Consumerwatch saves the day

2011-02-11 00:00

WHEN Michael and Shelley Maree of the Bluff turned to East Coast Radio’s Consumerwatch for help in September last year, they had spent R138 000 on a swimming pool job that had left them with little more than a large hole in the ground. A few months later, the Marees are the proud owners of a sparkling new pool.

“After months of disappointment and being disillusioned, this is almost unbelievable. What we have now is a complete turnaround of what we were left with before Consumerwatch helped us,” said an overwhelmed Shelley.

Their story is not an uncommon one.

In March last year, the Marees planned to have a jacuzzi installed. They found a contractor online to provide them with the service: a smooth-talking Durban-based man who talked them in to putting a swimming pool in as well.

By September, they had made 11 electronic transfers into three different bank accounts provided by the contractor but were left with an incomplete swimming pool and paving job and no jacuzzi. Their backyard was now an eyesore but the contractor refused to accept responsibility for this. Instead, he provided a series of excuses, from health issues to unreliable workers and too many other jobs.

By the end of September the couple turned to Consumerwatch for help. Show producer and news editor Di Macpherson made contact with the contractor who assured her his workers would return to complete the job a few days later. They did, for three days in mid-October, but that was the last the Marees saw of them.

In early December, the Marees’ story flighted on Consumerwatch. Good Samaritan Mike Bruyn of La Lucia-based Sapphire Pool Services offered to help.

“In my 17 years in the pool business, this was one of the five worst pool jobs I have seen. The pool had been cut skew. Every part of the job was incomplete, haphazard and poor quality. The Marees were really taken for a ride,” said Mike.

He called on colleagues in the pool industry to donate products and he and his staff took care of the rest. He approached Mazista Tiles who donated all the sandstone tiles. Reliable Pool Centre provided the marblelite needed to complete the pool. Living Earth added the final touches by putting in beautiful instant lawn. The pool was completed within a week at no cost to the couple and plants were put in at Mike’s own expense.

“I’m so grateful to the team at ECR and to Mike for turning our nightmare into something beautiful,” said Shelley.

Wendy Knowler urges consumers to do their homework before taking on any contractor, and never to pay upfront for building work. “Being asked to pay the major portion of the quote before any real progress has been made should be a massive red flag,” she said. “As always, word of mouth referrals are the way to go. Choosing a contractor based on an advert and a seemingly good price is really risky.”

The Marees’ story is just one of the many success stories of Consumerwatch. Listening to Wendy Knowler every Thursday at 8.20 am could save you heartache and a great deal of money!

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