BBB: Be cautious when attending expos run by out-of-towners

adutton@idahostatesman.comMay 24, 2013 

The local Better Business Bureau is warning Treasure Valley residents to ask questions and resist high-pressure sales tactics at expo, tent and specialty sales this spring and summer.

The BBB sent out an alert Friday, in light of a spa and hot tub show at the Idaho Expo Center this weekend. Though the BBB hadn't received complaints about the show, BBB CEO Dale Dixon said it raised concerns because the vendors seemed to have no local ties. That could mean a customer buys a hot tub, only to find that it's impossible to get a refund or get the item serviced.

BBB urged consumers to get informed — in this case, about the difference between spas and hot tubs — and find local dealers who will allow customers try out their models and will provide a written list of contract specifications.

The BBB also recommended asking the following questions:

  • Do you operate a showroom in my local area?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Whom do I call for a service or repair issue?
  • What is your recession or cancellation policy?

Canadian-based Sub Zero Spas and Hot Tubs is producing the two-day expo this weekend and is promising discounts up to 50 percent, the BBB said.

"What we've seen in the past is that people will go to these shows, they will be encouraged to make an on-the-spot choice" and end up paying more than they would from a local company, Dale Dixon said. "[People should] think through all those things so they don't find themselves making a high-pressure purchase and regretting it."

The Canada-based company hosting the event said it's not a fly-by-night traveling show.

"We typically go into markets where we don't have a local dealer. ... You're buying straight from a manufacturer," said Mike Dixon, vice president of North American sales for Dynasty Spas, the manufacturer whose spas and hot tubs will be sold at the expo. His phone number and name are associated with a BBB listing for World's Largest Spa Sale in Parker, Colo.

Mike Dixon said warranty service is provided through an agreement with a local servicer named Pro Spas. He said he couldn't provide more details about that company or the address of its website.

Very few hot tubs are sold from showrooms anymore — most are sold at fairs, home shows and expos — and few dealers have their own service companies, he said.

Prices for the spas and hot tubs sold at this expo run between $4,999 and about $28,000, with warranties sold separately, Mike Dixon said.

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