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The best hot tub dealers have been in business for years, carry outstanding brands, and offer good service. They also should offer on-site recommendations for locating your spa, and be able to recommend the size and features that are right for your specific needs. If a salesperson won't do this, they may not represent the dealer you really want. Dealers should also have written records of the operating costs of the spas they sell, and they should offer warranties on all the spas they sell. If you buy from an unauthorized or unscrupulous dealer, they may not offer all these services, and you may pay for it in the end.
Does that deal on a new hot tub seem too good to be true? Cheap hot tub brands may look close to higher priced brands on the outside, but inside, there can be a lot of costly differences. Cheaper brands often use less or inferior insulation, which will run up your energy bills in the long run. Cheap brands often include cheap covers too, with little insulating power. Ask about a spa's service record. If the dealer does not have this information, steer clear of this hot tub brand and this dealer. Reputable dealers have the information on the brands they carry and they aren't afraid to share it with customers.
There's a new brand of spa on the market, called the Japanese ofuro. Traditionally, these were large, wooden soaking tubs big enough for one, or several people. However, these beautifully crafted tubs made out of cedar or teak are making their way into many hot tub showrooms. Buyers are adding jets and filtration systems to these brands to make them more like a spa brand than a traditional soaking tub. They can be installed indoors or out, and unlike a traditional spa brand, they can blend into many traditional bathrooms without a lot of additional renovation. These tubs look more like finely-crafted wooden furniture, and would fit into a variety of outdoor or indoor designs. So, if you're looking for something different than the traditional hot tub brand, look for a Japanese ofuro.
When you purchase a hot tub from a dealer, you should find out what is included in the price before you decide to buy. Is delivery and set-up included? What about start-up chemicals and assistance? Some dealers charge "extra" for a cover, others don't include chemicals or delivery in their prices, and the extra charges can add up. If you think you're getting an extreme deal on a hot tub or home spa, make sure you ask about all the delivery options and additional costs - it might not be a great deal, afterall.
Don't buy your hot tub without a test soak before you sign on the dotted line. Most dealers offer these as a matter of course. If they don't, find out why. Just as you wouldn't buy a bed without testing the mattress, your hot tub is a unique and personal experience, and you shouldn't buy one without testing the jets, configuration, and controls. If you don't test these first, you may wind up disappointed with your spa and your purchase. Most dealers will also open up for after hours soaks if you would rather not test the spa in front of a crowd in the showroom. Look for jet placement, footwell space, lack of noise, and how convenient the controls are.
Hot tub dealers are a dime a dozen, right? There are some things to look for when you begin searching to find a hot tub dealer. First, they should have been in business for some time, and they should carry several brands of hot tubs. Hot tub dealers should offer the names of satisfied customers that you can talk to, and it would be convenient if they also carry chemicals and accessories, so you can shop for everything in one place. They should have the patience to answer your questions and fill you in on things you might not have considered in your hot tub choices. In short, hot tub dealers should be professionals who offer quality products at decent prices. You may have to search for find a high quality hot tub dealer, but it will be worth the effort in the long run.
Does your dealer offer service on the hot tubs they sell? If not, can they recommend an independent service professional? If you live in an outlying area, will your hot tub dealer still travel to service your hot tub? These may not seem like important considerations when you purchase a brand new hot tub, but they can add up to disappointment years down the road. A hot tub is going to need service and maintenance sooner or later. If your dealer does not offer it, your hot tub may be out of commission until you can find someone who does. Make sure you understand what service the dealer offers before you buy.
Don't let the dealer drop your new hot tub and run!
Some dealers will not provide a pad or foundation for your tub, or electrical set-up, they should bring your tub to its final location, and set it up for you. They should take the time to familiarize you with the chemicals and testing, too. When the delivery people leave, your hot tub should be just about ready to use, it just needs to heat up to the proper temperature. A reputable dealer wants you to come back for your next hot tub, and the one after that, too. It can take some time to find the right hot tub dealer, but you should feel comfortable and taken care of when you do.
There's an important consideration for any spa brand you choose, and that's the warranty. You should ask your dealer these questions about any spa brand you're considering. If you don't like the answers, perhaps you should consider another brand or dealer.
• What does the warranty cover?
• How long is the warranty? (The exterior should be warranted for at least seven years, and the interior parts and motors at least five years.)
• Can I see a written copy of the warranty? (If they don't have one, be wary.)
• Is the warranty prorated? (It shouldn't be, you're not buying tires.)
• Who does the service? (Your dealer should provide service, not a third party.)
• Are there hidden service charges? (There shouldn't be – such as "travel" time to service your tub.)
Any reputable dealer should represent a quality spa brand that offers a good warranty on their product.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|