Some unscrupulous pool and spa companies are using scare tactics and fraud to profit from the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
“One company called [a client] and said they’re the only ones that could do [the work],” said Eva Harris, president of Conner Construction Corp. in Cornelius, N.C. Harris was told by several clients that a local firm has been misrepresenting the VGB Act as a ploy to get work.
“[The company said] it would have to pay them $2,000 to come out and do an evaluation, and that the average [renovation] cost was something outrageous,” Harris said.
Others have engaged in scare tactics, such as running advertisements that tell homeowners they must comply with the law or face severe penalties. At this point, only commercial pools must be in compliance.
“You want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re mistaken, but I doubt it,” said Lawrence Caniglia, executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association. “I think they know it’s not required, but they’re doing it to try to drum up business.”
Some competitors are notifying the publications that the ads are false, Caniglia added, but it isn’t clear whether that will help.
Scott Wolfson, spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, suggests industry firms notify their state attorney generals’ office if this occurs.
Cases of outright fraud are relatively rare, experts say.
“It was more interpreting the law to benefit themselves,” said Jim Muise, owner of DesignRI, LLC, an aquatic consultant firm in Charlestown, R.I.
In his opinion, the bigger problem is companies that are being careless in their work. “I’m seeing covers that may not meet the flow requirements of the pool,” he said, adding that some companies also neglect to ground large-scale stainless steel drain covers.