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Tips for getting the most out of pest control

Wednesday - 1/4/2012, 12:39pm  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Owning a home can be frustrating if bugs or wildlife want to share your living quarters. Learning what worked for pest control survivors might make the process easier.

Washington Consumers' Checkbook finds that independent operations tend to leave customers more satisfied than big chains such as Orkin or Terminex.

Since many companies offer good service, cost might be the most important thing to consider.

Prices and guarantees can vary widely. Checkbook finds a onetime visit to spray for cockroaches can cost as low as $165 with a 90-day guarantee, while another company might charge $275 with only a 30-day guarantee.

Be wary of long term contracts. It shouldn't be necessary to pay a company for repeat visits if the job can be accomplished right away, Checkbook says. If pests do come back, it can be more cost effective to just pay for another visit versus being locked into a contract.

That advice does not apply to termite infestations. A contract to eradicate the wood-guzzling insects from a home buys free re-inspections and nothing more, according to Checkbook.

Additional tips and perspective from Checkbook: Request that a certified pest control applicator do the work. And ask to hear all treatment options available because the first price quoted might not be the lowest.

And realize many companies lie about being green. Even some promising to provide natural pest control solutions use the same pesticides and methods other companies do.

The most common complaint Checkbook hears about pest control companies? Missed appointments.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)