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Friday, June 11, 2010

The View From Here

I'm starting somewhere other than the beginning, well, because I never thought I'd be sharing my story so the journey is already under way.

It's pool season and I have a pool. I didn't want the pool and frankly, when I first saw this house listed for sale I caught sight of said pool in the backyard and immediately thought "Money Pit". Long story short? I bought the house End of October 2009, the pool hadn't been opened in at least two years. I had it written into the sale agreement that the previous owner would guarantee the full working order of the pool and all it's parts/accessories. Why? No one would come to inspect and verify the condition of an unopened pool. The owners swore all was well, I was in a time crunch, my daughter LOVED the idea of a pool and so, it was a done deal.

End of April 2010 rolled around and I called a company, who shall presently remain nameless, to come out and open the pool as well as give me a written report of everything that they might find to be wrong with it. They agreed. The day before they arrived I removed the old winter cover (with the help of a friend) that was ripped on three sides, rolled it up and tied it into a bundle to be disposed of later. I also removed the rotted solar blanket off the roller. It came off mostly in big chunks and left little blue bits of plastic in the pool and everywhere else. It too got bundled up for later disposal. I was on a mission to save a bit of money since the company said they'd charge extra to remove a winter cover that was in bad shape. In that vein I also spent an hour skimming the layer of leaves off the top of the pool and attempting to scoop some of the crud off the bottom. I did not yet know that I was working with the wrong equipment. A skimmer is not a leaf rake and I made no progress except to find that there was somewhere around half a foot of debris at the bottom of the pool. I gave up and decided the pool company would just have to do that part and extra cost be damned. At this point the pool was a dark green-ish brown, almost black, and visibility was about half an inch. Thankfully it was still too cold outside to smell yet.

The nameless pool company arrived on day one, two men and a very nice van. I offered them coffee and muffins (being polite never hurts, right?). They started pulling the various bits and pieces out of my sheds and scooping the contents of the bottom of the pool into green garbage bags. After a few hours they knocked on the door to say that they were done for the day. They couldn't reach the bottom of the deep end to scoop it (alarm bell rings) and a technician would arrive the next day to continue the job. They also said that they had taken very detailed notes and that the manager was very thorough and would be emailing me the results of their findings as soon as possible. That sounded good.

Next day a technician does arrive. He let himself into the backyard somewhere around 7:00am and got straight to work. I stumbled down in my PJ's at 7:30am and offered him coffee and fired off questions. Among other things, he had hooked up his vacuum and tied it to my pool ladder and said when he left he'd switch to my vacuum and give me further instruction. A few hours later he said he was leaving and that someone would be out again on Monday (it was currently Saturday) and if not Monday then for sure on Tuesday. He hadn't hooked my vacuum to the ladder (it was lying on the lawn along with all it's various hoses) and just said that I should leave the pump running as it was for the rest of the weekend and whoever came next week would deal with it from there. I asked if I wouldn't need to backwash between now and then. He said no, it would be OK until the next person arrived and I could just leave it alone. He also gave me a Work Order with a long list of chemicals that he had added to the pool along with an instruction sheet telling me to add 17kg of calcium to the pool once the water temperature reached 70 degrees. That was going to take a while since the pool has no heater.

I was excited to be making progress, the pool seemed to be OK other than being old and having the liner off the track in at least six places. I think by Sunday the pool had started producing an impressive brown foam. But there was at least six inches of visibility in the pool and I figured that when whoever arrived on Monday they could deal with the foam.

Monday came, no pool people arrived. Tuesday came, no pool people arrived. I stupidly waited until the end of the week before calling the company to see what was going on. I talked, I asked questions and I got silence on the other end of the phone. It was uncomfortable. The end result was that if I agreed that they could just let themselves into the backyard, they'd send someone around to my house (no time frame given). That seemed OK, after all as long as it got done I was willing to forget about the bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. By this point however I'd realized something important. I was having to fill the pool with the garden hose for a hour and a half each morning just to maintain the water level. That couldn't be good, even a pool newbie like me could figure that one out. I thought I'd just tell the pool people about it when they arrived. Another week went by, no pool people. I'm starting to stress about the size of my next water bill and the fact that whatever chemicals they've dumped in my pool are now becoming redundant since nothing else is being done. The foam is gone by now and visibility is slowly decreasing. I decide to shut the system down and stop filling the water. I also called the pool company again and this time complained about all the conflicting information and this made them not so happy. What conflicting information exactly? They wanted to know. I explained about not being able to reach the bottom of the deep end, no one coming back repeatedly, how I was supposed to have received an email with all their findings, how the pool chemicals are useless now since it's just been sitting there. No answer, right back to silence on the other end of the phone. I also mention that there must be a leak somewhere since the pool is losing so much water. They say they can send someone out to test the lines, but it will cost me somewhere in the region of $130.00 (I can't really remember). Fine, I'm still hanging on to the last desperate threads of hope that this can somehow be resolved in a positive way, I make an appointment for the test to be done.

At this point I've mentioned my woes to members of my walking group. One of them is a lawyer. She says to stop calling the company, cancel the appointment via email and whatever happens, don't pay them. This feels wrong to me since they've done at least some work, right? Maybe the situation is at least partly my fault? She just looks at me like I'm crazy. I am crazy, I admit it. I don't like conflict. However, I'm not made of money. How many companies am I going to have to pay off before the pool is finally operating? I also tell the story to my family. My mother wants to know if someone needs to hit me over the head with something so I will realize that this pool company is never going to fix things? Yes, they probably do.

I email the company telling them I'm not happy with their service and I'm canceling all further work and will hire another company to complete the job. I also put a hold on the credit card they took to have on file, preventing any transactions coming through. Thankfully I have another credit card I can use in the meantime. I start researching other companies and finally put all the bits and pieces of pool equipment that have been left all over my backyard back into the sheds.

to be continued....

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