Buying hot tubs online and from big box stores


insert-1 The internet offers a world of manufacturers to choose from. In search of good deals, most of us purchase things online. But for big-ticket, mechanized goods, like hot tubs, is it risky to “proceed to checkout?”   

Consider the buying experience of a Long Island, NY, businesswoman, Crystal Philipou. She wanted a hot tub, took to the internet, and found some great prices. 

Before making a final decision, she noticed a local hot tub dealership as she drove along a Long Island thoroughfare.

“I went in and met with Best Hot Tubs’ owner, Bill Renter. After getting pricing for their Bullfrog Spas, I told him about the ‘better’ deals I had found online,” says Philipou. 

“In response, he asked me a simple question. ‘What if something goes wrong? Who will fix it?’ I realized that with so many things today being made in China, parts might be difficult to get and be expensive.”

Philipou had first-hand experience of such problems. As owner of Long Island’s Salon Nouveau beauty parlors, not long ago, she had wanted to get special shampoo chairs that also provided a massage. The Italian chairs she initially liked were very expensive. But she found another version online made in China that would save her thousands of dollars. 

“They even had an office in Queens where I could test the chairs, which I did,” she says. “But I didn’t understand the difference between materials made in the U.S. verses overseas. After purchasing the made-in-China ones, within three months, there were electrical problems. Plus the massage mechanism got very loud.”

When Philipou contacted the store, the company wanted to charge her for fixing them, which would have been very costly. This left her with very expensive shampoo-only seats that couldn’t be used for massage.

Bullfrog Spas X Series Model

Bullfrog Spas X Series Model

“Remembering my chair experience, I decided not to buy my hot tub online. After speaking with Bill, I was fully confident that I could get any problems with my new Bullfrog Spa solved by Best Hot Tubs. Also, as a local business person, I like being able to help another local business, as long as I know I’m getting a product worth the money, as I did here.”

The model that Philipou chose is from Bullfrog Spas’ X Series (X7L) — a wonderful, budget-friendly spa that she found compared very well with the mid-to-high-end spas she had found on the internet.

Best Hot Tubs (Windham/NY)

Best Hot Tubs (Windham/NY)

“At our three showrooms

[Westbury, Farmingdale, Windham, NY], we deal with one of the best-made hot tubs in the world,” says Renter. “Bullfrog Spas, which are entirely made in the United States, aren’t available online, but only through reputable dealers like ourselves. 

“When you consider that buying a large-size, top-of-the-line hot tub can cost as much as a car, you want to be sure you’re getting the perfect model for your needs and tastes. In the case of Crystal Philipou, she lives by the water, and we were able to help her find a hot tub in her price range and install it in an ideal spot on her property that wasn’t too close to the bulkhead.”

insert-4 For a global perspective on all this, we spoke with Jake Ricks, Online Marketing Manager at Bullfrog Spas, who, like everyone else, is comfortable with buying products online, even some that are produced overseas.

“But hot tubs aren’t produced in the same numbers as many other more universal items,” says Ricks. “This is specialty manufacturing and the reality is that overseas factories just don’t have it down yet. 

“In addition, many companies that have moved manufacturing overseas have done so to avoid environmental regulations, something you just have to decide if you’re okay with,” adds Ricks. “Companies manufacturing overseas, especially in Mexico, have also had to face the reality of the challenge of maintaining quality control in low unit volume specialty production with a less-than-reliable workforce. It’s still advantageous to buy domestic spas.”

insert-5 Ricks also says it’s wise to think through buying a hot tub at a big box store.

“Like many things purchased at such retailers, some assembly may be required. And hot tub service is not a subject matter most people there are familiar with. Having a reputable dealer helping with everything from installation, to maintenance, to warranty service and repairs if necessary, is a big advantage. It’s worth paying a little extra for the peace of mind.”



Energy Efficient Bullfrog Spas (Long Island/NY):

Energy Efficient Bullfrog Spas (Long Island/Windham, NY):

“Another shock a purchaser might find after getting their new hot tub online (or at a big box store) happens after they plug the unit in,” says Bill Renter. “Cheap spas are probably not energy efficient at all. Our tubs cost on average $25 a month to operate while uninsulated hot tubs cost $75-$100 per month.  (Note: we will go into detail about energy costs for hot tubs in next week’s blog.)


The Hot Tub Experience (Long Island/Windham, NY):

The Hot Tub Experience (Long Island/Windham, NY):

Bill Renter and his wife Gina don’t just talk the talk. They have been avid users of Bullfrog Spas since their children (now fully grown) were youngsters. “It’s been a family hot tub from the beginning,” says Renter. “Our children were in it daily, often while we were preparing dinner. They grew up loving the experience.”



Installing Hot Tubs (Long Island/Windham, NY):

Installing Hot Tubs (Long Island/Windham, NY):

Having been advised by doctors that hot tub hydro-therapy would help meet his physical therapy needs, Best Hot Tubs was privileged to carefully install his new Bullfrog Spas at a height that would make it easy for him to get into it. “Working closely with those installing their new deck, we set the hot tub at 18” high so the client can sit on its edge and simply swing his legs across; a sturdy handrail was also added to aid his getting in and out,” says Renter. “There are always things that come up that make it very helpful to work with expert dealers, local to the community, who have the knowledge to make the experience perfect for you.”