Buyer beware when buying a hot tub at a fair
August 31, 2018 – It’s that time of year again, and the Puyallup Fair (yes, some of us purists still like to call it that) starts today. And, so does the opportunity to go there to get a “great deal” on a hot tub.
Olympic stopped selling at the Fair years ago. When you do a cost analysis of how much the Fair requires you to pay to be there and try to even make it financially feasible, it never penciled out. I must confess, way back when, I was one of them most vocal opposers to selling our products at a Fair. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to have to drive, pay for parking and admission, and spend hours getting all kinds of stories (some accurate, many not) about the right hot tub to buy. For me, there was a massive disconnect between riding a roller coaster, eating an elephant ear, enjoying a scone—and spending $8,000-$10,000 on a hot tub. One of these things is definitely not like the other.
Just the other day, a customer who bought a tub from us posted a very nice review for our Everett showroom sales team. In his review, he wrote the following: “I spent countless hours researching everything online. I even debated going to one of those “fairs” that come up every so often to purchase a tub at a big discount. And then I learned how much of a nightmare that can be.” It would seem some consumers are finally catching on that this might not be a good idea either.
I feel compelled to share the story of another customer we recently helped with service on her hot tub. She called us in July trying to get service on another brand of tub. She kept running into issues getting anyone to help her. When my Service & Operations Manager dug deeper, her story kept getting worse and worse. She had bought this tub at the Fair last year!! She had it delivered last November—and the tub had yet to work until her call to us in July!! She had made multiple attempts to get the tub serviced by the manufacturer under warranty to no avail. On top of this terrible treatment, she had signed up to finance the tub purchase. When she sent her first payment into the finance company, the purchase began accruing interest—on a plan she was told would be interest free for a set period. AND—then she received a credit card tied to the financing from a well-known mattress company!! It turns out she was sold a hot tub at the fair not by a hot tub company (or anyone local), but instead a mattress company that had been contracted to sell that brand of tub at the Fair!!
There’s more to the story, but this gets my point across. The economy has been good the past couple of years, and that has opened up opportunity for businesses to start that may not necessarily be operating with your best interest at heart. This was clearly one of those cases.
Don’t get me wrong—there are reputable hot tub companies that show at the Fair. BUT! I would caution you to do your homework thoroughly and consider the following:
- Many hot tub companies hire “show teams” to man Fair booths along with their own employees. They are paid generously to close deals—and then they move to the next town and the next company. They have NO investment in making sure you get what you purchase, and sometimes that translates into the delivery and service experience you might have with the product.
- Make sure you’re buying from a TRUE local hot tub company! Not some random contracted agreement with a company not in the hot tub industry. Shady way to do business.
- Be aware that you have a three day right to cancel on any purchases made at a show or fair in Washington State. You should be offered a statement regarding this when you buy, and have that information disclosed to you. If it’s not discussed, I would think twice about parting with that money.
- You’ll get a FAR BETTER education about what you’re buying in a showroom environment where you can get educated on the important things to do with owning a hot tub and make an informed educated decision on the right tub for you.
- Also: the myth that the deals are better at the Fair these days is just that—a myth.
Please, go and enjoy the Fair! Take in a concert, eat some crazy yummy food, and ride some great rides. Then think about visiting a local hot tub company to buy your hot tub. You’ll have the peace of mind and the hot tub you deserve.
Author: Don Riling
Don Riling is the President of Olympic Hot Tub and has been an active member of the hot tub industry for over 27 years. As the company’s owner since 2016, he has continued Olympic’s legacy of promoting health & wellness through water.