Action 9: More than 20 customers complain about pool company

Action 9: Customers complain about pool company; they say they paid $27,000-$63,000

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Action 9 started receiving complaints against Charlotte Fiberglass Swimming Pools last fall.  Action 9 was up to 24 complaints against the business Thursday.

Donna Martin said she paid Charlotte Fiberglass nearly $50,000.

Erica Mudry said she paid Charlotte Fiberglass $27,900.

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Jeff Lafond said he paid $40,000.  "It's just been a nightmare the whole time," he said.

Joseph Anderson said he paid $28,000.  "The list [of problems] is just on and on.  It's crazy," he told Action 9.  "I think all of us, all we want is what we paid for."

Monty Thornburg said he paid $40,000.  "I have a leak in the pump, they damaged my fence, they messed up my yard," he said.  "Something that was supposed to be for relaxation has caused more stress than anything."

Heather St. Aubin-Stout said he paid $33,000.  "Cracked the driveway.  Different problems with the landscape.  And every time, they said they would get it fixed and they would get it fixed."  But, she said, the company didn't fix it.

Yanin Soto said he paid $34,000.

Aimee Mann said she paid $63,000.  "We don't have equipment finished.  The automation that's supposed to be installed has not been installed.  Our ground is still open ground with pipes and such," she said.  "All we want is our kids to swim in a pool."

Adele Hallyburton-Deal and her husband, Shane Deal, said they paid $42,000.  "The concrete slabs are raised up.  It's a tripping hazard around the pool.  I have a slab that's raised about two inches above the other," she said.

Martin and Mudry told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke the pools took longer to install than Charlotte Fiberglass promised.  The others agreed:
Jason:  "Did [Charlotte Fiberglass] promise you how long the project would take?"
Group:  "Yes."
Jason:  "What did they say?"
Group:  "Couple weeks."
Group:  "Two to six [weeks]."
Group:  "Six to eight weeks."
Jason:  "Did it take longer?"
Group:  "Absolutely."
Group:  "It's not finished."

They also said the company gave them the runaround.  "We kept calling for status, for anything, and we just weren't getting any response," Martin said.  "We just didn't get the service that you would expect from anybody."  "If we didn't call them, we didn't hear anything," Mudry said.  She finally emailed Action 9.  "Until I reached out to you guys was when they came and they did everything within a week."  The other customers Action 9 interviewed agreed:
Jason:  "How hard was it to get them to come back out to you?"
Group:  "Impossible."

Some have other complaints too.  Soto said a concrete company claims Charlotte Fiberglass owes it money and so the concrete company got a lien on her property.  Plus, Soto and others claim Charlotte Fiberglass damaged their pool during installation, voiding the manufacturer's warranty on the pool itself.

Some posted online complaints and warnings, but said that led to more problems.   "I put a bad review on Google and they threatened to sue me if I didn't take it down," Hallyburton-Deal said.

Charlotte Fiberglass even wanted some customers to sign an agreement not to bad mouth the company publicly.  It says, "I agree to not post any negative reviews or contact any 3rd part[ies]" including "News Outlets."

The Better Business Bureau counted 34 complaints against the company in the last 12 months, as of Thursday.  The BBB said it spoke with the owner, Niury Ortiz.  It said her husband died recently, so she closed the company.

Customers can go to court, get a judgment against the owner, and, then, if the owner files bankruptcy, at least they'll be near the top of the creditor list.  But, if the owner doesn't have the money, she doesn't have the money.  The state has a recovery fund for homeowners victimized by contractors, but it only applies to projects connected to homes, so not swimming pools.

Action 9 tried six different ways to get in touch with the owner in the past week and even spoke with her attorney.  Action 9 was still waiting for a comment or statement from either of them 5pm Thursday.