Customers Say Pool Company Took Money, Left 'Huge Mess'
By Jennifer Kraus
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered questionable business practices by a Middle Tennessee pool builder. The investigation comes after homeowners in at least four counties say Premier Pools left them high and dry.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned the state has now launched its own investigation into Premier Pools. The head of the state Contractors Board has also called for an expedited investigation based on the seriousness of the allegations.
Premier Pools has been accused of taking millions of dollars from customers. Homeowners said, in return, they got pools that aren't finished or can't pass codes inspections. After NewsChannel 5 Investigates found that this isn't the first time such charges have been made.
Wendy Seem of Brentwood has a large hole in her backyard filled with scum, bugs, trash and tall weeds.
"We were supposed to have a pool deck, pool, waterfall with a ten-foot slide," Seem said, as she looked out over her backyard.
The project called for a $50,000 pool that was supposed to be finished more than a month ago. The last time Seem saw any workers working on the pool was back in July. Seem is just one of the many angry homeowners who contacted NewsChannel 5 Investigates about Premier Pools.
She said that, after seeing the company featured on the cover and inside Home Magazine, she and her husband gave Premier Pools a $32,000 deposit. But, instead of getting a spectacular pool like the ones featured in their ads, the Seems were left with an unsightly pit.
"Right now, we have a big huge mess in our backyard and nothing to show for it really for the money we put down," she stated.
"This is the way they left us," said David Dudzinski, as he looked out over the mess in his backyard.
Dudzinski, of Mt. Juliet, and his wife told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that Premier Pools hasn't done any work to their pool in more than a month either.
"They just give you excuse after excuse," Dudzinski explained.
He and his wife also paid Premier tens of thousands of dollars and not only is their pool unfinished, he described how "the entire pool has to be dug up and all of the plumbing needs to be redone."
And the spa, which also had to be redone, still isn't right.
"So, basically, we have a duck pond," Dudzinski said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates tracked down Ed Shanks who runs Premier Pools with his wife, Anna.
"I'm not interested in talking to you," he said.
The Shanks run the company out of their house in Wilson County. And, on their website, they claim to be "The Pool People... People Trust."
But what they don't mention is they've been in trouble before for doing exactly what customers say they're doing now.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates tried to ask Shanks, "Why are you taking all their money and not finishing their pools?"
He ignored the question and tried to get into his car.
Before coming to Tennessee, the Shanks ran a similar company called Pelican Pools in Mississippi.
They were arrested and charged with "fraudulently" taking customers' money "with the intent to cheat" to build a pool that was never built.
Both Ed and Anna Shanks pled guilty.
And, not long after, Anna Shanks filed bankruptcy saying she owed money to dozens of suppliers and contractors in Mississippi as well as two dozen homeowners who were Pelican Pools customers.
And, two weeks ago, she did it again, filing bankruptcy, this time as the President of Premier Pools, saying the company owes nearly half a million dollars to dozens of companies in the area. The filing also lists the names of nearly three dozen homeowners who paid Premier to build them pools.
Homeowner and Premier customer David Dudzinski observed, "This is a pattern."
He is one of the homeowners listed on the bankruptcy filing. And, he said that he believes the Shanks have hurt too many people for too long.
And, while neither Ed nor Anna Shanks is talking to NewsChannel 5 Investigates, their customers are for one simple reason.
"They need to be stopped," Dudzinski explained.
One codes inspector found Premier Pools' work to be so shoddy and found that the company was not being truthful when it pulled work permits that he is now working to warn codes and building departments across the state.
Also, many of the contractors and subs that Premier Pools hired to do the work have not been paid in weeks, even months. Some of them are now lining up filing lawsuits in just the last couple of weeks.
Still, it's unlikely that they'll ever get paid now that the company has filed bankruptcy.
If you were a customer of Premier Pools and had a problem with the work they did, you are encouraged to file a complaint with the state contractor's board.
To file a complaint: http://www.tn.gov/commerce/boards/contractors/