Company investigated by WBTV forced to hand over plumbing license

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Elite Water Systems had its license suspended by state regulators after finding they violated state code while installing purification systems in customers’ homes.

WBTV first investigated the business in January 2020 when customers started making claims about questionable sales practices that lead them to believe the water at their homes was dangerous.

Both James Werkhesier and Britney McCrary explained to WBTV how they felt tricked into buying a water purification system from Elite Water Systems.

“They take no accountability,” McCrary said.

Werkheiser showed WBTV water test results the company provided to him.

“{They) Told us that our water was really bad, that we were drinking high concentrated levels of lead, nitrates in stuff like that,” Werkheiser said.

So Werkheiser bought a $11,000 system but right away he started developing issues with his skin when cleaning.

As luck would have it Elite Water Systems accidentally reached out to him again as a new customer. He played along and had them test his water again, with the system already in place.

“I still had lead in my water, I still had nitrates, I still had high levels of copper,” Werkheiser said.

Beyond the questionable sales pitch, there was another issue with Werkheiser’s project. According to records obtained by WBTV from the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors, the installation of the system didn’t meet their standards.

The Board claims that Elite Water violated a dozen codes that are required for license holders, including not acquiring a permit, not properly connecting the water softener system, and contracting work beyond the limits of a restricted license.

Records show Elite denied those claims but still entered into a consent order to voluntarily surrender its license for five years.

The licensed contractor working with Elite was also suspended for eighteen months.

As part of the order, Elite could continue selling equipment but any installation would require an outside contractor licensed by the state.

It’s not clear if Elite is still operating. Their webpage is down but a person claiming to be an employee picked up the phone during office hours. The owner emailed WBTV a response regarding the consent order.

“Elite Water Systems, LLC took the allegations raised by board seriously and worked with the State Board…to resolve the matter in a manner that was satisfactory to the Board and Elite,” owner Melissa Hardin wrote.

Hardin claimed “Elite is in full compliance with the terms of the consent order.”

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