Hot Tub Buyers Guide-Buying a Hot Tub Online

May 28, 2010

My guest blogger today is Caleb Husong, Sales Associate in the Seattle Olympic Hot Tub Company store. Caleb’s extensive experience in the hot tub industry makes him an expert on the perils of buying a hot tub online. He’s heard the horror stories and soothed the sobs of unhappy purchasers who return the tubs they bought online and buy one from Olympic.

“Everyone wants a good deal on a new hot tub. But when does that so-called “deal” become more and less than you bargained for? There are many online retailers where you can purchase a hot tub, and you would think that you’re saving money in the process.

Sadly most of the time that is not the case.  Here are just a few things to consider before taking the plunge into a new hot tub you find online.  Be well informed before you buy!
If the seller you’re considering does not have a local brick and mortar store, watch out!

The first thing to consider when looking into purchasing from an online retailer is
”Can I sit in the hot tub before I purchase it?” Since most online retailers operate out of state, you are out of luck on this one.  By far the most important feature of your hot tub is comfort.  If you cannot try the spa you hope to purchase and relax in, it is not worth the time and expense.  The bottom line is this; you need to try your new tub out before you sign on the dotted line. I mean, WET, with water so you can feel the comfort of the seats, the incline of the back, the jets and comfort for your ultimate enjoyment and, especially important, you want to “hear” the quiet. The only quiet spa on the market today is Hot Spring. Don’t get stuck with a loud, chugger that will wake the neighbors and disturb your sleep as well.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you took a test soak in the models you’re considering!

One question that no one likes to ask is “what if I do not like my tub and I want to return it?” Unfortunately there are too many times that this question is asked because of bad service or tub that is uncomfortable or it just plain doesn’t work!  There are many ways to avoid having to return in the first place; make sure that you try the new hot tub out for comfort and fit and that the dealer that you are dealing with has their own service department.  Doing both of these will save you time, headache and a restocking fee.  Also, try and avoid “as-is” or “clearance” models, these can have a clause in the purchase agreement that states that there is no return policy for those models.  Always chose a local dealer with a good reputation.

The next question is:
“Does my purchase include delivery to the final resting place for the hot tub or just to the end of my driveway?” No one wants to break his back trying to get a hot tub that could weigh between 400-1100 pounds into his backyard!  Gone are the days of offering a few friends all the beer they can drink to move your new spa and party at the same time.   If a company is proud enough to sell a hot tub, they should be proud to install it as well.

Also consider if something does go wrong, “who will service my new investment?” A sub-contracted is usually the one who ends up making the service call and the repair can take weeks or months to complete.  An out-of-state retailer will not be able to service you tub directly so you may end up with a novice attempting to repair the complex systems that are inside your recent investment.  Only trust a certified spa technician that is trained in your brand to work on your hot tub. And, you want that repair person to be local!

No matter whom you purchase your new hot tub from, there are some additional questions that you should ask before you sign on the dotted line.  How long has the manufacturer been in business? You want a hot tub from a manufacturer who has been in business at least 30 years and has a solid reputation.

Is there a local physical retail/service location for that particular brand of hot tub?
You want a local dealer with an excellent reputation! Checking Google Reviews before you shop is a good way to find a reputable dealer.

If something does go wrong, how can I get service on my hot tub? You deserve to have a local number AND have a repair person who’s been factory trained and certified as well as being employed by the dealer who sold you the tub come to your home!  No third party service! You will wait forever and it may never be repaired correctly. And, do not accept a “warranty” that requires you to ship either the hot tub or broken parts to a factory out of state.

What is the length of the warranty and what does it include? 5 years parts and labor and 7 years on the shell is the standard to ask for. There should be no disclaimers for water improper water chemistry on the heater! And, don’t believe a lifetime warranty is the best thing ever-it’s only 7 years in Washington state.

What should I expect to pay for energy consumption? You must insist on full foam insulation to keep the energy cost to a minimum. Unless the seller can produce third party independent testing results (not just their estimates), avoid purchasing! Typical rates for Hot Spring Spa’s Sovereign model in Puget Sound, hot 24/7 and used every day for 30 minutes (in a standardized test) were under $20/month.
What types of water care systems are available for my hot tub? Salt sanitizing systems are the new standard for automated, easy water care that’s environmentally safe. Natural products like SilkBalance should be available for whatever you purchase. Avoid hot tubs that use bromine, chlorine and biguanide for sanitizing the water not only because they irritate the skin and eyes, but also for the hassle you’ll go through to keep the water clean and in balance.
The best place to purchase your new hot tub will always be a local company that has a long-standing relationship with the manufacturer and a product that you will enjoy for years to come.”

Thanks to Caleb for his article on the perils of buying a hot tub online.  In the end, quality pays. The memory of a good deal will fade when you’re stuck with a hot tub that isn’t comfortable, costs hundreds to heat and is hard to maintain.
SANUM PER AQUA.  Latin for Health through Water.

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