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Dale Investigates: Disappearing Pool Contractor

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We all know how important it is to take care of yourself with a healthy diet and regular exercise. And what better way to stay in shape than regular swimming in your own home pool? This homeowner thought she was on her way to a great swim, but when her contract walked away, she was left high and dry!

A Healthy Choice

Mary Fisher is 82 and she has arthritis in her knees. Following her doctor’s orders, she knew that she had to get her legs moving or risk deteriorating mobility. So she thought about her pool. Swimming would a great low-impact way to exercise her whole body. There was just one problem. Her pool was a wreck. Although she used to use it regularly, recently the swimming pool had fallen into disrepair. It had no water in it, the lining was in tatters, and it needed a new floor. But Mary was determined to stay healthy, so she found a contractor to fix her pool.

Once she found the contractor, she paid him $3,000 upfront to get the pool back in working order. They had a contract that laid out precisely what he was going to do. Mary was excited to have her pool ready by the summer swimming season. But that never happened.

A Disappearing Pool Contractor

Mary paid her contractor in good faith. He seemed reliable, and they had a contract. But he never came back. At first, there were small excuses. He said he couldn’t make it because of rain, but he would begin next week. Then it was two weeks. But as the weeks dragged on, the excuses grew, and he never did return.

Mary began to realize that this contractor probably had no intention of fixing her pool. That’s when she called the TrustDALE team.

Calling in the Law

With the help of the TrustDALE team, Mary filed a police report for the stolen money. When the missing contractor got a call from the police, he realized this scheme was not going to work out well for him. TrustDALE was able to negotiate an agreement with the contractor to return Mary’s money: $1,500 at the end of the month, and $500 a month for the next three months.

We’re glad we could get Mary her money back, but we also think there are some lessons to be learned here.

How to Avoid a Disappearing Contractor

First, never pay a contractor up front. It’s not unreasonable for a contractor to ask for a down payment, but you can always ask for something in return, like delivering some materials to the work site. Making sure that the contractor has some skin in the game protects you against someone walking away with your money. It also weeds out the crooks. Criminals who don’t intend to complete your project don’t want to deliver materials and would just as soon walk away and move on to another target.

Second, if a contractor does skip town with your money, or just won’t do the work they promised, file a police report. Taking money for a contract and then not fulfilling the contract is a crime. Often, a call from the police is all it takes for a crooked contractor to give up their game.

Of course, the best way to protect yourself is to only work with reliable, trustworthy contractors. Before hiring any contractor, do some research. Check for online reviews, ask for referrals from former clients, and check the Better Business Bureau to see if they are rated. A contractor that can’t produce happy former clients or whose story doesn’t add up is not one you should work with.

If you want to be completely sure your contractor is reliable, use a TrustDALE certified contractor. All f the businesses in the TrustDALE Circle of Excellence have undergone Dale’s intensive 7-point investigative review. They are also all contractually obligated to honor Dale’s trademark Make-it-Right Guarantee™. So before you trust a contractor, trust Dale.