I feel swindled

Jackiejkj

Member
Apr 12, 2020
15
Southern Louisiana
Please let me start this story with I fully believe in paying anyone fairly.
I have taken care of my own pool for a year. I follow TFP very well.
I have a very tight schedule this month. I hired a brand new pool comp to clean my filter for 85 dollars. I thought it’s a win. I won’t get a sunburn like I did last year. I also asked him to clean the calcium from rain off my gas towers. He used a sprayer and straight muriatic acid. He also cleaned two spots off my glass water line. I supplied the muriatic acid.
I got the bill last night. 355 dollars for 3 hours of total work.
I had a pool service at my old home and NEVER EVER had that kind of bill EVER.

I am literally shaking my head because one of the reasons I needed help was because I went back to work part time this year. I had to laugh. My job pays me 15 dollars an hour. And I just paid someone over 100 dollars an hour to save me time. And all it was was a sprayer!!!He spend most of his time cleaning the pool filter.
 
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Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
That is frustrating. Totally understand. What's worse is the pool industry has a lot of people over the ropes right now due to a shortage or parts, time, and price increases from COVID. Either way you look at it, they're going to use any excuse to get more money. It's sad. Hopefully that doesn't happen again. If you do have to request assistance in the future, perhaps try to get a quote in advance so there are no big surprises. You know we have lots of folks ready to help you with anything pool related .... for free. :)
 

Jackiejkj

Member
Apr 12, 2020
15
Southern Louisiana
Totally! I did the calcium myself last year..it took me so much longer than him. I did NOT use straight muriatic acid. Now that I saw the process—-yep swindled! LOL

TFP has taught me so well in regards the true effort that goes into pool care. It’s easy!
Looks like saving myself from a sunburn BURNED my wallet!
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,844
NY
The going rate for trades work before the pandemic hit was around $100- $150 an hour. It’s gone up since then in a lot of places and of course their are gougers out there taking further advantage of people.

Everybody balks at the estimates but they don’t realize that the electrician/plumber etc has to come out and see the job. They spec many jobs that they don’t get hired for. If they do get hired they have to go get the supplies (many times unique to your job and not stocked up on before hand) and return to do the job. They could easily be 2 hours invested before spending any time on the actual job. Then factor in business overhead / utilities/ employees/ vehicles / gas /insurance / etc /etc. most aren’t making the killing that you’d expect unless it’s a single person working out of their personal vehicle.

I’m COMPLETELY with you where you are coming from. Just trying to give you some insight. :)
 

m a hanson

Member
Apr 25, 2021
14
Central New York
Pool Size
10000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Please let me start this story with I fully believe in paying anyone fairly.
I have taken care of my own pool for a year. I follow TFP very well.
I have a very tight schedule this month. I hired a brand new pool comp to clean my filter for 85 dollars. I thought it’s a win. I won’t get a sunburn like I did last year. I also asked him to clean the calcium from rain off my gas towers. He used a sprayer and straight muriatic acid. He also cleaned two spots off my glass water line. I supplied the muriatic acid.
I got the bill last night. 355 dollars for 3 hours of total work.
I had a pool service at my old home and NEVER EVER had that kind of bill EVER.

I am literally shaking my head because one of the reasons I needed help was because I went back to work part time this year. I had to laugh. My job pays me 15 dollars an hour. And I just paid someone over 100 dollars an hour to save me time. And all it was was a sprayer!!!He spend most of his time cleaning the pool filter.
85 an hour perhaps, that comes to 255.00. OR (4.17 hours= 355.00 @ 85hr) Plus travel time? Maybe they didn't specify their rate very well. I had a lawnmower guy come out to fix my mower. He charged 75 and hour but that included his start from home to my home time. He didn't tell me that over the phone, just the 75 per hour rate, so I can see how you feel duped.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,954
I hired a brand new pool comp to clean my filter for 85 dollars.

I also asked him to clean the calcium from rain off my gas towers.
Did you agree to $85.00 to clean the filter and then say something like "Oh, by the way, while you're here, can you do some other work as well?"

Once you change the original scope of work, you cannot expect the original price to be accurate.

If you change the original scope of work, you have to ask how much the total price will be for the entire amount of work you are asking to be done.

When you don’t specify the exact amount of work and the exact price, both sides have to make assumptions and the assumptions will rarely match exactly.

You can’t just make assumptions and expect that the other side will make the same exact same assumptions.

When you begin to ask for general work that is of a custom nature, then you generally go to a per hour pricing model.

If they spent a legitimate 3 hours, then $300.00 is probably a reasonable price.

Did you ask how long the extra work was expected to take?

Did you ask the per hour rate?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,954
Did you ask them how much of the time was allocated to cleaning the filter and how much was allocated to everything else?

You could expect the filter cleaning to be the agreed price and the extra work to be per hour.

They should have specified the amount of time the extra work took and the per hour price.

In addition to the standard filter cleaning fee, you also need to specify the potential extras that might happen, their potential for occurring, and the cost if the issue occurs and whether to proceed or to get authorization if an issue is encountered.

For example, some of the internal parts might have been damaged.

Were there any problems with the cleaning of the filter that created extra work?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,954
A lot of people like to get a price to do something and then when the service shows up, the customer says something like “While you’re here, can you paint my house, feed my dog, cut the grass, take out the trash and wash my car? MK bye!” And, they are surprised when they get a higher bill than what they were expecting.

It’s incumbent on both sides to be crystal clear about what everyone’s expectations are. What will be done, how long it will take, what quality control will be done, and what things will cost.
 
Last edited:

mguzzy

Gold Supporter
This is a tough one.. I reread your post a few times. Are you sure the $85 bux was to cover 3 hours of work or just the original filter cleaning? If the filter cleaning was a flat rate, and the other items were tacked on after the fact at an hourly rate. Perhaps. And is this a regular pool company that you use or is this just a one off job you hired them for? Because I would not be surprised if a service company would charge more hourly for separate jobs that are not regular clients.

So from one perspective, yeah you were swindled. He took advantage of you probably because you didn't specify the scope of the work better, or get a better estimate for the extra things. I wouldn't expect the extra two hours would be done for the original estimate of $85. If the original job was just to clean the filters at $85 bux. I do onsite jobs for people occasionally and I try to be real specific what I am doing and what they are paying for. If it veers into unknown territory, they need to know. By the same token if I hire someone to do a job, I get an estimate, and I specify they will inform me if it goes beyond that estimate just like I inform my clients. I am not an open check book either.

So it sounds like you got the bill a few days after the work was performed and were surprise? I would ask them about it. Perhaps it was a clerical error. Or you really did negotiate $85 for three hours to do those tasks but the office person who does the billing just saw the hours spent on the job site and billed accordingly. Who knows. But first I would contact them and ask them if there is an error for the bill. If that is what they are demanding for the work and you think its not fair, its really not enough to fight over in small claims court, given the time it would take. . So live and learn.. I don't mean to be curt, but it seems that it would have been cheaper for you to spend 3 hrs doing those tasks @15/hr than the $85 you thought you were going to pay, and you would have had some money left over for a tube of sunscreen ;)
 

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Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,447
Bangor Maine
Happens all the time, employees cost money, vehicles and upkeep cost money.

The $85 I assume was a flat rate for the cartridge cleaning, very reasonable but once you asked for more service without a fixed price, all bets are off.
 

m a hanson

Member
Apr 25, 2021
14
Central New York
Pool Size
10000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
That is frustrating. Totally understand. What's worse is the pool industry has a lot of people over the ropes right now due to a shortage or parts, time, and price increases from COVID. Either way you look at it, they're going to use any excuse to get more money. It's sad. Hopefully that doesn't happen again. If you do have to request assistance in the future, perhaps try to get a quote in advance so there are no big surprises. You know we have lots of folks ready to help you with anything pool related .... for free. :)
I had a company come out to put in a new pool pump as mine had died a month after I moved in last fall, so I had it closed and the guy (Different person) that did it took my dead pump with the agreement that if he couldn't fix it, we'd have him install a new one at the time he came to open the pool. The original guy could not get out to me in the timeframe I needed when I was ready to open the pool. So I called around and picked the first pool company with an immediate availability. I sent them photos of my missing pool pump, I TOLD them I did not have the pump in my possession. Cue their visit, immediately the two techs get to work installing the pump...Then ...oh theres an issue, you are missing parts and we can't finish the install and if the original guy can't bring you back the missing parts, the new ones are on backorder. So we are at a standstill. But we'll open your pool for you anyway. ( 250.00) I was assured they had all the parts needed in their truck when I called to make the appt. and again mentioned that the pool pump was removed.

I contact the previous guy and he promises to bring them right out later that day, I send photos of the parts to the pool company to make sure I am not missing anything. I ask when they can come back out to finish the pump install. I get " I'll check". (Now this is a two man family owned company,) Sunday morning arrives, no contact from them. I give them a call, ask when the install can be finished, since I already paid for the service, Yeah I probably should have held back some money. Noob mistake. (I was prepared to stop payment if I needed to) so I finally get a call that he'll be there shortly. He gets here, parts are installed, pump is up and running, and then he's ready to leave, And I ask, what about testing the water, adding chemicals, isn't that part of pool Opening? So I didn't get anything else done, except a new pool pump, yay, happy to pay for that and 250.00 to remove and fold up my pool tarp.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,447
Bangor Maine
I’m willing to bet 95% of all companies do not include testing and the addition of chemicals Upon opening. First reason is The pool should be running for 24-48 hours so the tests are accurate, secondly they are focused on opening only. Any company that doesn’t have upwards of 300 pools to open will have a struggling service department. Time is money unfortunately.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,954
And I ask, what about testing the water, adding chemicals, isn't that part of pool Opening?
The main problem is that the pool company is not specifying what an "Opening" is.

They need to specify what will be done, what won't be done, what's included, what's extra etc.

Some customers think that an opening is a full pool renovation where the pool company is supposed to fix, repair or replace everything that is old or not working.

Some customers think that the pool company should clean 1,000 gallons of dirty water and debris from the cover and then clean a green swampy pool until it is crystal clear and perfect.

In any case, the problem happens because the pool company is not specific about these things.

Here is what we do.
Here is what we do not do.
Here is what we expect when we arrive.
Here is what we do when it is not what we expect.
Here is what is included.
Here is what is not included.
Here is what is extra and the price.
Here is what we do when we find X,Y or Z.
Here are the known potential problems that can occur and here are the options for how we can respond.

In my opinion, every company needs to create an extensive document that explains everything in as much detail as possible.

Put this online and have the customer acknowledge the agreement.

This helps eliminate any need for anyone to assume anything.

In my opinion, it's really stupid if the company and the customer are debating these types of things after the work is completed.

The company can put in every conceivable thing that they can think of.

This way, everyone is on the same page and there should be no disagreements.

It's idiotic if the customer has to ask if something is included after the work is done.

It's in the specification sheet for the job.

If the specifications are not acceptable, the time to address it is before the agreement is made.

The customer can accept, decline or negotiate the terms as they see fit.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,954
I hired a brand new pool comp to clean my filter for 85 dollars. I thought it’s a win. I won’t get a sunburn like I did last year. I also asked him to clean the calcium from rain off my gas towers. He used a sprayer and straight muriatic acid. He also cleaned two spots off my glass water line. I supplied the muriatic acid.
I got the bill last night. 355 dollars for 3 hours of total work.
You don't really explain what the agreement was regarding the extra work.

It seems that you made certain assumptions about what the extra work would cost or how much time it would take.

The number one rule is to not assume anything.

Reach an agreement based on specific details.

Ok, I understand that you will do X, Y and Z and it will take 2 hours and cost $200.00, is that correct?

If they agree, then that's the deal.

If they say that they don't know how long it will take and that it will be per hour, you can ask for a limit.

Also, we are not getting both sides of the story.

It's not fair to only present your side without giving the situation from the company's perspective.

Did they respond at all to your concerns about the price?