8 on Your Money: Jumping Into Pool Projects Takes Homework

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JEFFERSON CITY - Investing in a pool this summer should not be taken lightly, according to the Missouri Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Bureau Vice President of Communications Chris Thetford said the organization has received more than 100 complaints from Missouri residents during the last three years about pool-related matters.

"This time of year, this is something people consider," Thetford said. "I cannot stress enough how important it is for consumers to do their homework when investing in a pool."

Thetford said this homework needs to be done in a variety of areas. He said consumers should pay attention to whether or not a company offers a warranty, what specifically is covered by the warranty, any possibly landscaping changes necessary for building a pool and whether the company hired will be using its own workers or subcontractors.

Rick Vaughan owns Vaughan Pools and Spas in Jefferson City. He said there have been several occasions when angry consumers hired him to resolve both minor and major issues with pools built by other companies.

"Whatever it was, people were either not happy with the product, or more times than not, it's the communication," Vaughan said. "It's getting the person back to do the work that they promised to do, and they haven't, or they thought there should be a different quality than what they got."

Thetford agreed. He said the biggest two complaints the BBB receives involving pools are companies not completing the pool within the agreed upon time period and companies not repairing problems with the pool promptly.

The BBB does note that a pool can be a great investment and add value to a house. Thetford said if consumers make sure they hire the right company, there is little need to worry. He said the best two ways to be sure about hiring a reputable company is by word of mouth or checking the BBB's website for a grade on the company in question.

"It's a grading system just like in a class, and 85 percent of it is consumer based," Thetford said. "So if a company has a C grade or below, it is worth looking into complaints filed against the company to see if you are comfortable hiring them."

It is important to note that businesses are not necessarily suspect if they are not accredited, and several pool companies in the mid-Missouri area have good grades without accreditation status. Thetford said this is because the application process to become accredited is completely voluntary, and some companies chose not to go through it.