Piscines Élégance set up a “system to rip off and overcharge” customers, according to the court

A Quebec swimming pool installer who made headlines by threatening customers who refused to pay huge extras set up a “system to rip off and overcharge” consumers, the Superior Court has just ruled.

• Read also: Ruined by their new swimming pool: money-hungry installers threaten them

Piscines Élégance and its owner, Dominic Flamand, “clearly and voluntarily (…) set up a system of overbilling to enrich themselves,” said judge Carl Lachance in a decision rendered Monday following a civil suit.

The company’s regular subcontractor, Excava Plus, owned by former drug trafficker Patrick Laurendeau, was also part of the “project to dig deeper in order to charge extras to its clients,” added the Court. superior.

The court was studying the case of Simon Comtois, who retained the services of Piscines Élégance, in September 2021, to repair his damaged swimming pool. The work was then estimated at approximately $18,400.

The work took place from October 4 to 13, 2021, following which Piscines Élégance issued an invoice for nearly $145,000, or $80,000 for the excavation.

“The final price is seven times higher than the initial price,” underlines the magistrate.

Searches “not necessary”

Simon Comtois refused to pay this entire invoice. In court, Dominic Flamand demanded $103,000 from his client. Piscines Élégance maintains that its subcontractor had to dig further and fill no less than 37 trucks with contaminated soil during the work. According to him, this is an “unsuspected” extra.

However, “the expertise establishes that the excavation work over an excessive depth and width was unprecedented and unnecessary,” wrote the magistrate.

For comparison, the first swimming pool installer at Mr. Comtois would have dug to a depth of five and a half feet. Piscines Élégance would have had it dug six feet deeper. The excavation was such that a lake was created under the swimming pool and water continually accumulated there, according to an expert witness.

Additionally, the work performed did not resolve the customer’s initial problem. The pool is still sagging and it will take some $22,600 in additional work to correct everything, we can read.

“Tactics” to overload

Patrick Laurendeau, from Excava Plus, supervised the work. The latter was conspicuous by his absence at court.

“Laurendeau did not testify most likely because her version would have been prejudicial, especially since several clients complained to the Régie du logement du Québec about Excava Plus’ tactics to charge extras in similar cases” , writes Judge Lachance.

During the trial, it was mentioned that the RBQ had conducted an investigation into the practices of Excava Plus, meeting with customers of eight sites opened between 2020 and 2022.

“In each case, the facts are similar (…) The searches are too deep and too wide compared to what is requested (…) The extras sometimes represent more than double the offer price,” writes the judge, who recalls that the RBQ has since suspended Excava Plus’ permit.

“Wrongful behavior”

In the court’s opinion, Dominic Flamand’s testimony “is unreliable and its credibility doubtful.” Piscines Élégance should have adequately informed its client about the amount of extras, the opposite constituting “reprehensible and wrongful conduct”.

Dominic Flamand thus “failed in his duty of good faith” and imagined a “system so that his company abuses its customers”, concludes the magistrate. The court thus rejected the $103,000 lawsuit filed by Piscines Élégance and instead ordered the company and its owner to pay more than $42,000 to Simon Comtois.

Remember that the Bureau of Investigation revealed, at the beginning of the year, that Piscines Élégance and Excava Plus had allegedly threatened customers who refused to pay tens of thousands of dollars in extras billed without warning or justification.

Piscines Élégance is currently facing a dozen civil suits, linked to customers who feel cheated. In one case from 2022, the company charged $177,000 more on a $92,000 bill.

The taxman is asking him for nearly $60,000

Debts and worries are piling up for Piscines Élégance, while Revenu Québec is now demanding nearly $60,000 from it.

According to documents obtained by our Investigation Office, Piscines Élégance owes more than $56,000 to the Quebec tax authorities in taxes and some $2,300 in taxes, for the years 2022 and 2023.

In June, our Bureau of Investigation also revealed that the State had taken as guarantee the residence of the owner of Piscines Élégance, Dominic Flamand. The Attorney General of Quebec then demanded more than $14,000 from him for six unpaid tickets in recent years.

Remember that Piscines Élégance made the headlines at the beginning of the year for having given a nightmare to several clients who had retained its services for the installation of their in-ground pool.

The company’s website, Facebook page and premises are closed today. At the end of last March, Dominic Flamand formed a new company specializing in the installation of swimming pools called “Fibre de verre Pro”.

With Philippe Langlois

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