Prior to the purchase of our home, Terminix provided a "clear" pest inspection report. Two months later, another company, Parrish Termites, reported findings that would cost us over $20,000 to repair. Terminix didn't miss just one or two items -- they missed every item, failed to post an inspection tag, and failed to note prior inspection tags, each required under California's Structural Pest Control Act.
Terminix's branch manager verified Parrish's findings. The State of California Structural Pest Control Board ordered Terminix to bring the property into compliance within 30 days. Terminix did not even attempt to comply.
We litigated. Our expert witness, the inspector with the State of California Structural Pest Control Board was under subpoena to testify; however, he disappeared out of state during the trial. Without our expert witness, none of our evidence was allowed. Based on lack of evidence, the judge dismissed our case for "nonsuit." We were ordered by the court to pay to the defendants the costs our attorney had failed to file an objection against; and although our attorney stated, in writing, our total legal costs would range from $12,500 to $25,000 if we fully litigated, his bill amounted to over $100,000. We were forced to file bankruptcy, ruining our previously unblemished credit history for the next ten years.
I decided to create a web site to warn other consumers; but having repeatedly seen Terminix's televised advertising claims, I naively believed the CEO would be appalled to learn what happened. I wrote a letter to him to see what his reaction would be. I never heard from him; but, instead, I received a letter from a Terminix vice president and general counsel denying any wrongdoing and threatening me with legal action if I proceeded with the web site. I published the site and included his threatening letter.
Terminix sued me in California for defamation. I won, and Terminix was ordered to pay my attorney fees. A year later, the ServiceMaster companies, including Terminix, sued me in Tennessee for trademark infringement. Fortunately for me, Ralph Nader's group, Public Citizen, and two law firms in Tennessee took my case. Without their pro bono representation, I would have lost the suit by default. The story ran in some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal; and 60 Minutes was scheduled to do on-camera interviews. The ServiceMaster companies voluntarily dropped their suit. Without a word, 60 Minutes dropped the story; however, it ran in several newspapers and was televised on CNN.
From the time the web site (now entitled "Terminix - Consumer Alert!" at http://www.syix.com/emu) was first published, I have posted complaints from hundreds of Terminix customers and employees; lawsuits; and governmental investigations and actions. I've learned there are many, many people damaged far worse than my family. At least we still have our home, our health, and our lives.