Magazine article Management Today

MT the Sharp End: Exterminator for a Day

Magazine article Management Today

MT the Sharp End: Exterminator for a Day

Article excerpt

Rats, mice, cockroaches in the house? Rhymer Rigby scans the skirting boards.

I've always had a soft spot for Rentokil. In a world where organisations pour millions into mindless monikers (Centrica, Consignia, anyone?), this name is a rare piece of honesty. Rent to Kill. I mean, how else are you supposed to deal with vermin? With this in mind, I headed down to Fulham, south-west London, to meet Adam Obee, an area surveyor with the company, and find out how pests are killed.

Our first call was a flat shared by two women on an attractive square One of them had been to India recently and thought she'd brought back cockroaches. A quick inspection showed she probably had. To add to their woes, the duo also had carpet beetles and mice, whose droppings were highly evident around the skirting boards. Mice, Adam said, are pretty incontinent and will drop everywhere, whereas rats prefer a bit of privacy; he prescribed a range of treatments for the unwanted guests.

Next up, another flat: mice again. Rentokil insisted on anonymity for its clients, and I can see why. Despite being in one of London's better areas, it looked like it could do with a good clean. We set traps, small plastic boxes with a hole in either side, placed over mouse runs. Inside each was a block of lard, fatally laced with poison. The mouse runs through, stops for a bite - his last supper. Luckily, the fact that the bait is dyed a vibrant blue (to identify it as poisonous) doesn't put the mouse off.

Down in the cellar it was a bit Life of Grime, dirty and full of junk. There wasn't room to swing a cat - no wonder there were mice. The lady owner - bless her - seemed to think we could solve all her rodent problems in one visit. But the trouble with old houses is that no matter how many holes you block up, you'll always miss one. And the holes can be tiny. 'If you can get a pen through it, you can get a mouse through it,' said Adam.

He advised the client that the best thing she could do was clean out her cellar, which was not so much a mouse motel as a long-stay theme park. Her response suggested that, six months down the line, the cellar would still be full of junk, the mice would be back - and so would Rentokil. Still, it's repeat business.

Then came a job at the kind of pretty, million-pound mews house that Americans think all Londoners live in. …

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