2 years and $46k later, Punta Gorda family wants pool company to finish the job

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It’s been two years since this Punta Gorda grandmother says she and her husband signed a contract for an in-ground pool. As you can see, the job isn’t done.

The couple says the pool company is giving them the runaround and won’t tell them how much longer it’s going to take. They needed help, so they reached out to WINK Investigates reporter Céline McArthur.

Charlene Damery wrote me a letter.

“Dear Celine, I feel guilty writing to you about our problem when so many other people are having many more desperate issues following the hurricane, but we need help and don’t know where else to turn…” Charlene Damery, Punta Gorda

I visit her at home to find out what’s going on.

It’s 89 degrees on this sunny afternoon. Charlene would love to cool off in her pool with her grandkids, but they can’t. Right now, it’s a deep, dry and potentially dangerous concrete-lined hole.

“I just want to cry. We’ve waited so long for this pool to be done,” said Charlene.

Charlene Damery’s grandkids in the pool that remains unfinished.

June 2021, Charlene and her husband signed a contract with Grant Pools in Port Charlotte.
The total cost: $57,750.

Page 1 of Charlene Damery’s contract with Grant Pools.

Nearly two years and $46,200 in payments later, the pool still needs work, water and a cage. According to Florida law, that cage needs to be up before the pool is filled.

“And now they’re at a complete standstill, because we’re waiting on a cage,” said Charlene.

She says Grant Pools hired a subcontractor in 2021 to handle that part of the project: Superb Aluminum and Screening.

“After we signed the contract, the cage company came out and measured, got a permit,” said Charlene.

That permit was approved in September of 2021, but she says the company never came back, and the permit expired.

“We’ve tried to be understanding, but we’re just not getting answers,” said Charlene.

She tried.

Charlene showed me two years of text messages with her point of contact at Grant Pools: Saleswoman Nickie Willette. Charlene’s been asking her about the cage since last May. That’s a year of questions.

“I’m sure I have made a nuisance of myself as much as I text and ask questions, and I usually get one word or short responses,” said Charlene.

Fast forward to April 2023. Willette claimed Superb Aluminum and Screening, “sent a legal letter from their attorney canceling all our cages.” She didn’t include a copy of that letter or present a backup plan.

“We see absolutely no end in sight to the problem,” said Charlene.

Charlene had enough. She asked Grant Pools if she could put in a temporary fence, so it could be finished while they find a new cage company. She says they would only say yes if she paid the remaining balance of the contract: $11,550. But that would give the pool company all the money, without doing all the work.

“We refuse to do that because then they have no incentive to make sure the cage is up,” said Charlene.

I hit the road to get some answers. First stop: Grant Pools. Staff wouldn’t answer my questions and told me I had to “call corporate.” Grant Pools is owned by Holiday Pools of West Florida in Sarasota.
I called them from the parking lot. I was sent to voicemail.

In the meantime, 10 minutes after I went into Grant Pools, they emailed Charlene.

Email from Grant Pools Project Manager Randy Kirkland to Charlene Damery on May 1, 2022

Project manager Randy Kirkland claimed his email was down…. the owner was out of town… and he was hoping to hear from him that week.

“We’ve got an excuse after excuse,” said Charlene.

Next stop: Superb Aluminum and Screening. I called as we got close to the business which operates out of this Port Charlotte home. Their voice mail says they don’t want anyone showing up without an appointment. So, I left a message.

They called back with the name and number of their lawyer: Rich Markow. He wouldn’t answer my questions. In fact, he told me he would not even confirm or deny he’s representing Superb Aluminum and Screening! For me, that’s an unusual response, so I asked a local legal expert to weigh in.

Fort Myers Attorney Scot Goldberg examines Charlene’s contract and communications with Grant Pools.

“When you try to get the side from the other person, and they don’t want to talk to you, there’s a red flag. If they tell you to call their attorney, and you call their attorney, and they can’t confirm or deny, there’s another red flag,” said Scot Goldberg.

Attorney Scot Goldberg doesn’t represent Charlene, but I asked him to weigh in on what’s happened so far.

“Somebody going this long without a pool. It’s unconscionable,” said Goldberg.

But without a specific deadline in the contract, I asked him if this waiting game can legally go on indefinitely.

“Well, I think the answer to that particular question is no, since there is no time frame. So, a judge or a jury is going to say what is reasonable,” said Goldberg.

That would mean filing a lawsuit in civil court, but Goldberg says you can also file a police report.

“That’ll get them moving,” said Goldberg.

Charlene hasn’t filed a police report or a lawsuit. At this point, she says she’s hoping the company will do the right thing.

“It’s very stressful,” said Charlene. “And, you know, I’ve had to seek medical advice because I’ve lost some hair. I don’t sleep at night. My family says, ‘don’t stress, don’t stress.'”

We will stay on top of this project until it’s complete. In the meantime, if you have something you want me to investigate, email me at celine.mcarthur@winknews.com. Or, like Charlene, you can write me a letter.

WINK News, 2824 Palm Beach Blvd. Fort Myers, Fla. 33916.

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