I have had an increasing number of calls from owners of thatched cottages over the last few weeks. All seem to relate to having building work done, or have recently had the thatch replaced.

One of my recent clients has been driven to despair at the amount of damage being done to the brand new £30,000 roof!  I have been called in to review the work of a previous pest control company – a large national firm. I have to say I have been extremely surprised by what I have found.

I am not into knocking the competition and there is room enough for all – but what I do have an issue with is overcharging and poor professionalism.

This national firm, who shall remain nameless of course, did a quote over the phone – a very large quote I may add – and sent somebody a few days later to deal with the problem. They provided, in my opinion, a very poor and inadequate service and just threw a few bait containers about and some low-grade grain based bait about (as though there is not enough grain in the loft already from the thatch!) without even examining the loft space for activity. The client told me they were on site no more than 15 minutes – 5 minutes were taken ticking boxes on a visit report.

Needless to say, no changes to the rat problem happened, so the client less than impressed with the situation, called them again a week later so they sent another guy out to assess the problem. He did pretty much the same as the first guy and then presented a second invoice – larger than the first! They have now been removed from site.

Now rats in thatched roofs are not easy to deal with. They are persistent, destructive and have ample food supplies to keep them going for ages, so you have to do different things to make them change activity patterns. We have applied several different types of bait with different textures and flavours to tempt them to eat it, as well as applying traps, again suitably baited with foods known to attract. It is a long process and so the costs have to be managed, as do the expectations and anxieties of the client.

Communication with the client is key, and our philosophy is to be open and honest at all times as well as sympathetic to their problems – especially as they have not slept for 3 weeks!. This wins us business and maintains a great relationship with all our clients.

I will keep you posted on this particular project and the results we achieve.