The way we speak to hot tub shoppers on the road or at a home show is the same. Generally, “Hot tubs are good!” Many brands have unique features and styles that set one apart from another. But, regardless of the aesthetics, the bells, or the whistles, we tell everybody, “You should buy a Hot Tub somewhere, from somebody…Soon!” Hot water therapy really will make your life better.
So as you gather the brochures, but before you entomb yourself in a mound of excessive research, here are three things a legitimate hot tub brand absolutely must have. If you gather this information, you will surely enjoy years of relaxation in your own personal oasis. Gather not, and you risk being swindled by a stereotypical spa salesman sporting spandex shorts, a mullet, or beer-breath:
Recent research suggests that, more than anything else, consumers want a hot tub that doesn’t require the installation of a separate electric meter. But, believe it or not, there are only a few hot tub brands that continually use third party testing for energy efficiency. If a company makes a bold energy claim, ask for the source of the information.
News flash!…Some hot tub manufacturers actually print bogus claims in their literature. I know, hard to imagine. But, in an industry of copycats, it is a widespread practice to plagiarize research and regurgitate brochure language. If you already own a hot tub and you are paying more than an average of $25 per month to run it, you are paying too much. There are tubs that can be run for less than $10 per month…in the Winter! Bottom line: Only look at those brands that can produce scientific proof that you will save money. If their claim sounds far fetched, they better be able to back it up!
Did you know there are more than 250 hot tub brands? Guess how many are privately owned? Almost all of them. I don’t mean to frighten anybody, but let me ask this: What do you think those private companies will do in the wake of an ailing economy, a large lawsuit, or tanking sales? You guessed it…Bail out! And leave their customers to fend for themselves.
I talk with consumers every day who bought tubs from a regional or local manufacturer who can’t find any support for their product. We are watching many of those regional manufacturers go out of business in Arizona, Florida, California, and Georgia. There is, however, a silver lining in all this. Since Enron and Tyco, new laws protect buyers of products whose manufacturers are owned by publicly traded companies. As mandated by these laws, an amount of money per hot tub must be held in an escrow-like account for the duration of the spa’s warranty period. Only buy a hot tub that is, or is part of, a publicly traded company.
Tradition of Service, Support & Endurance
Beware of a hot tub company who can’t tell you where to go to service one of its own hot tubs. We speak with customers every day, who complain, “I bought it from _______, but the company who made it isn’t in business anymore.” Or the classic, “After a few months the spa didn’t work, and we couldn’t contact the company we bought it from.” You should be able to contact the manufacturer of the product, who should be able to direct you to your local service center where you will find replacement parts, service personnel, and other new products for your hot tub.
When stacking up dealerships against each other, ask yourself these questions: Are they free with their information? Do they make it available online? Does the dealer offer free in-store support for things as basic as water chemistry? Is there a forum for you to share your opinion with management about the staff? Can you get a replacement part for one of their 25-year-old spas?
by Rich Moffat