CSLB Urges Customers of Aqua Pool and Spa to File Online Complaint
Plans being formulated to help customers of potentially bankrupt company
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging consumers who currently have a contract with Aqua Pool and Spa (License #799793), of Ripon, to file an online complaint if they believe they may have been harmed after a company officer, Richard Townsend, revealed to KCRA-TV news last Thursday that it had shut its doors and would be filing for bankruptcy. The company apparently has more than 50 jobs unfinished.
At the time of the news report, CSLB had begun investigating more than a half-dozen consumer complaints against the company. Since the report, CSLB has received 16 additional complaints. CSLB investigators have been unsuccessful in their attempts to contact Aqua Pool & Spa officers and are not aware of an official bankruptcy filing.
"It’s important that Aqua Pool & Spa customers contact us as soon as possible," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "This will help us build the necessary legal case and help consumers get the help they need to finish their pool projects." CSLB is working with the California Spa and Pool Industry Education Council (SPEC) and other groups to help consumers who may have been harmed by Aqua Pool & Spa. The goal is to gather a group of licensed contractors to step in and help finish the jobs. The effort is similar to one undertaken in 2006 after a Sacramento-based pool company filed for bankruptcy.
The fastest way to activate a complaint in CSLB’s system is to file online. It’s important that consumers provide CSLB investigators with the following information:
- The current stage of the project with Aqua Pool & Spa;
- A copy of the contract;
- A record of any payments made and copies of checks; and
- Identify what work has been paid for, but not received and take photographs to document all work done.
Two of the four officers on the Aqua Pool & Spa license, Bryan John Townsend and Julio Cesar Rangel, disassociated from the company’s license on August 9, 2010. The two have filed an application for a separate, new license. CSLB has blocked that application pending further investigation.
"Disassociating from a license after there are consumer complaints doesn’t release you from your responsibility for those complaints,” said Sands. “We will not issue a new license until the current investigation is completed."
This case also highlights the importance for consumers to not let their payments get ahead of work performed, especially for the construction of swimming pools. California Business & Professions (B&P) Code 7159.5(a)(5) prohibits contractors from either requesting nor accepting payment before work is done or materials are delivered. B&P Code 7108 makes it a crime to divert funds from a construction project to any other purpose.
CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring and working with a contractor, especially for the construction of a swimming pool:
- Do not make payments for work not performed or for materials not yet delivered.
- Don't pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.
- Don't pay in cash.
- Verify the contractor's license by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or via CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- Ask to see the person’s identification to make sure you are dealing with the correct individual.
- Check references, and get at least three bids and a written contract before your project begins.
- Make sure your contractor obtains the necessary building permits for any project. If you are unsure of these requirements, contact your local building department.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB e-mail alerts. CSLB licenses and regulates California's more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2009-10 CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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