For those of you who regularly read my blog www.pestcemetery.com you know I frequently point out the ridiculous by using, the ridiculous. This infuriates some and the comments often reflect the nerve I’ve hit. Not being one to pat myself on the back I still can’t help but say BooYah! when that happens.
So with this article I in no wise wish to demean anyone afflicted with the ailment known as Münchausen by proxy. A disorder some folks have which can bring harm to others while the attempt of the person is to bring attention to themselves.
I simply wish to point out that there’s a similar disorder that pest control professionals have to deal with on a regular basis. And if I may be so bold, I believe that the majority of the time this malady is mostly a fraudulent attempt by the customer to receive more treatment then the situation warrants. That this “infirmity” is simply a way to avoid taking their professionals advice (which most often is give it time or clean up your act) and getting their own way to have more service which they think is their cure and the way to alleviate their fears. This disorder is what I like to call, Pesthausen by proxy.
How Legitimate Pesthausen By Proxy Works
Fear can be a HUGE factor in our decision making, our actions, our thoughts and the way we deal with other people. It’s no secret that insects and vermin can and do cause untold volumes of fear in people across the globe. Strong men go wobbly at the sight of a tiny spider, harmless centipedes cause panic for the average homeowner and the list goes on and on. There are different levels of fear that range from cold sweats all the way down to mild consternation– but believe me, it’s fear none the less.
For people who are genuinely afraid of these creepy crawlies (at what ever level) our industry says ‘Thank you.’ You make up the bulk of our customer base. Yet once you’ve hired us, your heebie- jeebies take a back seat to reality and life goes on in as pest & fear free a manner as possible.
Still, when there’s a problem or flare up, you want service as quickly as possible and rightfully so. If and when the problem is solved–life returns to normal no harm no foul. This is where the legitimate and the fraudster Pesthausen come to a fork in the road.
The Counterfeit Pesthausen By Proxy
The thing about the scam artists who use Pesthausen as their crutch is that a good number of them aren’t even afraid of bugs at all. Still they moan and wail as if you HAVE to get out right away for this emergency that can’t wait. I get fooled quite often with this scheme from newer clients that I haven’t gotten to know yet. This tactic is just their way to get extra service out of you. Something for free. Sometimes it’s because a single gnat flew by their face as they were researching the government conspiracy of contrails on the computer and they feel as if they’re paying to see no bugs at all, so damn it, you’re coming out!–Other times it’s because they’re just that cheap of a person and you said (one too many times), “If you see any bugs I’ll come back out at no charge.” Oh God if I say that one more time I’m gonna get my mouth sewn shut. So you “educate” (yea right) and hope for the best…… I’ve actually had customers try to schedule their ‘free complaint’ service while I’m filling out the receipt for the regular maintenance service I just did. “I don’t want to have any problems you know I’m afraid of bugs and an extra visit sure would make me feel better.” they say as I look at them with disbelief.
With chronic clients afflicted by Pesthausen we’ve tried different techniques to head them off at the phone but sometimes that just creates a worse monster. These folks learn real quick how to work around the system when we give time limits or activity levels before we take action and they repeat our dictates verbatim and there’s not much you can say or do.
Customer;“You said 14 days and it’s 5 o’clock on day 13 but by the time you get here tomorrow it’ll be 14 days so you need come.”
Office;”Any live ones?”
Customer, “Uh — (long pause then as if a lightbulb goes off and they remember how we asked them to let the service work the last time they called–which was the next day after their service –UGH!) Yes and they’re ALL OVER the house, you need to come quick.”
The Biggest problem With Pesthausen sufferers
The one thing millions of households and businesses rely on to help with this mind set is your friendly local exterminator. It’s this professional service that provides a certain level of security that can make all the difference. However with Pesthausen by proxy afflicted clients, you may placate them one day but it’s only a short matter of time before they’re back again. More questions more fears. It may be some scare monger website that plays on their insecurities, a sighting of an odd bug somewhere on or near their property or just the realization that they can play this game and get extra treatments or attention out of your company.
I’ll be honest, there are several clients on our books who play this game and we’ve just gotten tired of fighting. I guess I could make a stand and discontinue service for them. I dang sure try at every opportunity to educate but I believe the old saying ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, you can give a man a thought but you can’t make him think’ comes to mind here. So, we make an appearance, shine a light, sprits a bit and we’re on our way. And to me me, that is the danger of Pesthausen by proxy…. My fear is….eventually it gets us all.