Rob Cox December 28, 2016
I come from the pool service industry, and worked in the field for nearly 20 years. This post may ruffle a few feathers, but here goes...
Most pool service companies are honest and dependable, but like HVAC, Lawn Care, Appliance repair and other service companies around the home, there are a few bad apples.
Over the years, I've heard a few horror stories about pool service companies, in both residential pool service and commercial pool management. FYI...
When pool companies replace a pump, filter or heater, they often haul away the old equipment, 'to the dump'. After it's unloaded from the truck, often the usable parts in good condition, are stripped and put back on the truck. Nothing wrong with most used parts, as long as the customer approves using a used pool part, and is charged half-price, or an otherwise fair price. We often stripped and kept on hand obsolete parts that were no longer available, or hard to find, special order parts that we wouldn't normally carry on our service trucks, for convenience and availability - but would never substitute a used part (which costs us nothing) for new replacement pool parts.
This bit of tomfoolery is as old as the hills. When your pool is opened, closed or serviced, it will need chemicals. Most pool service or management companies will charge correctly, for only what's needed - but some may add unnecessary pool chemicals or inflate the actual amounts used. Or not even add anything at all - I've found chlorine floaters filled with sandwich bread, and I've heard of a guy that diluted his liquid chemicals, or filled bottles with colored water. These are extreme examples and I'm sure that 99% of pool guys and gals are not in this category of mischief, but just be aware and pay attention.
This one may ring familiar to many of you, who felt the sting of a $1500 filter, or a $900 pump install, and wondered if it could have been repaired for much less? Granted, there comes a time when some equipment must be replaced, but pumps, filters, cleaners, even heaters - can last for decades, with proper care and replacement parts. Eventually, older model equipment does become obsolete, and parts eventually become no longer available, however that is not usually the case. Check for pool parts online if you are being told that 'you just can't find parts for these anymore!'.
Sometimes pool service or pool management guys break your stuff, it happens. The DE filter fell over, the pool cleaner was dropped, the pool cover was ripped, I could go on... A policy of my service company was to always own up to our mistakes, and repair damage caused by our own carelessness. But some companies may damage your pool surfaces or pool equipment, unknowingly or on purpose, and then charge you for the repair. Keep in mind that plastics around a pool become weak eventually, and give way under very little pressure, so take a moment to analyze the damage, and give them the benefit of the doubt, before suggesting that they take partial or full responsibility.
Not a flim-flam or shenanigan, but sometimes pool service crews, moving at lightning speed around the backyard, may damage flower beds, gardens or lawns. Most pool water discharged will not kill plants or lawns, even with high levels of 'pool chemicals'. Erosion or flooding is a larger concern, especially during openings and closings. If you have a specific area to pump water to, be sure to let them know.
I want to state again, that most pool companies aren't involved in these practices, especially established businesses that have a solid track record. But as with any home service company, there are a few bad apples out there. Buyer Beware! :-)