You vs. The Internet

You diagnose a customer’s issue, write an estimate — and next thing you know, they want the part numbers so they can shop around. Do you give them what they ask? If they buy the parts elsewhere, do you still do the work? What’s your policy if they ask you to match a price they find online?

What is your policy or how do you respond when a customer asks for part or model numbers when you’ve recommended they replace a piece of pool equipment? / What’s your policy on installing and/or servicing parts and products you did not sell?

“Some people call to ask for a quote for hot tub covers, pool winter covers, chemicals, whole pool packages and electrical parts. After I give them our price, I almost always hear, ‘But I can get it cheaper online.’ Yes, items may be priced cheaper to reel you in, but they get you with shipping and handling charges. You get what you pay for. The item may not be the right thing for what you are trying to repair, or replace or upgrade. There may be more wrong with your equipment than you realize. There is also no telling what kind of quality or warranty the item has. They think they are getting a good deal but may be wasting time and money, and may be creating an unsafe situation, especially if they do the work themselves. It’s kind of like diagnosing and treating your own health problems. Leave it to the professionals. I gently suggest to them that it is not always a good idea to do work yourself and cite some of my examples. There is no substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a pool/spa technician.”

Becky Bugbee, office manager
Riverside Pool & Spas, LLC
Claremont, N.H.

“We just give a [part] name, then tell them the part may have revisions that would make it different and I won’t know until I look it up, but they all are priced the same. We will install their parts, but we supply no warranty. I let them know that the place I buy them will not warranty it if they did not sell it to me.”

Randy Lapish, owner
Caribbean Pool Service
Concord, N.C.

“We decline to give them. We will on occasion, but are very clear there is no warranty on our labor; that we are not the warranty agency on the part; and that they will be responsible for facilitating the warranty.”

Nic Pereira, owner
Spa Dad and Son
Guerneville, Calif.

“I give them our stock number. If they challenge the number, I tell them that’s the number we use. If they call our store to check the number, it will come up with the part, price and availability, giving us credibility. We do not install or do warranty work on anything we did not sell. We will service it for a price.”

Larry Berczyk, president
Valley Pools & Spas
Burnsville, Minn.

“I use my supplier part numbers, which are 11-digit numbers exclusive to my supplier’s computer system only. We charge time-and-a-half, and the customer signs a form that we are not responsible for the equipment or warranty.”

Raymond Andrecht, office manager
Preference Pools & Spas LLC
Roseburg, Ore.

“I give part and model numbers in all estimates and jobs installed. I will install products purchased online for a flat rate with no warranty on the product.”

Daniel Williams, owner
Affordable Pool Care
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“I really try to avoid having to respond altogether, but if they ask again or are persistent I tell them I will be happy to check on the price and availability, but we do not give out part numbers. We will install the products, but they do not get the warranty that they would have had they bought the product from us.”

Vicki Cook, office/store manager
Bluewater Pools
Lebanon, Tenn.

“Give them the part number in exchange for their info so we can follow up. We do not [install parts they don’t buy from us] unless the item came from the manufacturer as part of a warranty claim.”

Josh Vaters, sales
St. Lawrence Pools
Kingston, Ontario

“I charge a service-call fee to diagnose problems. When they ask for specifics, I offer the opportunity to purchase a specification sheet, which they would be able to use for a competitive bid. I explain that we do not warranty equipment for products supplied by others and that many manufacturers do not warranty the equipment from online purchases.”

David Pavlesic, vice president/owner
Paragon Pools

“Us: ‘I am sorry, it’s company policy to not give out this information.’ Him: ‘Why?’ Us: ‘Because we offer the best service for the best price, and don’t want to compete with low-cost Internet sales that you might purchase online and ask us to install, as we are unable to offer any warranty on these products due to the number of counterfeit products on the market coming in from Asian countries.’ Providing they accept ‘all care and no responsibility,’ we warranty only our own workmanship or labor charge.”

Larry Ogden, CEO
Cascade Swimming Pools
Ellerslie, New Zealand

What is your price-matching policy?

“We cannot compete with the Internet or mass merchandisers. If it is a local business (not distributor), depending on the item, I will try to compete with the pricing.”

Lori Childress, manager
B&M Pool Spa & Patio
Metter, Ga.

“We don’t have a price-matching policy. We have overhead, which we ask the customers to understand.”

Rick Woemmel, president
Bi-State Pool & Spa
O’Fallon, Mo.

“We rarely if ever have anyone request price matching. We are a small business, so we try to price our products at a reasonable price to begin with. We do, however, offer a 10 percent discount on most sales, especially new customers, veterans and senior citizens.”

Vicki Cook, office/store manager
Bluewater Pools
Lebanon, Tenn.

“I don’t match price. Our price is based on quality work and impeccable service. That is worth something others cannot match.”

David Pavlesic, vice president/owner
Paragon Pools

“We offer 110 percent of the difference as an in-store credit for their next visit.”

Jason Miller, vice president
A-1 Pools
West Bend, Wis.

“We don’t try. If an item is unreasonably lower than ours, I ask the person who offers these prices so I can buy from him.”

Larry Ogden, CEO
Cascade Swimming Pools
Ellerslie, New Zealand

“We match Internet pricing if we can verify the price. If there are shipping charges, we add that into the price match.”

Malina Breaux, owner
Blackthorne Spas
Salinas, Calif.

“I still have to make a profit. In some cases, they can buy a part (a cleaner, for example) cheaper online than I can buy wholesale at my distributor.”

Dennis Loriot, owner
Ivy Pool Services
McKinney, Texas

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