The hot tub season is in full swing, but if you are yet to order yours, you should read these tips for avoiding hot tub scams before you do. Yes, it’s sad but true: hot tub scams are rife in the UK because so many models are sold out, making hot tubs a scarce and desirable home product.
To make sure you choose your hot tub wisely, consult our comprehensive guide to hot tubs before buying
Katie Watts, consumer expert at MoneySavingExpert.com, explains that hot tubs are one of the covetable purchases that have been hard to come by since the start of pandemic, and therefore are very attractive to scammers looking to exploit people’s desperate desire for making their outdoor space look nice in lieu of going on holiday. She said: ‘Last summer, we saw a huge surge in scammers targeting online shoppers looking to buy sold-out items such as hot tubs, garden furniture and even holidays. I fully expect this awful trend to return this year.’
So, what should you do to avoid a hot tub scam? Katie offers her top tips for buying safely.
Top tips for avoiding hot tub scams
1. Never buy from a website you don’t recognise
It may be tempting to buy from an unknown website if it has the hot tub model that’s sold out everywhere else, but if in any way doubt the legitimacy of the retailer, don’t buy it. Katie says: ‘Scammers are sophisticated, and will jump on seasonal trends and new product launches to ensnare their victims. So it’s important to shop only on sites you know and trust, or do your research and check reviews if you can only buy the item on sites you’ve never used before.’
Avoid any website that doesn’t have a security certificate or doesn’t begin with ‘https:/’, and any retailer that doesn’t provide you with an address, valid telephone number, and contact email.
2. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is
Hot tubs aren’t cheap, and it may be very tempting to buy one that’s being sold for cheaper than other websites. While bargain-hunting is entirely sensible where it comes to hot tubs, if the one you’re looking at is unbelievably cheap, it’s most likely a scam. Katie is firm on this one: ‘ALWAYS be wary if something appears to be considerably more available or cheaper than you’ve previously seen. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!’ Hot tubs are large items that cost a lot to build and distribute, so think logically: how can the retailer possibly make money on a hot tub going for a fraction of its value?
Related: Take a look at the best garden furniture in our buyer’s guide
3. Always use your credit card to pay for you hot tub
This is useful for buying just about anything online, but is a must for buying an expensive item such as a hot tub: ‘To add an extra layer of protection when buying things like hot tubs online, pay on plastic. If the item is worth between £100 and £30,000, and you pay on a credit card, you have legal protection known as ‘Section 75’, which makes the card provider jointly liable if something goes wrong. If it’s worth less than £100, or you pay on debit card, you can try a chargeback claim through your bank instead – but this isn’t legal protection so isn’t guaranteed to get your money back.’