LESLIE: Susan in Maryland is calling in. She’s wanting to know when a house has outlived its usefulness. I love how this question is worded. What can we do for you, Susan?
SUSAN: Recently, in the springtime, I discovered I have termites out in my sunroom.
SUSAN: They ate everything in front of my swimming pool and it’s just – I don’t know. My children want me to buy a new house and I don’t want to.
TOM: You want to give the house up to the termites?
SUSAN: Not really, because everything is all paid for.
TOM: Yeah. Listen, there’s a solution, OK? Susan, the best way to treat termites is to use a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. Now, it’s professionally applied. You have to have a pest-control firm do this for you.
But the way it works is they will apply this to the area in and around your house; not inside the house but really, the perimeter. And the termites don’t live up on the ground, on the surface; they live down deep in the soil. So as they go back and forth to the soil, to their nest, they pass through this termiticide, it’s called. And they get it on their bodies and they take it back to the nest and they pass it from insect to insect and it’s pretty much germ warfare for termites. That is the end of the colony. When they pass it to each other, it totally wipes them out.
And the stuff can last like 10 years and it’s safe. And that’s the way I treated termites when I had them in my house and it’s worked very well for me. And I think it’ll work well for you, too.
SUSAN: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. You don’t have to give up the house to the termites now. Alright, you can stay.
SUSAN: I’ll be saving a small fortune. Thank you. Bye.
TOM: Alright, Susan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Hey, speaking of termites, Leslie, I want to relate a story to you about …
LESLIE: Oh, God, a termite from my house called you and it’s letting me know what’s in there?
TOM: Well actually about – my mom has a house – my mom and dad have a house down in Florida.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, which – termites are very common down there.
TOM: Termites are very common down there. And so they had a termite contract that they kind of let drop for a while and they weren’t really happy with the company and the service. So they went to another guy and he was good for a while, then he sort of faded out. All the contractors come and they go and so she wanted to go back to the original guy.
So, the original guy says, "Well, you’ve got to pay for the two years that you didn’t have the contract," which I thought was a grab; a cash grab.
TOM: And then I started thinking about it. I said, "You know what, Mom? You don’t really need this termite service contract, because you already had the house treated. We know the treatment’s going to last for a good 10 years." Plus, when I thought about it, you know how those houses are built in this particular development? Concrete slab; concrete block walls. The only thing that’s wood in the house is the truss roof.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. How in …
TOM: For the termites to get up there, they’ve got to really be ambitious.
LESLIE: They’ve really got to be ambitious.
TOM: And you’ve got to have a leak that’s going on for a long period of time. So you’ve got an entire community down there of houses, in this particular case, that are really a very, very, very low risk of termites, for which those people are paying hundreds of dollars a year for the privilege of having a termite service contract.
LESLIE: Well and it’s interesting …
TOM: And you know why? Because most of them come from the North, where they’re used to doing that but with Florida, in this kind of construction, they don’t have to do it.
LESLIE: That’s amazing.
TOM: And the contract didn’t cover drywood termites, which are the only kind that can fly up there and eat by theirselves (ph). They covered subterraneous. So you’ve really got to look at these agreements for pest-control operators and not just kind of sign on the dotted line and write a check, because sometimes they don’t make sense.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s kind of a shysty (ph) business, because you’re dealing with people who are so used to having a contract like this; of a certain age. You know, it’s like you feel like you’re falling prey to.
Now, it’s interesting that they want to back-charge your parents, because we lapsed on our termite service for a year and I called our exterminator. We were having earwigs just because the soil was too moist from the sprinkler system and they were getting in the house. And the guy came and he said, "You didn’t pay last year for the termite contract." I said, "I just – I completely didn’t think about it." And he was like, "Don’t worry. We’ll re-sign you up; you don’t have to pay for it." They were really nice about it.
TOM: And that was the right way to handle it.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally.
TOM: Yeah. So these folks went for the cash grab in my parents’ case and you know what? Now they didn’t get the service contract and I hope that the word is spreading throughout the development that probably not necessary whatsoever.
LESLIE: Well, young Tom, you are going to be getting everyone’s contracts for review, from that building, I’m sure.
TOM: There you go.
LESLIE: Your mom’s going to be like, "My son, he knows about this stuff. Send it to me; I’ll have him read it."
TOM: Have him review it, that’s right.
LESLIE: Get your glasses on.