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Better Business Bureau: Swimming pool contractors

By By Alan Bligh
June 8, 2013 at 1:08 a.m.


After last year's searing summer, some homeowners may be thinking about installing a backyard pool to cool off this summer. Your Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research contractors and consider how they will use a pool before diving into the project.

Swimming pools can require a substantial investment, particularly in-ground pools. They require frequent cleaning during the season and proper closing and opening at the end and beginning of a season. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to:

Obtain at least three bids and compare them. Make sure the bids specify the quantity, brand, size and color of materials.

Make sure the contractor's paperwork is in order. Ask to see the contractor's license and certificates of insurance.

Ask for references and check them out.

Check Better Business Bureau Business Reviews at bbb.org to see whether a contractor has been the subject of complaints and whether complaints have been resolved.

Ask the contractor for lien waivers upon completion of the project. A lien waiver shows whether suppliers and subcontractors have been paid.

Ask about warranties, maintenance and repairs after the pool is completed.

Make the final payment only after the work is completed to your satisfaction.

Make sure you have a detailed contract.

The Texas attorney general has announced that he has shut down three fraudulent "notario" operations in the Rio Grande Valley for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Notary Public Act.

At the state's request, a Hidalgo County district court ordered the four defendants to pay civil penalties for unlawfully representing that they were legally authorized to process immigration cases before federal authorities.

During the discovery process, state investigators discovered that the defendants were neither licensed attorneys nor accredited to offer immigration-related legal services.

Scam artists have long exploited the misunderstanding between the term "notary" and the similar-sounding Spanish term "notario publico," which is used in Latin America to describe highly experienced, specialized attorneys. Since assuming office, Attorney General Greg Abbott has shut down more than 75 businesses for providing unauthorized legal services.

OK, another time-share warning. Some folks find that time shares meet their needs just fine, but your Better Business Bureau hears plenty from people who are unhappy with them. Either they go to a presentation for some kind of prize they think they've won and end up sitting through an unwanted time-share sales pitch, or they have timeshares they no longer want and can't figure out how to get rid of them.

Unfortunately, several people claiming to help consumers get out from under unwanted time-share obligations were allegedly causing even bigger headaches. The Texas attorney general has announced that the state has frozen the assets of a firm charged with defrauding time-share customers. The court order named Consumer (Mediation) LLC and Charles Williams' aliases, Chip Townsend and Charles Robertson.

The defendants reportedly charged consumers $1,500 to start the process and promised to void the time-share contracts, secure refunds and protect clients' credit ratings. The defendants allegedly used fake forms to give the impression that the firm would contact time-share brokers and negotiate refunds but never followed up with any contact or mediation and never provided refunds. The state alleges the defendants did keep the clients' advance payments.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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