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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Waving My Magic Wand (AKA: Do you believe in magic?)

Sometimes pest problems are relatively easy to manage. One or two visits, some targeted treatments, sanitation and exclusion recommendations, and presto! Problem solved! Then there are the times it isn’t so easy. Particularly when it seems the customer is working against you.

The other day I was at a location, let’s say it was a bookstore. (It wasn’t, I’m trying to protect the innocent here!) Now as I was browsing through the bookstore, looking for entomology books of course, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something running on the floor. I turned and waited and got a good look at the furry little creature. It was a squirrel.

There were a few other customers in the store and some thought it was “cute”.

My brain went immediately to the fact that it was leaving droppings and urine everywhere it went and gnawing on whatever items it could find. And then there are all the ectoparasites they carry. Yuck. This little squirrel was living in one of the chimneys. The bookstore is in an old house and the fireplaces are all connected to uncapped chimneys. That’s a pretty easy fix: put in one-way doors to let the animals exit, then seal up the chimneys so the squirrels can’t get in.

I gently (I swear I was being nice!) suggested that the owner should call a wildlife company and have them remove the squirrels and seal up the chimney. This customer had “educated” themselves. They were absolutely NOT going to seal up the chimneys. Why? Great question, thanks for asking.

Apparently, they had read that chimney swifts were extremely endangered because there were so few structures with chimneys on them. So the birds were “going extinct”. The owner said for that reason, they wouldn’t be putting any exclusion on the chimneys. I inquired (again, gently!) if they were okay with squirrels running through their store and damaging the goods and the structure and contaminating the place with their droppings. They looked at me as if I were the crazy one and said, “yes, of course, they are cute. The pest control company will have to find another way to deal with it.”

Did I mention that they also wouldn’t use traps because they were “cruel”?

So the pest control team should just ask them politely to leave I guess. Ugh.

There are many situations where pest control is tricky because you can’t use all the tools necessary. Food facilities, pharmaceutical plants, zoos, museums, and more are full of sensitive material that can’t be contaminated or contacted by traditional treatments. That’s known upfront and there are ways to work around that and still protect the sites. When customers insist for whatever crazy reason that the solutions “can’t” be used because they have “done their research”, it can be extremely frustrating. Often these customers can’t be reasoned with. I don’t say that in a mean way, it is factual. No matter how much I wanted to explain to this business owner the dangers of that squirrel in their establishment and the errors in their thinking, they were never going to see the truth.

If I were the company servicing this site, I would have explained how excursion could be done so the chimney swifts could still nest, but their store would remain safe for their patrons. I may even drop a hint or two about the health department and bad online reviews over pest problems. I would take the extra time to show them exactly what I planned and how their concerns about the swifts would be managed. I bought my book and left because I was not their provider and I had better things to do. (If you are in the Atlanta area, drop me a line, I’ve got a customer for you!)

The point of this rant is that despite problem situations and problem customers, there are still options. It is great when customers educate themselves and are good partners with the pest control company. That is what we want. Problem customers can still be dealt with in many cases, but it will take extra time and effort. To be perfectly honest, it may not be worth it. Particularly when you have a customer that will not let you do anything but still expects the pest problem to be completely solved. While pest control workers are superheroes, they still need their weapons to fight the problems.

If you want an extra weapon to help you in the fight against customers pest problems, contact us, we can help!

Urban pest consulting.

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