PebbleTec or Not - Fraud or Not?

AshburnMom

Member
Jul 28, 2022
6
So California
Hello,
We recently had our pool renovated and the contractor we are working with included PebbleTec on their invoice. They showed us PebbleTec samples and we chose a color. They came out a week ago to spray the PebbleTec and we questioned the workers about color and brand. So long story short, it was not PebbleTec. We called the contractor and said "hey what's going on with this?" They said all the products are the same, it will be the same color, etc. don't worry about it. We've had so many problems with this contractor and in the heat of the moment at 7 am on a Saturday morning we told the guys to go ahead. Is there anything to be done about this? They charged us a premium price (I believe) for PebbleTec. The color does look like the PebbleTec color we chose. They even posted our pool on their Instagram with the caption "PebbleTec!" Isn't this fraud? Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!

And also, we've been asking to see the warranty for whatever product they used, but they have not provided it.
 

Toxophilite

Silver Supporter
Feb 23, 2022
927
Dickinson, Texas
Pool Size
15500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I really never got the true story on mine, as it was never Pebble Tec advertised, and was installed by a big plasterer in the area, but all their given names for colors had direct correlation to Pebble Tec colors. That's how they would cross-reference to us. So, our picked plaster mix, don't remember the name, was supposed to be same material as Tahoe Blue. Day of plaster, Tahoe Blue labeled plaster bags are used!

There's a good chance the installers had no clue. There's a chance it was not a Pebble Tec product. There's a chance it was Pebble Tec. You can see if your PB or installer is listed with PT: Find a Builder - Pebble Technology International
 
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AshburnMom

Member
Jul 28, 2022
6
So California
Our installer is not listed with Pebble Tec. The guys called it mini pebble which made me think it was StoneScapes, but the bags were unlabeled as far as I could see. It was kind of chaos out there and I could tell the guys did not want to talk to us plus there was a language barrier. They must run into this all the time.
Were you able to get any warranty information on yours?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
37,842
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Yeah, it may be fraud but what recourse do you have after they have your money and did the install.

To collect in a court you have to show how you were damaged. And so far you have no damages to ask for.

It is too late for you but this can be a warning to others who read this to do their due diligence in what actual producs they are getting before contracts are signed, work is done, or money changes hands.
 

Toxophilite

Silver Supporter
Feb 23, 2022
927
Dickinson, Texas
Pool Size
15500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
No warranty info specific to the plaster, just on pool in general and Pentair equipment. We never had issue with our PB on communications, workmanship, or anything misleading, and we really were not brand conscious enough on plaster at that time.
 
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.ben

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2020
96
Katy, TX
Pool Size
17000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite Pro (T-15)
Sorry you are dealing with this :(

I agree recourse will be very difficult at this time. Does your contract specifically mention Pebble Tec?
 
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DrewLG

Gold Supporter
May 31, 2022
194
Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Pool Size
8000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
so far you have no damages to ask for.

It is too late for you
Wait, what? If the product was misrepresented as PebbleTec, then of course she has legal recourse. If she has a written contract that says PebbleTec, even better. Pebble Technology might even want to be involved in the suit.
 
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AshburnMom

Member
Jul 28, 2022
6
So California
The product was represented as "PebbleTec" on our invoice and in many discussions thereafter. Sadly, we have no contract - only an invoice (this is very common in So Cal). We have not made our final payment for the project, but do agree recourse would be difficult if not impossible. I'd really just like to warn others and stop them from doing this to other people. Any suggestions on how to do that? Better Business Bureau complaint? Is that even a thing anymore?
I really appreciate everyone's comments.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
37,842
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Wait, what? If the product was misrepresented as PebbleTec, then of course she has legal recourse. If she has a written contract that says PebbleTec, even better.

And what damages does she have?

Is this criminal law? Civil law? A violation of some FTC law?

Pebble Technology might even want to be involved in the suit.

Good luck with that.


Why do you think this is right on their home page...

1659115530016.png
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
37,842
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
. We have not made our final payment for the project, but do agree recourse would be difficult if not impossible.

Then don't pay them.

Tell them they need to prove you got real PebbleTec to get the contracted amount.

Negotiate a lessor cost for the lessor product you got.

If they don't like it you can both tell it to a judge and see how he rules.

Play hardball.

This is not legal advice that this Forum does not give.

I'd really just like to warn others and stop them from doing this to other people. Any suggestions on how to do that? Better Business Bureau complaint?


BBB is worthless.

You can look into Federal Trade Commission rules and Consumer Fraud statues.

But really for consumer purchases Cavet Emptor applies.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
31,477
Contact Pebbletec and let them know that the contractor is claiming to install Pebbletec and see what Pebbletec has to say.

Or just register the product with Pebbletec and let them tell you that the product is or is not Pebbletec.

Tell the contractor that you need the information to register the warranty with the manufacturer.
 

turboixxi

Member
May 19, 2022
12
Orange County
I had the same issue with my build. They kept calling it pebble and I tried to clarify pebblesheen they called it mini pebble. I tried to find a pebbeltec applicator but it turned out to be difficult with no shows and no replies from certified applicators.

another applicator said the micro pebble caused issues so they only install mini pebble. I finally found someone that uses micro pebble from stonescapes so I guess this is the route i'm going.

How do I confirm the actual pebble plaster is stonescapes micro pebble? Are the bags marked? Is there a ticket/receipt I should request?

so far the quotes I got for my pool and spa are $7500 pebble - unknown type and $9500 for micro pebble

i got a $10k rough estimate from a pebbletec applicator that did not even show up or reschedule.
 
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DrewLG

Gold Supporter
May 31, 2022
194
Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Pool Size
8000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
And what damages does she have?

She was deliberately misled into paying for one thing, then received something else that was presumably worth less. "Accepting" it under duress doesn't make it ok.

Is this criminal law? Civil law? A violation of some FTC law?

Could be any of those. Plus he's a bad person.

Good luck with that.

I said "might". But PebbleTec has built a well-known brand, and as you pointed out, they make a big deal about "real" and "genuine" PebbleTec. They might be tired of people trading on their name and reputation to sell other product.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
37,842
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Are the bags marked?

The dry product is brought on site in bags and mixed on site.

You should have the products being used specified in your contract and then inspect the bags for the manufactures labels.

You can also check any manufacturers websites they specify to see if they are an authorized installer.

Now you may choose to go ahead and install some no name products with a warranty only from the contractor but you should understand exactly what you are paying for.
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
10,035
Central California
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There are specific damages: the PebbleTec warranty would be non-existent, and that warranty has value. Even a written warranty from the installer would not be worth as much as a true PebbleTec warranty.

The no-contract situation is bad, but verbal contracts in CA are binding. The fact that no contract was furnished is in direct violation of CA law, so if anything, that might be leverage in your favor.

Theoretically, you could sue and win and have your entire finish replaced with actual PebbleTec. In reality, even if a case like that could be won, you might be better off negotiating a settlement. Personally, I wouldn't accept anything less than the entire cost of the finish being removed from the bill. They might bite at that. Otherwise, if you sue and win, they'll be on the hook for not only a new, finish but also the demo to remove the old one, plus water replacement, chemical replacement, etc.

Of course if you accept the existing finish at a discount, you can kiss goodbye any warranty, so that's a risk. I guess the first thing to decide is: how bad do you want PebbleTec.

Don't bother with the BBB. First step is to write a demand letter to the Contractor. Then you file a formal complaint with the CA State Contractors License Board (the letter is part of the complaint, so you have to do the letter first). The Board doesn't have much clout when it comes to actually punishing a contractor, unless he's got a stack of complaints against him, but they will first intervene and attempt to help you negotiate a resolution. That could go either way. Their main "power" is, with the complaint in place, if you sue and win, then the Board can suspend the Contractor's license until the judgement is paid, which essentially puts him out of business, so that can be a significant incentive for the Contractor to pay you. Of course, it can also be a significant incentive for the Contractor to declare bankruptcy!

All of this activity is very stressful, so you have to weigh that, too. But if you want to pursue this, I can help you with the demand letter and then the complaint. Once you deliver the letter, you can legitimately withhold any future payments to the Contractor, as you will be entering into what's known as a "good faith dispute." That suspends all transactions, but if you are found to be without grounds, you could be liable for any interest on an unpaid balance. Which these days is not a whole lot. It could also mean that any remaining work on your pool will come to a grinding halt. Are you prepared to deal with that?

I'm not a lawyer, nor have I played one on TV. I've had good faith disputes with licensed contractors, and have successfully used small claims court and the Board to settle those disputes. I'm batting 1000, and brag about it here at TFP, which is why they call me in sometimes to help other CA combatants! I would not advise you against seeking proper legal council, but often when that takes place, only the lawyers make out. I'm about $11K up, without ever using an attorney, so that's a decent record, and "proof of concept." But I endured a lot of stress, did a c-load of work, was very tenacious, and had more than a bit of luck to boot. YMMV.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
31,477
Check the corporation status with the state.


Check the contractor’s status with their city for a business license or a Business Tax Certificate

The City of San Diego doesn't require a general business license to do business in San Diego.

Instead, you'll need to register for a San Diego Business Tax Certificate.

All individuals or entities conducting business activities within the City of Los Angeles are required to apply for and obtain a Business Tax Registration Certificate with the City of Los Angeles, Office of Finance.

Check the contractor’s license and bond.

Ask the CSLB for a list of all complaints against the contractor.



You can file a claim with the bond company for damages.

How do consumers check a California contractor’s license and bond?

Contractors in California are licensed and regulated by the CSLB, a division of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

To check the status of a contractor’s license and surety bond you can visit the CSLB website and enter the contractor's license number after clicking “Check a Contractor's License”.

What other types of surety bonds are required of contractors in California?

While all licensed California contractors are required to carry a $15,000 contractor license bond, certain contractor licenses may require a $12,500 Bond of Qualifying Individual, a $100,000 LLC Employee/Worker Bond, or a Disciplinary Bond depending on their license status.

Contractors may also be required by the owner of a project to provide a bid, performance and payment bond, often referred to as Contract Surety Bonds, on a job by job basis.

Check the contractor’s insurance to see if they have professional “Errors and Omissions” insurance.

You can file a claim with the “E&O” insurance.

Do they claim to belong to a trade organization?

Contact them and file a complaint.

You can file a complaint with the city and/or state attorney general or department of consumer affairs/consumer protection.

Check their Worker's Compensation Insurance.

 
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