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By: Bill Meyer on May 17th, 2019

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Hot Tub Buying 101

Buying Guide

So, you’ve been thinking about a hot tub.  Now, where to start? 

Over the years I have seen literally thousands of folks make this journey.  Almost everyone starts out knowing very little about hot tubs.  The truth is, there‘s quite a lot to learn along the way to ensure you have the very best experience.  In this post I’ll briefly discuss Buying a Hot Tub.  In the following posts I will discuss Installing and Using your hot tub.

There are essentially 4 venues in which to purchase a hot tub; from a local dealer, from the Internet, at a Home Show or at a traveling Road Show.  Call me partial, but I do know all 4 of these experiences and, hands down, you want to purchase your hot tub from a reputable local dealer.  Here’s why....

Local Dealer:

Pros:

  • You will not find the cheapest hot tubs, but you will find the best value.
  • Depending on the dealer, you will generally see 6 – 40 spas on display.
  • You can both dry test (sit in the spa) and “wet test” before purchase. This is much like a car.  Test drive your hot tub before you buy.
  • You’ll work with a local expert before, during and after your purchase.
  • Spa Orientation and Set-Up is usually offered by a dealer when your spa is delivered.
    • Note that some dealers do contract this work out to 3rd parties. You want a dealer that does everything in-house.
  • Longest warranties, with local service for all repairs. The top manufacturers offer 5 years for major equipment and plumbing on their top brands.

Cons:

  • Due to a lot of advertising by other venues, it may be perceived that you are paying a premium for your spa. You really aren’t because the top manufacturers sell their hot tubs only through dealers. Cheap spas really are just that…cheap spas!

Hint

Check reviews on all 3 of the major independent platforms; Angie’s List, Yelp, and Google.  I’ve ranked them in this order because:

  • Angie’s List checks every review to ensure they are real.
  • Yelp has an automated review process that sort of works.
  • Google has no process to check reviews.

Internet:

Pros:

  • Low Prices.

Cons:

  • None of the top brands are available for purchase via the Internet.
  • Short warranties. None offer more than 2 years for major equipment and plumbing.
  • You can’t sit in a dry spa or wet test any spa you might be considering. So how do you know it’s right for you?
  • 1-800 # for Support
  • Your Spa will be “drop shipped” - That is, left in your driveway.
    • Some will offer delivery to your backyard for an additional charge
    • The driver delivering your spa knows nothing about hot tubs or how to safely handle one.
  • If you are dissatisfied your only option is to try to return your spa. You will pay for removal and shipment.

Hint:

These folks usually try to make their spas sound impressive with high jet counts and inflated horsepower rates.  However, the most important thing is how you feel in the hot tub. The other stuff is secondary!  Once again, I will advise you wet test your hot tub before purchasing. 

Home Show:

Pros:

  • Generally, at Home Shows you can visit a number of dealers and manufacturers without having to travel around town.
    • However, some Home Shows have, in recent years, gone to “Partnership Agreements” where they limit the number of dealers and charge the dealer more to participate. Less competition is not good for you as a buyer.
  • Home Show Prices may be different at these events.
    • Any reputable dealer will offer the same prices in their showroom during these Home Show Events.

Cons:

  • Often High-Pressure Sales Tactics.
    • Some dealers will use “Manufacturer Reps” at these events. Often these “Reps” travel around the country selling a different brand every weekend.  In other words, they are “Reps” for that brand only for that weekend.  They know they will get paid only for what they sell that weekend and they want to SELL!
  • You can’t wet test hot tubs.
  • These are fast paced events. Even the best sales consultant has only minutes to speak with everyone in their booth. 
    • We find that it takes 1 – 3 hours with our customers for them to make their best-informed decision. This is just not possible in the heat-of-the-moment during a Home Show.

Hint:

During the Home Show, visit the actual dealer’s showroom instead.  You will have the full attention of the Dealer’s sales people.  And most dealers will offer their Home Show prices in their showrooms both the week before, during and the week after a Home Show. 

Road Shows:

Pros:

  • Quite frankly there are none. Not even the “bargain” they claim you receive is true. 

Cons:

  • Definitely High-Pressure Sales Tactics
    • They are in-town for the weekend. These people know they have 3 days to sell a hot tub.  And the Sales People know they are never seeing you again. 
  • A lot of deception occurs at these events
    • They will say they have 5 – 7 brands available. They might, but they will all be made by one company.
    • They will claim “Up to 50% OFF”. Sometimes they will even claim more.  However, it’s very likely they have 1 such spa, and often it will somehow have already been sold.  “But we have good deals on other spas.”  Not likely.
  • Very High Risk
    • The largest company doing these events in Central Texas just went belly up owing a lot of money to the manufacturer and those who bought spas in recent months.

Hint:

Don’t go.