Know your legal rights for pest control treatment in Alabama

Published: Oct. 7, 2015 at 10:25 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 17, 2015 at 4:58 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Do you know your rights as a homeowner when it comes to pest control? It took two years, but the state of Alabama and Department of Agriculture have finally reached an agreement with one pest control company they say failed to abide by state laws. The settlement is bringing in nearly $1 million to the state and refunds for consumers.

Termites can be quite the problem in Alabama.

"Termites are a big issue in the state," says John McMillan, the state's agriculture commissioner. "It's something we have a pretty big responsibility to protect our homeowners."

The Department of Agriculture regulates pesticide industries which operate in Alabama. The state requires pesticide companies abide by certain regulations. Other states do not require it, but in Alabama companies must provide an initial inspection to make sure the home doesn't have any type of wood destroying organisms and then provide initial treatment followed by re-treatment.

Without those initial steps, McMillan says, "it could cause more problems and more damage to homes. They would be much slower in discovery, for example, or at least potentially."

"When they enter into that service with this company, they have an expectation of having some protection for their house because traditionally that's how it's worked," added Tony Cofer, director of pesticide management for the the Department of Agriculture.

Officials say Knox Pest Control did not perform the initial inspection for 517 customers. The state also alleges the company falsely advertised no start up treatment cost and re-treatment for properties they hadn't previously treated, which violates those state regulations.

The state and company reached a settlement which allows for those consumers to receive their choice of service for termite treatment and inspection or get a refund for a total of around $539,000. The company is also paying $987,000 in penalties and attorney fees to the state.

"A person's home is their most important investment, so they are depending on an expert and paying an expert to look at these things because the average person doesn't understand that," claims Cofer.

Knox Pest Control release a statement saying"

"Our family-owned, fourth-generation company has strong ties to the state of Alabama and a history dating back to the mid-1940s. We pride ourselves in providing safe, consistent and affordable pest-control services," said John Knox, CEO of Knox Pest Control. He continued saying, "We have an A-plus Better Business Bureau rating and a sterling reputation. We want to stress that we have received no complaints from customers affected under this settlement. While we believe our work that was challenged by the Attorney General's office and the Alabama Department of Agriculture met industry standards, we see how the state has interpreted its regulations and found us not to be in compliance. We accept this settlement and are in the process of contacting our customers who are affected. We intend to move forward from this and will continue to offer our customers the friendly, professional services that they have come to expect."

Before you enter into a contract for any termite protection, you should always ask to see the person's pesticide license, which is issued by the Department of Agriculture. You also need to know there are two different legal contracts; one that provides re-treatment only and the other which provides re-treatment and repair of damage should termites infest your place.

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