"Most consumers know more about quantum physics than about spas and hot tubs."

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If you are shopping for a portable spa or hot tub, you need to be aware of the level of hype and nonsense used in the spa industry to get you to purchase inferior products at high prices.   We believe that an education on spa design, manufacturing practices, and sales ethics is your  best weapon against the questionable ethics.   We want you to be aware of the methods used on consumers, because consumers do not know much at all about spas.  Most consumers know more about quantum physics than about spas and hot tubs.  

That is why this article is about:


Copyright 2009-2017, Havenmade Inc

This is article about all the bogus, fictitious ratings across the US for spas and a bit about the so-called "awards".  If there is one thing that disturbs me is the use of pure concocted nonsense to sell spas or any product.   How did the marketing people in the US get so unethical?  and Do they really think that consumers are that ignorant?  If you buy into these methods, then you are supporting these people who will do or say anything to get your money.  There is a wolf in sheep's clothing, just waiting for you in many hot tub stores.   That "nice" sales person is not necessarily ethical.  Sweet words do not make for a good spa product. 

Spa and Hot Tub Rating Systems:
Let's start with the rating systems. If you go to some of the spa and pool web sites you will notice that some have ratings on spas as if the ratings are done by an abstract or objective testing of spas and spa designs. There are none that do any effective evaluations.  It is all advertising or worse, the site is owned by a spa company who presents the site as being owned by an objective organization.  You will be surprised to find out that some of the so called large spa companies are doing this.  The clue is the spa with the highest rating is the company that owns the site.

There are no objective spa rating sites, other than the http://www.spashopperguide.com. This site is the only one that evaluates based upon the actual products engineering and if it follows the ANSI standard, or UL standards or if it follows any engineering standards at all. There is no monetary benefit to the owner of this site from any spa company. The types of materials used and the cost to manufacture is a huge part of this evaluation. The prices based upon the actual value of the product are also discussed. The ethical history and ethics used in today's market of the spa company are also part of this discussion. We will discuss the use of puffery or unsubstantiated claims of superiority. This is something that the BBB's code of Advertising will not allow.

If you are a serious shopper, you will not take anything at "face value", especially on the Internet. (On the Internet anybody could be any sort of "expert".) It is up to you to evaluate all the information and determine for yourself the validity of it. You can also contact the web site owner(s) and have them tell you exactly how the evaluations between the brands are accomplished. If it is paid advertising, as most are, they must tell you or they are liable for legal action by consumers. Most are paid advertising or the spa company with the highest rating owns the site. If you are led into a purchasing decision by a so called objective site, and it turns out that the site is owned by a spa company; then your decision is not based upon a detailed evaluation of the spas and the engineering, or the (lack of) ethics of the company.  ( The spa industry is one of the worst industries in terms of ethics, in my opinion.)

 False Advertising Claims of Superiority:
In advertising is it really OK to use a statement such as "The best hot tubs in the world." According to the Better Business Bureau's advertising rules, it is not, because it is basically a lie, one that cannot be proved or disproved without a thousands of comparisons to each and every other spa, (or any product) by a team of consumers, engineers and scientists. That sort of evaluation will never happen because of cost.  The Spa Specialist has proposed a challenge to the spa manufactures, but so far none have agreed to the testing. Even then, who would pay the engineers and scientists? The word "best" is considered a superlative that has no higher value. There is nothing higher than the "BEST". If you use the word "best", it cannot pertain to any product, unless there is a ton of documentation, evidence to back up the "unsubstantiated claim". Web sites that use no "puffery" are the only ones that are allowed to have the BBB logo on them. If you read a site and it has the BBB logo and you find unsubstantiated claims used in the advertising of the products, please contact the BBB and let them know. It would be smart if no one purchased a product from a company that basically tells lies. Puffery is a direct lie aimed at fooling consumers.  Why would you as a consumer support that?  If you make a purchase decision based upon a lie, you  have a right to pursue legal action, not just get your money back.  It is false advertising.

Here is an example: "We have the best spas on earth!" That is pure puffery. Another example: "In our expert's opinions, our spas are superior to all the rest." The second statement is not puffery, because it has a qualifier, the words "our expert's opinions". The first statement is pure puffery. Another example: "Our jets are really some of the best around." Or "Our jets as a good as it gets." These are not puffery, because they qualify the statements with a comparison to other jets as being as good as the rest and that other companies have jets that are just as good, but not necessarily any better. Professional advertising people are highly paid for what they do, so you need to take a lot of salt with you when you go shopping. When all the sweet words of the salesman are placed in your brain, you can counter some of it with a little salt. the "salt" of knowledge.   Here is a good article to start with.  ANSI STANDARDS FOR SPAS

Here are some puffery words and statements: "BEST". "ULTIMATE", "MOST", "SUPERIOR TO ALL OTHERS", "HIGHEST", "MOST EFFICIENT". Terms like "most efficient", must contain qualifiers, such as the comparisons and how the data was obtained.  There has to be qualifications on any use of superlatives or they are lies. Superlatives leave us to believe that something is superior but a smart shopper will never fall for puffery.  If you see puffery used in advertising, don't buy the product based upon these lies, even if you think that you like the product find out all the details of construction. Become an informed consumer. So far all of the spa companies that use a lot of puffery are not the best value in my opinion. I have found that the more puffery the less actual value there is in the products.  Here is an example site with a low return for your investment.   It is some sort of rule, that the marketing people have applied.   One of my favorite examples of this is the page in a well known spa company's brochure.   It shows a picture of "Gray's Anatomy" showing the exposed muscles in the human back.   Superimposed over the muscles are the "bla-bla-asage" jets.  The "bla-bla-asage" jets are the cheapest jets in the spa industry.  They give this set of 14 bullet jets a fancy name.  In reality bullet jets use less water, and cost about 1/7 the price of a real jet. (I do not like bullet jets in my back, particularly my kidney area; feels like a pencil poking me.)  The rule is this:  "The more hype, nonsense, and puffery used to sell, the more worthless the feature is."  If you want to pay a lot of money for very little, you would fall for this puffery in advertising.  Avoid all spas with many tiny "bullet jets" in your back.  I saw one spa with 114 jets, as if the number of jets has much to do with the therapy.  It is the type of jets and the positioning of the jets, as well as the water and air power applied to each jet that determines its effectiveness and not the nubmer of jets.

Take time and read about what a spa is supposed to have in order to be truly quality. Read the http://www.bbb.org site in research about truth in advertising. http://www.bbb.org/advertising/adcode.asp#theright


There are also some worthless statements used in advertising quite often that has no basis in reference to anything at all. It is totally fictitious. As an example there is a car dealer that uses the terms "The Only Five Star Dealer." It is totally fictitious, and the "Five Star" means absolutely nothing. It just sounds good. There are five stars painted on the building. That is all that it means. If you want to be a "Five Star" dealer, simply paint five stars on your building. Is it puffery? No, it is total meaningless, gibberish and nonsense.  It is done all the time.  In one town you will see that all the dealers are "Five Star".

Some of the bogus awards in the spa industry are the "John Holcomb" award from the NSPI. The last award in the spa industry was for a plastic cabinet that was not even developed by the spa company who received the award. By the process of giving out the award to a company that contributes more money to the NSPI than any other company, it invalidates itself. That spa company uses more unsubstantiated claims of puffery than any other spa company. That spa company doesn't even follow the NSPI or the ANSI on the minimum safety standards. They simply sell more cheap tubs for high prices than any other spa company, by the use of extreme puffery and many millions of dollars used in advertising.

The Consumer's Digest "Award":

This is a form of "reverse advertising" and it was and is slick.  It is the "used car salesman's dream".  The magazine editors would contact the spa company and ask for literature on the spas, brochures, and copies of warranty, specification sheets, and a list of average prices across the US. In about a month or so, the magazine would send a letter to the spa company, announcing that they have won the "award" for the "Best Buy" on some spa model. If the spa company chooses, they could pay many thousands of dollars to have the rights to use the "Best Buy" logo in advertising. It is not a wonder that the magazine is no longer in existence (It came back, recently). It was consumer fraud. The companies that used that bogus award in their advertising were just as guilty as the magazine.  It is a disgusting lie to use that in any advertising, even if the product is good.  

Whenever you see any award on any spa site, with stars or "best buy", then you know it is a paid advertising. The latest is the poolandspa star rating on spas. It is totally based upon advertising dollars paid to the Long Island Hot Tubs site. If you watch the ratings they change from month to month based upon who stopped paying for the advertising. A "5 star" spa brand will drop into the one star really fast if they stop paying for the advertising. The clue is to look at the banner advertising on the web site.

The spasearch.com is owned by a spa company. Whatsthbesthottub.com is another advertising company that wants about $1 for each click through from their web site.

What I am saying to you in no uncertain terms is there are no real awards or testing of one spa against another. There are very few sampling of the spa companies customer service policy or even if the warranty is honored. Most all of the awards are paid for by the spa company. Most of the web sites, even the ones that sound like an impartial site are most likely attached to some form of money from spa companies. Why would anybody put up a web site and pay for all the time to put it up. It has to be supported by someone, including this one.

Not For Profit Company and Organization Logos!:

If you see the logo of a not for profit foundation, like "The Arthritus Foundation",  "The Lupus Foundation" or any charity, don't buy the product.  It is pretty bad of a company to imply and infer that their spa (or any product) is better for these diseases than any other spa.  It is also pretty bad to use one's charity in advertising.  If you  want to give to a charity, keep it to yourself.  DONT USE CHARITY CONTRIBUTIONS IN YOUR ADVERTISING.   It shows a sign of desparation and character weakness.  If you must use this in your adverting that means you can't sell the product on it's own merrits.  My sister has the worst form of arthritis and I don't like using the implications that one spa is better for it than another.  It is pure lies to imply that.  The Arthritus Foundation Should never allow their logo on any advertising.  It is called "implied endorsements" and it is frowned upon by the BBB and the FTC.  (It is sleazy!)  Here is the quote from the BBB:

"In general, advertising which uses testimonials or endorsements is likely to mislead or confuse if:

Advertisers should consult Federal Trade Commission Guides on Testimonials and Endorsements for detailed guidance."

Just to show you how bad this gets: I had a woman with arthritis call me and ask questions about a certain brand of hot tub.  She said that the salesman told her that only H#t Sp###g spas are "approved by the Arthritis Foundation".    It seems that the salesman took the Arthritis foundation on the brochure and used it to deceive customers.   That is how bad this sort of deception is today.
Any hot tub or spa, used correctly, can be good for arthritis.

Message boards and spa forums:

Message boards can be enjoyable and a good place to ask questions, but for the most part, the forums I have seen are the worst place for spa shoppers. There are a few that are operated with ethics, but those are very few. They often have a slant that may or may not be to your benefit.  They are edited for content.  The Spa Shopper guide is only edited for vulgarity and for insults and we don't allow spa professionals to post with fictitious names or to pose as spa shoppers or customers.

Read what is written, but take a huge salt shaker with you when you go on those boards. Usually the fellow with the correct information is the guy that gets slammed the most. That is because the spa industry is generally pretty sleazy; due to two things: 1/ spa shopper's ignorance on the subject of spas, and 2/ the lack of any regulation in the spa industry.  THE SPA INDUSTRY IS TOTALLY UNREGULATED.

Any "Joe Blow" can build hot tubs, and make death traps if he wants to. There is no law against it right now in most states. The only hope for the industry is for you as a consumer to find out as much as you can and don't fall for the sales pitch. Never buy a spa without doing research.  The number one selling spa is one of the worst engineering pieces I have ever seen.  The only reason for it's existence is money.  The dealers are supporting greed and lies, but it feeds their family, so on it goes, until you as an educated shopper put an end to it.

Right now on most message boards there are people posing as spa shoppers and owners, who are actually spa sales people. When you see a post like: "I am looking for 4 person spa for under $3000. What do you recommend?"; Then you see an answer that looks like it was all ready set to go, you know that both messages were from the same person. 95% of the people on message boards are spa salespeople.

If you want some real one on one you need to get a list of spa customers from dealers and ask them all the reasons why they bought and ask them about the spa's performance and the customer service from the spa supplier. If you find a post on a message board by a "spa owner", you may want to find out for sure who that owner is. Email them and get their name and phone number so you can talk to them in person. If they post a fake email address, that is a good clue they are sales people. If they use a fictitious name and can't be identified, most likely they are sleazy spa people. We do not allow any professionals to post with fake names on our site. If we even suspect a professional posing as a spa shopper, we block them until the poster is identified. No identification, no posting.  You will notice that the board has very little action, because we do not allow this.  If you as a consumer want to post, it is a good place to share information, without unethical sales people.

Even the message forum here has the possibilities of fakers, as we call them. We publish the IP's in an effort to identify them, and we require posters to register, but that doesn't stop people from using two separate services for the post and the answer. When you see a message board with a post from a spa shopper, and a post from a sales guy, either posing as a spa owner or as a spa salesman, just be aware of this. It may be what we call "seeding the board". It is unethical, but it is done all the time.

On some message boards you will see the same person using up to ten different and who knows how many really, board names.   One fellow I came across on a message board used six consistently.   Makes you  wander what his motivations are.

Independent Testing:

There is a spa company who boasts some sort of outside testing on the spa's energy efficiency.   There are serious flaws in the way the spa was tested and it has very little to do with real world spa use.   They tell customers that they can figure how much their electric consumption will be, based upon this fictitious chart.   Let me make this clear, you can not make a direct comparison to a spa that is kept in a small room and never used by people, and then compare it with a spa that is actually used by humans out side in the cold.   Things like wind,  snow, humidity and the use of the jet pumps when you get out to add chemicals are not accounted for in this, so called independent test.   It is a contrived sales pitch and that is all.  It doesn't follow any standard ethical procedures for testing.  The only real test is out side with people actually using the spa. (Spa Challenge)  If you take a 120V spa and set it outside in Chicago in winter, you will never get a 10 minute soak, much less 30 minutes as this spa company implies.  The starting and ending temperatures are never discussed in this test of a 120V spa.  Add some wind and lets see how fast the bathers run inside for a hot shower to get rid of the chill!  One of the major flaws in this test is the lack of people and real ambient conditions.  It is one of the worst forms of advertising I have ever seen.

As the temperature goes down, below 5 degrees the temperature differential is much greater and the heat loss is tremendous.  That spa could not be used for 30 minutes ever in a Chicago winter, even worse if you start at 102 degrees.  Back in the old days, the owners of these spas would take an allen wrench and bypass the 104 degree limit on the thermostat.  They would set it to 110 degrees, just so they could have a few minutes of soak before the temperature dropped below 100 and they had to get out.  It is not ANSI safety standard to have a thermostat set above 104 today, so a 120V spa is a real waste of money in a cold climate.

Anyone with any scientific background can see that what I am saying is true.




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