A renegade pool clerk

Darkside of the Pool

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 20, 2010
Okay, the story is quite long. While any may read it, I seek advice from ChemGeek and Waterbear. Their Posts proved they were experts and changed my point of view, drastically.

First of all, I am a Pool Store Clerk. Won't name the store, however, we are in the province of Québec in Canada. This means that most of my customers don't speak english and thus I cannot refer them here, nor Poolsolutions.com, nor Poolspaforum.com, etc.

Second of all, the Pool Store is owned by my very own father, and I know personally every other employees. Most Clerks like me are trained by our superiors, who are trained by the various companies we deal with. Recently, one of our two Customer Service Employees, who also was our Expert in the chemicals department, left the company (I think I figured out why, more on that later). As he left, he gave me a task. One of my father's associate asked a report on which of these Systems to adopt (if any): Saltwater Chlorine Generator (Which we already sold), Ultraviolet Sterilizers, Ozone Generators and Magic Chlorine Free Magical Devices.

So there I was researching the subject on those very sites who sold them: Gardia and Cryptosporidium protection... do what chlorine can't by itself... overall fear propaganda. I must admit at that time I was looking at Ozonators with a benevolent eye and laughing out loudly as I read 'bout EcoSmarte. Then I've found this site and those named above.

I was shocked. So many things we weren't doing right, or more exactly, we were doing slightly off. Believe me when I say that my recommendations changed A LOT. It went gradually, I hated using my customers' pools to try out techniques learned on the internet (as credible and scientificaly proven they may be), but somehow it had to be done. There was this one customer which pool turned green about two years ago. Tried any and everything, balanced her pH, alcalinity, different types of algaecides, of chlorine, phosphate removers (yeah, I know, useless), balanced every single parameters she had, nothing did it (as stores sold her for hundreds of dollars of stuff in good faith). Alas, public ignorance could not outdo the problem. So I took the opportunity. If BBB combined with Cyanuric Acid could bring back that Aboveground Swamp, it would be what I'd recommend from now on.

So I did every tests you guys recommend (although CH wasn't necessary), found nothing to balance but found out there was a presence of Cyanuric Acid in the water already (around 30-40 ppm) as she even tried in some pucks for a while. She already had at her disposal a nice big jug of liquid chlorine. Her test was oTo (which I was glad) So I told her her chlorine had to be strong enough to actually get a false reading (Red / Brown instead of yellow) around the clock, so to check the chlorine levels at least thrice a day. It took some time, as her Sand Filter must have been clogged with green/yellow algaes, but, after a week, it took care of it, leaving a trace of brown algae in the pool.

But now, I am stuck with another problem. Our Pool Store tries to keep a good reputation, that is probably why we do not and won't carry any other system than saltwater, however, I am stuck between ''telling the truth'' and the misinformation's income. Don't misunderstand me, I am all for the BBB / Cyanuric Acid method and try to talk out of Trichloro-s-whatever as a main chlorination method as often as I can (seems like Overstabilisation does cause quite a lot of those problems we were ''unable to solve''). I also mentions that our cheap chlorine (50 $Canadian for 16 kg of 65%) and HtH are Calcium Hypochlorites and that it raises Calcium Hardness. This can cause a white paste to build up over your sand and in your pipes and that when it'll go off this'll mean a milky pool. When they ask me what I recommend I talk about Liquid Chlorine and mention it is JUST LIKE BLEACH (Sodium Hypochlorite). Peoples buy it anyway, because they had to pick it up right now, because they don't want to go over to Wall Mart (which isn't THAT far), because they don't want to carry tons of Jugs as ours is more concentrated, but sadly I cannot talk them out of that without harming the company I work for, my standings within said company and thus my influence into changing said companie's behavior.

Needless to say, my recommendations were as follow (but in french):
''U.V. Sterilizers and Ozonators are wonderful for killing those chlorine resistant bacterias inside THEIR CELLS. When Cryptosporidium and Gardia taint a pool, yeah, chlorine won't kill it fast enough to prevent infection, but those two systems won't either. Before all the water of the pool goes into the cell once there will be AT LEAST a few hours, more than enough to infect everyone else in the pool. And that doesn't even make it safe. Guardia will have been Oxidized in the meantime anyways! This means (insert potential companies to deal with) are using fear and misinformation to sell. I doubt we want that kind of marketing here at (insert own companie here).''

Note that I haven't mentionned anything about spas however. A lower amount of water and a good circulation rate might make those systems efficient (but I doubt it), so without evidences I kept my mouth shut.

So now here I am, solving problems like a renegade pool clerk, giving this internet address to ANYONE who do speak english, summarizing it up for others. My wish was our company publicly councilled peoples to go to Poolsolutions.com, as I quote:
''But, if you do find someone who knows pools, and is not trying to load the Monsanto's entire 1998 chemical output into your trunk . . . well, then it's worth the extra bucks. Just keep in mind, what's worth money is not what's in the bucket, but what's in the dealer's head . . . and heart.''

[EDIT] Reason why the other guy would have left: Very very aggressive Pushing sales technique by Natural Chemistry. I don't know the details, but we felt the repercussions in the misinformation it spreaded ''As soon as there is a SWG in a spa, tests for Phosphates. By allowing algae to form, it drains the spa from chlorine generated, the Cell may be overworked and fail and blah, blah,blah... with my superiors all too eager to believe.) [EDIT/END]

Darkside of the Pool

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 20, 2010
Re: Tall tales essay contest

[RE-EDIT] My bad, thought this to be a tall tale, will move it if you require it as a new topic back where people usually introduce themselves. [EDIT/END]


TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
Silver Spring, MD
Welcome to TFP!

The methods we teach here are aimed at people who have an interest in taking control of their pool and are willing to spend a little time to figure out how to do that. The typical pool store customer simply wants a "magic chemical" which will solve everything if they simply dump it in the pool, and they don't want to think at all. So I don't expect that our methods will all work perfectly for the average pool store customer without some adjustments.

I definitely think that SWG systems are the way to go for outdoor residential pools. They are by far the most reliable low effort approach.

Don't under estimate the value of connivence. People will buy pool chemicals from you rather than the grocery store even if they are a little more expensive as long as they can get everything pool related that they might need at your store. Getting everything in one place is worth paying slightly more for most people.

Some other independent stores have found that they can make up for lower earning because of selling inexpensive chemicals by building up trust with their customers so that they come back to buy equipment upgrades from you. By building trust over several $100 transactions where you don't make that much money, they will come back and spend $6000 with you because they trust your advice.

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
San Rafael, CA USA
Welcome to TFP! :wave:

Thank you for educating your customers. Some pool stores supplement their business by also running a pool service. There will always be people who don't want to maintain their own pools. Our local pool store sells a lot of 12.5% chlorinating liquid for customers who maintain their own pools and also have fleets of trucks and personnel for servicing the pools that customers don't want to maintain themselves (they generally use Trichlor for that, but keep the CYA below 100 ppm through dilution and keep the FC at 4-5 ppm). Both sets of customers buy other equipment and items from the pool store, though they do quite well on the combination of chlorinating liquid and pool service since they are both of such high volume. There really isn't anything wrong with your recommending the chlorinating liquid from your store and noting that it is similar to bleach but more concentrated so less weight to carry -- the customers can compare pricing if they want to but you are offering a reasonable alternative. I buy the chlorinating liquid from my local pool store not just because it is reasonably priced and less to carry, but because they reuse the bottles which is even better than recycling.

As for Crypto and Giardia, as you point out they are not killed quickly by chlorine but it also takes times to get circulated to a UV or ozone system. Giardia will eventually get killed in hours in a pool with CYA, but Crypto won't. On the other hand, such problems are extremely rare in residential pools since you don't normally let someone in the pool with diarrhea. It's mostly commercial/public pools where such potential problems are more serious due to the much larger number of people who can become infected. Such pools are also heavier in bather load so need supplemental oxidation and that's where UV and ozone systems (or manually added non-chlorine shock, MPS) can help. Such systems are normally not needed for outdoor residential pools, though indoor pools could use UV to make up for not having exposure to sunlight.


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