powiebabyJuly 17, 2006

Hi. Has anybody purchased above-ground pools from Gibraltar or Ambassador, or a Johnny Weismueller pool thru Namco (pool and pool supplies dealer). Any comments on any of these? Strongly considering purchasing a pool and trying to find info on each of these.....

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I had Ambassador (from Norwood, MA) and Diamond Industries (HQed in NJ, but operates in a number of states) come by to discuss above-ground pools. Turns out they have identical pools because they have the exact same pool manufacturer. The guy for Diamond was actually from the pool manufacturer filling in for a Diamond sales guy. He showed us the same exact pools as the Ambassador guy, same pool demo parts, etc. The Ambassador prices were about 4-5 grand cheaper across the board from a 24'round (13,9K) to 15x24 (14,4K)and 15x30 (14,9K) ovals. These 3 pools were top of the line extruded aluminum walls and fantail/walkaround deck and fence, -32 degree cold crack 22 gauge virgin vinyl beaded liner, Hayward 1 HP sand filter/pump. I didn't bother calling Gibraltar, since I now know the ballpark price range, and Gibraltar has a rectangular pool with the bottom drain that poses a safety risk for small children. The reps did pull out news articles on Namco pools and Sharkline pools, but I think these were for steel or resin pool horror stories. The Johnny Weismuller pool we looked at at Namco was their top line pool made of all extruded aluminum. With the installation, the Weismuller oval pool is going to come in around the same cost as the others, and it has a squared off end deck, rather than the fantail deck. I think the Namco sales rep said I wouldn't get charged tax either (MA buying in NH). But they contract out their installers. Not sure who to go with here. Nobody out here in cyberland has any knowledge or experience with any of these brands?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 9:29AM
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Okay. Following up to my own post here.

The Ambassador Pools sales rep came by last Thursday. We did not bite on any pools, but were interested in their largest 15x30 swim area oval pool. All extruded aluminum construction, including deck and walk-around and fence. Hayward 1HP sand filter, 22-gauge virgin vinyl beaded liner with -32 degree cold crack factor. Well, the owner called my wife back this past Monday to ask about our experience with the sales rep. She told him that the rep was terrific and all, but the pools were more $$ than we felt we could afford right now. Well, the owner really wanted to sell us a pool and get an Ambassador pool in our town, and particularly our neighborhood, which is a new subdivision full of fat cats (we are the slimmest - trust me). Maybe the sales rep told the owner about our lot and the exposure that his pool would receive. My wife told the owner on the phone that you can see upwards of 15 homes from our back deck. So the owner decided to cut us a rock-bottom deal in order to put his pool in our neighborhood. The owner told us that the May rains resulted in a number of delays and cancellations. With X number of cancellations and whatnot, the manufacturer offers the pool seller X dollars discount in order to generate more pool sales. That, along with Ambassador's pool buyer demo program, and Ambassador's strong desire to get their pool seen in the neighborhood, gave the owner the incentive to offer us their top-line largest oval pool with decking and walk-around, all extruded aluminum construction, installation, the whole kit'n'kaboodle for $4500 off the $14,900 price, and a week to decide before he takes his offer elsewhere. Nearly a 33% savings!! Too good for us to pass up. So today we bit. The owner's son (family business) came by the house this evening and was really excited when he saw the neighborhood. So they are giving us their biggest and best pool, with a 10 year full/30 year limited warranty, the deal also includes one free relocation of the pool if we move, and the son also agreed to toss in winter and solar blankets for free, and he also agreed to reimburse us the cost for a skimmer, which unexplicably did not come with the included filter/pump/accessory package. We are being given 90 days deferred financing, but I will pay that off right away as I plan on taking out a home equity loan. So we should have our new pool installed in about 7-10 days. We'll still get a good 4-6 weeks use of the pool this season. Needless to say, we are thrilled!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 12:17AM
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How is that Ambassador pool working out for you? We just signed a contract on Monday to have their 15x30 pool installed this spring, and I wanted your opinion.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 10:56AM
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Hi, jsevinsk.

Just doing some follow-up and came across your inquiry about how my Ambassador pool is doing. So you bought the same pool that I have, the 15x30. Assuming that it also has the wraparound promenade deck and fantail deck at one end.

Well, this was my 2nd summer with the pool now. The operation of the pool itself was great all summer. Opened Memorial Day weekend, and we swam thru Labor Day, with a couple more quick dips through September. I am in the process of closing up the pool now for the winter.

I'd be interested to hear about your experience with having the pool installed, and what you received from Ambassador in the way of paperwork and accessories. We ran into a bit of a problem with town hall and the permitting process. According to our town hall, it is illegal for Ambassador to sell a pool in Massachusetts with just that fold-up ladder attaching to the deck. State code says that this entrance to the pool is required to be fenced in with an auto-locking gate. Well, 4 months after we had the pool installed, we ended up expanding our deck over to the pool deck and eliminated that fold-up ladder altogether.

My first pool closing last fall/winter turned out to be quite a learning experience. The winter cover we got from Ambassador was a 15x30 cover, and it didn't take into account the 15" wraparound deck and uprights that support the fence. It barely reached to the wraparound decking, and that prevented the cover from properly resting on the surface of the water and then draping over the side of the pool. And that was another problem. With the decking and uprights, you couldn't ideally secure the cover to the pool, like you could with an AG pool without a deck attached. We ended up buying an 18x33 cover, so the cover would rest properly on the surface of the water and extend onto the decking. However, securing the cover was still a problem due to the decking and uprights. There is no gap between the sidewall of the pool and the decking. So you cannot get a cover to drape down and secure to the outside wall of the pool. And with the uprights that go all around the pool, you cannot drape the cover over the wraparound deck, either. I originally had the cover cable winding around all of those uprights. But I came to realize that that is probably not a good way to do it because heavy snow might put a strain on the cable and possibly cause the uprights to bend. Well, I went with that for the fall, but realized that the wind had no problem getting under the cover and flapping it like a spinaker sail. I tried laying down those blue water bags all aroudn the deck to keep the cover down. Still, the wind could get underneath. The water bags would get knocked off the decking and hang down aroudn the uprights. Many of them developed leaks. I strung rope all across the pool in an effort to keep the cover from blowing so much. I did much on-line research on how best to secure my pool cover with the decking like it is. Found nothing. I really didn't want to place huge rocks or cinder blocks or other very heavy items all around the deck to secure the cover because they might have put undue stress on the decking.

So I will try a combination of things this fall/winter, taking into account what I learned from last winter.

One other big problem I ran into was with the liner. To facilitate closing and opening without draining water, I replaced the skimmer plate with a new one called Lid'l Seal. It's a new skimmer faceplate that comes with a tupperware-like cover that you snap into place to cover up the opening. Then, you drain your hoses and there is no water getting into the skimmer compartment that could freeze up in winter and damage the compartment. I put the new faceplate on in the fall, but soon realized that when you do such a thing, you have to replace the gasket that goes around the skimmer opening on either side of the liner. I blew that off until the spring and just let the water seep out of the pool until the surface was just below the bottom of the skimmer opening. Come May, I was preparing to repace the gaskets. You have to take off the faceplate again, and apply silicone sealant to the gaskets and affix them to the liner and then screw the faceplate back into place. That effort almost cost me the price of replacing the entire liner. WHO KNEW?? The water was jsut below the bottom of the skimmer. I unscrewed the faceplate. And the liner began to pull away from around the opening. It was impossible to get the liner back in place to line up the screw holes and get the faceplate screwed back in. Called family/friends with pools for suggestions. NAMCO, etc suggested draining soem water to get some play on the liner. Ultimately, I had to drain ALL of the water from the pool. Warming the liner with a hair dryer didn't help much either. I got "some" stretch to the liner, but not enough, and even if I had 2-3 people helping me to stretch the liner in place, their hads would have all been in the way and prevented me from screwing in the faceplate. Just as I was about to proceed with a pool store's suggestion of affixing a huge liner patch and then cutting out the hole for the skimmer, I got an 80 degree sunny day that had the liner sagging all around in the heat. I was able to get the requisite stretch to the liner without having it pull away, and I managed to get the faceplate screwed back on. Wasn't 100% certain if that last screw lined up perfect with the hole in the edge of the liner there, but I went thru the season without losing water, so I must have gotten it well enough.

UGH! That first year was quite the learning experience! But the pool itself is nice. In another year or so, we'll get rid of the fantail deck and expand the wood deck some more.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 11:26AM
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As for the installation, I thought they did an OK job at the time. But after they left, I noticed the first problem, which was a few loose bolts. They were mainly on the ladder, but some were the main bolts holding the pool together. And, although the installers placed concrete blocks under all of the posts, they did not place them under the buttresses. I suspect that may have led to the second problem, which was the buttresses sinking into the ground and causing the side walls to bow out. However, I had no trouble getting Ambassador to come out and fix this problem. The guy that fixed the buttresses said to NEVER remove the skimmer or the return fixture while there was water in the pool, because I would never be able to get the liner back into position. I think that this is some information that you could have used earlier. :)

As for accessories, I got a vacuum head and a hose, along with a cheap telescopic pole that I immediately replaced. I got a chemical starter kit. I got a ladder that in my opinion is wobbly and poorly constructed, because when the first time an adult slipped on it, the extra strain pulled the ladder's screws right out of the deck. I also got a set of wedding cake steps which have a handrail that feels like it's going to snap off every time I use the steps. I'm a bit annoyed that the installers just left the steps for me to install. They needed sandbags to weigh them down, and the sandbags weren't included. Also, one of the sandbags broke open when I removed the steps for the winter, which made a huge mess in the pool. Oh, speaking of sand, the installers left me about a yard of it just sitting in the middle of my driveway. It would have taken them less than a minute to scoop it up with their Bobcat and dump it somewhere, but it took me a couple of hours to deal with it.

The winter cover that they gave me does extend to the outside of the deck, which I was happy about. I bought a water tube to handle the part that's over the large deck area. Let's hope it works.

The building inspector in my town had no problem with the stairs. However, I too would like to build my own deck around the pool and eliminate the stairs.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 4:42PM
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I recently bought an ambassador pool in Norwood, MA and the pool itself is nice, however buyer beware of the salesman. He came across as friendly and helpful (as most salesmen do), however when it came time to discuss the prices he pressured you into buying. I felt more like I was at a timeshare presentation than investing in their product. My experiences with them since that time have been the same.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 4:38PM
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I know it's an old post, but here's another experience with Ambassador Pools.
We called Ambassador Pools (Norwood, MA) after a friend had their 15x30 installed. I had not had a chance to check out my friends pool of discuss it with him, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to have the sales rep come over.

The rep Danny, said he was the owners son. He was very pleasant at first, but he soon got on our nerves. His first mistake was to make unflattering comments about our friend who had just had the pool installed. He referred to him as being very picky and demanding.

During the sales pitch, he asked us if we had looked around at other pools. We told him he was the first one. Later in the conversation while talking about pool construction I mentioned I had been looking on line at pools and checking out what's available. He said "Oh, I thought you said this was the first one you checked out" It felt like he was trying to put us on the spot.

Danny presented the technical details of the pool fairly well. The conversation about cost was a nightmare. It was very much used car and timeshare sales mentality. Very insulting. He basically said that you buy their pool or you buy garbage. There was nothing in-between.

He gave us the price (over $18,000) and then started with the demo pool discount 'deal'. Something like $4500 off if you sign NOW! We told him that there was no way we were going to make that kind of $$ commitment without time to talk it over. He asked if it would help if he went out to grab a bite and came back. We told him we would like a day to sleep on it ant talk it over.

Now we went into used car salesman mode. He said that "some of their salesmen sell this pool for $20,000-$25,000 and split the extra money between themselves and the company". It sounds like a high pressure sales force getting what they can out of the customer. He said this price was just for us and don't let others know what we paid. Give me a break! Who knows what the price for the pool really is?

He used his father like a used car salesman uses the manager in the back room. Danny said that this deal might not be available in the morning depending on his fathers mood. "Is that a risk I'm willing to take?" I haven't had an experience like that since I bought my first car in the 70's.

I donÂt think I will be dealing with Ambassador Pools

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 10:06AM
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I purchesed the 30' x 15' oval Elite Pool with the deck and fold up ladder from Ambassador in Norwood, MA three years ago. The price was $14,900, and I too was given this great warranty. The two men, one supposedly experienced, and helper, came to install the pool on a Saturday after missing the scheduled appointment the day before. They came at 1:30, five hours late, because the "expert" was having problems with his girlfriend. He was on the phone every little while arguing with her. They had to come back the next day, and he got "sun stroke" he said. The sand base for the pool was not leveled and had pockets from boot prints. The lined was all wrinkled and they didn't get out the wrinkles before filling the pool. They started from the opposite side of the filter, so by the time they cut the liner for the skimmer opening, they had to stretch it. Needless to say, over the first winter, the liner ripped just below the skimmer and had to be replaced. Ambassador would not agree to the "full" warranty or admit that it was the installation that caused the rip. Finally, they charged me $400 to put in another liner. Yes, that is a 50-50 deal, but I felt cheated considering the problems with the installation and the number of times someone had to come back, even admitting that the wrinkles not suppose to be there and overlapping so much. I was told by the office that the warranty is on a sliding basis depending on how many years you won the pool. They wanted to charge me $800 to replace the liner after one year of ownership. Beware!

I could not get the clorine levels to show. I called to ask what to do, and they assumed I was just reading the results wrong. They sent a tech out that told me he has been in the business for 20 years and has never seen that before. No solutions.

The cover they included with the package is light weight and doesn't fit the pool with the deck. The installer told me to close the pool without using the cable included because it would weigh down the sides of the pool and collapse it. He said to hang filled milk jugs off the cover instead. As a first time pool owner I asked questions, and believed I was getting correct information. He also told me to run an outdoor extension cord for the filter. Luckily, I called an electrician to connect that properly. I was also told that the deck should not have been installed above the skimmer, because there should be full access to it.

This year, I already have a cracked ladder. Not just one place, but many places on the handle connection and the step. We have stairs also, so the ladder is rarely used. The Hayward pump leaked, and I called Ambassador, but no one would answer the phone in service. I called the sales department, and the man was rude and said to call service. My daughter disconnected the pump and brought it to Century 21 Pools in Chicopee, MA, and the seal was replaced within an hour. She brought it home, and we were set! A couple days later, the Hayward filter started to release water out of the backwash hose while filtering.
Again, I couldn't get anyone to answer at Ambassador service. It was busy at one point, so I kept calling for 45 minutes. Finally, it rang through, but no answer! I called Century 21 again. The tech came and found that the gasket was put on upside down when it was installed. That simple to fix.

I called Ambassador Pools, and Janet answered this time. I said I feel like I just need to vent my frustration with this very expensive pool. Besides the poor installation, the steps floating up, the ripped liner, winter cover not fitting, screws constantly falling out of the deck, the gasket installed upside down, and other odds and ends, service doesn't answer. Her response: "Well, when you talked to someone in service, they fixed the problem." She took phone number and my e-mail and said someone would contact me. That was over a week ago, and nothing!!!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 8:44AM
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