News

Termite industry rorting 'panicked' customers

BEWARE: A Northern Rivers pest controller has blown the whistle on entrenched rorts within the industry, particularly in relation to termite/white ant services.
BEWARE: A Northern Rivers pest controller has blown the whistle on entrenched rorts within the industry, particularly in relation to termite/white ant services. Mireille Merlet

CHARGE customers what they are willing to pay - not the cost of the job.

That's the philosophy of some greedy operators in the termite control industry who are tempted to charge for unnecessary extras using a customers' estimated net worth as their guide, according to a local pest controller who is calling for a shake-up of the industry.

The operator, who chose to remain anonymous to avoid repercussions, said there was plenty of "BS" in the industry, "where as soon as you start talking termite work the prices go through the roof".

The psychology is obvious - termites are a weak spot for consumers because of the catastrophic damage they can inflict on a home in a relatively short period. Fear of catastrophe pushes people into a vulnerable state, and there are plenty of operators willing to cash-in on their position, according to the whistleblower.

"For a lot of guys it's a cash cow ... they automatically go 'termites, right, we can put the price up because the people are panicking'," he said.

"I know of one particular company that is not in the area anymore ... their (termite) quotes started at $3500."

The bigger quote was for a bundle of extra services including a chemical barrier as well as baiting system which the insider labelled "complete overkill".

And that's part of the problem - there's a mountain of termite control products on the market which operators themselves struggle to get their head around, let alone their customers.

"It's quite easy to go in, start using all the big words, all the complicated treatment processes, and confuse the hell out of everybody," the operator said.

"If you make yourself sound good by using the big words, people are willing to pay anything you ask for."

Recently he attended an interstate seminar for pest controllers which subtly pushed the idea that operators should tailor their quotes to their perception of the customer's net worth.

"He was stating virtually, 'look at how well off these people are'," he said.

Stephen Ware, executive director of the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association, recommended all consumers get at least three quotes and carefully vet operators.

"Make sure they use adequately trained personnel, who are properly licensed and properly insured," he said.

Mr Ware went on to label accreditation requirements in NSW "inadequate" because it wasn't compulsory for operators to be insured or have proper training.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading investigated 91 complaints in relation to pest control of termites last year, but a spokesman said none of those related to overcharging.

"The majority of complaints related to the quality of the work - being unsatisfactory, incomplete or defective work," he said.

"Consumers should be clear about the service they are seeking to have undertaken, and determine from the trader exactly what they will receive for the money they are paying.

"Consumers who have concerns about pest control services they have paid for should contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20."

Topics:  industry, termites, whistleblower




Warning after 3m white shark repeatedly detected

WHITE POINTER: This 2.8m female white shark was tagged on Wednesday afternoon 200m off Evans Head. Three others of a similar size were tagged and released the day prior by the DPI.

Locals at this North Coast beach are advised to stay viligant.

Rogue yacht in bombing zone a 'bloody nuisance'

Pilots from 82 Wing based at Amberley RAAF Base fly Super Hornets from the south towards the Evans Head Air Weapons Range during a training exercise.

Vessel fails to respond to calls from Australian Air Force

Centrelink crackdown as taskforce tackles "welfare fraud"

Across the country the team has found 135 cases of potential fraud

Latest deals and offers

Isla Fisher: I don't like talking about my private life

Isla Fisher shut down TV hosts when they asked about her husband

Mariah Carey: I 'can't believe' Prince has gone

'Prince was one of the best people I've met'

Joe Jonas' 'tough' pals

Joe Jonas' pals are 'tough' with his potential partners

Top 5 in local entertainment

Abby Dobson and Lara Goodridge are Baby et Lulu, a seductive French-language chanteuses

The Top 5 events in local entertainment this week.

Northern Rivers Gig Guide

DON'T MISS: Local rock singer Jaeden Ogston will be performing at The Sticky Wicket Bar in Byron Bay tomorrow.

All the latest in local entertainment

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started