As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It is important to be ready for the initial meeting and the start of routine pool service with a new client. And I was ready today.
I had the initial work order with client details from their phone call, an Equipment List and State of Pool Conditions, a Repair Estimate and a fresh Routine Service Agreement with Basic Pool Safety Precautions prepared and ready to sign. I even had an IPSSA Water Watcher Tag for the client. It was a morning appointment and I was parked at the curb five minutes ahead of time.
Mrs. Barker answered the front door. I gave her my card and said we would meet around back at the pool, as I wanted to count the number of steps and check the gate to make sure it’s self-closing and self-latching. There were a pair of cats curled up and snoozing on the sunny porch rail and I imagined they had a mouse or two for breakfast. I do prefer to have cats on my team keeping the pool equipment room free of rodent problems. Dogs are okay, only if they are friendly, quiet and don’t demand a lot of attention with ball throwing, but there must be absolutely no biting and no landmines allowed.
When walking around the back and seeing the yard and pool area, I thought, “Oh my, happy pool people live here!” There was every kind of FUN kid’s thing inside and outside the fenced pool area. There were pool toys, many pool inflatables (although most were popped and flat), bicycles of all sizes, every kind of ball imaginable, games, skateboards and ramps, a trampoline, a rope swing, a pool slide and even a great big diving board! Mrs. Barker was waving me toward the pool equipment area.
She said, “I know I asked you for an estimate for pool service, but could you look at the pump first?”
Oh no! She got me with The Old Switcheroo: Ask for a pool service estimate and get a free troubleshooting service call! I didn’t see that coming, but would try to make the best of it.
She handed me about a half dozen invoices from Pools R Us and said, “Our other pool service has tried a lot of times to fix the problem, but there is always a different person and a different repair. The pump seems to work when they are done, but when they leave, it doesn’t.”
On the first invoice’s Work Performed space, it read: “Repaired pump with new lid O-ring.” The second invoice read: “Reconditioned pump with new drain plug O-ring set and lid O-ring.”
The third: “Reconstructed pump with new shaft seal set and lid O-ring.”
The fourth: “Renovated pump inlet PVC fitting thread sealant and replaced lid O-ring.”
The fifth: “Refresh suction piping temperature sensor seal The second invoice read: “Reconditioned pump with new drain plug O-ring set and lid O-ring.” The third: “Reconstructed pump with new shaft seal set and lid O-ring.” The fourth: “Renovated pump inlet PVC fitting thread sealant and replaced lid O-ring.” The fifth: “Refresh suction piping temperature sensor seal with new and replaced lid O-ring.”
The sixth: “Refurbished pump and replaced lid O-ring.” (Refurbished? What does that even mean? There was a charge for a small bottle of spa cover vinyl protectant, and the pump’s plastic housing did seem to have a glossy shine to it. I guess that was it. They must have thought, “If it looks good, it’ll work good.”)
The last invoice said: “The pump has fulfilled a useful service life. Pump replacement recommended.” Almost a eulogy for a hard-working pump. It’d had a good run. They fixed it until it was broken.
“Mrs. Barker, let me try something,” I said and switched the pump on. It fully primed in a few seconds, but in less than a minute it filled with air and lost prime. I left the pump running walked out to the pool. Before getting back, Mrs Barker exclaimed, “You fixed it! It works! What did you do?”
I held up a bitten-off piece of pool noodle and said, “I re-moved this. It was stuck in the skimmer weir. You might want to ask them for a re-fund.”
She quickly replied, “I will and you can just go ahead and be our new pool service. Oh, by the way, we’re starting a doggie day care, and we’re going to also use the pool area as a kennel, so be sure to keep the pool gate shut.”
Quickly grabbing and looking at my cell phone, I said, “Oh no, I left the garden hose running at another pool and have to go right now. Let me get back to you. Thanks, bye.”
I’ve seen the pool signs that say, “Welcome to our OOL, notice there is no P in it,” but is there a pool sign that says, “Welcome to our L?"
This article first appeared in the October, 2020 issue of the IPSSAN. Robert (Pool Bob) Blade operates Aloha Pool and Spa and is a 20+ year member of the Monterey Coast IPSSA chapter, past president, Region 10 secretary and PIE Show museum curator.