The Biggest Lies In The Pool Industry
Nothing is as it seems in the swimming pool industry. The level of misinformation that exists around swimming pools is astounding. Pool owners tend to be guarded when dealing with pool industry folks since there is a stigma about people who work in the pool industry similar to how used car sales people have a negative stereotype associated with them. So what does it mean to be "guarded"? It means that pool owners will lie to you. They will tell you things that are abjectly false directly to your face, or on the phone, or via text or email. They are doing this to protect themselves, being guarded in their interaction, but that is okay because pool industry workers tend to do the same thing.
Why would a pool installer tell you that they will be there Friday, and then not show up at all? Because, telling you that they will be there Friday, and then not showing up, takes you off their plate until at least Monday when they might get around to showing up, or at least returning your call. Now sure it is true that not all pool owners lie like this, and not all pool industry workers lie also, but enough of each group do lie that it basically becomes the problem of everyone. Hanlon's razor reasons that while many examples of misinforming to deceive must surely exist, it is likely that the majority of lies spread within the pool industry are simply done out of ignorance or misplaced good intentions. Regardless of origin, consider this list of some of the most common lies that get passed around like facts when you start talking about swimming pools.
1) Water That Changes Color When You Pee
This is one of the oldest lies in the pool industry perpetuated by parents and grandparents who might want to occasionally use the pool as well, but are too horrified to do so as none of the kids get out to use the washroom like they should. Enter a harmless white lie about some magical chemical that changes color in the water when it detects urine. In case you are wondering why this does not exist by now, the answer is simple chemistry. Let's assume you invented a chemical, that when added to the pool water, will turn bright purple in the presence of urine. So customers buy it, add it to the water, and their entire pool instantly turns bright purple...not a great selling feature for people who like to go swimming. Chlorine reacts with urine the same way it reacts with other things like oils and sweat which is to covert them to chloramines. This means that a chemical designed to react with your pee would also react with the other chloramines in the water.
Closest truth - When you pee in pool water the water turns a little yellow for a moment and the slowly reverts back to the original color leaving behind guilt and shame as the only residual values. Looking at this from a completely different angle, a test strip for accurately identifying a Baby Ruth candy bar could potentially save commercial pools millions of gallons of wasted water due to pranks every year.
2) Sexy Pool Owners
When I was a teenager there was always hope for a beautiful woman to come out and keep me company while I serviced the pool. In total I have been to thousands, probably tens of thousands of backyards, and it just never happens. I mean it might, and it is all luck of the draw and surely some pool service workers might tell a different story, but to put it in comparison, I have been propositioned by beautiful women zero times. I have however, on two different occasions, serviced a pool for a cantankerous old battle axe that thought it is perfectly acceptable to sit outside and spray me with a garden hose any time I was not performing my work sufficient to her standards. Two, separate, cantankerous old battle axes.
Closest truth - A sultry 50-something wife of a Russian gangster was naked on the hood of (one of) her Ferraris when I arrived to fix the problem with our recent indoor pool installation. I did not even feign politeness, and might have even vocalized "oh hell no" as I immediately turned, and ran to my service truck. Y'all ain't muderin' me, Comrade!
3) The Sexy Pool Boy
While the expectation for sexy pool owners is somewhat of a letdown, it pales in comparison to the letdown of pool owners over the patently untrue rumor of the "sexy pool boy" servicing your pool. While true that scooping leaves is a hell of an abdominal workout, you would never get to see this because pool workers tend to cover up from the sun to avoid dying of melanoma at 30. All day, every day, is a long time to be in the sun wearing nothing but a thong. The reality is that most pool workers are gross. Even if one in particular might actually be attractive, we are arriving directly from the last job where we had to scoop out the mostly liquified carcass of a deer. And don't hope for an early morning appointment to be any better...by 7:00 AM most days pool workers already smell like they slept inside a tauntaun last night.
Closest truth - Some of us might have been attractive back when we were young and full of life. Once you begin full time work in the pool industry you are quickly depleted of your zest and all of your life force usually reserved for longevity and vitality gets used up just in sustaining your day to day schedule. The end result is that pool industry workers tend to age like a rotting potato.
4) You get To Interact With Animals
If you are the new guy at a pool company and someone asks if you like dogs, this is not because there is a super friendly awesome dog that you totally need to meet on your service route today. Getting the chance to work with animals would be great...but this ain't it. Like a veterinarian who goes to school for ten years because they love animals so much...and now they euthanize up to 100 adorable family pets per week. That must be so rewarding for them. In the pool industry you might get to meet a nice dog, or a wild critter not trying to kill you, but for the most part your skills as an animal lover will pretty much be used avoiding dog attacks and scooping handfuls of unidentifiable fur from skimmer baskets.
Closest truth - Your mileage may vary. Experiences with wildlife in the pool industry will be entirely dependent on where you are located geographically. While the critters lurking in and around your pool might change from place to place, from inconvenient all the way up to deadly, we all share the ability to tell how long something has been floating in the water based on the current state of decay.
5) You Get To Work With The Public
Do you know why someone would say that you "get" to work with the public? Because it takes a negative and makes it sound like a positive. Yes you will meet nice people who bake you cookies and give you back rubs, and we call those people Unicorns, as identified on this list on pool owner personalities, and they will be the exception, not the rule. In general, for some unknown reason, people are unusually hostile and protective of their swimming pools. Probably because they are expensive and highly technical, kind of like a nice car maybe, and owners feel insecure about their lack of understanding of how it all works together as a bigger picture.
Closest truth - To work on pools you have to be able to work with the public. This means the weirdo's in addition to the normal nice people. If you are going to work on pools you have to have thick skin for working with all kinds of crazies...drunk people, angry people, confused people, helpless people, hapless people, frightened people, carnies, the Dutch...you must be able to deal with all sorts when working on pools.
6) I Use Salt Water Because I Am Allergic To Chlorine
This lie has haunted the swimming pool industry for over 30 years. Still, every single day I will have at least one interaction with a pool owner who has, or wants, salt water because they are "allergic to chlorine". First, are you really, because if you are then the government should absolutely be studying why 75% of the entire population is suddenly allergic to chlorine. This seems like a huge problem, but in actuality, these people are not allergic to chlorine. What's worse, is supposing they are one of a tiny portion of the population sensitive to chlorine, then a salt system for their pool is going to likely end badly. Why? What is chlorine made from? If you had to, I don't know, make a bunch of chlorine...how would you do that?
Closest truth - Salt water can feel nicer on the skin for some people, but is still 100% a chlorine pool in every way except for where you get your chlorine from. Knowing that a salt pool is still a chlorine pool is a small technical fact, but this is important or else you might accidentally season your steak tonight with sodium hypochlorite since you don't understand the chemical relationship here.
7) I Will Remember To Unlock The Gate For You
No you won't. Let's not lie to each other Sharon. You are not going to remember to unlock the gate this time any more than you remembered the last three times. And I, in turn, will also not remember to move that 300 pound concrete statue you asked me to move into your shed for you "when I get a chance". When it comes to relying on the customer to provide access, or turn on the water, or lock up the dogs, or do any number of other things, you can pretty much count on this being a problem right away, or at least sooner than later. This is why most pool companies, and almost all of the larger ones, require keys for the yard in order to be in control of when we have access to the pool.
Closest truth - Pool owners probably mean well, but an open or locked gate simply is a low priority to them. They have zero appreciation for how little fat exists in the day to day schedule of a busy pool service technician. Waiting for 15 minutes for you to come and open the gate, or even three minutes, is out of the question. No lunch, no breaks, 16 hour days, and I jog to and from the truck with my tool box. Literally running. If I had an extra five minutes per house to waste I would probably choose to use it to go find a bathroom somewhere, not use it waiting for you to get off the phone and unlock the gate.
8) Fiberglass Pools Are Better Than Concrete Pools
Said the person trying to sell a fiberglass pool. While it is common to hear pool owners talk about deciding between fiberglass and concrete for their pool construction, this is strange to hear this as an industry insider. A fiberglass pool, in my professional opinion, would be a much closer comparable product to a vinyl liner swimming pool and yet you hardly ever hear about fiberglass versus vinyl liner comparison shopping. This is largely due to the cost of fiberglass often being similar to concrete pool costs. All other factors aside, including price and quality of the specific builder, concrete pools are decidedly higher quality than fiberglass pools, with greater longevity, and vastly superior design flexibility and potential for luxurious interior surface upgrades.
Closest truth - A custom built-on-site product like a concrete pool has more opportunity for installer error than a pre-manufactured product such as a fiberglass pool shell. That being said, a well built concrete pool should outlast a fiberglass pool shell due to structural integrity inherent in the product. Neither will be maintenance free, and both will require new interior surfaces at some point. Feel free to check this list that includes the 10 oldest pools in the world and you will notice that there are no fiberglass pools on the list.
9) It was working fine before you touched it
I don't know how this lie ever got enough traction to become commonplace in the pool industry. In the world of auto mechanics just try to tell your mechanic that your transmission was working fine before he changed your oil...so it must be his fault. That mechanic might ignore you completely, or they might pull a muscle laughing in your face so hard, but in neither case will they assume even one iota of responsibility for the condition of your crappy car. Pool workers tend to try to accommodate people as much as possible as we are used to the tentative understanding most people have about their pool, and that is how this lie was able to get started.
Closest truth - If you have a 10 year old pool pump it did not break because your service person emptied the strainer basket. Even if that particular priming cycle was the one where your pump decided to give up the ghost, it was the 10 years of service life, and not the very last person to physically touch it that caused it to fail. If I hit you with my car so hard that it breaks the engine is that your fault because you were the last person to be touching the front of the car?
10) Pools Are Nothing But A Money Pit!
It is very easy for me, as an industry insider, to see how this lie about swimming pools got started. While it is true that a bad experience with a swimming pool can leave you tens of thousands of dollars lighter, in the vast majority of cases this could have been avoided by caring for the pool better (or having the pool inspected to avoid buying someone else's problem). Pool nightmares don't just fall out of the sky - there is usually ample warning about the impending failure. Owning a failing pool is a lot like a game of hot potato...just don't be the last owner when the pool finally calls it quits!
Closest truth - Just like a car, if you buy a Mercedes SUV and then drive it without changing the oil, or brakes, or servicing it properly, when it finally quits going it is going to cost you a fortune to repair it...plus it will probably break again soon from other abused and ignored components. A pool is much the same way. Take care of it and you will avoid unexpected and expensive repairs for the most part.
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