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July 29, 2011
By Betty Carter News
Las Vegas, NV USA

First off, we want to completely state that this article is in no way racist.  We love the Chinese people, and certainly love the low cost products that they manufacture.  We also love the fact that for some reason, they continue to lend money to the United States, when in actuality, there is absolutely no way that we could ever pay them back !  We also love the fact that we can all buy their great big-screen TV's and their high quality clothing.  So let's not make this either racial, nor political, because it is absolutely NOT.

Now to the facts.....we have recently noticed a large surge in the purchase of hot tubs that are made in China.  Now let's get the record straight....not all Chinese made hot tubs are bad at all.  But....for numerous reasons, unfortunately, many Chinese-made hot tubs are not so good, and many consumers worldwide have been taken advantage of by purchasing (or trying to purchase) Chinese made hot tubs.  While some are great, and have quality aftermarket support in North America, many are not.  Period.  After all, we are sure that there are some Nigerian Princes that have recently passed on, and need your bank account number to simply place $50,000,000 into your bank account just by giving them your Social Security Account Number and your Bank Account PIN Number.  But that is not the norm (or so we are told).

Many Consumers Are Being Taken Advantage Of

Quite frankly, many North American and European consumers are being taken advantage of.  There is a serious problem with many Hot Tubs being Manufactured in China.  To make matters worse, some North American parts suppliers are feeding these China Companies with American made parts, assisting them in the training and knowledge of how to manufacture a Hot Tub and allowing these Chinese made Hot Tubs to be sold Worldwide.  The problem is, these Chinese made hot tubs - Frankenstein-ed together with various unregulated American made parts, are wreaking havoc across the globe.  There are no safety inspections, there are no "UL" approvals, there are no import restrictions or inspections, and for the most part, there are no warranties.

In other words, many North American parts suppliers are causing legitimate hot tub sales to be taken away from the legitimate Canadian and U.S. hot tub manufacturers and dealers - and passing off these lesser quality hot tubs to the unknowing consumer.  And hey, these tubs are not cheap.  Sure you may get what you think is a $9000 hot tub for $6000 - but let's be real here - it is still $6000 freakin' dollars.  You should demand and expect a certain degree of quality and product back-up for $6000, no ?

For many North American Hot Tub Manufacturer's and hot tub consumers, they are completely unaware of how serious the problem has become! Many local hot tub dealers dealers worldwide are purchasing these China Hot Tubs, and they base much of their decision making in that the equipment and Acrylic sheets are from very high profile American Suppliers.  This gives both the dealers and the consumers the unfounded confidence that these are, in fact, high-quality hot tub units - where in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

And that's the good news !  The real bad news is that many hot tub dealers (as well as their unsuspecting customers) have given HUGE deposits to some of these Chinese companies - without ever even receiving the hot tubs at all !  Remember, there is no Better Business Bureau or Department of Consumer Affairs in China.  There is no Underwriters Laboratories.  There is no Consumer Reports or Best Buy Awards programs there.  There is certainly no Best Of Class reporting system in place for Chinese-made hot tubs!

Let's look At Some Facts:

If you do a Google search on any China made Hot Tub and you will find suppliers everywhere. Chinese companies are quoting specific hot tub equipment manufacturers and specific Acrylic sheet manufacturers that are being used in their tubs.  Furthermore, they are passing off that these Hot Tubs are exactly like North American made Hot Tubs.  You have to realize that it is estimated that there are between 30,000 - 40,000 Chinese Hot Tubs manufactured each year for the past few years - and that total keeps going up and up.  These Hot Tubs are not certified by "UL" and some even show markings of "CE" approvals, that are either non-existent or completely self regulated in the majority of cases.

For example, right now, there have been thousands of Chinese Hot Tubs sold in the past year, through various popular online shopping sites.   When you view many of these websites you realize that none of these Hot Tubs have absolutely any approvals, and many have Chinese Motors and Chinese equipment...but of course, many boast that Acrylic Spa Shell is "Made in America".

To make matters worse, if you do more Google searches, you will find that hundreds of consumers worldwide have given deposits for various amounts, to some of these Chinese companies and have received nothing - nada - zippo.  And obviously, there is no inter-continental hot tub police authority that you can file a report with.  We doubt that calling Interpol will help you !  In England alone, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in un-refunded deposit monies still due to consumers who never received their "great bargain hot tub".

Not All Chinese Hot Tub Manufacturers Are Bad

Once again, not all Chinese hot tub manufacturers are bad.  But be aware that due to the current international economic climate, China will sell their Hot Tubs to anyone with American dollars, whether you are an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), Distributor, local hot tub dealer, or a consumer.  So what about North America? Are there Chinese Hot Tubs lurking in our backyards? The answer is an outstanding YES.

Within the Hot Tub Industry, there have been large booths at the Industry Trade Shows with Chinese Hot Tubs on display. Believe it or not, many of the Hot Tubs they displayed were all European models (50 Hz electric, not the 60Hz we use in North America), and therefore were not capable of operating at all in the USA or Canada.  Also many of the Hot Tubs shown in these various Trade Shows were not even "UL" approved.

We have to ask.....where are the Consumer Protection Agencies ?  Where is "UL" ? How is this even possible? Even children's toys from China that are found to be containing lead paint are immediately removed from store shelves nationwide.  Yet, hot tubs, that mix water with electricity, are freely allowed to be sold worldwide with absolutely no regulation ?  This is unbelievable.

But let's put safety aside for a moment (if you can).  All hot tubs break eventually.'s E-Commerce store sells millions of dollars of hot tub parts each year directly to consumers who need to fix their aging spa.  Well, we hate to tell you, but does not have access to many of these Chinese manufacturered parts. does not have access to the OEM instruction manuals for these hot tubs. does not have access to the exploded parts-views for these tubs. 

Every Day, Consumers Are Being Disappointed

And you must understand, we receive parts requests EVERY SINGLE DAY from consumers who thought they were doing a good thing by buying a Chinese hot tub to save some money during the Recession, only to be told "No, we do not have access to those Chinese parts". Wow, does that piss people off.  We feel for these customers, because they earnestly thought they were getting "a good deal" on their family's hot tub.....only to be told that they have to sink another grand into a whole new equipment pack for their "new" hot tub when something goes wrong.

This is so unfair.  It is unfair to the unknowing consumer, it is unfair to the legitimate North American Hot Tub Manufacturers and it is unfair to the untold numbers of parts suppliers worldwide who are being yelled at because the replacement parts are unavailable to them from the so-called Chinese Hot Tub Manufacturers.

Even very legitimate "Big Box" retailers are falling prey to this situation.  Major retailers such as Home Depot, Sears and Kmart (many of which are advertisers on our web site - just to be provide "transparency" here) are also unaware that the units they are offering for sale could cause potential problems to their customers.

Who Is To Blame ?

So who is to blame here ?  Well, unfortunately no one particular party - in our opinion.  Consumers are looking for "good deals" during this troubling economic time.  The 'Big Box' stores are just looking for low-cost products to sell them.  The equipment suppliers are just looking for new markets to sell their parts to.  The Chinese are just looking for things to sell to consumers.

But who are the casualties of this ?  Well, the consumers who get a tub that needs parts - and can't get them.  The stores that sell these tubs and receive no after-market support from the Chinese manufacturers.  And the high-quality North American and European hot tub manufacturers who are trying so very keep their heads above water during these troubling economic times.

What Is The Answer ?

So what is the answer ?  Well, like all times of progress and change, unfortunately it is the end-user who ultimately gets screwed in the short run.  Because at this point, no one can fix your hot tub, no one can get the parts for your hot tub, no one will warranty your hot tub, and there is no international consumer protection agency who will help you if you feel you were "wronged" by a Chinese hot tub manufacturer.

Again, this article is in no way a racist point of view.  We are just stating the facts as we see them coming in day after day.  The Parts Department is on the "front-line" of this battle.  And we hear it day after day.  Consumers who feel taken advantage of.  Hot Tub dealers that have been screwed out of products they have paid for.  Hot Tub service companies who are being screamed at by consumers for not being able to repair the tubs they have purchased.

So our current recommendation on this whole situation is......Caveat Emptor......wait........we will give you the time to Google that........OK, it means "Let The Buyer Beware".  Just be aware of what you are buying.  Be confident of the company and dealer you are purchasing from.  Buy a brand name that you can trust.  Do your research on,, and other consumer-oriented hot tub web sites before you make a purchase.

And finally......if you think you are getting "the same" $9000 hot tub for $3000, you may want to think about that.  As your mother always told you...."If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."  In this case, you might want to believe your mother.


Special thanks to Don Elkington from Coast Spas Manufacturing for providing additional information and quotes for this article. To Dan Harrison from Poolandspa.TV and Master Image Productions for conducting many telephone surveys and interviews for this article. To Tim Casey, Parts Product Manager for for information regarding parts sales. To LeShawna Washington at the Call Center for reviewing Consumer phone reports, to Ethan Johnson, for his reviews of Consumer complaints and comments from the web site.  And to the many Canadian and USA based Hot Tub Manufacturers for their specific input and support for this article.

Related Links:

Go To Back To The Online Newsletter Page

Go To The Hot Tub Spa Buyer's Guide & Manufacturer's Links

"What Americans Really Want In Hot Tubs" - Survey Results

Reproduction Rights - Anyone is hereby authorized to reproduce, in written, printed, or any electronic format, any portion of the article above, provided that the following credits are posted with the article: "Article information provided by".

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