5 Secrets Most Pool Service Companies Won't Tell You
Your pool is the focal point of your backyard. Make sure you find a reliable company to help service it. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Julianne C. of Houston)
There are many different types of swimming pool companies. From the Mom and Pop provider to the multimillion dollar Pinch a Penny, it can be hard to determine which is best for you. Just make sure you know the five secrets most pool service companies won’t tell you.
1. Skipped pool cleanings
The more pools your technician has on his service schedule, the more likely they are to skip your pool. Yes, pool technicians (not the good ones) will skip an account here and there to make up for lost time. When swimming pool companies are in the growing stage of their business, they often have too many pools and not enough employees to accommodate them.
Don’t just assume a technician skipped your pool; always give the service company the benefit of the doubt. However, if you think your weekly pool-cleaning service may have been overlooked, ask the service technician for a drop ticket. Any reputable company should have tickets they can leave on your door that detail the time they were there, chemicals used, condition of pool and services rendered.
2. Large companies vs. local pool service
One huge downfall to large swimming pool service companies are high turnover rates. Additionally, many of these pool companies hire inexperienced employees and provide minimal training. Pool technicians are chemists, engineers, plumbers and more, especially when repairs are concerned.
Monthly pool service rates are relatively low compared to many other home services; therefore, the pay they offer new employees is often low as well. This results in unqualified employees. It takes time to build a relationship, so look for an experienced professional that’s willing to do your pool service for a long period of time.
3. Charging more for pool chemicals
I've been astonished to hear a few friends complaining that their swimming pool company was charging a high flat rate and adding additional chemical charges onto their monthly bill. The majority of pool service companies charge one flat rate regardless of the amount of chemicals used.
Service charges may increase due to seasonal changes or gas prices, but you should still be paying one flat rate that has been approved by you, the homeowner. In other words, you shouldn't be paying extra for acid or chlorine, but it’s standard to charge more if a special chemical was purchased specifically for your pool.
4. Used parts for pool repairs
One of the biggest income providers for pool service companies is repairs. Just like an automobile shop, pool companies receive their parts for less than it would cost you to purchase them. They mark them up slightly and charge you for their time spent doing the pool repair.
Beware of dishonest repair technicians who may opt for used parts instead of new ones to do your repair. These parts could be from a customer who just put in new equipment or even from a dumpster dive. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but if you're undergoing a $500 repair, I suggest you view the equipment before it’s installed.
5. How to hire the right pool service company
Licensing in the swimming pool industry can be a confusing concept, which depends highly on the state in which you reside. In Tampa, Fla., for example, in order to provide pool cleaning services to residential swimming pools, you simply need to register with your tax collector and establish an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Major repairs to your pool equipment or to a commercial property may require a contractor’s license. Many smaller pool companies will sub out their repairs to companies that specialize in your type of repair. If you have any questions, talk to your pool technician to make sure he or she is properly licensed for the types of services or repairs requested.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that originally posted May 9, 2013.