There are times when, if it wasn’t for the media telling me how HORRIBLE the economy is – I wouldn’t know it. This is not one of those times. This is a sad tale of a business obviously struggling to survive the great recession of 2008 and features my former pest control company – Truly Nolen.
Back in 2007, I contracted with Truly Nolen to provide pest protection for my home and yard. I paid to have my yard treated despite the fact that I pay a monthly fee to my homeowner’s association and their guy rides around spraying what must be water on my lawn every 4 months.
My complaints about my homeowner’s association are legion but they can wait until another day.
Today, I’m telling the tale of Truly Nolen – how I came to choose them as “my” pest control provider – why I decided to NOT continue that relationship and most importantly, how I have become involved in almost a “Fatal Attraction” style “service provider breakup” with them.
Why I chose Truly Nolen as my Pest Control company
I chose Truly Nolen as my first provider of pest control in southern Florida because of the car. In a word – it’s ADORABLE!!! It’s a yellow VW Bug outfitted with ears and a tail. You used to see it driving all over town. Looking back, I realize it probably wasn’t the most REASONED buying decision I’ve ever made.
Truly Nolen’s Performance as my Pest Control company
I signed a one year contract for pest control for my home and my yard – because I actually SAW a grub on the sidewalk. When I complained to the guys hired by my homeowner’s association – they told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. Those brown spots in my lawn weren’t from insect damage – they were because I needed to water more often.
I hate being lied to!
So I call Truly Nolen. The Truly Nolen guy comes out and makes a BIG production about the infestation of cockroaches living behind my dishwasher. EWWW!!!! My home is less than 3 years old and I’ve got cockroaches!!! EWWWW!!!!
I’m thinking, “Boy, am I glad I signed a year contract with these guys.”
As the Truly Nolen dude pokes, sprays and heads merrily upon his way – I feel safe and protected.
Three days later, I am confronted with one of said cockroaches on my front door. EWWWW!!!
So I call and tell them to get someone out IMMEDIATELY!!! They say they can’t get anyone out until next week.
Wait – I’m not feeling so safe and protected anymore.
When the Truly Nolen guy finally arrives, he is obviously having a bad day. Obviously, Truly Nolen must not PAY their technicians when they have to go back out to retreat a house. Or maybe they treat him as badly as they’re treating me.
This scenario plays out repeatedly over the next year. I see bugs – I call – they apologize, stall and then give excuses. I anxiously await the call to renew my contract.
Truly Nolen never calls. Instead, my doorbell rings as I’m getting ready for church one Sunday morning (yes – Sunday morning….) and my teenage son answers the door. As I’m getting ready, I see a Truly Nolen guy walking the perimeter of my house. Before I can get my clothes on, he’s gone. I ask my son who was at the door and he told me it was the Truly Nolen guy. He told me the guy had asked if it was ok for him to treat the house and my son said, “Sure.”
I am now officially upset and sure enough, they follow the treatment with a bill for ANOTHER year’s services.
I call and tell them that not only do I NOT want their sub-standard services for another year but the services they provided were based on a verbal contract with a minor which is a HUGE problem for THEM not ME!
Truly Nolen becomes my most annoying pest
Actually, I think I’m being QUITE nice about this with the young lady from Truly Nolen. She replies, “Oops! Let me have you talk to my manager.”
She puts me on hold – 15 minutes later, I hang up and call back. She answers, and I ask to speak with the manager. I’m now told that the manager is on vacation and he’ll call me when he gets back.
A few weeks later, I get another bill from them – which I call and am told that the manager is STILL not available to talk to me.
I ignore said bill.
Yesterday, I got a collection notice in the mail. I call the “collection” agency and get an answering machine that loops endlessly telling you to wait for the beep and it never does.
I feel extorted. Of course I’ll pay the bill. It’s not worth it to TRASH my good credit over this amount. Truly Nolen will have won. They will have gotten to a little bit MORE of my cash. [NOTE: After this blog post was published- Truly Nolen representatives contacted me. Not only did they promptly remove me from collections and credited the account – they also assured me they would be making the auto renewal of the contract more visible in the future.]
The real pity here is Truly Nolen is selling a SERVICE. They may think they’re selling pest control, but you know what – I can’t SEE pest control – all I see is the surly Truly Nolen tech. In her post You May Not Be Doing as Badly as You Think, Cath Lawson writes:
Selling a service, especially a more costly service, to your first few customers is far harder than selling a product, because you’re selling the invisible – they can’t see what they’re going to get.
Truly Nolen “got me” the first time with clever branding and effective advertising. They won’t get me again no matter how cute the mascot or how effective the marketing message.
That’s the way this whole “customer service” stuff works.
When you please a customer – if you’re lucky- they’ll tell 3 people. If they’re pissed or disappointed – they’ll tell 16.If they have a blog – they’ll tell thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – as long as the blog post stays “alive”.
Over at the Ignite Social Media blog there’s a GREAT post on Your Customer’s Hierarchy of Needs. You have to get passed the “satisfied customers” tier – before you can begin to achieve customer advocacy.
So here I am – pissed off and feeling really abused. It’s not the money – it’s how they’re GETTING my money – via extortion. It’s the accumulation of multiple bad experiences with several different technicians with the final straw being a hidden renewal clause.
All I can do is wonder what in the world they’re thinking.
What are YOUR customers saying about you online? Are your customers blogging about your piss poor customer service? Are your customers pissed off enough to contact a blog which specializes in airing poor customer service?
You build your business reputation one customer service contact at a time. If you’re a business owner – protecting your online reputation should be a high priority. Is it?
Authors note: Over the course of the past three years – this blog post as served as a “lightning rod” for people who are upset with their pest control company – or looking to find a reputable pest control service.
In response, I’ve finally launched Florida Pest Control Reviews. as a place where consumers can leave their authentic experiences with various pest control companies throughout Florida. I’m going to close comments on this post – and ask that you head over there to share your experiences.
Bugs are just a part of living in Florida – but they shouldn’t be the lesser of two evils when it comes to dealing with your pest control company. Feel free to share your experience at