When a pool market is smaller, any negative attention can have an effect on all business.
The excavation of Julie Roche's pool was done on May 11, but weeks later, her pool still hadn't been installed. Rain filled the hole, causing more issues.
Credit: Julie Roche
The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan issued an alert about Zeeland, Mich.-based Doughboy Construction – no affiliation with the pool brand – on July 2, after the BBB received three consumer complaints of Doughboy owner Jack McCoy missing installation dates on aboveground pools. Two more consumers have filed complaints since.
Pools Plus in Holland, Mich., had McCoy on its list of installers it gives to customers – until the store heard about the complaints against Doughboy.
“As soon as we found out Jack was not who he said he was, we took him off our list,” said Jodi Tracey, purchasing manager at Pools Plus.
But even stores that never had Doughboy Construction on the list of installers have gotten calls from consumers after local media aired reports of the BBB alert.
“This is not good for business in general,” said Ryan Miedema, owner of Zagers Pool & Spa. “People are always nervous about what will happen.”
The BBB alert also noted that McCoy was not licensed for the work he was contracted to do, and the company website could be misleading for customers since Doughboy Construction has no affiliation with the Doughboy Pools brand, and the website makes it appear that the two have a connection.
“I think he just found himself in a scenario where he couldn’t follow through on what he promised to do,” said Phil Catlett, president and CEO of the BBB Serving Western Michigan.
McCoy did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the BBB alert, McCoy attributes being behind on installations on the days of rain the area has experienced.
Julie Roche of Hudsonville, Mich., contacted Pools Plus to find an installer, and was given McCoy’s information and that of another installer. She had intended to buy her pool wholesale because she and her husband had previously owned a pool business in another state, and she said McCoy offered to sell her one at cost.
Roche is the owner of Julie’s Swim School, and wanted the pool installed in her yard, ready to begin lessons in early June. By Memorial Day, McCoy only had done the excavation, she said. Roche asked McCoy for a refund of the $2,500 she paid. She hasn’t received it, and she had to buy a pool and find another installer to set it up. She was able to start using her pool in mid-June.
“The whole pool is going to have to be redone,” she added, attributing the issues, including a bumpy floor, to the original excavation job. “The whole thing’s just been an absolute nightmare.”
This was the first year McCoy’s company had been on the Pools Plus list, and Tracey said McCoy had asked to be added.
“Once we hear complaints about a subcontractor from anybody … we take them off our list immediately,” she said.
The situation is making pool customers more wary – even if the stores never had McCoy on their lists of installers.
For Zagers, which has stores in Jamestown, Grand Rapids and Holland, and other stores in the area, the worry is that the negative perception of one installer will mean people put off their pool purchases.
“This is a huge investment for most people, so when one person makes waves like this, people think we are all the same and will spend their money elsewhere for a while,” Miedema said.