Compass Pools Australia – through Compass Pools SEQ – has stepped in to complete the work left after the collapse of one of their Queensland dealers, Compass Pools Northside. They have been completing jobs with help from SPASA Queensland’s Watertight fund and in some instances taking over contracts.
The original estimate of 70 pools has been revised to 52 claims for incompletion, with an additional 12 to 14 small claims that have not proceeded to the paperwork stage as yet, and four which are not related to the collapse.
Of the 52 claims, nine customers had paid substantial sums but had not received anything from Northside. A second category included 23 customers who had the shell and most of the equipment installed but were waiting for ancillary products such as water features. A third category involved customers who had paid a 5 per cent deposit but work had not commenced.
Compass urgently sought to address the nine customers in the first category.
“These people paid a substantial sum but had received nothing from Northside when Warren Druhan’s company went into voluntary administration,” says Compass Pools Australia chief operating officer, Anthony Cross.
“These have been our top priority. We worked with the SPASA Watertight Trust and we came to the party, providing a significant discount on our cost price of pool shells and pool shell equipment. The SPASA trust fund paid the balance, saving about $50,000 though those discounts.
“Of those nine, eight are now fully installed or more than 75 per cent complete, and the last one is due to be installed this week. So by the end of the week, all will be at least 75 per cent complete.”
Regarding the second group of 23 customers who were waiting for ancillary equipment, in most cases water features, Cross says they are already through one quarter of those claims.
“We’re doing three per week, which means it should all be done in the next six weeks, so before the end of September.”
The third group of 20 customers had paid a deposit – on average about $2000 – and signed a contract, but no substantial work had commenced.
“Rather than making them claim a refund through SPASA, we stepped in and signed new contracts (less the deposits) for those who wanted it; 16 re-signed, three wanted their deposits back and one couldn’t proceed because of planning issues,” he says.
Cross says Compass Pools SEQ definitely has the capacity to build those pools in a timely manner.
“We’ve re-engaged several of the contractors and staff who previously worked for Northside, plus we’ve added new management and a construction supervisor to the team. We’re installing two new pools each week, we’ve taken over the sales centre in Chermside and we’re making new sales all the time. We plan to sell a few hundred pools per year in the greater Brisbane area.”
Cross says that despite some anxiety during the first few days, the customers have appreciated the efforts to sort out the situation and resolve it as quickly as possible.
“I’d be very surprised if anyone was unhappy with the ultimate response,” he says.
Adrian Hart of SPASA Queensland says he expects all the work will be completed by the end of the year.
“The important thing to consider is that all those people would have been left wondering where to go and what to do next if we didn’t have the Watertight scheme in place,” he says.
“It’s also important to note that it won’t impact on other customers or SPASA members as there are adequate funds in the trust account to cover these claims and any other claims that might arise in the near future.
“I’ve done an analysis of the fund over a ten year period,” he says. “Every year there’s some sort of claim, even if it’s for someone who went out business years ago – because we provide cover for statutory warranty of structural defects. In a ten year period there would probably be three of four bad years. This is a bad year, but it’s no worse than any other bad year in the past.”
Meanwhile, the Queensland State government has set up a home warranty subcommittee to look into the possible inclusion of swimming pools into the government home warranty scheme. They should report back to the government before the end of the year, possibly in November. More information will be available at that time.