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REALITY CHECK: Pest control companies have incentive to not find termites

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) Homeowners all along the Gulf Coast are living through a waking nightmare right now dealing with termite infestations. Experts say there are hot spots of activity in Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

"There's nothing but splinters, splinters," said Margaret Carson.

Caron's bedroom walls shouldn't crumble in her hands. She thought by paying for an annual termite bond, she could avoid this. What's worse, she discovered this damage after termite damage was found in a different room and her pest control company supposedly fixed the problem.

"I had no idea there was that kind of damage in my house," said Carson.

"If you just press on this wood, you can tell it crunches when you press on this," said attorney Tom Campbell as he pressed on Caron's dining room wall.

Campbell represents homeowners with termite damage and says pest control companies don't want to find damage or termite activity during annual inspections.

"The conflict of interest that's inherent in this business is the company doing you annual termite inspection also has to pay for the damage that they find. So they have an incentive not to find or not report all of the damage," said Campbell.

As was the case, Campbell says, a bay front home in Daphne, which may have to be torn down due to all the termite damage.

"There was actually a functioning termite colony living inside the house," said Campbell.

Chris Kalifeh owns the home and says thus far, he's out of pocket $50,000. He says it took four visits from his pest control company and hitting a board with live termites in it in front of a technician for the company to finally admit there was an issue.

"Now, I'm really getting frustrated. So, I said I'm sick of this. I need somebody above you. You've lied to me three times. You, personally in front of me said you see no activity. I know you are trying to cover this up. I need to see your boss," said Kalifeh.

"I want the problem taken care of. I've held up my end. I've had the bond, I've paid, and I want them to take responsibility," said Carson.

Campbell recommends keeping your termite bond current. He says ask what the schedule is for re-applying the termite chemicals and stay current with that. And he says if you do find activity, get a second opinion from either another pest control company or reach out to the Alabama Department of Agriculture for a regulator to inspect your home to determine the real extent of the damage.