Orkin "Lifetime Guarantee" Costs $214 A Year?

Chris writes,

Last year we had Orkin come and get rid of a termite problem in our 60 year old house. It is a small three bedroom house and we were putting concrete siding on and discovered some termite trails. We spent around $1,700 for what we were told by the sales man and his supervisor was a life time guarantee. Its been a year and I just got a bill for $214 including tax for the yearly Orkin termite service. I was told by customer service and my local Orkin office that in order to keep my lifetime guarantee I need to pay the $214 for as long as I live in the house.

We headed over to Orkin’s website and found it suspicious that they have a nifty graphic of their “guarantee” directly on their home page, but neither it nor anything else on the website links to any details on just what, exactly, they guarantee.

On the rest of the web, we found some troubling info from six years ago, when Orkin settled with five states and District of Columbia regarding misrepresentation of its guarantee:

The company was accused of misleading consumers by representing that its “Orkin Foam System” would keep termites from ever returning, when, in fact, this claim could not be substantiated. In addition, Orkin’s advertising implied that its service came with a full warranty when, in fact, it did not.

The settlement prohibits Orkin from:

  • Representing that its subterranean termite control services are certain to be effective in preventing or eliminating an infestation unless Orkin is able to support such a claim by credible scientific evidence;
  • Misrepresenting the terms of its guarantees or warranties for its subterranean termite control services; and,
  • Advertising a “guarantee” unless it is accompanied by a “limited guarantee” or “limited warranty” disclosure and clearly directs consumers to carefully read the guarantee before purchase.

On another site, an article from 2004 presents a laundry list of “TERMITE CONTROL GUARANTEE QUESTIONED” [New York State Office of the Attorney General]

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  1. Verklemptomaniac says:

    My condolences to the OP for having those damned disgusting vermin infesting their house.

    Oh, and sorry about the termites, too.

  2. ninabi says:

    Same problem here but with a different termite company. Our “lifetime guarantee” cost an annual amount each year, too but only covered the windows in the garage where they treated.

    Seemed strange to pay a couple hundred bucks per year for one wall so we dropped that coverage as it wasn’t worth it.

    We do schedule annual termite inspections but I’ve learned that sometimes I’m quicker to spot problems than the trainee sent out to “professionally” inspect my home.

  3. Elvisisdead says:

    Anyone who believes that a one-time abatement or treatment of termites comes with a lifetime guarantee isn’t hitting on all cylinders.

    Agreed that they shouldn’t have misrepresented, but a little research on his part could have solved the misunderstanding. Be an educated consumer.

    That being said, $210 for an annual contract isn’t that bad, but I would guess that the warranty only includes structural repairs. Most don’t include flooring, doors, trim, etc. so it’s not as comprehensive as you would like to believe.

    You have to treat for termites every year. Period. No company will do this for free.

  4. DeltaPurser says:

    Aaaaahhhh… NOW it makes absolute sense to me: The lifetime warranty is FREE – as long as you pay the annual fee. Sounds like a very generous plan… Where do I sign?

    Edison couldn’t even shed more light on it!

  5. Aamco does something similar with it’s lifetime transmission fluid changes thing. It’s ~$100 for a change, and then free for life afterwards(provided there are no internal problems with the tranny). I wonder how many people have had problems “develop”, and have to pay before they put it back together.

  6. MPHinPgh says:

    Ziebart does pretty much the same thing. Their rustproofing has a “lifetime warranty” as long as you bring the car back in for a ~$50 “checkup” every year. I forgot, and didn’t take my truck in one year. The next year…I would have to pay for a “used vehicle” rustproofing, somewhere around $400 to get my warranty back. I said screw it. The truck is still rust free after 8 years.

  7. joeblevins says:

    While it is scummy, this is common for Termite contracts.

  8. bobert says:

    We had a termite problem about ten years ago. They built a mud “chimney” from the crawl space into our foyer, and suddenly we had flying termites in the house. Fortunately, they hadn’t started chomping on the 2×4′s. So we got a “green” pest control outfit, and they put parasitic nematodes around the foundations. Fixed it right up! I highly recommend this treatment.

    The pest control outfit was up-front about their limited-time warranty and annual maintenance costs, and were very prompt about calling us a year later. I figured if the nematodes were still alive in the soil, they’d take care of any termites that came around, so I skipped it. And we’re still termite-free.

  9. Murph1908 says:

    This is not a lifetime guarantee. This is a maintenance plan.

    They are misrepresenting themselves, and should be taken to court (again).

  10. vastrightwing says:

    Lesson: Most vendors mislead… ok, I meant lie. Exactly: it’s not a warranty.. it’s a maintenance plan. But people wouldn’t sign up for an expensive maintenance plan. A warranty sounds much better. Orkin obviously went to the same school Best Buy did: they distort all meanings of words. For instance, Best Buy thinks “abuse” is what we consider normal “wear and tear” so they don’t have to pay out a warranty claim. Orkin does the same thing.

  11. rhombopteryx says:

    I’m pretty sure all pesticide services are upstanding, and their professionals would never mislead people. Besides, isn’t that a picture of Tom Delay?

  12. badgeman46 says:

    Its more like insurance. My neigbor had termites and said that was the best 200 bucks she spent, because the damage was more like 4,000 bucks.

  13. alice_bunnie says:

    It’s also known as a Termite Bond. Depending upon your bond, they pay for any damage up to a certain amount if there is any infestation. It includes an inspection every year and treatment if infestation occurs. I pay about $200/year for mine.

  14. Prince of Zemunda says:

    Yup what you paid for was for the initial treatment. In order for them to cover any damages after the treatment you have to pay the annual inspection fee. As others have said it really should say “Lifetime Guarantee”. I use to be a termite tech in Charleston, SC and all I can say is if you live in the south you absolutely have to have a termite bond/warranty. It is amazing the damage those little sucker can do.