When the Pest Control Company is your most Annoying Pest!

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

Florida Pest Control Reviews

Comments

  1. says

    Is that their name? Truly Nolen sounds so . . . earnest! I mean, truly! 🙂 We could do a little ditty: I hate you Truly, Nolen I do! or maybe conjure up the Commodores and Lionel Ritchie! WTF kind of name is Truly Nolen? Is it Croatian or something that only makes it sound like English?

    If I were you, I still wouldn’t pay. Write the collection agency a long letter (or send a copy of this blog post) and copy Truly Nolen. That should put them off you for a bit. Then, depending upon what transpires, you can decide your next move.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..MORE PHOTOGRAPHY GIGS LIKE THIS ANYTIME

  2. Kathy says

    Betsy – Have I mentioned lately how much I ADORE YOU?

    You’re so right – the name sounds so TRUSTWORTHY! (But the yellow VW mouse car is what really captured my heart!)

    Why WOULDN’T I trust them?

    You’re right – I’m wanting to take the “softer easier way” by paying to make them go away. Just like you can’t give candy to a spoiled child who’s throwing a fit in the market – I probably shouldn’t encourage their behavior by rewarding them with a payment. If not for me, for the next victim!

  3. says

    WOW!!! We are as horriefied as You! Please contact me so that I can look into this further. I am the Marketing & Public Relations Director for Truly Nolen. This is not how we train our people to deal with our most precise assets, ” Our Customers”.

  4. says

    Kathy, how can they bill you without a signed contract? I wouldn’t pay them, they’re shysters.

    I may post about this on my blog.

    BTW, they are charging you for those expensive “coach” roaches. They would cost so much if they were just cockroaches. You must live in the high rent district 😀

    Valeries last blog post..Hosea Wins Top Chef Season 5

  5. Kathy says

    Valerie – Damn- typo.

    But yeah, the price they charged – they must be high rent COACH roaches!!!

    K~

  6. Mike N. says

    Very interesting. I just keep thinking how fun it would be to try small claims court. Better yet, can this be scheduled for one of those TV court shows.

    Collection letter…how would you like to be the owner who finds out he is scheduled to fly to another city for his scheduled appearance.

    As for me, I would trust someone like yourself would quickly start raving about my services as soon as I got the cockroaches out of the house and eating the grubs in the lawn.

  7. says

    A great lesson in customer service (or lack there of) for all of us. You could have titled this post “how NOT to treat your customers.” If they were trying to lose customers . . . they couldn’t be doing it any better!

    Carols last blog post..EFT and Addictions

  8. says

    Hi Kathy.Freakin unbelievable! Who are the real cockroaches here? I’m with Betsy about the name. It sounds… falsely apologetic. Definitely it should be a priority to protect your online reputation. I don’t know why a business would create an online presence if they couldn’t stand behind it.

    Davinas last blog post..Benefits Of Turning Off Comments

  9. says

    Hi Kathy –

    This is a great example of the power of the internet. Your words about this company can touch many by what you’ve written here. And that’s why it’s important for ALL companies to make service an important part of their offering.

    Lances last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  10. says

    There was probably some fine print somewhere in your contract that said something about automatic renewal. I’ve had the same experience with other companies, and I’ve had to fight to get them to cancel the automatic renewal.

    BUT Truly Nolan (they should be named Dewey Cheatem and Howe!) should be reported to the Better Business Bureau at the least. You also should call the local TV station; they love to go after businesses like this. After all, if TN is driving around looking like bugs, maybe THEY should be exterminated!!!

    Jean Murrays last blog post..Why Startups Fail – They Forgot the “2 & 2? Rule

  11. Kathy says

    Mike – Welcome! Thanks for your input!!!

    Carol- A hearty “amen”… and you’re right – it would have been a better blog title!!!

    Davina – I absolutely ADORE your “who are the REAL cochroaches here” comment!!!

    Lance – AMEN!!! and AMEN!!!

    Jean – Boy, I’d have to go digging to find the original contract but I’ll bet you’re right. I’ll bet there is a hidden clause in there.

    Thanks all for your input!!!

  12. says

    Kathy – I love social media when it comes to this kind of company – because they truly truly deserve all the shit they bring upon themselves.

    The trouble is, these businesses know they’re screwing people and they don’t give a shit about their reputation – until they eventually stop making any money at all. They probably don’t even Google themselves.

    The most hilarious thing is – you didn’t even see any bloody cockroaches until they found them. It makes you wonder if they’re not bringing cockroaches and other icky things to people’s houses to make sure they’ve got them.

    It sucks that you feel you’ve got to pay this bill. I’m still in a similar situation with Sky TV. Because they got us to put the new contract in my new husband’s name – they are trying to credit blacklist him for the £169 we are now refusing to pay until they refund my £1000.

    Anyway, I hate that these Truly Nolen idiots are screwing you over this – just because you know you’ll probably pay up to protect your credit rating. And I already have a post in mind to link to this and make sure anyone researching their crappy service, knows exactly how much Truly Nolen sucks.

    BTW – Betsy is cracking me up with her – “I hate you Truly Nolen” ditty. Hopefully, by the time we’re done – hopefully the whole state of Florida will be singing it.

    Thank you for the link BTW.

  13. Kathy says

    Cath-

    Thanks not only for your support – but the grin you brought along with it!

    “The trouble is, these businesses know they’re screwing people and they don’t give a shit about their reputation – until they eventually stop making any money at all.”

    One thing I’m noticing is their little “mea culpa” comment (#2 above) sure isn’t getting much “sympathy” here!!!

  14. Sally C. says

    oh -oh -oh …. I would NOT pay them a cent… I -uh- TRULY would NOT !!!! Contact the collection agancy and let them know you are disputing the services you recieved!!! They will put the collection process on hold and it shouldn’t damgae your credit.
    Maybe you should have a lawyer send a letter to them and the collection agency. A lawyer-letter sometimes gets attention. It will cost you… but,it might be worth it.
    Good Luck !

    ~S~

  15. says

    This sooooooooo sucks! I can’t believe these guys are still allowed to trade because most likely they use the same tactics with all their customers.

    Sadly they seem to get away with it too which is criminal. Unbelievable what you had to experience with them Kathy and if I were you I’d report them to the consumer protection agency if you guys have a thing like that over there.

    Monika Mundells last blog post..Make More Money With Freelance Technical Writing

  16. says

    Ok, a couple of things. First of all, I can certainly see your frustration in dealing with Truly Nolen. There is obviously poor management at that particular branch, and the customer service is even worse. The technician that first came to your home appears to be inexperienced, and careless, and the one that confirmed the contract renewal with your son (!!) is no better.

    As a pest management professional myself, I do not believe this experience characterizes Truly Nolen as a company. As with any franchised business, you have some good branches, and some bad. Unfortunately, you found a bad one.

    Now, it is highly unlikely that you had cockroaches living behind your dishwasher. Had this been a problem, you would have been more concerned with cockroaches than some “grub” lying out on the sidewalk. Because if there were enough cockroaches behind the dishwasher for a pest control technician to SEE them, then YOU would have seen them long before HE did. The cockroach that showed up on your front door was most likely from outside…not from behind your dishwasher.

    I am not affiliated with Truly Nolen in any way, and I most certainly do agree that the experience you had with them was terrible, BUT, I have been in the pest control industry for almost 20 years. One of the hardest things about the service we provide is dealing with unrealistic expectations. Due to lack of communication with our customers, we are often faced with call backs for service that does NOT need to be performed. We have had customers call us back out because they saw a DEAD cockroach on the back porch. We are courteous, and go back out for a retreat, but our technicians are trained to EDUCATE our customers so that we can cut back on such unnecessary application of potentially harmful pesticides.

    The true PROFESSIONAL will not come out to “spray” just because someone “saw a bug”…any more than a real doctor will prescribe a pain killer just because you have a headache. Most pest management professionals today spend alot of time and money in consumer education. Afterall, this is our PROFESSION. We are supposed to be the “experts”. We provide a service, but our service should no more be dictated by the consumer than the “Doctor’s orders” should be dictated by the patient.

    Customer service is very important in our industry, as in all others. But oftentimes our customers expect 100% eradication of ALL pests, and they don’t expect to EVER see another one on their property. Such success would be nice, but in the real world it just don’t happen that way.

  17. Kathy says

    WOW!! Bryan this is TRULY amazing!!! I’ve learned a LOT from what you’ve written.

    Truly Nolen was my very first experience with a pest control company. I had NO IDEA that a true professional would not come out to “spray” because I saw a bug – though it makes sense!!!

    I hope you have a blog, my friend because I would LOVE to learn more about what you know!!!

  18. Jim says

    Call FDACS, Florida Dept of Agriculture consumer services in Tallahasee. Tell them your complaint and I promise the wheels will turn in your favor. All pest companies fear the Florida State inspectors and will bend over backwards to make them happy.

    The manager will not do anything for you but the FDACS will….

  19. Oby says

    Here’s a thought. READ a contract before you sign it!!! Then take responsibility for your own inability to deal with a situation that you helped create! You talked to someone that told you the manager wasn’t available. I’m not affiliated with Truly Nolen, but I know they are a national company. How about asking for the name of the DISTRICT manager. If he won’t help you, go the REGIONAL manager. Then on to the V.P.’s.Here’s another thought for you. Instead of waiting for the call to renew the contract, how about taking some initiative to call the company and cancel the contract! It’s always somebody else’s fault isn’t it? By the way, the company is named after it’s founder. His name really is Truly Wheatfield Nolen. It was then ran by his son, Truly David Nolen. His son, Truly William Nolen currently serves as Directo of Franchise Services. (According to Wikipedia.) One more thing, the fact that you chose a company because they drive cute little mouse cars speaks VOLUMES about your maturity level.

  20. Kathy says

    I did read the contract before I signed and there WAS no mention of an automatic renewal. Justin (the eastern regional VP with whom I spoke) has said that including that in the contract and highlighting that fact is now a high priority.

    As for me “taking initiative” to call and cancel the contract (which did not SPECIFY that it would automatically renew on an annual basis) let’s see – I’m supposed to KNOW that the contract automatically renewed even though the contract didn’t include that clause. Then, I’m supposed to spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone, chasing down people who obviously DO NOT want to talk to me and beg them to please, treat me with respect. I’m also to expect that the same person who lied to me and told me that the manager is on vacation is going to offer up the name of her manager’s boss.

    Obviously, you’re associate with Truly Nolen due to the level of knowledge you have about the company. Unfortunately, you’re a shining example of the level of respect the company has for it’s customers with this comment.When I spoke with Justin – I assumed that the problems at Truly Nolen were limited to the local branch. You’ve demonstrated that they extend far beyond the boundaries of a single office.

    As for criticizing me for my maturity level because I responded to the Truly Nolen brand – come on!!! Why does Truly Nolen pay to outfit the cars if it wasn’t to “hook” consumers into trying the service.

    The car is a GREAT branding strategy. It worked. Now you tell me I’m immature for responding to a carefully crafted branding element?

    I bit – I remembered the cute car and I made a phone call to hire the company – a phone call I now regret. I willingly opened up my check book and not only bought service for my lawn but also my home – not knowing I was entering into a cycle of disrespect and extortion.

    Believe me, when the sales rep left, he was VERY happy! If only I had been one half as happy a year later – none of this would be an issue.

    In the course of the comments on this blog post, I’ve learned a LOT about how it SHOULD be when you deal with a pest control company. I’m sure that Bryan’s comment above is positively painful for you to read. I’ll bet it smarts. It should. Anyone reading his comment and then yours would surely choose to do business with his company over Truly Nolen.

    I’m approving your comment as a SHINING example of what NOT to do when confronted with a “bad” social media situation. You didn’t help the cause at all – you hurt it.

    In the end. Truly Nolen’s office did a really poor job of dealing with a customer – a customer who happened to have a well established blog. As is the case with social media – this topic has taken on a life of its own here.

    THIS IS HOW SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS!

    This is why customer service is so critical now more than ever. This is why every business owner should treat their customers with respect. In the end, the lack of respect shown by a Truly Nolen franchise owner for a customer was the catalyst for this blog post.

    I’ve learned through your comment that I’m dealing with a Truly Nolen franchise owner who is managing the brand poorly. Unfortunately, you’re not doing any better job of defending the brand. Attacking a customer for not working harder to make a company’s job easier is pure silliness! Then, closing by attacking that same customer for responding to a carefully crafted branding element – well – it’s obvious that there is NO WAY to win when it comes to dealing with Truly Nolen.

    Lesson learned. If you’re STUPID enough to respond to Truly Nolen’s branding and marketing efforts – then you deserve EXACTLY the level of service and respect you get. Is that REALLY the message you intended to send here?

  21. Jim says

    Wow, OBY “truly” has issues here. He “truly” stood up for a typical major pest control company. He “truly” has no concept of brand marketing.

    OK, only one more…Kathy, you “truly” stuck it to him.
    Good for you, stand up to these “bug thugs” like this guy appears to be.

    I owned and operated a small pest company for 12 years in Florida (now in NC) and never had problems that could not be solved with my customers in a professional and timely manner. It is a shame when some companies get so large that they lose contact with their most important comodity, the customer.

    Yours “truly” Jim

    Ps ok, sorry I had to throw another truly in there, lol.

  22. Kathy says

    Jim-
    It was TRULY a pleasure to hear from you!! (I couldn’t resist!) THANKS for adding your 2 cents!!

  23. Oby says

    Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I’m not affiliated with them. I DID interview with them once so I was informed about the corporate structure. I, however, declined their offer and chose to be employed by someone else. As for the info about the name, I looked it up on Wikipedia.

    As for the contract, it is really hard to believe that you read it when you state, “Boy, I’d have to go digging to find the original contract but I’ll bet you’re right. I’ll bet there is a hidden clause in there”. You’ll bet it’s in there, but you DON’T know! I’d be willing to bet that you would know IF you had read it.

    Secondly you state, “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.”

    You put up with bad service for a YEAR without canceling the service? How about a letter? A more assertive phone call? If the service was as bad as you say, there would obviously be grounds to break the contract for failing to uphold their end of the contract.

    Furthermore, you stated that you spoke with Justin, the eastern regional manager. Apparently, it isn’t THAT hard to find out who he was and how to contact him.

    It is unfathomable to me that you believe that you had absolutely no culpability is this unfortunate string of incidents. I’m not saying it is all your fault because obviously it isn’t, but certainly part of the blame lays on your shoulders.

    Furthermore, I have been known to go far and wide to provide the kind of customer service that makes people happy, but I am sick of people who cannot be pleased whatever you do. As was mentioned above, taking my time and money to provide a “callback” service 3 times in 10 days to control roaches when the customer does absolutely NOTHING about following the directions to help get rid of the harborage that she CREATED!!! I have started dropping customers like this because they simply aren’t worth the headaches.

  24. Kathy says

    Oby-

    The only reason I was able to locate Justin was because of this blog post. When the “shit hit the fan” – THEN Truly Nolen suddenly became interested in customer service. Suddenly I was provided with phone numbers that were answered and people who would listen. It’s sad that it took me bitching here to make that happen and THAT was the catalyst for the post.

    As for me accepting poor customer service for a year – understand that it was my first time to contract with a pest control service. I had no idea of what “good” or “bad” customer service entailed. I’ve learned a LOT by talking to others.

    Was I culpable? Of course! I only talked to Truly Nolen and did so based on their marketing. It was my first foray into pest control and through it I’ve learned and just like other bloggers- I’ve shared that experience here.

    Yes, there are people who can’t be pleased no matter what – and it appears that you have assigned that role to me in this case. Nothing I say here will change that.

    This has been very “instructional” for me and in true blogging fashion – I hope it’s instructional for others as well. I was obviously a poorly informed consumer when I contacted Truly Nolen. They had an opportunity to educate me and they didn’t. (By the way- a special THANK YOU to Bryan for doing so here in the comments.)

    I acted like a typical “upset” consumer – I didn’t squeal until it came time to write the check. I also acted like a typical customer in bitching about it to everyone who would listen when I felt I was wronged. (Where I may have broken from being typical is that my views are now included in Google’s index for eternity – however, this too is changing and will become the norm in the future! )

    Here’s the heads up warning for business owners and service providers – those pain in the ass customers who won’t read the manual or the contract can quickly and easily create a free blog and bitch to their heart’s content about it. Heaven help you if they happen to hit on attractive keywords and their rants get some attention.

    My advice is be there first. Truly Nolen may have treated me poorly – but they don’t have to worry about any “harm” I may cause them here – online. They already OWN the first page of Google for their business name. If they didn’t, my little rant could have defined their online reputation for years to come. Fortunately, they were proactive and it hasn’t hurt them a bit.

    I have gotten some “action” on “pest control marketing” though with this post – so if you’re the owner of a pest control marketing firm – realize that Truly Nolen already had their “bullet proof vest” on when I launched into my little rant. If it had been a pest control company that hadn’t already defined their presence on the web – this would have played out much differently. (See my post on Cash for Gold for how a similar situation played out VERY differently because Cash for Gold didn’t OWN the first page of Google when the rants against their service began.)

  25. says

    Sorry to hear your story about the bad service. I agree with Bryan’s answer to a T. Anyways if you ever need advice about some bugs or creepy crawlies that you have feel free to email me.
    Albert

  26. Pest Control Companies says

    I am sure that you will be able to find a company that will do a one shot deal, but expect to sign an acknowledgement that there is no warranty expressed or implied. In the end, someone will take your money and provide the service you want. The only person that you are cheating is yourself, because the pests are almost sure to return in short order.

  27. says

    Dear Kathy,

    First of all, I am very sorry you had multiple poor experiences with Truly Nolen. As Barry Murray stated in a previous post, this is not the way we intend to do business (on the phone, in the field, billing, etc.) and this is not how we train our employees at any level. It is clear there were failures at multiple levels. Again, I am sorry that this was your experience. It is important to me to insure that your pest problem is resolved and that there are no outstanding issues.

    As has been stated before, the company is named after the founder – Truly Nolen. The Nolen family, of which I am a member, fully owns and runs the company. In addition to being a family member, I am the Director of Marketing and Philanthropy. Please feel free to contact me at any time. I can also provide you with Truly’s number, which rings both in his office and his home.

    It is important that we a do a good job. Of course we want this to happen off the bat. But when that does not happen and we drop the ball, it is important we pick it back up and make things right. As a company we don’t forget that “the customer defines quality.” This philosophy is a key ingredient to being in business since 1938 and being in a position to grow and add jobs across the country. Our success allows us to give back to every community we do business in. But if we failed you, we need to make it right. Again, I am sorry and please grant me the opportunity to make it right.

    Thank you.
    Michelle

  28. Kathy says

    Michelle,

    Thanks for your reply. Barry did a wonderful job of “making this right” on the billing end. However, the “damage” to the customer/business relationship is beyond repair. I sincerely hope that whatever “bugs” in the system that allowed the myriad of events to occur have been addressed so they don’t happen in the future with other customers.

  29. says

    Kathy,

    I’m glad Barry was able to resolve that for you. I was concerned that you were left hanging. I do believe (and I’m sure you do to), it’s not always how you drop the ball, but rather how you pick it back up. It sounds like we didn’t do an admirable job of that.

    I know that we’ve made several management changes in southern Florida. I hope that these changes address the problems you encountered and that we learned from them.

    Again, if there is anything that we can do. Please feel free to let me know!

    Thank you for your time.
    Michelle

  30. Nita Lewis says

    I am just reading the above by Michelle that states that Truly Nolen has made several management changes in southern Florida. Well, that is where I live and I have been paying Truly Nolen for probably a decade or more now for the world’s crappiest service. I am surprised that my entire house has not fallen down from termite damage. The only reason that I have not changed to a different company is that I suspect the others are not any better. Originally, I was told and I am pretty sure that it was in the contract, that if I paid the original amount (something like $700) which was a fortune in those days, and kept paying the yearly supplements, that Truly Nolen would guarantee that my house would be termite free and would remain so, even if they had to tent it at some point, for free. They went through the house with their little guns and put in poison every 18 inches or so, everywhere. There were no signs of termites at that point. I paid as agreed and every year they came for inspection. At some point, I started to observe termites. At first, they tried to tell me these were “old droppings” but I informed them that this was the first time I had seen these “old droppings”. They came back with their little guns and put in more poison. After a couple of years, new technicians would come in and not realize that I had a contract. They always told me that the only way to get rid of these termites was by tenting and they would give me an estimate. I told them to go ahead and do it because I had a contract. Suddenly they would decide that just using poison would, in fact, work just fine. My termite problem is getting worse and worse. I just phoned Truly Nolen and they told me that my contract has expired. At least there is no problem getting rid of them. I will look for a different company. These people are dishonest liars. DO NOT LET THEM TAKE YOUR MONEY. THEIR METHODS DO NOT WORK. THEY TAKE YOUR MONEY AND PROVIDE NOTHING OF VALUE IN RETURN.

    To make matters worse, a few years ago, they talked me into buying one of their contracts for subterranean termites as well. Each year they send me a bill for this which is separate from the bill that I receive for the drywood termites. The bills for this service arrive in envelopes marked “Termite Renewal Guarantee Enclosed” and look exactly like junk mail to me. I get lots of junk mail every day and have no time to read any of it. Because it comes from Truly Nolen and I have a relationship with this company, I throw it into a box marked “Taxes” and once a year I go through all this stuff and file it. That is when I discover that this is actually a bill. So, of course, I am no longer protected because I have not paid the bill. If they are sending me a bill, they should either not write anything on the envelope or put “Bill Enclosed” on it. Anyways, even when the bill was paid, they never once came to inspect my property for subterranean termites. They just collect money for services that I never got. They only came to inspect for drywood termite termites and that was a separate billing that I paid once every three years (getting close to $1000 now for just this service that provides yearly inspections and more poison that obviously does not work). We have been through lots of hurricanes in the years that I have had Truly Nolen service and I have lost the original contracts through water damage to my storage area at various points so I cannot prove what I originally signed. All I can say is that I have spent thousands of dollars on this company and I still have drywood termites that are getting worse year after year. Now they tell me that I do not have any contracts with them. Good! Does anybody know of an honest pest control company in the Miami area?

  31. Kathy says

    Nita, if I find someone – I’ll let you know. Otherwise, know that your voice is heard here loud and clear!

  32. says

    Nita,

    I am very sorry to hear of your experience. I looked up your account in Homestead to get more details.

    Since I am responsible for the billing as well, I hope you do not mind that I ask you some questions so that I might improve our billing. Why did you file an envelope from a company you do business with and sends you a bill each year to renew your coverage into a “Taxes” pile? (Especially, as you noted, when it has “Termite Renewal Guarantee Enclosed” with the mouse car printed on it?) Since this is insurance-like coverage, why would you ignore it when you valued it in the past? (I am looking at redesigning our envelopes so that they are not easily confused with junk mail so I’m seeking all the input I can get.)

    Since we noted on your last annual inspection (on January 12 2009) that there was evidence of termite activity in your attic and panneled wall interior and did the work 3 days later, why didn’t you renew your coverage? Did the work and coverage loose value in your eyes?

    I am asking these questions sincerely. Every now and then, we have an opportunity to improve our customer experience by learning from past events. I would like to take the opportunity and learn from you.

    Thank you.
    Michelle

  33. Nita Lewis says

    I put the envelope in the “Taxes” pile because I only do taxes once a year. At the same time, I file everything to do with insurance information and taxes. I own a lot of properties and I am very busy. I do not have time to deal with this stuff on a daily basis or a weekly basis or even a monthly basis. I get a lot of information from insurance companies dealing with mortgages etc and this stuff simply has to be filed. I toss it in the box and do all of it once a year. Tax time just happens to be convenient. I viewed the envelopes from Truly Nolen called “Termite Renewal Guarantee Enclosed” as containing information on something that I had already purchased that needed to be filed just like all the apparently similar information one gets from mortgage companies.

    As for valuing the work done, maybe you did not read very carefully what I wrote before. There have been termites for years now in my house and all the “work” that you have been doing has made no difference to the amount of droppings that I observe in my home. The termites are still there. In fact they are expanding their territory. Your methods simply do not work. The original “guarantee” that I paid so much money for many years ago that my house would be tented for free if the poison did not work, is clearly not going to be honored and, frankly, I am getting absolutely nothing for my money so why would I continue to keep on giving you more of it? We had subterranean termites on one of our other properties and we also hired Truly Nolen to get rid of those. We paid for service for a year. They came out once and then tried to charge us again for the second visit within that one year period. We still had the contract in our hands, that time. We could not get Truly Nolen to honor the contract and my business partner just hired another company in disgust. I should have learned from that experience which was several years ago. I am very busy and just suffer from inertia, sometimes, but I have just had it with Truly Nolen at this point. I am now taking the time to do some research and find another company. For one thing, I really need to get rid of my termites before my house falls down. This is my own personal domicile we are talking about here!

  34. says

    Nita,

    Thank you for sharing and expounding. While we let you down, I do want to learn from this so that we can get better.

    I appreciate your input on the billing. I think there is value to printing something to the effect of “this is your annual bill” on the envelope so it helps customers.

    You raise many good points, which I take seriously. I am discussing some of the details with my Operations team so that we can correct these. I it is clear that we need to do a better job communicating what a customer is buying when paying for a termite renewal.

    Again, thank you for your time and willingness to share.
    Michelle

  35. Annie says

    Kathy,
    great blog. Sadly, I have a similar story but with a sole proprietor who is now harassing me. I’ve never paid late, never missed a payment, but refused his invitation for a date. Then he turned into a psycho and I’m stuck with the contract. Now even tho I have pest & termite services, he is billing me for coming out for pest services if they are off-cycle (house has an ant infestation that he says isn’t covered because they are coming in through window).
    In FL, are pest/termite contracts required to include the 3-day cooling off period language?
    Also, most of the contracts have arbitration rules, which protect the co, not the consumer.

  36. Rodent Control says

    Haha, you like that car eh? That’s funny. I’ve always wondered if the people driving them are embarrassed or actually like the way it looks. That sucks that a pest control company can become an annoying pest itself.
    .-= Rodent Control´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  37. Thebugmanjr says

    This whole thing started with a person that works at Orkin or some small company shmuck trying to ruin a good name; its very obvious .
    I just started working for Truly about a 2 weeks ago after working in a family biz for 15 years & let me tell you THERE IS NONE BETTER . They are back in 24 hours for problems & will refund your $ if your not staisfied; & by the way THEY DONT SERVICE on SUNDAYS & the stealthness that was described COMPLETE BS.
    Truly has never had litigation & prides its name on satisfaction & all in the industry know it, check the facts people.
    Kathy is a secratary @ Joe’s Pest Control or Orkin or Terminx very bored & trying to get a raise.

  38. Genie says

    I am looking for pest control services in Phoenix. A friend was using Truly Nolen and was thinking about using them. After reading this, I will NOT be using Truly Nolen.

  39. Kathy says

    Bug man,

    Sorry to burst your insane fantasy bubble, but do a Google search on me. I’m a web professional who had an authentic HORRIFIC experience with Truly Nolen. I’ve got a blog with over 200 posts on topics about how the web works – on a domain name that is nearly a decade old. I’ve written a book on marketing Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results in which I strongly encourage business owners to treat EVERY customer like they’re a power customer with a popular blog.

    The level of ignorance to THINK I’m a secretary at an independent pest control company bucking for a raise is positively mind boggling. (Notice how I was able to properly spell secretary by the way.)

    If I were some independent pest control company’s shill, I’d deserve a BIG fat bonus to have invested the time and effort to write hundreds of posts with the sole intent of some day destroying Truly Nolen’s good name online in this one post.

    This post should serve as a word of warning to ANY business owner. Blogs are powerful communication tools your customers are using – as evidenced by this post.

    Contact me if you’re a business owner and want to protect and defend your online reputation.

  40. Genchi says

    I have read through many of these blogs posted and can say as a former employee of Truly Nolen I still refer business to them. Honestly, what company cares enough to search and find a blog like this and with all of the black and blue comments still find the time to make things right. Working at an office in Arizona I found the working atmosphere to be pleasant and worked besides some employees who have been there for more then a several years. Not common in the pest control industry. Customers do come first, it’s what we are told/taught. I have also experienced within the company you can always go above and beyond a store manager to a corporate position. Being employed for less the 3 months , I had an actual conversation with Truly himself. Yes people, the company is named after Truly. It is not a mis-leading title it’s his birth name and the cars are so cute, great marketing tool. Indeed I like how the internet has helped you resolve your concerns and plus you helped another in the process. I’m not trying to shade that a manager ignored you or the technician wasn’t passionate to your needs cause these are issues. I can promise this has been addressed to the correct office and was not brushed off easily. ( Especially cause you got Barry and Michelle involved) I know it from experience I have see it with my own two eyes. The communication is there and it shouldn’t come to the point of a blog like this. Still a growing company but don’t let this stop potential customers from doing a little more research and realize Truly Nolen has repeating customers some 30 years plus. Don’t you see value in that? We have a stellar training program and some of the best inspectors/technicians. Stacks of applications from competing companies employees just wanting a foot in the door. Good luck to those that search pest control and remember some products you can buy from your local hardware stores can make an infestation worse.
    Encourage the homework
    Read and understand the agreement before the Inspector leaves
    Great Post Kathy

  41. Amanda Builta says

    Truly is the best . They back what they say and they say what they do. Customer for 8 years, 2 rentals and my office. One tech 2 years ago cruched and killed one of my plants and before I even new what had even happened; he brought me a new one from Home Depot the next day. No complaints and I can’t believe what Im reading.
    I guess one bad apple could ruin the bunch, but it sounds like sauce.

  42. Nita Lewis says

    I am one of the ones who also had a poor experience with Truly Nolen. They are a great company until you have termites. Then the parameters change. I had no problem with them whatsoever as long as I had no termites. Once I had an infestation, I realized that their methods had no effect on the termites. That is the problem. Years later and thousands of dollars later, I still have termites. Those of you who think they are wonderful – have you had termites yet? Probably not. It may have nothing to do with whether or not you are “protected” by Truly Nolen. I was protected by their plan for at least six years and then the termites came. I still have them after another six or so years of paying and watching the termites get worse. Until you have walked in our shoes, do not throw stones at those of us who are complaining. Maybe in some parts of the country, termites are not much of a problem so companies can get away with collecting money (like insurance) in the hopes that few people will ever be affected. In other areas, it is a huge affliction and there is a much greater chance that termites will eventually get you so there will be more complaints about termite companies who claim to “protect” you against termites when it probably is not possible to do so. It this is the case, in either situation, it is really a scam if the company is not going to get rid of the termites when they appear.

  43. Kathy says

    Nita,

    Thanks for sharing your experience as well. I’m happy to share BOTH sides of the story here.

  44. Pat says

    I am an owner of a small Termite and Pest Control company (not associated with Truly Nolan). I have been in the industry for over twenty years and have seen a lot so, what I’ve read here doesn’t surprise me at all.
    Customer Service is Customer Service and some of us take it serious and some don’t.
    That is the unfortunate reality.
    With that said, I would recommend that all of your readers do the following when entering into a Termite or Pest Control Service Agreement.
    1. Read what you are getting into ( front and back) and understand what the service covers and doesn’t cover.
    2. Understand how it renews. Most automatically renew after one year and there after, unless canceled in writing 30days prior to the next scheduled service (fine print on the back usually).
    3. Have Realistic expectations of your service. (Pest Control is different than Pest Elimination) so expect to see bugs here and there. Absolutely, call your service provider if there is an outbreak or things aren’t improving after a week or two.
    4. Give The Product Time To Work.
    5. Work with your provider. Let them know what problems you are having so they can be addressed at the time of service or on an upcoming service.
    6. Termite Control is not pest control and most Termite Species must be treated differently so, if you live in an area that has multiple species of termites expect to have different treatments and renewals for each one.
    7. Again, Read, Read, Read your agreement and compare, compare, compare. Don’t let a Sales Rep. Push you into an overpriced service.
    8. If a company cant give you a price over the phone who are they going to send to your home. An Inspector!! Code for sales rep. be prepared. (Know the Square footage and Liner Footage of your Home before you call and they should be able to give you a very close price over the phone).
    9. Damage Protection Warranties are (in my option) over priced and not needed, even if they make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Remember who wrote the Damage Warranty. ( The Companies insurance company or the company itself) who do you think its going to protect.
    Go with a Termite Service Plan instead, it will save you money and If the company is doing what they are supposed to each year you really shouldn’t have to many problems and if you do they should be caught early enough not to cause very much if any damage.
    Just don’t for get that that the most important part of keeping your home termite free is having it inspected and maintained.
    10. Pay your Renewals on time and Call your service provider and have at least one full termite inspection a year.

    I hope this information proves to be helpful to you and your readers.

  45. Kathy says

    Pat,

    As you’ve pointed out – education of your customers is the key to building successful relationships. In a perfect world, everything would be spelled out clearly on the contract – and written in easy to understand language. My recommendation – if your pest control company rep isn’t going over these basics with you – call another company.

    Again – thanks Pat for your input here.

  46. Chuck says

    WOW! Fired True Green last week because they can’t kill weeds and was considering Truly Nolen. Glad I Googled with the complaint attachment. I’m in the Orlando area and am done with the “Big” bug killers! Kathy, thanks for the blog and sorry for your experience but this sure saves others in the future from these nightmares.

  47. Annie says

    Chuck – be careful with the small co’s in Orlando. We used Henderson Pest and he was awful. We have heard from other dissatisfied customers as well.

    Kathy, are any termite service co’s recommended? In Central FL, termite protection is a must.

  48. Elinor says

    Annie–Would love to hear more of what you have to say about Henderson Pest.

  49. says

    Unfortunately there are a lot of cowboys in the pest control industry which bring down the industries reputation. Have you tried DIY pest control?

  50. says

    It’s always good to get recommendations from friends or family for termite and pest control. Especially with termite control, if your pest control company is offering a warranty you want to make sure they are financially sound in case you have to take them up on it.

  51. Michelle says

    THank you for your blog. It has informed me of what not to do. Would be interested in a company that is reputable and people are happy with in Orlando. Need fire ant control and spider control. HELP! Any recommendations would be appreciated.

  52. Kathy says

    Michelle,

    I don’t have an Orlando recommendation. (Heck – I don’t have a PSL recommendation either!) If you find someone who’s trustworthy and reputable – please share their info here.

  53. Heather Tanner says

    Truly Nolen is truly driving me crazy.
    They recommended an injected form of pest control in 2006 for termites in our wood stilt home in Florida, despite our requesting a tenting and other pest controllers recommendations to this effect. Injection was the way to go and much less hassle said their rep Mr Paul Woodward at that time. No need to empty the house of food etc., but of course remedial work was needed in the home to fill holes etc above the baseboards..
    Now their rep Mr Frank Emerry says that tenting is the only way but will not carry this out free of charge…or at least give me a huge discount…his discounted price is still higher than competitive prices from other companys..despite them owing me nothing!!
    Of course this “no tent” treatment has failed miserably and they are very reluctant to help me sort the problem….

  54. Luke says

    Most companies automate the system as far as forwarding it to a collection agency. The sad thing is, for collection agencies…they will put effort into contacting you but when you try to contact them, they don’t answer! Go figure. Anyway, the internet is a beautiful thing and it connects everyone, from all sides of the world together. We can all share advice and experiences and thanks for sharing yours!

  55. karen says

    That is so terrible.I wish they learn their lessons. Its difficult to gain customers but easy to lose one.

  56. Jay says

    just a follow up to the comments above on Truly Nolen Pest Control.

    I worked for Truly Nolen for over 4 years, starting as a sales and service tech.
    first of all no one at the branch I worked for would have allowed this problem to get as far as it did.

    We never ever came out on a Sunday to service a home for pest or lawn control. This was a tech who was scared of losing his job if the manager found out what happened.
    Also we did not do any work unless the parent or an adult was in the home and told us it was ok to do the work first.

    I was a service manager and branch manager for the company and never experienced the problems this person said they went through with Nolen. If this continued the way it did with this client we would have been fired on the spot for poor work ethics.

    On the behalf of a company i do not work for anymore i wish to say i am sorry for the service and the aggravation you went thru with Truly Nolen.
    Truly Nolen takes pride in the work the men and woman they hire.

  57. Kathy says

    Jay –

    Thanks for the clarification. This is the FIRST “explanation” of what happened that actually makes sense – which is why I’m approving this comment.

    It makes TOTAL sense that the “root” of this evil was a technician who was trying to “cover up” a mistake on his part – thus the comedy of errors. It’s also quite obvious that the local manager was not blameless in this situation either.

    Thanks so much for offering a “believable” explanation for this comedy of errors.

  58. Get Rid of Termites says

    Hi Kathy,

    I would have signed up with them because of that car too – it really does sound adorable! I always get sucked in by marketing like that.

    But really, it would be hard to avoid this kind of situation; you don’t really know what their services are going to be like until you sign that contract. The best way of course is to get recommendations from friends and family. A lesson learnt the hard way!

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