Seems like everyone who has built a pool has a "pool story"--- hard to find one worse than my nightmare with Carlton Pools. Started in Septembet of 2000 with salesman Ray. He promised a lot of things including that the pool would be finished by winter 2000, but never saw nor heard from him again after he received our deposit check. Then met Marty--- not only incompetent, but a pathological liar (he is no longer with company--- same can be said of 3 people I have worked with most closely at Carlton--- wish I could take some credit for their job losses, but am sure I had no role).
After all the plans were drawn we waited. And waited. And waited. Kept calling Marty-- he said the town was delaying us and all plans were submitted. After a month (now October)called the town and they had no idea what I was talking about---no plans were submitted regarding a pool. Finally got Marty to submit proposal to town, but now (November) Carlton told me it was too late to excavate and I would be among the first excavations in the spring.
Spring 2001. Lots of calls-- never speak to anyone but operators and voice mail (if you deal with Carlton you quickly learn no one answers their phone-- nor their voicemail messages for that matter). There is no "schedule" or timetable for my construction. On several occasions I run into full work crews on my way out the house. Everytime they need a check (one was for $20,000) before they will do any work. I imagine they would have biled me for a day's work if they showed up and I wasn't there to give them a check. I finally speak to Enrique (construction supervisor) and ask him if he can at least call me the day before his crew comes out so that I can expect them and prepare my funds. He laughs-- yes, literally laughs at me on the phone as if I have asked him for some great favor (keep in mind I was asking for one day's notice). Happily, he is longer with Carlton (big surprise).
After the site "preparation", excavation finally begins. I come home from work to find a 20X43 pool that is 4 feet deep. I call Carlton and ask what happened to my 9 foot deep pool. They explain that they hit rock and that's all I get unless I pay for drilling/blasting. Instead of calling me (they had my work no, cell, and pager) as they were digging, the crew decided to grade they pool at four feet and take the rest of the paid day off (paid by me of course). I understand rock is my responsibility and not covered in the contract, but a four foot deep pool???
The hole is finally completed and the plumbing placed. The pool is on a hill and Marty "sited" the filter/heater etc on a retaining wall four feet above pool level. Now I find out that the pump must be on the same level as the pool (this is when I learn Marty is incompetent and a liar-- he is also gone by now). Instead of rerouting the plumbing straight to the new filter location, they add plumbing so that the pipes literally go all the way around the pool to the new filter location. I am sure this is great for efficiency of pump. What should have been a 20-30 foot run for most of the plumbing is now well over 80 feet. The most amazing part? Carlton wanted to charge me for all the extra piping that was their man's error, not to mention that it was all useless and inefficient. They finally waived this extra charge (the only favor I am aware Carlton ever did for me).
Despite multiple daily phone calls by me, construction drags on and on. My promise of completion by winter 2000, finally becomes the 4th week of July 2001. The headaches are constant, but somehow I actually get a few weeks of usage of the pool in 2001. I order a custom winter cover from Carlton to winterize the pool (to this day, cannot figure out why I choose Carlton for cover).
Spring 2002. Carlton opens my pool in May. Now I finally get to enjoy my pool for a whole season. Unfortunately, all the electric around the pool is shorted out. Weeks of calls (dozens of voicemails) and multiple service calls and they find a ruptured electric line. I do not trust Carlton to excavate my pool deck. Dana the service manager gives me the "go ahead" to use my mason as long as he is "within reason". Two weeks of excavation and they finally find the rupture. My mason shows me the site of the break because he cannot believe what Carlton has done. Carlton drilled a 36" deep hole through concrete pavers and 8" of poured concrete to put in a 6" depth spike to anchor the pool cover and managed to hit an electric line (amazing that the did not hit more lines/plumbing)!!! From June to end of July my entire pool deck is a mess as I wait for the line to be repaired and the deck to be repaired.
I forward my mason's bill of $700 to Carlton pools. Dana is now gone and no one will even discuss paying the bill. Everyone I speak to acts like I am a lunatic to expect Carlton to pay for repairs for damage they caused. I have given up calling, because my phone bills are just adding to the money that I am out.
About a week after my pool deck is finally repaired, my Jandy Aqualink goes out. Carlton sends a team out and tells me I need a new "mother-board" and it will take three weeks to order. I wait. And wait. I notice a credit card item for $169 from Carlton in July and ask my credit card company what this is for. I am told it is a bil for a pool co. service call. Carlton never told me I was being billed for what I thought was a warranty repair. Nor did they ask permission to put a charge on my credit card. Then I realized they had my credit card number from my pool cover order.
I asked Donna (new service manager) whether this was a warranty repair. She told me the warranty on Jandy was for one year and I was two weeks past the one year anniversary. I pressed what did this mean? Finally after an incredible amount of hemming and hawing she said this was a "billable" item and of course I would be charged. I decided to have my own electrician replace the mother board (done within a week of my call-- might still be waiting for Carlton otherwise). Electrician also mentioned that any reputable company would have put a $50 surge protecter to protect a $1400 piece of outdoor electric equipment. Of course, I am out another $1450.
May 2003. This will be my first full season to enjoy the pool. June the weather finally gets hot and I realize my pool is leaking water at an alarming rateof many inches per day-- cannot fill it fast enough to make it usable. Lots of calls to Carlton, almost no calls back. Dana the previous service manager had suggested to me that I could save a bit of money by not using Carlton for opening/closing my pool since I was being billed for 2 people travelling 3 hours back and forth to my home from Pennsylvania. He assured me the warranties on the pool would stay in force. Of course, Dana is now gone and everyone at Carlton now assures me that nothing could be farther from the truth. All warranties, as far as they are concerned, are voided.
After weeks of waiting, Carlton sends a team to pressure test my pipes. Unfortunately, my tow-man team has become one person (the other guy called in sick)and what should take 2 hours now takes four hours. Naturally, Carlton bills me for four hours at the two-man rate until I complain. The repairman from experience guesses that the high pressure vacuum line is leaking--- he is right, of course. I am sure that it has nothing to do with a faulty winterization, but as usual Carlton DOES NOT CARE!!! I plug the line and am now using an electric vacuum. Two weeks into July, I can finally use my pool again.
I have called, faxed and written Carlton to complain and try to recover some of my losses-- or even get an apology. I spoke to a member of the Carlton family in one of their retail stores and she could not believe my story (that was in 2001 before the story really got interesting). "Call up Carlton and make sure they reimburse you for everything including phone bills". Boy does she live in a fantasy land.
I paid for a consultation wih a lawyer. I said I was willing to put significant money into a lawsuit even if I did not recoup anything as long as I could get some sense of satisfaction that Carlton was found at fault and I could cause them real pain. I was advised to save my money and spare myself the aggravation.
So here I am. Three years of being treated like dirt by Carlton. If Ripoff-revenge helps me prevent even one pool sale by Carlton pools, at least I will have some sense of satisfaction.
Morristown, New Jersey