Undercover Pest Control Stings-Have You Ever Been Set Up?

I’m pretty sure I’m not any more paranoid then the next guy, you know, the one over there who’s been following my every move for the last hour. So I’m sure I just imagined all those times that the customer dropped that $10.00 bill behind the dryer or that folded up piece of cardboard really is to help keep the closet door shut and not alert anyone the doors been opened. I mean what would anybody have to gain by setting me up? They would never want me to get in any kind of trouble would they? Whenever this happens I never know if I’m just being insecure or if my client is suspicious of me for some reason. 9 times out of 10 when I hand them their money I found it’s almost always met with a chuckle as they exclaim “that darn husband of mine is always dropping money.” It’s then I realize they didn’t even think twice about anything nefarious. People by in large are trusting souls and I’m proud to say that all the pest control technicians I know, for the most part are also worthy of that trust.

After 27 years of pest control service I think I’ve had just about every scenario of this happen. I’ve found lost jewelry, wallets, papers, money and on and on. But I must say, I don’t believe I’ve ever been ‘set-up’ to test my integrity on physical items per se. I have however been set up without a doubt in major sting operations by crafty conniving clients who in their own conceits wanted me to fall for way more than $10 bucks.

The Sting

Before I go much further left me clearly define what I am describing are conniving people who for their own gain, will purposely set out to harm you;

conniving adjective
his conniving brother planned the whole dirty affair scheming, cunning, crafty, calculating, devious, wily, sly, tricky, artful, guileful; manipulative, Machiavellian, disingenuous, deceitful, underhanded, treacherous; informal foxy.

If you own your own business and this hasn’t happened to you in some degree then count your blessings. This recently came up in my mind because an account was increasingly complaining of roaches when according to my tech, shouldn’t have been. Long story short is I went along for the early morning service just last week and both the owner & the night maintenance man were there waiting. (they have never been there that early) It seems this one staff member either has a friend in the business or doesn’t like my tech or just whatever but he has been bending the ear of the owner for weeks about out of control roaches. The owner has never seen any bugs of significance but perhaps weary of the non stop chatter, the two of them conspired to surprise us by being there with us as we first walked in. All the
way up the sidewalk this janitor exclaimed how he sees hundreds every night and it was as if he was part of one of those ‘Hidden Camera’ shows and somewhere along the line he was gonna yell “Gotcha!”

When we walked in he purposely stood waiting by the door as the owner, my tech & I all fumbled ahead in the darkness. The owner sounded a little unsure of himself and disgruntled as he had to yell “Ok” for the 2nd time and that’s when all the bright lights flooded the room and it was like going outside into the sun after being in the dark. The panting maintenance man came running up behind us eager to see the carnage of feasting roaches. You could clearly see the disappointment on his face as he reached the end of his 10 yard sprint out of breath. At that moment I realized what my sleepy mind had not yet grasped. These two set us up to make us look like fools and planned this early morning coup to have one over on us rather than just approach the situation (perceived or not) like adults. My little cancelation antenna went up immediately & I was surprised that this good account was doing this. I really could have rubbed it in and been a jerk when all we saw was a dead earwig, a dinner roll and a couple roaches near the drain but I realized there was more at stake with the account. I’m not sure of the motivation but my paranoia proved true when this morning I went with the tech again and we found sticky traps in places only an exterminator would go. Sticky traps with a competitors name and # proudly printed on the flap and I needed no more proof of the devious event.

Has This Happened To You?

Over the years I’ve had people paint over termite tunnels, hide damage, change my reports with white out, sweep dead bugs into areas they weren’t. An 80 year old lady crawl under the house with me in disbelief of my findings and burn rubber out the driveway when it came time to pay. I even once had a lady excuse herself while I was examining some previous damage only to come back around the corner with a old style video camera with the big flood light a blazing and the little red microphone eye blinking to let me know every word I said from then on was etched in stone for all to see. In all these instances I walked away in disbelief that people would be so underhanded and that their motives were really to hurt me, my business and ultimately my family. (at least I took it personally at the time) Why would someone sit up late at night and plot out such plans? Who schemes in their heart thinking “this is the most important thing I need to be doing right now?” All over a bug or a situation where they don’t want to hear facts or even accept restitution if the case warranted it. No, they have their conspiracy all thought through and it’s as if half the thrill is just carrying it out.

It’s funny but my favorite of all time movie (besides Predator) is The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. That’s where I learned about the alert system using the cardboard in the door trick. ūüėČ You really were never sure just how that story was gonna come out and who’d end up on top. Games were played and traps were sprung and you were convinced all was lost more than once. One things for sure however about the use of the cons I saw in both the movie and in my business life. It takes some work and forethought to try and pull one off and to be really successful the ‘Mark’ would never know what was happening. BUT I say if you’re that conniving just to get your way, prove a point, avoid responsibility or to right some self appointed wrong– It seems to me that you’re already on the losing end and you’re the one whose already been stung.

I’d Love To Hear Your Stories On This; Comment Below Or Submit One-I’m Sure We can All Learn

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Hey I like predator to, but the 1956 The Day the Earth Stood Still is my all time favorite. Not even a bug movie, go figure….

  • What? not Arachnophobia? It must have been good, I’m gonna have to go rent it.

  • Mel

    ¬†Two pest control game playing customer incedents I took personally and¬†the hardest was a customer refused to pay for the service I performed and demanded she not have to pay the early cancelation penalty. She called in wanting to cancel and the first question asked is “was it a service issue”? She admitted it wasnt but then proceded to claim her house was broken into the day I performed the service and she attempted to blame me.¬† She signed up for a promotional very low cost initial service for oderous house ants and rodents. After serveral weekly reservices the problems seemed under control. Three weeks after her last reservice was her first quartely visit. The one she did not want to pay. I do not like collection agencies when someone can not pay but in her case I’m glad she was sent.

    My other occured on a very rainy day. My customer was having remodeling performed in her bathroom and had questions about rot which occured. My shoes were slightly muddy and as I was about to remove them she told me not to bother because she was replacing the carpet that week. I wiped my feet the best I could but still managed to track in some mud. The next or day after that my office recieved a call demanding we pay for her carpet to be replaced because I tracked in mud and the carpet cleaners she hired could not remove the stain I supposedly created.

  • I don’t know how many times I’ve had or heard about people like your 1st example. It’s like they PLANNED NEVER TO PAY in the 1st place–I just did a horse farm who pulled the same crap. I called, went to his house etc. and he started threatening ‘harassment law suits’ so I hate collections too but off he went

    Your 2nd one is really devious! Did it start off innocent and then later she saw an opening to get new carpet and got greedy or is she that WICKED that she had this planned out the whole time? Either way– No Class!

  • Upgradepestcontrol

    while working for one of the larger companies i did the homes of a man, his girl friend and his daughter. The daughter and girl friend didnt get along but the girl friend loved the way i did the service.  To get back at her the daughter called in a sexual harrassment thing  on me.  I never said a word to her and thought everything was fine until i was called into the office.  As a result i lost all three accounts and learned a valuable lesson.

  • Damn, that’s serious stuff. People just don’t think things through and how they can harm peoples livelihoods and careers with their petty mind games.

    Hopefully you got through it alright

  • john

    i know all about scams! my wife and i own a hair salon and one woman came in one day had her hair “colored” and came back about a month later and said the color did not last. upon inspection the only problem was the “new groth of hair” was now starting to show up her original color when we tried to explained to her that when coloring your hair it does have to be touched up from time to time she proceded to start trying to cause a scene in the business attempting to embarass us. in the end we had to have her escorted out. i can’t see any rational person thinking that once you have your hair dyed your hair is going to grow out to your new color.¬†

  • That’s too wild John!

    Common sense or should I say the lack thereof knows no professional boundaries. Actually, I think I had that lady as a customer once. lol

    Thanks for your comment-

  • Pestguy87

    I once worked¬†for a¬†scummy¬†Pest¬†control¬†company where QA believed in going around convincing customers to ask the tech to steal.¬† Although I am sure this goes on in the industry, I was disgusted by it.¬† I also had some customers who knew¬†wayy too much and ran outside on their cell phones yelling “these bees are testing me” etc.¬† I was set up on high commissions to go out and apply very questionable applications only to find out that the customer was my manager’s spouse!!¬† I once¬†had a customer who repeatedly asked if she could trust me and when I went inside the house for an inspection, open beers, bottles of wine and prescription pills were on the kitchen counter.¬† The company took advantage of tenants in multifamily houses who were mad at their landlords and had¬†salesmen that carried an assortment of droppings.¬†¬† I have had plant technicians want to cancel because “a squirrel ran through a basement” to hire a buddy and customers that pretended they didnt care about whether the problem was solved drive off and skip the bill.¬†¬† Oh yes and then there was the¬†lovely young lady who said i purposely sprinkled bedbugs in her apt so as to come back and ¬†impregnate her??¬†I guess my answer is YES!!!

  • Ay Yi Yi – I’d say you’re well qualified on this subject. Holy Moly I thought I had some stories but you’ve been through some real doozies! People never cease to amaze me- guess it pays to stay on your toes.

  • furburger

    When it comes to termites thats when you really run into the dumbest people on the planet especially in southern California.  I do about 1000 inspections a year and about 95% of customers make me want to hang myself.  I have never been set up or accused of anything but do sometimes people are asking too many stupid questions and it seems they are up to something.  The crazy thing about people is they think they can actually get rid of there termites with crappy inspections and cheap bids.  People are more concerned about qaulity when it comes to cars, electronics, appliances but when it comes to termites its the cheap way.  After 6 years of doing inspections I never trust anyone because buyers are liars!!!

  • Buyers are liars & sellers aren’t stellar– Ok , not as catchy as yours but I definitely hear what you’re saying!