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Vendor Chutzpah: Leslie’s loses customer

apr13pool1Here’s a smart move: when 8 to 10 percent of your customer base is out of work, raise your service prices through the roof. And, with gasoline prices under $2.00 a gallon, tack on an exorbitant “trip surcharge.”

That’s exactly what Leslie’s Swimming Pool Service, a national organization, is up to. Apparently management at headquarters has slipped its communal trolley!

Every year as the weather warms (and again at the beginning of winter), I get a routine clean-out of the pool’s diatomaceous earth filter. It’s no job for rocket scientists: all you do is take the shell apart, lift out the innards, haul them out to the alley, drag a hose out there, and wash out all the old used-up DE. Then you put the thing back together and recharge it with another eight pounds of DE. Really, it’s a happy handyman task. Unfortunately, I’m a handyperson and don’t have the physical strength required to drag the heavy stuff around. So I’ve always hired Leslie’s, which last year charged $85 for the privilege.

This year I call and discover they’ve jacked up the price to around $100, and on top of that they’re adding a “trip charge,” bringing the price of a pretty easy, very ordinary job to around $115. 

So I told the dispatcher I’d schedule the guy for next week, but said I would have to look for someone who would do the job for a more affordable price. OK, said she, assuring me Leslie’s is rock-bottom.


Cassie and I walk past a house whose occupant parks his pool-service truck in the driveway. This afternoon, I rang the doorbell, introduced myself to him, his wife, and their three children, and learned that he’d be only toooo happy to do the job for $85. 

He came by a few hours later and did an excellent job, no different from what Bob the Leslie’s Guy always does (Yes: I do watch them). 

What would possess a company to ratchet up their prices when their customers are being laid off right and left? And then add insult to injury with a “trip charge,” when gas prices are barely out of the basement? 

Let’s hope Leslie’s doesn’t ask for a taxpayer bailout, too.