'I trusted him:' Oconomowoc man pestered by contract he signed in a door-to-door sale

OCONOMOWOC — He wanted to get rid of bugs around his house, but what pestered him most was the fine print of his contract with the pest control company.

Carl in Oconomowoc would rather kill his own mosquitoes than rely on the Hawx Services pest control company.

In June, Carl said a salesman for the company showed up at his home and said he could help with mosquitoes and other bugs around the property.

"So I said, 'Fine. Sounds good,'" Carl said. "I trusted him."

But when Hawx didn't show up in July for a scheduled appointment, and showed up in August instead, Carl wanted to cancel the service.

"I said, 'No. You guys didn't show up when you were supposed to,'" said Carl. "I said, 'You basically broke your contract, and didn't service the house like you were supposed to.'"

That's when Carl learned he'd signed a one-year contract with Hawx Services. Carl insisted he was not told about the contract length when he signed his name on the screen of a handheld device.

"It was such small print," said Carl. "It was nighttime. It was dark. It was like 8:30 at night."

He was charged a $240 cancellation fee.

"It is the worst customer service I have ever received in my life," Carl said.

Contact 6 has received four complaints about Hawx Services this year. After Contact 6 reached out, the Utah-based company said it would address all four. The company refunded Carl's cancellation fee.

The company sent Contact 6 the following statement:

"At Hawx, we’re dedicated to protecting health and property from harmful pests  while providing the highest levels of customer service. We use industry leading
techniques to help us identify and control these harmful pests while minimizing our  footprint on the environment."

"Every service we offer comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee where our  customers can request a free re-service, as many times as they want, and we’ll  return to re-service their property absolutely free of charge. Every property is  different so we can’t promise that the pests won’t come back but we do promise that  we will come back, with no additional charge, as many times as it takes to resolve an  issue."

"We strive for clarity in all our communications. We have many tools available to all  our customers to help us communicate including an online portal where every  customer can update their contact/billing information, schedule upcoming  appointments, view past appointments, view service tickets, and request free reservices. For customer convenience, we also communicate through text messaging,  email, and phone."

"Our team consistently receives great feedback from our customers. We’re grateful to  our customers for their support and we credit them for our consistent growth. We  look forward to exceeding their highest expectations and we’re dedicated to making  it right if we ever have a misstep."

"We often market our services through independent sales agents that communicate  our program to potential customers. Being family owned, we want to make sure every customer gets 5-star treatment through honest communication from our team  and great results from our services. If anyone has had a negative experience, please  reach out and we’ll address each one. We can be reached at (262) 289-3767, Milwaukee@hawxservices.com."

Jim Temmer of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau advised caution in any business transaction you don't initiate.

"Before you sign the contract, do your homework," said Temmer. "Don't do it afterwards. Ask them for a written contract. Get their contact information. Say you'll think about it for a few days, and you'll get back to em. If they're legitimate, they'll have no problem with that whatsoever."

The BBB received 330 complaints against Hawx in three years, but said the company has been responsive. Wisconsin Consumer Protection has nine complaints about the company.

It's important to remember that in Wisconsin, you have a three-day right to cancel any purchased you make from a door-to-door salesman.  The three-day right to cancel also applies to sales made by phone or email, in a hotel room, or at fairs or trade shows -- if the purchase is more than $25. The customer can file a notice to cancel in person or by mail.