Warranty Buying Guide – Understanding Warranties on Hot Tubs and Other Big Ticket Items
In this article, we are going to introduce you to all of the in’s and out’s of hot tub warranties. One thing to keep in mind is that while the article is focused on hot tubs, the warranty information included can apply to any big-ticket item, such as a car, television, clothes washer, clothes dryer, refrigerator, dish washer, air conditioner, central heat and air system, swimming pool, hot tub or spa.
AN INTRODUCTION TO WARRANTIES
When you decide to purchase a hot tub or other big-ticket items, you will want to make sure that it is backed up with a solid warranty. Let’s face it; a new hot tub isn’t exactly cheap. A good warranty on your new hot tub can give you the confidence that if something goes wrong with it, that you won’t have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to get it repaired.
The various companies that sell hot tubs and other big-ticket items offer a wide variety of warranties. It is critical that you thoroughly read the fine print on all of the warranty information, before you decide to buy a hot tub or another product from a particular company. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”. The minor details that differ from one warranty to another can cost you big, if you ever need a major repair made.
UNDERSTAND YOUR WARRANTY PRIOR TO YOUR PURCHASE
With any major purchase like a hot tub, you should not just rush into it and buy impulsively. You need to read the warranty to see if there is any part of it that you do not clearly understand. If you do not understand, then you need to ask questions until you do understand it completely. Any company, that is serious about getting your business and is not trying to hide something, will be more than happy to explain in detail everything that their warranty does or does not cover.
If you are shopping online for a hot tub and you go to various websites, one thing will stand out. Many of the websites do not offer a link to the warranty information, and if they do, it is not easy to find or you might have to click through a number of links to find it. If the company that you are considering buying your hot tub from hides their warranty information, then you really must question why they are doing this and how good their warranty really is.
When you do find hot tub companies that freely give their warranty information, which they all should, then you need to start comparing the different warranties. Some companies will offer a warranty for a certain number of years and other companies may offer a lifetime warranty on “certain parts” of the hot tub.
To put this in perspective, most washing machine manufacturers carry a one-year parts and labor warranty on their machines. And, they offer a five year warranty on the wash tub. So, for the first year, your machine will be repaired if anything breaks. If your wash tub breaks or rusts out within the first five years, then they will replace the tub for you. (What most consumers do not understand is that the appliance manufacturing companies specifically state that they will repair their machines, but they will NOT replace their machines. That applies to washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dish washers.)
COMPARING THE VALUE OF WARRANTIES
Be careful though. A Lifetime Warranty on Parts is often very misleading. What many people fail to realize is that the parts is often the smaller portion of the repair bill. Labor and Travel are frequently the two costs that are the most expensive.
Depending on where you live, your hot tub repair person may have to travel a significant distance to service your hot tub. You will pay their going rate for mileage for the trip to your house to troubleshoot your hot tub, and the distance back to their office. And then, a few weeks later when the part has come in, you will pay again for the repair person to come to your house to repair your equipment, and you will pay their mileage once again for their trip home. This is only the mileage to come to your house. The labor costs are still another factor.
I am a firm believer in the idea that a good Parts and Labor Warranty is far more valuable to me, than a Lifetime Warranty on Parts.
COMMON TRICKS IN THE WORDING OF WARRANTIES
You must also discern between limited and unlimited warranties. Just as the names suggest a limited warranty will only cover certain parts of the hot tub and may or may not cover the labor to make the repair.
Some limited warranties will require that you pay a deductible. A deductible is a way for the company to save money and to not pay for the less expensive repairs. If you have a $500 deductible, and the company knows that most repairs can be made for less than $500, then that company is hoping that they will never have to honor their warranty.
Many companies will offer a warranty that depreciates over time. This means that as the years go by the amount of coverage offered by the warranty will decrease. This also is meant to save the company money. For example, if a hot tub typically does not malfunction for the first one year of its life, then it is easy to offer a full warranty for the first year. But, if there were a depreciating warranty in place then about the time that you would need it, you would be forced to pay more to get your hot tub repaired.
THE ROLE OF WARRANTIES IN MAJOR PURCHASES
Of course, if you buy a hot tub that has a good track record and it is well built, then in most cases, you will not have to use the warranty for your equipment.
Buying a hot tub is like any other major purchase like buying a car or a house.
You understand when you buy a car that you will have to spend money maintaining your investment, and occasionally, you will have to replace broken parts. It is just the nature of the beast. The automobile manufacturers offer warranties to you to help protect you from buying a car that came off of the manufacturing line broken. If there are any unexpected repairs, the car’s warranty will usually cover it. But the car warranty is only good for so many years or so many thousand miles of use.
You understand that when you buy a house, you also have costs of maintenance and repairs. It is just the nature of the beast. You will have to fix things, and outside of the first year, there is not any warranty coverage to protect your investment. All repairs will come out of your pocket or the pocket of your insurance company.
Buying a hot tub is the same way. You will have maintenance expenses and the occasional repair. The warranty was designed to protect your investment from manufacturer defects.
Each hot tub retailer, just like each automobile retailer, will have their own version of a warranty that they put on the products they sell.
Those companies, who believe in their products and who believe in service after the sale, will generally offer a better warranty than their competitors.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR
Do yourself a favor and shop around. Spend as much time comparing warranties as you do comparing hot tubs. The crazy thing is that some retailers will only offer the manufacturer warranty, while others will add their own warranties to the back-end of the manufacturer warranty. It is possible to find the same product in a dozen places with a dozen warranty options.
If the warranty is better at one store over another, then the $50 that separates them in price may be worth every penny. I have already said, and I will say it again. If one company is offering a lifetime warranty on certain parts, and the other company is offering a three-year parts and labor warranty for fifty dollars more in purchase price, I will take the second option every time.
Warranties were not designed to keep you from paying for maintenance and repairs over the long-haul of your purchase. Instead, they were designed to keep you from buying a broken piece of equipment straight from the manufacturer. But if you can get additional protections with your purchase, then why not?
A good warranty will give you piece of mind, and let you enjoy your new hot tub risk-free a lot longer than you might otherwise.
So, kick back, turn on the jets, and enjoy your new hot tub. You will not regret it.