Monday, March 23, 2009
Help Me Howard: Pool Picture
If you hire a company to do work at your home, and you're a satisfied customer, you want to shout their praises from the rooftop, but what if you aren't so satisfied? One family says a pool company is using a picture of their pool to generate more business, but they want the company to stop. Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser wades into this one.
WSVN -- Stephanie Olinick: "It's beautiful. It's like being at a five star hotel. It's wonderful."
For Adam and Stephanie, the pool is their paradise. For their four boys, it's the ultimate kids' playground.
Adam Olinick: "It's more than just the pool, it's where you spend a lot of time, and having four boys, we spend a lot of time back here."
The pool cost more than $100,000, but right after it was finished, a few problems started popping up. A leak, sinking pavers and cracks in the concrete beach.
Adam Olinick: "We notified the pool company and emailed back and forth for over two months, and ultimately they just wouldn't repair it."
To make sure the problems were repaired, the Olinicks held back the final $1,000 for the job. The pool company said they would fix the problems, after they got their final $1,000.
Adam Olinick: "And I wasn't going to give up my thousand dollars, 'Repair it, and you'll get the $1,000.'"
With neither side willing to budge, Adam sued them, so imagine how unhappy Adam was when he went on the pool company's website, and one of the dream pools they brag about: the Olinicks.
Adam Olinick: "'Wait until you check our references,' with a picture of our pool right underneath it. My picture is the first one up on their website."
Adam says the picture of his pool may be there, but he knows they will never let a potential customer talk to him.
Adam Olinick: "There is no way that somebody could come out here, that I am going to rave about them."
But, legally can a company that does business with you use a picture of the work to generate more business for them? Want to dive in, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Unless your contract prohibits a company from displaying a picture of your work, they can do it. I have looked at the Olinicks' contract, and there is no clause to block the pool company from using the picture."
When we asked the pool company owner why they won't take the picture down, she told us the picture is up to show that they did a good job on the pool. She also called the lawsuit frivolous, that if she was breaking the law she would take the picture down, but since she wasn't, she was leaving it, but Howard says she needs to be careful.
Howard Finkelstein: "If a future customer sees that picture, detrimentally relies on it as an example of a satisfied customer, then contracts with the company and then is not satisfied, they can sue the pool company for deception, for misleading advertising and maybe even fraud."
Stephanie Olinick: "You wanna get in the pool?"
The battle over the pool was a headache for the Olinicks. Fortunately, they have the pool to ease the irritation.
Stephanie Olinick: "We had been waiting for a long time, so it was great, still is great. We love being out here. We can't wait for the summer to come."
Now, if you don't want to have work that was done at your home or business used in an ad, just put it in the contract, and if you decide, after the contract is signed, just get something in writing before the job is finished. Odds are, they will sign it to get the final payment.
Drowning in a dilemma that has you all wet? Want us to dive in? Contact us. We'll pool our resources, because sometimes we are all we are cracked up to be.
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