5 On Your Side

Pool company goes belly up; homeowner out nearly $100,000

Posted September 11, 2008

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— Having a backyard swimming pool is a dream for a lot of homeowners. When several of them didn't get what they paid for from Blue Water Pools, they called 5 on Your Side.

The Apex company has an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau. "Sometimes you just kind of deal with it. Other nights, you cry," Zebulon homeowner Elise Collins said.

Last December, Collins hired Blue Water Pools, run by brothers Joe and Dan McLean.

By April, Collins had paid the McLeans more than $52,000. Then, in May, with only a shell of a pool, an unfinished deck and pipes sticking out of the ground, the work stopped.

After repeated unanswered telephone calls, Collins went to Joe McLean's house. He told her Blue Water Pools was out of business.

"It's been really rough. It's been really rough,” Collins said.

What is worse, other pool contractors tell Collins, much of what the McLeans did do needs to be re-done. For example, the hot tub has problems.

"He kind of bragged that nobody ever puts this many jets into a hot tub. But now we're learning there's a reason nobody ever puts this many jets in. It just doesn't work," Collins said. "We've actually had people tell us to just fill it in. I can't do it. We paid $10,000 for this hot tub. I can't just fill it in."

Two more customers, who each paid at least $20,000, also complained to 5 on Your Side. The McLeans left both homeowners with giant holes in their yards.

"The last thing that Joe McLean said to us was, if it was any consolation to us, our pool was farther along than the other victims that had showed up at his house," Collins said.

When 5 on Your Side talked with Joe Mclean, he blamed the "economy" saying, "The price of everything went up." In spite of Collins' writing most of her checks directly to Dan McLean, he told 5 on Your Side that he was only an employee of Blue Water Pools – not an owner.

As for Collins' pool, estimates to finish it top $58,000. So the total cost for her pool is gong to be about $100,000.

"Yeah. Which is ridiculous," she said.

Collins realizes she won't get any refunds from the McLeans. She just wants to warn others.

"I don't want them to ever do this to another human being," she said.

Turns out, Dan McLean has a new business, Endless Summer Pools, that was advertised on Craigslist.

Neither of the McLeans is licensed by the Licensing Board for General Contractors, which is required for construction work costing more than $29,000.

Collins said she didn't check any references when she hired Blue Water Pools. She said she won't make that mistake again.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • iamyeary Sep 12, 2008

    If I ever want a pool, I will buy a house with a pool already included and completed.
    That sounds like the best way to go after reading about all these scams. Good Luck, I hope you get some of your money back.

  • cocker_mom Sep 12, 2008

    What a terrible story - and really - how dare they start up a new company and start advertising. Unless they are going to put together a repayment plan to pay back the folks they stole from, this kind of activity should be against the law. In understand how corporations are set up to protect individuals - but there should be a sense of personal responsibility to try to do the right thing - esp when they have a partially finished pool and are still trying to stay "in the business". They could say that they will complete the pool in longer time or something to show honor.

  • jgirl5830 Sep 12, 2008

    My heart goes out to this woman, I hope everything works out for her in the end.

  • elisecollins33 Sep 12, 2008

    Some of you people are heartless! Animal Lover, VitaminX

    We are not rich people with no smarts. The money came from inheritance. I held my mother's hand while she drew her last breath after a 6 year battle with cancer, then the McLean brothers stole the money that she left me.
    I was using this money as a home improvement and installing the pool to rehab my two crippled dogs. One had a stroke and the other has had two knee surgeries and hip dysplasia.

    What you do not know is that we had interviewed 5 other pool companies before going with Blue Water Pools. Dan McLean was the only one that showed up, gave us a quote when promised and followed through on anything.

    Also Blue Water was referred to us by a VERY well known pool company in the area, but because we were working with THAT pool company at the time of the interview with Monica we didn't want to say anything for fear of having yet one more pool company blow us off.

  • tjaynes Sep 12, 2008

    This woman was not an idiot - you don't invest $50000 for a lifelong dream and NOT take care of it. She did her homework and got lots of quotes. It was simple - she was taken advantage of and the sad thing about it is that there are no laws to protect against this. She has contacted a lawyer, she has pressed charges - the guy lied to her. He filed fraudulent documents to get the permit. It was not her fault that a criminal takes advantage of people. Your comments are ignorant and heartless. Nothing wrong with wanting to build a pool in your own backyard and paying a seemingly reputable company to do it.

  • HappyGirl08 Sep 12, 2008

    Lawsuit I say, lawsuit.

  • us-citizen3 Sep 12, 2008

    Again, hindsight is 20/20. Do your homework in advance and foresight can be close to 20/20 too.

  • jen082679 Sep 12, 2008

    I am not an attorney but I think you should contact a lawyer. There are many things you can do to get your money back from these schemers.

  • VITAMIN X Sep 12, 2008


  • GWALLY Sep 12, 2008

    Had a pool installed 4 years ago. Got referances, visited several install sites, one in Rocky Mount, one in Goldsboro. Talked with the homeowners. It was an experiance to say the least....heard some horror stories and heard some good stories. Did not select the cheapest company (or the most expensive). Went with a fiberglass mid size pool. Everything even then was not 'perfect' but.....I hade done my homework and put some time and effort in 'learning' the do's and don'ts. As with any construction project be prepaired for the unexpected. Be prepared to do the landscaping to get that 'picture' perfect look you see in all the pool mags. Have been 'lovin' it ever since!!! (in ths swim as they say)!!