To combat the effects of the recession, many companies have been forced to reduce their staff. Some manufacturers chose to make those cuts in their phone support departments, a decision that has left plenty of builders and techs frustrated.

“Trying to get technical assistance, especially when you’re a dealer or a guy in the field, the wait times have gotten ridiculously long,” says Les Greenfield, owner of Hydro Blue Pools in Phoenix. With several of the manufacturers whose products he services, he says the wait is “usually

45 minutes to an hour.”

Others say they are being abandoned altogether. Rick Chafey, owner of Red Rock Pools in Gilbert, Ariz., states that one manufacturer he’s been trying to contact has outright ignored him, along with a number of other builders he knows.

“I called them to make sure they knew there was a problem with a part, but I can’t even get them to respond at all,” he says. “There’s actually a whole group — about 15 of us — that have been discussing this issue. We’ve all been leaving messages with this company’s warranty department, and none of us has ever gotten any response out of them.”

This kind of avoidance, servicepeople say, is more the exception than the rule. “Most of the manufacturers I call are pretty responsive,” says Rich Tarricone, president of Aquatic Pool Systems in Sarasota, Fla. “Some even hire a person to sit by the phone for eight hours a day.”

That level of response is often all it takes for a manufacturer to make a loyal convert out of a builder or tech; and the reverse holds equally true. “We work with man-made products; they’re going to fail from time to time,” Tarricone says. “But when a manufacturer has a lack of support, then it’s time to try another manufacturer.”