When their family pool started cracking for the third time in three years, Ty Boker and Tina Sionne said they weren’t worried since they thought it was under lifetime warranty.
The pool cost them roughly $37,500, but they said it will be about double that once fully paid off, and for the last six months they have had to pay a little extra, they said.
About $40 worth of water a month to keep their pool filled.
“It’s been leaking for quite a while now,” said Sionne.
“It started on my right side,” said Boker, gesturing to the pool behind him,” and now we have cracks on the left side, almost like the pool is splitting in half.”
The Blue Haven pool is under a structural warranty for as long as they own it, according to the couple. The Modesto Blue Haven Pools & Spas franchise from which they bought it, however, is now out of business.
And the Blue Haven national office is refusing to honor the warranty.
“I don’t want a $40-, $50-thousand planter box,” said Boker. “The conversation is, ‘Uh, it’s not our responsibility.’”
So if you buy a product and the local franchise goes out of business, does the national office have to back the warranty?
A larger corporation can be held reponsible for a franchisee, according to consumer attorney Stuart Talley.
The Modesto franchise used the Blue Haven logo and national customer service number, which Talley said leads customers to believe they are signing with the larger corporation.
“You can have a situation where someone is acting as an agent for another person,” he said. “I think they should expect that the franchisor, the large company, will honor that warranty.”
But Blue Haven National Management’s president, Robert Namer, sees it differently.
“That customer is not my customer. You know who my customer is? The franchisee,” he told CBS Sacramento by phone. “We take no responsibility, have no responsibility.”
Namer said since the pool had been repaired for cracks before, there may have been “earth or ground movement,” which he said could void the warranty.
Still owing $35,000 on a cracked pool doesn’t make the couple happy, Boker said.
All licensed contractors in California have a $12,500 bond consumers can sometimes tap into if a company goes out of business or dupes you. The couple is now filing a claim to see if any of that money is left, they said.
“I can’t fathom why they are not responsible and why they would not stand up or back their product,” he said.