm impressed!!! Believe me, that's not easy to do after all I've seen from some of the various states' agencies! I'd given up on Florida's regulators, but you've given me hope you will help the person in question. I will forward your letter on to him, as well as to any future complainants from Florida. Thank you!!!
Also, if you would like to answer the questions posed on the Florida page of my web site, I will replace the information currently there.
I heard nothing further; but I hope the information provided on this page will help Floridians know where to go for assistance and that anyone dealing with Florida’s pest control regulatory agencies will let me know whether or not the regulators have been helpful.
Florida Attorney General Investigation. Case Number: 95-410099. Subject of investigation: The Terminix International Company Limited Partnership. Allegation or issue being investigated: Deceptive Service Practices. Numerous complaints alleging company’s failure to provide termite protection as promised. Apparent pattern of incomplete and inadequate application of pesticide barrier by Terminix. Status of case: AVC/settlement signed. AG unit handling case: Economic Crimes Division in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Florida Attorney General vs. Terminix (4/30/97). Terminix to Offer Refunds, Retreatments, for Termite Protection. Up to 5,400 Floridians could be eligible for refunds or chemical retreatments to protect their homes from termites under an agreement announced today by Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Bob Crawford and Attorney General Bob Butterworth. The agreement with Terminix International Company Limited Partnership settles allegations that the company failed to provide consumers with promised services through nine of its Florida locations. "Our joint investigation revealed that in many instances, Terminix failed to fully treat properties for subterranean termites despite its promise to lay down a complete protective barrier against the destructive insects," Crawford said. "On the properties we inspected, we found that as many as 25 percent of the holes drilled for chemical injection were in effect dummy holes with no chemicals applied," Butterworth added. "We also found supposedly treated areas where the company had drilled no holes at all." Without admitting wrongdoing, Terminix agreed to offer....
Crawford and Butterworth said the company's costs for reinspections, retreatments, refunds and repairs could amount to millions of dollars. In addition, Terminix will pay $200,000 to cover the cost of the state's investigation.