The problem with TradeGrade and similar manufacturer’s programs. (Long, sorry).

Mark McLeroy

Silver Supporter
Mar 31, 2022
30
New Rochelle, NY
Pool Size
11500
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
Hi All:
I have been debating about posting this message because I didn’t want to rant on these message boards. Message boards that I have quickly come to respect as a fine source of information for swimming pool owners. But after much consideration I have come to the conclusion that this post is not a rant. Instead, it is information that anyone considering investing in a swimming pool really needs to know. And your prospective pool builders are not going to discuss this with you. Instead, you will find out like I did, within a year or two of your massive investment.

Let me start by saying I am a relatively new pool owner. The 2020 season was our first season. However, due to significant construction delays, we did not get into the pool that season until August that year. Last season (2021) was our first full season. At the end of the 2020 season, we hired the guy who did all our plumbing and sold us all our equipment, to close the pool for us that year. Her charged us $500 for that service (which is reasonable for the New York tri-state area). During the off season that year he sent out a letter to his customers in lower Westchester County (my area) stating that due to the unprecedented increase in pool service demands he was no longer able to service our area (he is in upper Westchester County).

Now here is where my problem begins. His letter listed the names of 2 people he recommended to take over our pool maintenance services. Both did not return my calls. I eventually found a company on my own, and contracted them to open and close our pool for the 2021 season. The contract came out to $500 to open the pool and $475.00 to close it (not including chemicals). Well, the opening came out $875.00!! They were justifying the price difference on the cost of chemicals. I’m an easy-going guy so I took it on the chin. When it came time to close the pool, I was expecting about the same hit for chemicals there also. Well, that bill came out to $1350.00!!! Ok, this prompted a phone call from me. Seems like in addition to chemicals, they charged me $400.00 to clean my filter cartridges (I have 4 of them)!! Now Amazon sells 4 Pleatco Cartridges for my filter for about $180.00. I mentioned this on the phone call. After all was said and done, they reduced the bill by $100.00. I paid it and advised them that I will not be requiring their services anymore. After that fiasco, I decided that I will be doing all my pool maintenance from now on. I found this website and the great people here and I never looked back.

During the off season (after I decided to open the pool myself) I decided to upgrade to a Variable Speed pump. The guy who sold us the equipment never discussed with me the advantages of a VS pump and sold us a 1.5HP single speed Pentair instead. As you can imagine Con Ed (our power company) hit us pretty hard last year. So I decided to ditch the single speed pump that had all of a 1 ½ seasons on it and buy a Pentair Intelliflo. I wanted to stay with Pentair because I have Pentair automation (an Intellicenter). Now, I wanted the Intelliflo VSF pump (the one where you can control flow rate and not just RPM’s) but that is a TradeGrade product. You can’t just buy it anywhere on the internet and if you want the full warrantee, it needs to be installed by a licensed contractor or pool professional. So, I go to Leslie Pools and order it. I also set up a license plumbing to do the install (someone who would have absolutely no idea how to connect it and configure it to the Intellicenter). Now some of you might be asking why didn’t I go to a “pool professional” for the install. Well, I tried. You see, Westchester County NY doesn’t have a lot of retail pool stores or pool service companies. I actually called several pool service companies before I went to Leslie pools to see if I could get the pump from them. The ONLY one who returned my call informed me that he was not taking on new customer’s now (he wouldn’t even sell me the pump). To make matters worse, a few days later Leslie’s sent me an email informing me that they cancelled the ordered because that pump was discontinued. I know Pentair is coming out with a replacement model for the VSF pump but at that time that pump was not discontinued, it was just not immediately available (there’s a difference, and I would have waited).

Now if you go to Pentair’s TradeGrade webpage this is their description of the policy word for word. “Our TradeGrade Policy was established to provide an exceptional product ownership experience to pool owners by manufacturing equipment that performs to the highest standards, protecting the integrity of the Pentair brand and to maintain a sustainable business model for you, our trade partners. For you, our TradeGrade policy ensures that you are getting the programs, policies and tools required to safeguard this positive pool owner experience and help you grow your business. “
Well Pentair, I submit to you that this has not been a positive pool owner experience for me. The truth of the matter is that the sole purpose of this policy is to protect your authorized dealers. However, these dealers are not protecting you. Every local dealer I called for the pump I wanted was listed on your website as an authorized dealer, and NONE of them would not sell me your pump. After all was said and done, I was forced to buy a pump that I did not want from an online retailer anyway, and I did the install myself.

As most you know this is NOT a Pentair problem. This has become the policy of almost every major manufacturer in the industry. Heck even Pleatco jumped on the bandwagon. The manufacturers who are trying to protect their dealers should remember that ultimately the bottom dollar comes from their customers not their dealers.
Pentair should know that if it wasn’t for my Intellicenter automation I would have purchased a Black and Decker variable speed pump. It is less expensive, has a 5-year warrantee, and they have no problem of me installing it myself.

There is nothing I can do about my situation now and truth be told I am generally happy with my Pentair products. But I feel that I needed to post this message in hopes to inform future pool owners of what they are getting into, and to advise them to have this discussion with their PB before they dive in (pardon the pun).

Thanks.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
36,844
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Mark, your "rant" is very much on point and a good description of the state of the pool industry today.

The equipment manufacters view the Pool Builders as their real customers who buy quantity of equipment for new pool builds. They don't view the one off equipment replacement market as a growth area and the DIY sales support costs are too high for them.

I have commented elsewhere here about the changes in the last few years with Hayward going from a family owned company to Private Equity and then a public listing, Jandy being part of a large global company listed on the Spanish exchange, and Pentair being part of a large global company. Selling pool equipment to individual pool owners just does not move their needles much.

Here at TFP we try and educate pool owners as to the realities of how to navigate pool ownership. As you have painfully discovered you cannot rely on Pool Stores for much.
 
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