Fastlane Stained Stainless Steel handle – a small miracle

After a few months of going around with Endless Pools and the folks at DesJoyaux, the DesJoyaux folks hit upon a workaround if not a solution for my issue with the handle on my Fastlane turning a black color.

As you can see from this “Before” picture the handle (and portions of the stainless steel cage below that protects the impeller) was a murky black color. I was unable to wipe it off to any meaningful degree yet enough would come off if you touched it to get on your hands or your bathing suit.

Several weeks ago, Billy Fowler from DesJoyaux said he thought he had hit upon something that might be of use and suggested two cleaning agents to try. He very generously offered to take back any chemical left if I found them to be ineffective which tells me that he is standing behind his research.

Basically I dumped some of this “StainFree” product from “Natural Chemistry” into a bucket with about a quart of water, donned some rubber gloves and used a rag to wipe the handle. After two or three swipes I saw the stainless steel shining through! It’s much more of a chemical reaction than an elbow grease effort. If I soaked the rag and basically squeezed it around a discolored portion of the handle the improvement was immediate. A bit of rubbing helped a bit but as soon as the chemical was spent there was no amount of rubbing that would improve it any more.


Here is the after picture. I cleaned the handle, pulled the top off the unit and replaced the sacrificial anode (which was designed for  outboard engines) with a much smaller one but which was purchased from Endless Pools.

Now the question remains: Is this a permanent fix that resolves a one-off issue or will I need to periodically revisit my stainless steel pieces?

Posted under On the Home Front, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on April 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Message to Elan Financial (They Manage EmigrantDirect’s Visa)

I sent the following (in two parts) to Elan Financial. Am I being unreasonable?

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction thus far with Elan Financial services who are managing my EmigrantDirect Visa card.

1) When received my first statement in January I immediately went to the Elan Financial website and signed up to have my bill paid in full each month from my bank account. According to a recent exchange I had through this messaging system I apparently should have been aware that, even after having double checked that the payment date was showing as February 6 (two weeks in the future), Elan’s system would not actually make the withdrawal since, inexplicably, this is not enough time for a financial institution in the 21st century to set up such a connection.

I saw no indication on the website that I was to ignore the listed payment date and go ahead and send in what to me would seem to be a duplicate payment via snail mail.

I am astonished that a financial company, managing the credit card portfolio for an ONLINE ONLY Banking service, is incapable of both setting up a funds transfer in under 6 weeks and is further incapable of communicating that fact on the website through which the financial arrangements are being made.

2) A few days ago I received a letter from Elan welcoming me and letting me know that I should activate my card and that my reward rate would be at 1% – no mention of the 1 1/4% that I signed up for and am ostensibly receiving. This was a bit confusing since I have actually been using the card for a month and a half now. Has Elan reneged on the original offer? Is Elan unaware that I am using the credit card?
3) Coincident with the above welcome letter I received a notice from Elan’s collection department whining about my not having paid my first bill. This in spite of the fact that I have been in contact with Elan via this secure messaging system and had clearly set up my account to fully pay my bill fully two weeks prior to the first due date. Can it really be that Elan’s various departments have no contact with each other nor do they have access to my account records?
4) My first attempt at crafting this secure message on the Elan website was lost when the website timed out after 15 minutes of “inactivity” and did not even retain a draft of the message. I again emphasize the primitiveness of a system, in 2013, that would be so unyielding as to not allow the customer a chance to either confirm that they are still using the site or to at least provide a mechanism to retain the work in progress. The page literally vanishes and is replaced with one showing that the session has expired. Also Elan’s website limits these messages to 3500 characters but does not actually tell you this until you submit and then doesn’t tell you by how many characters you have exceeded the maximum.
5) My recent communication with Elan regarding the minimum amount of points required to obtain a statement credit resulted in the unhelpful response that I should phone the rewards department during business hours. Ignoring the fact that the reward website needs to actually say what the minimum rewards amount should be rather than simply responding “You do not have enough rewards points to purchase this item”, I emphasize again that it is no longer 1980 and that email is a common and acceptable way to communicate. One of the reasons I deal with an ONLINE BANK is so that I can communicate asynchronously and not waste my time on hold waiting for a representative to get around to working with me.
I need the following from you:
1) Acknowledgment that my bill will be paid by your online system as it currently indicates that it will on March 6
2) Acknowledgement that my rewards rate is at 1 1/4% as was agreed upon with my initial application
3) Acknowledgement that I will not be fined or assessed any fees as a result of my trusting Elan Financial’s website when it indicated it would withdraw funds through a system that I, in good faith, set up weeks ahead of the payment due date.
4) Confirmation of the number of reward points required to redeem a statement credit.
I await your reply,

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on March 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Zodiac iAqualink items – Response from Zodiac

As a follow on to this, Mat at Pool Tech let me know that Zodiac has since released a fix to correct the concern above so that you are able to trust “Service Mode”. I do not know if they received any other notifications other than mine (via Pool Tech and via my own mailing to Zodiac) but I’m pleased that a potential safety concern was addressed so rapidly.

Now if they could direct some effort toward my lighting issue.

I *did* receive a response from Zodiac’s customer service almost immediately that indicated they’d cursorily scanned the email and did not really take my point:

Thank you for your suggestions. Your comments have been forwarded to our engineering department.

As far as the lighting goes, we don’t have the logic for your specific lights included with our system. Unfortunately, we can’t provide functionality for every light on the market. We only have the most popular programmed in our firmware.

The reason the water temperature isn’t shown at all times is because the reading won’t be accurate. The temperature in your plumbing is going to change more quickly than the temperature in your pool water. This is why the temperature is only shown when the pump is on and the water is circulating.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

So I clarified for them:

I’m working with my suppliers to see about swapping out the lights for another one but it’s looking like the holes in my pool are not going to be compatible.

With respect to the temperature suggestion. I am not suggesting ongoing temperature readings while the pump is off, but only reporting the last accurate reading (pump was on for at least 3 minutes). For myself, knowing what the accurate water temperature was 2 hours ago is sufficient for me to make decisions about what I want or need to do. If I see it was at 76 degrees and I’m going to swim when I get home I know I’m going to activate the heater. If I see it was at 84 degrees I know immediately that I won’t be needing the heat the pool just doesn’t cool down that much over a few hours and so the readings. This ballpark just saves me the 3-5 minutes waiting for the temperature to settle down.

Thank you for responding,



Unfortunately I don’t know that it will go much further than this. I’ll post if I’m able to achieve any progress / satisfaction.

Posted under On the Home Front, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on June 22, 2012 at 7:52 am

Zodiac iAqualink Concern, Issues and Suggestions

It’s pretty difficult to find a contact email address for Zodiac USA. All I can find on their site is one of those moderately useful forms. So I’m going to post this message here on my blog and then send them a link.


Dear Zodiac,

As the new owner of an iAqualink I have come across a few items that I felt should be brought to your attention.


Android Application does not reflect current conditions and ignores Service mode
The Android version of the iAqualink application does not refresh at reasonable intervals. If I log into the application hours or days after my last logon, the information from the previous login is still being displayed. Information such as which devices are on and what the temperatures are should be refreshed, certainly after a new login, but they should also be refreshed with much greater regularity than is happening now.
There is a dangerous side effect to this. Since the device does not check the current system status at reasonable intervals, it is possible to be logged into the Android iAqualink application, manually put your system into “Service” mode and continue to start and stop pumps and manipulate the system as if it was still in “Auto” mode. I recently demonstrated this to Adam of “Pool Tech” (6/5/2012) and he indicated he was going to bring this to your attention due to obvious safety concerns.


My Issues:

Can you program my lights for me?

On 5/29/2012 I spoke with Denise in your customer support area. My iAqualink was installed as part of a new pool installation and the lights that had been installed are Fiberstar’s “Pal Treo” LED lights. Unfortunately these are not among the 4 lighting systems already supported by iAqualink. I am able to get some use of my lights by selecting “Jandy LED Watercolors” which will change my lights to something other than the default color, but of course the colors in the PAL Treo system do not line up at all with the Jandy LED Watercolor system. This is something that would require a programming change on the Zodiac side to implement (or my suggestion below). Denise was to check with your developers and get back to me. It’s now 6/15/2012 and I’ve not heard back from her. I would like an answer on this.

You can choose your light color when explicitly turning on the lights but not for any programmed mode.

If you select Lights (at least as it’s set up on my system and verified by Pool Tech) as part of a “One Touch Setting” you do not have the option to select the color that comes up. Certainly for different “moods” one would like to have the option to choose a color other than the initial start up color.
Similarly, when setting the “Dusk” settings for the lights there are no provisions to select a color when choosing your light device. This needs to be corrected.



Allow a DIY lighting setting so that consumers can set up their lights themselves

My experience here is somewhat limited, but a common theme among light systems seems to be that you turn on your light switch and then you flick the switch off then on again to cycle through the offered lighting options. An interface that allows you to specify how many of these options there are, plus the colors that result from these off/on cycles might make the iAqualink system compatible with more lighting systems while reducing the overhead for keeping up with them.

Retain Pool Temperature information when the filter pump is not on

Just like on a weather page, provided you indicate the time for which the reading is current, it would be very useful to me to be able to see my temperature at a glance without needing to turn on my pump system and wait for the water to cycle long enough to get an accurate reading. The temperature will not be exact but since you can see how old it is you can decide for yourself if you need to force a more accurate reading. Since the system is on at least once a day I will always be somewhat in the ballpark and to me this is much more useful than a BLANK reading.

Allow me to change labels for Temp1 and Temp2

It took me a while to figure out that Temp2 was my pool temperature. I’d like to be able to just change the label so that this is obvious to my wife.


Yours Sincerely,

Marc Bourassa

Posted under On the Home Front, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on June 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

How to stop CVS automated prescription calls

** Update March 1, 2014 **

Jeremy (in the comments below) pointed out that the second number is to opt out of that annoying reminder that your prescription is ready. Presumably you already know when it will be available and you just happen to not be able to immediately run out and pick it up. It will keep for a few days…

** End Update **

It’s a minor annoyance but when my phone rings it’s because it’s somebody I want to talk with, or there is a problem at work. I don’t want to be called because I might need a prescription refill or there is one ready and waiting for me.

For some reason there are two numbers you need to call. The first one is absolutely simple:

To opt out of the refill reminder calls dial 1-866-514-4965. It will default to opting the number you called from out but will ask to confirm this and ask for any additional numbers.

Not sure why, but the second one needs for you to speak with a person:

To opt out of the prescription ready reminders dial 1-800-746-7287, you’ll need to yell “more options” into your phone and then yell “Opt out of reminders” to be taken to a person who will remove your number(s) for you.

I suppose it’s a useful reminder for some folks but I prefer to keep track of my own stuff.


Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on March 15, 2012 at 9:38 am

Warning regarding purchasing golf balls from

*Updated 2011.10.22*

A couple of days ago I received a package from Knetgolf with a dozen replacement balls. They arrived unannounced (except for the note from UPS regarding the impending shipment). So I had no idea what, if anything Knetgolf was going to do regarding my order.  I’m a little surprised they didn’t shoot me a quick email to tell me their intentions but I do give them kudos for making things right.

*End Update*

For myself, I’m fine with plain old white golf balls. Now that I’m a bit older I usually buy my balls new as I do see a difference between those and balls that have been sitting at the bottom of a lake for a month.

Michelle has concerns other than performance in mind for her golf balls and so I was tasked with getting her a some PURPLE golf balls.

I eventually found a place that sold reconditioned purple balls (don’t tell her they’re not new) for a reasonable price from and ordered two dozen.

The balls were delayed in getting to us by a day, UPS noted that this was because the label was unreadable.

When we received the balls the following day, I could see the issue. The label had been destroyed and the box obviously ripped open and taped shut again.

Inside, one dozen of the balls were fine. The other dozen had their little mesh bag ripped open and was actually missing one of the balls. Of those remaining 5 of them look like they had been dragged across some surface hard enough to scrape the shell down so they are smooth in a patch on one side.

Sending a note to Knetgolf’s order confirmation address with a couple of pictures had them respond by asking me to resend the pictures to their help desk. I never heard back.

About a week later they sent me an automated survey email asking how they did. To this I relayed the same story as above and never heard anything back either.

The value of the balls is not enough for me to get worked up about. But the pretense at customer service with absolutely no follow through was irksome.

So I post this warning. I’m sure the fault for this lies in UPS’ court, but it’s up to the vendor to deal with any issues with their carrier. Of course I won’t be patronizing knetgolf again and, if you are thinking of doing so, you should consider this anecdote with respect to their customer service.

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on September 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Cancelled my DirecTV service

Hmmm…  Apparently the $99 I paid for my DVR back in 2005 wasn’t to actually *buy* the unit but rather is a lease price and they want it back. No doubt there were too many people who were continuing to watch all of their recorded content long after they had cancelled service and they needed a way to quell that.

Since mine is about as useful as a brick I have no objections to returning it. Looking at my bill I can see that I’ve had a $6 charge for a “leased receiver” (and a corresponding $6 credit) forever so I can’t really say they weren’t telling me that.

Who really pays attention to those line items anyway?

Now, what will life be like using Netflix, Hulu and other Internet resources for entertainment?  We’ll have to see. The adventure begins…

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on August 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm