Thursday, 1 November 2007

Gnawing doubts: JML Pest Shield

Recently British TV has featured ads for a product called the JML Pest Shield, a plug-in device which purportedly "creates a digital forcefield that helps drive away rats, mice and cockroaches from your home". The advert is here at tellyads.com.
      There was another version of the ad - gone now, see below - at JML's own sales page for Pest Shield, which expanded the claim, saying thay it "transforms the wiring in your home into a giant digital pest repellent. This digital pulsing forcefield drives away mice, rats and crawling insects from your home by interfering with their nervous system". Interestingly, its online press release (PDF) has an entirely different explanation for the mode of operation, saying "It irritates them by emitting a sound that fluctuates from high to low frequency. This change in sound irritates insects and ruffles rodents". So which is it? You'd think at least they could agree on a consistent story. Also interestingly, "because the Pest Shield attacks the rodent-based nervous system, it's important you don't use it around hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, tarantulas or chinchillas".
      Such devices are widespread, but it doesn't take much research to find that there is little or no evidence for their effectiveness. Electronic Rodent Repellent Devices: A Review of Efficacy Test Protocols and Regulatory Actions looks at the history of such claims, particularly a fad in the 1970s for devices "advertized as capable of generating their own magnetic fields or distorting the earth's magnetic fields in such a manner that animal pest species (but not beneficial species) stopped eating, drinking, and reproducing". Thes devices were marketed without efficacy data, because there wasn't any. For instance, Commensal rodents from the Utah State University wildlife management series concludes: "many devices which produce electromagnetic fields have been marketed as an effective rodent repellent. Again, however, scientific evidence clearly shows that these devices are not useful in repelling rats or mice".
      A recent article, People And Rodent Pests in PCT Online, a rodent control trade magazine, likewise concludes "Ultrasonic and electromagnetic rodent repellent devices are available on the consumer market but good data supporting their effectiveness is lacking. Controlled studies with commensal rodents have been generally negative". In the USA, at least one manufacturer has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission - see FTC Swats Lentek's Claims - as making false and unsubstantiated claims for electromagnetic pest repellent devices, And in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission obtained a punitive undertaking, including customers' right to refund, after judging that a direct marketing firm, Danoz, had made misleading claims of efficacy for devices of this type. See the undertaking register for Danoz Direct Pty Ltd - now that is consumer legislation with the teeth the ASA here ought to have.
      In short, even if you hadn't guessed from the pseudoscientific description that the makers aren't even consistent about (and thinking a tarantula is a rodent isn't a good sign either) in my opinion Pest Shield is almost certainly a total crock. I've shopped it to the ASA, but unfortunately a quick Google on electromagnetic pest repeller shows it's far from alone.

Addendum, Nov 6th: I just had a letter from the ASA saying they're already investigating this issue, and have added my comments to the portfolio.

Addendum, Nov 29th 2007: the ASA has just published its adjudication on the JML TV ad for Pest Shield - see JML Direct Ltd t/a Shop Now TV, 28th Nov - upholding all complaints on grounds of Evidence (efficacy being unproven) and being misleading, as well as falsely denigrating other products. Although this ruling has no jurisdiction over video ads published on their own website, I notice that Pest Shield has been removed from the JML Direct shopping site.

Addendum: I'm sorry; I don't normally redact comments, but I'm nervous about the legality of hosting anecdotes that might be read as allegations of criminal negligence. So no stories of e.g. how a Pest Shield exploded and took out half of a city block. If something like this did happen to you, best move is to take it up with your Local Trading Standards people, who handle product safety issues.

20 comments:

JackPT said...

Great post. I found pretty much the same when researching ways to rid myself of turbulent squirrels. FYI the link to the review is broken, it's been appended to the URL of this site.

Poor Pothecary said...

Oops. Link repaired.

Anonymous said...

Heck, I know tarantulas are big bastards but when did they get reclassified as rodents?

Note: if it keeps smaller spiders out, I'm getting one!

arachnophobe.

Poor Pothecary said...

The ASA have adjudicated. It's currently embargoed, but watch the ASA website on 28th November.

jdc324 said...

Nice work, Ray.

Poor Pothecary said...

Thx. I can't take full credit; I filled in some detail on an ad that was already being investigated.

martintnknight said...

I have used 5 JML Pest Shields in our house in France with great effect. All previous electomagnetic pest controllers have proved useless to date. I appreciate that this is not a controlled efficacy study but the result has been spectacular. I suggest that Poor Pothecary should carry out efficacy studies before they decry products on pseudo-scientific grounds or is this why they coin the term "poor" pothecary to describe their activities. I have no links to JML but feel that I should express my personal opinion and experience. I doubt that Poor Pothecary will publish this blog Martin Knight MD FRCS MBBS

Poor Pothecary said...

If it's not a controlled efficacy study, it doesn't mean much. Mouse infestations are highly episodic anyway (relating to food supply, breeding cycle, and predator-prey relations) so sticking up a sign saying "go away mice" would probably work just as well.

I suggest that Poor Pothecary should carry out efficacy studies before they decry products on pseudo-scientific grounds

No-one can study everything personally. But the negative results of other efficacy studies and a series of consumer organisation judgments ought to be good enough.

I doubt that Poor Pothecary will publish this

Well, you're wrong.

JayEatWorld said...

There was a TV screen showing their ad next to a rack full of these devices at the mall. It sounded interesting so I grabbed me a unit. I've read multiple posts saying different results. I plugged mine at home but I'm not sure if it's working or not. I've only been running it for a couple of hours.

I'll get back with you guys in a couple of days.

Anonymous said...

My Experience.

I bought a Pest Shield on recommendation and was sceptical. I had asked various suppliers for lab tests before buying but none were able to supply a report.

I'm not sure exactly what it did but within days, we started find a lot of ultra-large (up to 100mm) house spiders around the house. Once we removed these we've hardly seen a spider since.

We did get an infestation of mice in another part of the house and the PestShield was moved to the room where the mouse droppings were found. Even with the PestShield in place the evidence of mice continued. Conventional traps were placed and over the following week there was a catch every day. I have a MP4 video of the PestShield in action and a mouse in each of a couple of traps.

Then perhaps my unit developed a fault, or perhaps the PestShield encourages mice to throw themselves onto traps!

bumbag said...

On the box I found nothing that really said how it was meant to work, or why it just hurts pests and not people.
How do they know it isn't going to affect my nervous system?
Do they actually test these things on human nervous system?

Poor Pothecary said...

No idea - or how it's supposed to target only rodents (and tarantulas). If it zapped their nervous systems, why not other animals of similar size like small pet birds and reptiles?

Anonymous said...

Its conceivable, if the technology comes from the mobile phone industry as they say, that the rodent unfriendly effect is what they found when researching their products by zapping rats.
I suppose.

Poor Pothecary said...

Yeah, wish they could find some technology to zap the brainless rats that bellow into mobile phones on the bus and train.

Anonymous said...

Some would say they already are.

rij_racer said...

Hi, interesting comments. Does make me doubt the pest shield but it did seem to work at my parents home in getting rid of the ants that were taking over my home. We were really impressed with the result. I've recently aquired a pair of these shield things from ebay becuase we have a problem with creepy crawlies in my student flat. Will keep u posted on results and will let you know if it attacks my nervous system.

kat said...

I PURCHASED A JML PEST SHIELD IN NOVEMBER LAST YEAR, AND IT SEEMED TO WORK. HOWEVER, THIS WEEK, I FOUND MOUSE DROPPINGS UNDER THE SINK!?! THE BOX AND INSTRUCTIONS HAVE BEEN THROWN AWAY, SO I TRIED TO GET SOME INFO' FROM THE JML DIRECT WEBSITE (WHERE WE ORDERED AND PURCHASED THE PEST SHIELD). I NOTICE THEY DON'T HAVE THIS PARTICULAR ITEM ON THIER SITE ANYMORE, BUT DO HAVE ANOTHER BRAND OF THE SAME ITEM (SCREW FIX I BELIEVE)? I WANTED TO FIND THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT CAME WITH THE PEST SHIELD, AND OF COURSE, IM' HAVING NO SUCH LUCK!!! I KNOW THE PEST SHIELD IS'NT WORKING AT THE MOMENT, SO IVE' HAD TO RESORT TO MY OLD HUMANE TRAPS AGAIN (ANIMAL LOVER). HOWEVER I DID FIND THAT VALUELAND STILL HAVE THIS PARTICULAR PRODUCT ON THIER SITE, WITH PICTURE AND 'OUT OF STOCK' ATTACHED? IF JML ARE NOT SELLING THIER PRODUCT ANYMORE, IS IT JUST DOWN TO AN OVERSITE ON THE PART OF VALUELAND? JUST THOUGHT I WOULD ASK, AND WONDERED IF ANYONE COULD FILL ME IN ON THE INSTRUCTIONS RE- THE FLASHING RED AND GREEN LIGHTS ON THE PRODUCT I PURCHASED, SO I CAN WORK OUT IF IT'S FAULTY BEFORE I SEND IT BACK FOR A REFUND (IF THEY'L REFUND WITHOUT THE BOX THAT IS)..'TEE...HEEE' AND CHEERS FOR THE RESEARCH, IT HELPS TO KNOW YOU'R INFORMATION.

P.S. IF THESE DIGITAL PEST REPELLENTS DO WORK, THE OTHER QUESTION I HAVE IS. WOULD'NT THEY AFFECT THE NIEGHBOURS PET HAMSTERS,SPIDERS AND SO ON? IF YOU SHARE AN AJOINING WALL WITH NEXT DOOR, AND THE PEST SHIELD 'DID WHAT IT SAID ON THE TIN', THEN ANY RODENTS NEXT DOOR WOULD BE AFFECTED IF KEPT IN THE AJOINING ROOM TO THE PLACE YOU PLUG THE PRODUCT IN...WOULD'NT THEY??? IM' CONFUSED AND CONCERNED NOW!?!

mgco said...

i was almost convinced to purchasing this thing today, good thing i visited your site for more info... keep it up!

-- http://mgco.tumblr.com

Joy said...

I bought 2 pcs of those JML Pest Shield a week ago and used it. I went back to see the salesman who convinced me to buy it coz mouse droppings still kept on multiplying up to this day. The salesman said I have to wait for a month to see its efficacy. But I'm beginning to have doubts to what he just said because to my horror, I found out that I have now 2 big rats residing in my house! They were not there before I bought those 2 JML Pest Shields! I'm now planning to return the 2 units and refund back my money!

mastersofponzi said...

joy and I have the same experience. I bought the product and install it for a week but the rats and mice are still visible. In fact they just passed by the unit. As if it is not there. So I was trying to return it but the supervisor told me that it will not work that fast. It should be a month. But I having doubts with the product since they don't even have an actual video that the mouse look agitated beside that pest shield. Its over a month now and still big rats is coming out of the house. I'm check the net for other forums and blogs to show the supervisor that this thing doesn't work and I want my money back.