As told to Ben Thomas by Bryan Chrissan, owner of Clear Valley Pool and Spa Service & Repair,  Temecula, Calif.

Once I went out on a warranty call for a customer who said his heater wasn’t working.

He explained that when he’d first inspected the house, the pool had been half-finished, and had had no equipment, so the bank paid to complete it. When the homeowner purchased the house and moved in, the pool was finished, and there was equipment installed, which the homeowner assumed was new.

Well, it was new to him, but it was all obviously used equipment. I asked him if the bank paid for new or used equipment, and it turns out the bank didn’t care — because as long as they sold the house, they got their money.

I asked the homeowner if he knew who’d installed this equipment, and we got the guy’s phone number from his paperwork. I put my cell phone on speakerphone, so the homeowner was listening in on the call — but the guy who’d installed the equipment, who we were calling, had no idea that I was calling him with the homeowner sitting right there.

I played it as though I was just one pool guy calling another. I asked this installer, “What’s your take on installing new vs. used equipment?” and he said, “Oh, we do it all the time. I buy a $100 pump online and sell it to the bank for $500. The bank’s back East somewhere, so they don’t know or care, and the Realtor just wants cheap parts.”

So basically, this guy buys parts online and installs them, just to get the system up and running to the bare minimum. “And the homeowner doesn’t know the difference,” he told me with a laugh. “We just paint the stuff to make it look new, and we sell it as new.”

And when I asked this guy how often he gets away with this, he immediately mentioned an address that he’d just finished doing, installing used equipment. He actually named the exact street this customer lived on.

The homeowner’s jaw literally dropped. When I left, he was looking for his lawyer’s number.