Automatic Renewal Exterminator Contracts
Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Cole Home Maintenance is an exterminator Located
in Palatine and serving towns in
Lake County, Cook County, Mc
Henry County, Du Page County, Kane County
$60.00 to spray up to a 2 bedroom apt for bed bugs
ARE YOU STUCK IN A 1-YEAR CONTRACT WITH AN
RENEWED THE CONTRACT FOR ANOTHER YEAR?
Did you call after your first 1-year contract was completed -- only
to find out that your exterminator refused to stop the contract and
claimed he "AUTOMATICALLY RENEWED" the original contract
and you now have to pay for another year?
HELP IS ON THE WAY The law in Illinois put restrictions on companies
who automatically renew contracts. If the
exterminator did not follow the provisions of the law -
that contract may not be enforceable and you can cancel the contract
after you complete the initial 1 year contract you signed. The
following highlights the law to protect you. Many apartment
building owners thought they only signed up for a 1-year contract
and find that in the "fine, small-print" there is a clause that the
exterminator put in the first contract that you can never cancel his
contract because he automatically renewed the contract when your
one-year was completed.
Most people think they are only signing a 1-year contract.
When they become unhappy or simply want to hire another company,
they wait until the year is up and think that is the end of dealing
with that exterminator. WRONG! Look at that
contract and you will probably find somewhere in it -- some words
saying that the exterminator has the right to automatically renew
the original contract for another year. That's another
year of paying money to an exterminator that you no longer want.
The following highlights the Illinois law that is written to protect
you. Many apartment building owners thought they only signed
up for a 1-year contract and find that in the "fine, small-print"
there is a clause that the exterminator put in the first contract
that you can never cancel his contract unless you take certain
actions to cancel. The definition of "conspicuous" means that when a
contract is written that a reasonable person against whom it is to
be operated ought to have noticed it. That part of the
contract has to be in a different color, larger printing or done in
such a way that you cannot miss seeing it.
Did your Exterminating
Company follow the law?
If not -- his automatic
renewal may not be valid.
If your exterminator company (or any other service company providing
a service on at least a 1-year contract) must follow the Illinois
law in order to enforce that "automatic renewal"
clause". If your 1-year contract is completed, and you
want to cancel, you may be told that the exterminator refuses
to cancel - that you signed the original contract with an "automatic
renewal" -- and that there is nothing you can do about it
until the next 12-months are completed.
WRONG. There may be help for
you. If the following rules in Illinois law don't
help you -- talk to the other apartment owners and you may all have
to join together to hire an attorney to get out of that
The complete text of the law is at the end of this article.
Here are the highlights that may help you:
1. Section 10 Automatic
Renewal: the law dated February 26, 1999
provided in Section 10 that the "clause provide for automatic
renewal must appear in AT LEAST 14 POINT BOLD TYPE.
(The letters would be about 1/4 inch high). The latest
law does not specifically define the "type size" anymore, but does
say the company who issued the contract "SHALL
DISCLOSE THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL CLAUSE CLEARLY AND CONSPICUOUSLY
IN THE CONTRACT, INCLUDING THE CANCELLATION PROCEDURE
2. Section 10 also states that your exterminator MUST
"NOTIFY THE CONSUMER IN WRITING OF
THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL. WRITTEN NOTICE SHALL BE
PROVIDED TO THE CONSUMER NO LESS THAN 30 DAYS AND NO MORE THAN
60 DAYS BEFORE THE CANCELLATION DEADLINE PURSUANT TO THE
AUTOMATIC RENEWAL CLAUSE..."
3. Section 15 states: "A VIOLATION OF THIS ACT CONSTITUTES AN
UNLAWFUL PRACTICE UNDER THE CONSUMER FRAUD AND DECEPTIVE
BUSINESS PRACTICES ACT".
4. Section 10 (c) (iii) states: "WHERE AN ERROR HAS CAUSED A FAILURE TO
COMPLY WITH THIS ACT, IT PROVIDES A FULL REFUND OR CREDIT FOR ALL AMOUNTS BILLED TO OR
PAID BY THE CONSUMER FROM THE DATE OF THE RENEWAL UNTIL
THE DATE OF THE TERMINATION OF THE ACCOUNT, OR THE DATE OF THE
SUBSEQUENT NOTICE OF RENEWAL, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST".
DID NOT RECEIVE A WRITTEN NOTICE THAT YOUR EXTERMINATOR WAS
AUTOMATICALLY RENEWING YOUR CONTRACT -- AND YOU DID NOT
RECEIVE THAT NOTICE -- YOUR "AUTOMATIC RENEWAL" MAY BE VOID.
Contact a lawyer for legal advise as to what action you can take to
stop being billed for another year. If you did
not receive that notice, the exterminator did not comply with the
law. Did that exterminator send you a "registered
letter" to prove he sent you the notice. If not, the
exterminator can claim he sent it but that doesn't guarantee you
received it. Don't be afraid of how much lawyers
charge. It will probably be as simple as having the lawyer
write a letter to have the automatic renewal voided.
Here is how the "automatic renewal clause" works:
The "Evergreen Clause" is a statement within a contract that says
something to the effect of "this agreement shall automatically
renew for another one (1) year term, unless either party
provides notice to the other of its intent to terminate this s
agreement not less than thirty (30 ) days before the end of the then
The clause in the original contract allows the company to continue
charging you for an additional period of time AFTER THE
INITIAL CONTRACT IS COMPLETED. That's why they
call the clause an "evergreen clause" - the company can keep
extending the original contract forever unless you meet some small
window in time to cancel their services.
The wording of the clause that your particular exterminator uses may
be slightly different than the above example but it will all have
words that allow them to keep their contract valid and going forever
unless you take the proper action to get that contract
cancelled. They can create this narrow window to
say you must cancel sometime before the original contract time ends
or provide you with a very small window of time -- say 30 days
before the contract ends. If you don't do that -- you will pay
for another contract -- just as if you had agreed to extend the
Most people simply assume they signed for a 1-year contract and now
that one years is over and they are done with that company.
Surprise! You call the company and tell them to
stop billing you and that you don't want their services
anymore. The exterminator company tells you that you signed an
agreement that allows them to continue billing for another contract
and you owe them money. They may tell you that you cannot
stop them. They may tell you that they will
ruin your credit or put a lien on
your building if you do not continue to pay them.
They scare the average person into believing they must continue
paying them for another year.!!
If they did tell you that they are going to automatically renew your
contract they may use phoney reasons to get you to sign. They
may say it is to "lock in your price". The problem is that
there is probably another clause in the contract that says the
exterminator can raise his prices in the future. It also will
be in small - fine print.
NEVER SIGN A CONTRACT THAT CONTAINS AN "EVERGREEN
CLAUSE" . If you want that company's services,
simply ask that the "automatic renewal clause" be removed from the
contract. Simply draw a line with a pen through the sentences
and initial next to the change. Request a change to the
contract. Honest businessmen will allow you to do this.
If your exterminator refuses -- you have a problem company.
To Do If You Already Signed a Contract With an Automatic
Look at the original contract. Look for the words "sometime
before" or "sometime within".
Every contract MUST have some wording to allow you to cancel the
contract or it is not valid.
before" statement -- this means that you can
cancel your contract (after you have completed the original time
agreed upon,. It may have a statement that limits your
ability to terminate to "not less than thirty (30) days BEFORE
the end of the current contract"
If your original contract says "sometime before" - then simply
send a registered letter to the company that says that at the end of
the original contract -- you are cancelling. Keep a copy of
the original letter. Keep a copy of the post office's "return
receipt" green card to prove you sent them the letter.
That can be done at any time during the original contract -- even
the next day after signing.
within" statement -- this means that your contract will
automatically renew for another year unless you cancel the
contract "WITHIN" a certain time-frame. This
time frame is usually WITHIN thirty (30) days before the
original contract ends.
If your original contract says "within thirty (30) days before the end of your contract"
-- you have to mark your calender to send that letter within that
time-frame. Most of these companies use the
"within statement" hoping that you will forget to cancel and they
can simply continue to bill you for another year of services.
They do this so that you are their "cash-cow" having to keep paying
them money even though you no longer want their service.
That's why a lot of the major exterminators won't spray your
apartment building or business unless you sign a
contract. The company knows you probably don't
understand what that one sentence means and it becomes built
in money every month for them.
An attorney can read the original contract and see if the
exterminator faithfully completed his job every month.
If not - the exterminator is not fulfilling his contract with you.
- Did he actually spray every apartment unit in
OR did he do what
most exterminators do --
if the person renting the apartment is not home -- he simply
skips that apartment and you get billed as if he sprayed the
apartment. Now you are paying for work that was not
performed. An attorney may look at that as fraud.
the exterminator spray kitchen cabinets that contained food or
dishes? -- that is against the
law to spray pesticides on food or dishes. If you tenants
did not have prior notice to clean all those items from the
cabinets -- then one of two things happened -- the
exterminator sprayed the food and dishes or he simply ignored
those cabinets and did not completely spray your apartment
unit.. If your apartment cabinets are not sprayed --
you will never get rid of the cockroaches in your
building. An attorney may look at that as not
completing the job for which you are paying.
Illinois Health Department will not allow exterminators to
spray food and will force the exterminator to
clean all the dishes and may even have to replace the food
which is now contaminated. If your
exterminator sprayed the kitchen cabinets while there was food
or dishes inside them -- this is serious. Your tenants
could become ill eating food with pesticides on them. All
you have to do is CALL
THE PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT (217-782-3987)
for help. The supervisor's name
is Curt Colwell. They will force
the exterminator to clean up his mess.
the person physically spraying your building have a PESTICIDE
LICENSE? There is a loop-hole
in the Illinois law that allows exterminators to hire
people off the street without a license to
physically spray your building. The Illinois law
only states that one person who actually has a license must
"supervise" the person who is actually doing the spraying.
Most large exterminators consider giving the "hired-help" a
phone number for the licensed exterminator to call -- qualifies
as "supervising". Check with an attorney to see if they
specified your building will be sprayed by an
"exterminator". The hired help are not exterminators.
to see the LICENSE of the person spraying your building.
Every licensed exterminator MUST carry that license
on their person. If your exterminator company sent
someone to your building who does not have a license -- demand
that the exterminator company send only LICENSED EXTERMINATORS -- not
hired help. The exterminator company is required to sign
a form stating who sprayed your building. Ask for the
name of the person who physically sprayed. Look
over your original contract. Does it say that an
exterminator will do the spraying. Unlicensed
people cannot call themselves exterminators. If you
immediately call the exterminator company and the Licensed
Exterminator is not available -- he is not "supervising" his
hired-off-the-street-help. Call the Illinois Public
Health Department if the person spraying your building does not
have a license on his person.
COULD BE LIABLE AND BE SUED IF YOUR TENANTS GET ILL
- if the person physically spraying your building does
not have a valid license. Sure the person back in
the office may have a license -- but he was not the person who
applied the pesticide. Consult an attorney as to
your liability if the person doing the spraying did not have a
valid license on his person.
the exterminating company that you want to be present during
spraying. Check for a license. Check
to see if they sprayed each apartment. If some of your
tenants are not home -- get another date for when they
will be back to complete the job. Don't pay for
spraying an apartment that did not get sprayed. Ask your
tenants if the exterminator sprayed their apartment.
a tenant claims they were not home and were not sprayed
-- Call the exterminating company. Demand to have
them check their records to see if they claimed all the
apartments were sprayed. Tell them which
tenants were not sprayed. Ask for a copy of the paperwork
that they claimed the apartment was sprayed. Tell the
exterminator that you tenant claims he was not sprayed.
You can contact the Health Department and complain
that the exterminator made a written claim in his records that
all apartments were sprayed when they were not. The
Health Department will send out an investigator - who will
verify with your tenants that they were not
sprayed. The Public
Health Department at 217-782-3987 - Supervisor's name is
Curt Colwell will then contact the exterminator
company and demand their records.
THE ILLINOIS LAW
(815 ILCS 601/) AUTOMATIC CONTRACT
(815 ILCS 601/1)
Sec. 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
Automatic Contract Renewal Act
(source: P.A. 91-674, eff. 6-1-00)
(815 ILCS 601/5)
Sec. 5. Definition. In this Act:
means a written agreement between 2 or more parties.
include individuals and other legal entities, but do not include the
federal government, this State or another state, a unit of local
government, or a school district.
(Source: P.A. 91-674, eff. 6-1-00)
(815 ILCS 601/10)
Sec. 10. Automatic renewal; requirements
(a) Any person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation
that sells or offers to sell any products or services to a consumer
pursuant to the contract, where such contract automatically renews
unless the consumer cancels the contract, shall disclose the automatic renewal clause
clearly and conspicuously in the contract, including the
(b) Any person, firm, partnership, association or corporation
that sells or offers to sell any products or services to a consumer
pursuant to a contract, where such contract term is a
specified term of 12 months or more, and where such contract
automatically renews for a specified term of more than one
month unless the consumer cancels the contract, shall notify the consumer in
writing of the automatic renewal. Written notice shall be provided to the consumer
not less than 30 days and no more than 60 days before
the cancellation deadline pursuant to the automatic renewal clause.
Such written notice shall disclose clearly and
(i) that unless the consumer
cancels the contract it will automatically renew; and
(ii) where the consumer can obtain details of
automatic renewal provision and cancellation procedure (for
example, by contacting the business at a specified telephone
number or address or by referring to the contract).
(c) A person, firm, partnership, association, or
corporation will not be liable for a violation of this Act or the
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act if such person, firm, partnership,
association, or corporation demonstrates, that as part of its
routine business practice:
(i) it has established and
implemented written procedures to comply with this Act and enforces compliance with the procedures:
(ii) any failure to comply with this Act is the result of
(iii) where an error has caused a failure to comply with
this Act, it PROVIDES A FULL
REFUND OR CREDIT for all amounts billed to or
paid by the consumer from the date of the renewal
until the date of the termination of the account, or the
date of the subsequent notice of renewal, whichever occurs
(Source: P.A. 93-950, eff. 1-1-05).
(815 ILCS 601/15)
Sec. 15 Violation. A violation of this Act constitutes
an unlawful practice under the Consumer fraud and Deceptive Business
(Source: P.A. 93-950, eff. 1-1-05.)
(815 ILCS 601/20)
Sec. 20 Applicability.
(a) This Act does not apply to a contract entered into before
the effective date of this Act.
(b) This amendatory act of the 93rd General Assembly does not
apply to a contract entered into before the effective date of this
amendatory Act of the 93rd General Assembly.
(c) This Act does not apply to business-to-business contracts.
(d) This Act does not apply to banks, trust companies,
savings and loan associations, savings banks, or credit unions
licensed or organized under the laws of any state or the United
States, or any foreign bank maintaining a branch or agency
licensed or organized under the laws of any state of the
United States, or any subsidiary or affiliate thereof.
(e) This Act does not apply to a contract that is extended
beyond the original term of the contract as the result
of the consumer's initiation of a change in the original
(Source: P.A. 93-950, eff. 1-1-05).