Current and former Terminix customers seeking information about the $60 million settlement reached between the termite company and the state have a new resource for doing so, in the form of a website.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich and Alabama Attorney General (AG) Steve Marshall announced Monday, Feb. 8, the creation of terminixfund.com to allow those more than 30,000 customers in the state looking to make a claim over high prices for service to do so.
Attorney Jeffrey C. Schneider is the court-appointed receiver who has set up a $25 million fund for claimants, Marshall said at the press conference.
“As part of the state’s consumer settlement with Terminix, a court-appointed receiver is now ready to receive claims from current and former Terminix customers in Alabama, who suffered from the company’s unconscionable overcharging and failure to provide paid-for services,” Marshall said. “These actions violated several provisions of the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a state law designed to protect consumers from deceptive, fraudulent, unconscionable and illegal acts committed by businesses operating in Alabama.”
Marshall said current customers of the pest control company who were charged too much in 2019 and 2020 will automatically receive a $650 refund by May of this year, based upon how much they were charged in 2018.
For customers who were forced to switch from Terminix to another provider based on price, they will need to physically file a claim, Marshall said. The claimant will have two options at that point: They can either receive the $650 payout or receive a payment that makes up the difference between the old Terminix contract and the cost of the contract for the new service.
In some instances, claimants may choose the $650 payouts over the other option, Assistant Attorney General Dan Taliaferro said, because the first option would apply even if the difference in service price was less than $650.
For folks in Mobile and Baldwin counties, the settlement allows for Terminix customers to receive a retreatment and termite inspection for no additional cost. The Terminix service for customers in coastal counties will be reinstated for those who want it to the 2018 price levels.
“Since the announcement last fall of the settlement by [Marshall] against Terminix, many of you have called and contacted our office with questions about how to go about making a claim against Terminix,” Rich said. “There are tens of thousands of victims right here in Mobile County. Today, I am pleased to be able to announce how you go about filing a claim. If you were a Terminix customer or are currently a Terminix customer, please contact the receiver to file a claim and seek a refund as a result of this settlement made by our attorney general.”
The $60 million settlement marks the largest consumer settlement in state history “by a lot,” Marshall said at the press conference.
While it might be the biggest settlement of its kind in the state’s history, Birmingham attorney Tom Campbell believes those impacted by Terminix should hire an attorney. The lawyer, whose website is termitetom.com, made his feelings known in a series of statements released the day of the Marshall press conference. The statements acted as de facto advertisements for his law firm.
He called the settlement damage claim process put in place by Marshall “unfair.”
“The damage claim process may be faster, but it will not result in a fair recovery for customers,” Campbell said in a statement. “Faster for Alabama consumers does not mean better for Alabama consumers.”
Campbell said current and former customers of Terminix are only eligible for rewards related to what they would be getting under a termite contract. He added for customers under retreat-only contracts, the consumer is prohibited from claiming the cost of repairs and other damages.
“So, you would get nothing under the AG settlement,” he wrote.
There could be similar issues with customers under a repair contract with Terminix. Campbell said in the statement the receiver can only award what the contract says a customer would be entitled to.
“Under the AG settlement, this may mean you get nothing because Terminix killed the live termites when it did its recent retreatments of homes,” he wrote.
Taliaferro said while there is no accommodation made for “pain and suffering,” the receiver would listen to individual claimants and decide whether additional damages were necessary.
Campbell also believes Terminix will pay less per customer under Marshall’s settlement than it would if each claim was taken to court individually. He used a 2019 Terminix internal claim study as proof.
Under the study, Campbell wrote, Terminix believed it would pay out about $1 million per complaint if customers hired a lawyer. However, Terminix expected to pay $17,500 per claim if customers represented themselves, he wrote.
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