My Five CRAZIEST Customer Experiences

Crazyclients Noah Phillips 916 Feat

Fortunately, most of the customers we deal with in the pool and spa business are pretty substantial and sane people. These fine people are the source of our livelihood, and we treasure them. But get a group of your peers together for a casual discussion, and often the conversation will veer toward some of the lunatics each of us has dealt with over the years. So, just for fun, here are five of the craziest customer experiences I have encountered in the pool and spa business — either personally or through colleagues.

Welcome to the Jungle!

One summer, a young man came to work for us as a pool cleaner, and we sent him off to service a new account. He went to the home to clean the pool, and the owner's kids were there. They said to him, "Would you like to see our kitty?"

A little puzzled, he replied, "Well, I guess so," and followed them into the backyard to service the pool and "see the kitty."

When he turned the corner he came face-to-face with a full-sized lion! The beast charged at him, and as he turned to run, terrified, he fell down and tore his pants, dropping the test kit — which the lion promptly chewed up as he made his hasty escape!

The poor kid came back to the office, somewhat shaken, and relayed this tale, so I called the customer and told her she would have to make other arrangements to get her pool cleaned — I would not send an employee into a yard with a lion.

She became irate, demanded his name and personal information because she was "going to call her lawyer and sue him for slandering her cat!" I told her it wasn't our policy to give out personal information about our employees and to have the lawyer call me if she had further issues. Of course, we never heard from any lawyer, and two days later the local paper had a front-page story about her neighborhood being up in arms over the lion. Not long after, we received a request from new owners at the same address wondering if we could clean up lion feces out of their swimming pool!


Friends of ours recounted an interesting story about a sales call they once made to a rather robust couple who couldn't seem to agree on plans for their new pool. The salesman watched in horror as the dispute escalated, until finally the couple crashed to the living room floor, grappling and grunting. Which was natural for them, it turns out, as both were wrestlers. Our friend never did tell us who won, or if they actually built the pool!

He/She Wanted Something; Just Not a Pool

Once, our salesman received a call from a pool prospect and when he arrived at the home, was greeted by a well-dressed "lady." As the discussion of the pool progressed, the salesman noticed there was something a little different about the person, finally realizing he was actually speaking to a man dressed as a woman. The discussion then veered in an uncomfortable direction, and the person expressed a personal interest in our salesman, not related to the pool, and so our salesman (who happened to be my brother-in-law, married to my sister for many, many years) left.

But the strange part was, in a discussion with peers at a subsequent pool association meeting, it seems the same person had called a number of our pool-building competitors with the same "proposal." I don't believe an actual pool was ever built.

Cue the "Addams Family" Theme Song:

Debra Smith of Pulliam Pools in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area had an interesting experience with some very unique customers:

"A very young goth couple came in to our store buy a pool," she says. "They wanted the design to be coffin shaped, with a spa that had a lid that opened up like a real coffin. Our designer created their design, which they loved, but we counseled them about how difficult it might be someday to sell their home with that pool in their backyard. It would have been a unique project for us, but we felt obligated to give them some advice. They ultimately made the right decision, and were glad when they had to sell their home three years later."

Char-les! You've Got to Come!

Finally, one of our favorite customers, a lady I'll call Rita who was also quite a dramatic character, called us once with what she thought was a serious problem.

Rita was a great, fun lady from South America. We had built her pool and liked her very much, but she was quite excitable.

One day she called, almost hysterical, saying to my husband, "Char-les! Char-les! You've got to come! Armadillo! In my pool! Armadillo POOP in my pool! Armadillo poop! You've got to come!" After assuring her he would be right over, he went by with his plaster contractor, who happened to be in the office, to check on the "emergency."

By the time they arrived, the armadillo had helpfully made its way over to the skimmer, and was easily removed. The plaster guy kept it to use in his homemade tamales. But Rita was still concerned about the poop remaining in her pool, and assumed that, just as in the famous scene from the movie Caddyshack, Charles would have to drain the pool.

Undismayed, my husband assured her he had "special chemicals just for poop" and removed the offending substance, then heavily shocked the pool. Rita was so happy. But we never got any of those armadillo tamales.

Sooner or later, all of us encounter some pretty unique situations in our business, but perhaps sharing a good laugh with each other is the best way NOT to go crazy ourselves this unique profession.

Main illustration drawing by Noah Phillips.


Tell us YOUR Crazy Customer Stories!

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The super-picky customer. The customer who pays you in pennies. The customer who threw a HUGE fit on your showroom floor. Everyone has those unforgettable stories about crazy customers — and we want to hear them. Send your stories to [email protected] and we'll feature them in our next roundup of crazy customer stories. Everyone whose story we feature will receive a free AQUA T-shirt!


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