The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has filed a civil lawsuit against Waterworld Fiber Glass Pools, Inc., a Hammonton-based installer of in-ground swimming pools, alleging that the company defrauded multiple consumers by, among other things, failing to perform contracted-for work and/or failing to repair its own substandard work, and refusing to refund consumers’ down payments.
The State’s lawsuit, against Waterworld and its vice president, Donald Tallman, also alleges that the company’s failure to fulfill its promises created significant costs and inconvenience for multiple consumers. For example, several consumers rented heavy equipment, had large holes excavated in their backyards, and obtained delivery of 60 to 80 tons of stone or gravel, all in preparation for the dates on which Waterworld had promised to deliver their pools. The company then failed to show up – not merely missing the promised dates, but failing to deliver the pools at all.
As additionally set forth in the State’s Complaint, Waterworld and Tallman allegedly violated the Consumer Fraud Act, Contractors’ Registration Act, and related regulations through the following unconscionable commercial practices, among others:
When Waterworld did arrive at consumers’ homes, it often performed substandard work and then failed to make the necessary corrective repairs, even after the consumers demanded repairs. Examples include electrical work that failed three municipal inspections, installation of a pool that developed hairline cracks within a week of installation, and installation of pools in which the walls and floor became covered with white powder.
On multiple other occasions, Waterworld commenced work at consumers’ homes, only to abandon the work and not return for weeks, months, or at all.
When consumers attempted to contact Waterworld about its failure to perform contracted-for work, its performance of substandard work, or other complaints, the company failed to return their calls. The company also refused to issue refunds when requested by consumers. The consumers had paid deposits in amounts ranging from approximately $624 to approximately $46,000.
Businesses that install residential in-ground pools are required to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs as home improvement contractors, and to comply with the Contractors’ Registration Act and related regulations.
However, the Division of Consumer Affairs discovered that Waterworld allegedly submitted false information to the State in its March 2014 application for the reinstatement of its home improvement contractor registration. Waterworld’s application stated that the company had commercial general liability insurance, as required by law. The State learned, however, that Waterworld’s insurance policy had expired.
Waterworld also provided consumers with home improvement contracts that omitted information required by New Jersey law, such as a project’s start and/or completion date, a copy of the company’s general liability insurance certificate, and/or other required information.
The Division of Consumer Affairs has received 17 consumer complaints about Waterworld.
A violation of the Consumer Fraud Act or the Contractors Registration Act carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for the initial violation, and up to $20,000 for each subsequent violation.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint online with the State Division of Consumer Affairs or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.