Lowcountry customers pay thousands for pool installations that never began
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Lowcountry pool company has left at least a dozen customers out almost $250,000 after customers say the company agreed to install pools they never began working on.
Lowcountry Fiberglass Pool owner Wayne Riley began operating throughout different areas of the Lowcountry to install fiberglass pools for customers beginning in July 2020.
Working with Mike Arant, manager of sales and service for the company, Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools claims they would install the custom pool shells from Custom Fiberglass Pools, a distributor located in Georgia.
Customers signed contracts with the company between 2020 to 2022, including Colleen Chrien who is still out almost $30,000 with no pool to show for it.
Arant visited Chrien’s property in Sept. 2021 and signed her contract that day with Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools, saying the installation would be in Nov. 2022.
Once the permit was approved by the city of North Charleston in Aug. 2022, Arant picked up their check the day of, which Chrien now says was a bit of a red flag. By November, Chrien had not heard anything from Arant or the company.
“We started trying to get in touch with Mike, it was very difficult,” Chrien says. “We finally heard back from him and I had asked him specifically for some kind of proof of purchase, showing anything that they had ordered the pool. He gave me the runaround. Then a couple of weeks went by, and he finally called and said, you know, your pool actually hasn’t been ordered yet.”
Arant then changed the installation date to Feb. 2022, which made Chrien suspicious. She contacted Custom Fiberglass Pools to find out if the pool was ordered, being told by the company that they are no longer in business with Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools.
As of Dec. 8, 2022, Custom Fiberglass Pools, who was creating the materials for Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools to install, terminated the dealership and relationship.
“We sent them [Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools] a demand letter. It was emailed to Mike Arant requesting that they refund the amount that we had paid because they were in breach of contract,” Chrien says. “We haven’t heard a single thing from them since then.”
Chrien shares they still want a pool but cannot afford it now after losing $30,000 with nothing to show for it.
“It’s frustrating,” she says. “We have four kids; my husband was diagnosed four years ago with stage four thyroid cancer that spread and now he has inoperable tumors in his chest. This was our one thing that we were doing, this was our one big thing. For us, it feels like time is of the essence. To feel like somebody can just steal that money and have no recourse.”
Chrien was introduced to Marye Jo and Greg Hartley on Facebook, where a victim’s page was created to bring customers together. The Hartleys signed their contract in Sept. 2021 and gave Arant their deposit of around $11,000 with the check clearing less than 24 hours after signing the contract.
“We had very good contact with them at first but at that point [after the deposit cleared], we started to hear less and less from them,” Greg says. “Marye Jo continued to ask ‘what number are we in the pool schedule?’ We started off at like nine and we worked down to about three, and then we got no response to the text and calls.
Since signing the contract in Sept. 2021, the Hartleys have made 38 phone calls to the business, with little to no response in between.
“I think that equally frustrating is the fact that they just won’t reach back out to us,” Marye Jo says. “We’re very amenable people we could have worked this out. We could have, but they just won’t communicate, which I find utterly amazing.”
Customers say the business told multiple customers the reason for delays was because of supply chain problems, but Custom Fiberglass Pools told the Hartleys they never received a deposit on the pool shell.
“I definitely would like to get our deposit back; I would like to see everybody get their deposit back,” Marye Jo says. “But who will be legally held liable for this?”
The Hartleys and other customers have filed police reports about Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools, asking for action.
As the number of reports grows, so too does the victim’s page, with over 100 members now in the Facebook group.
“What was supposed to be something really exciting in our lives; we have a young grandson, we were looking forward to having him come and visit and swimming in our pool,” Marye Jo says. “Something that should have been a very joyous occasion for us, this just put a damper on it. It makes me angry.”
Riley did not only operate under Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools. Since 2020, he has created four LLC’s including Lowcountry Pool Resurfacing, Palmetto Pool Coatings, Sandlapper Fiberglass Pools and Sandlapper Rentals, according to the South Carolina Secretary of State.
Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau anymore and both the company, Riley and Arant have not replied to requests for comment.
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