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The Consumer View

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Blog art croppedDealing with watershaping professionals should be as trouble free as possible, but sometimes it’s not. As Eric Herman argues, it’s time for the industry to open its collective ears to the messages from consumers who have had both positive and negative experiences.

Eric Herman

In this WaterShapes edition you’ll find an unusual feature titled “Lessons in Frustration” by Kris Anna Andersen and R. Lee Steele. The two are a couple in Austen, Tex., who recently endured a frustrating saga working with local members of the pool industry. Fair warning: their story is unsettling. I’ll leave it to them to share some of the details, but suffice it to say, they did not have a positive experience dealing with the local pool industry.

When they first shared their story with me, I was saddened but not terribly surprised. For decades I’ve heard these kinds of scenarios about projects gone badly awry. This may, however, was the first time I have heard it so eloquently described from the consumer perspective. Curious by nature, Andersen and Steele did tremendous research along the way and became extremely informed consumers.

There are a number of painful points in their narrative and most of them seem to stem from the fact that the professionals they were dealing with often directly contradicted each other, often on what should be fairly fundamental technical issues – such as pipe sizing. The upshot is what should have been an extremely straightforward and relatively inexpensive remodel – plaster, tile, coping and new equipment – turned into a cascading sequence of dysfunctions that led to a dramatic increase in project costs, and have never been fully resolved up to this point.

Were the contractors involved simply unconcerned, incompetent or worse, dishonest? That’s impossible to tell; but, it’s clear that the result was an expensive rolling tragic comedy of miscommunication, unresponsiveness and contradiction. Keep in mind, these consumers were excited to remodel the pool and were looking forward to the pool ownership experience. But now, instead of reveling in the joy of swimming and entertaining, they feel very differently.

I decided to share their story here not out of some desire to flog our industry’s reputation, but as an example of what can happen from the homeowner’s perspective. It’s the flipside of all the great qualities and attributes watershapes can bring into people’s lives. And, frankly, I believe listening directly to what our industry’s consumers have to say has been a missing piece in our collective professional dialogue.

Simply put, it makes sense to listen to the people who spend their money on our products, for our industry would not exist without them. I believe we stand to gain by listening to both the upsides and downsides of the consumer experience.

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