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While I would state that ANY big box store has better purchasing power and lower overhead than a

"mom and pop" store, selling almost any product, - mom and pops scream bloody murder when Walmart moves to town - I was really hoping this thread would not restart the Costco and Evolution debate, which was why I was trying to gather more generic information.

Lets (at least try) to go with your comment above "You know what it costs to make a low end 7 ft spa? About $1500 before shipping. "

lets not get into the engineering man hours, as that discussion will get nowhere fast...At a wholesale parts level, I'm just not seeing much difference in cost of a low end tub ($1500 according to poster) and a high end tub? low end controller $200, high end $400? Low end pump $100, high end $200? There seem to be a few people on this forum who are familiar with parts costs, so if a low end tub costs $1500 to build, talk me thru why a high end tub should cost more than $2500 to build? lets not get into stereos and other optional extras...

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While I would state that ANY big box store has better purchasing power and lower overhead than a

"mom and pop" store, selling almost any product, - mom and pops scream bloody murder when Walmart moves to town - I was really hoping this thread would not restart the Costco and Evolution debate, which was why I was trying to gather more generic information.

Lets (at least try) to go with your comment above "You know what it costs to make a low end 7 ft spa? About $1500 before shipping. "

lets not get into the engineering man hours, as that discussion will get nowhere fast...At a wholesale parts level, I'm just not seeing much difference in cost of a low end tub ($1500 according to poster) and a high end tub? low end controller $200, high end $400? Low end pump $100, high end $200? There seem to be a few people on this forum who are familiar with parts costs, so if a low end tub costs $1500 to build, talk me thru why a high end tub should cost more than $2500 to build? lets not get into stereos and other optional extras...

I'm not sure its as simple as some would like to think it is. I don't know about the $1500 cost part but that is material only, you have to add labor cost. There are also big cost differences in the parts used such as pumps, and controls as stated but also the sheet used to form the shell, the thickness of that shell after fiberglassing or the thickenss of the shell if its an ABS backed shell. The costs of the jets comes into play (its not like are jets are alike or equal cost). Even the cost/quality of the wood as seen with many cheaply made spas. Are you fully insulating it with foam or just using some foil backed bubble wrap and a clever story? Even the covers can very greatly in quality/cost/insualting value.

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While I would state that ANY big box store has better purchasing power and lower overhead than a

"mom and pop" store, selling almost any product, - mom and pops scream bloody murder when Walmart moves to town - I was really hoping this thread would not restart the Costco and Evolution debate, which was why I was trying to gather more generic information.

Lets (at least try) to go with your comment above "You know what it costs to make a low end 7 ft spa? About $1500 before shipping. "

lets not get into the engineering man hours, as that discussion will get nowhere fast...At a wholesale parts level, I'm just not seeing much difference in cost of a low end tub ($1500 according to poster) and a high end tub? low end controller $200, high end $400? Low end pump $100, high end $200? There seem to be a few people on this forum who are familiar with parts costs, so if a low end tub costs $1500 to build, talk me thru why a high end tub should cost more than $2500 to build? lets not get into stereos and other optional extras...

Let me give you an example, suppose you decided to be a manufacturer (I went down this road myself)

Let us set aside the fluffy BS like lighting, fancy chem systems, and TV - stereos.

Let us assume you have a functioning plant to start with, and you are ready to make spas.

Decision time!

Shell - Polypropolyne roto-molded? Acrylic only? Acrylic-fiberglass? Acrylic-polyurethane? Acrylic-vinyl ester resin-fiberglass? Chopper gun fiberglass, or hand rolled? Some sort of secret patented plastic?

Pumps - premium grade, or knock offs?

Jets - premium grade from a US manufacturer at $10 or more a fitting from virgin plastics, or Chinese ones for $1 or less recycled from god-knows-what?

Piping - Chinese fittings, or American? Size of plumbing to the jets? 1", 3/4", 1/2"??

Controller --- High quality Balboa? a no name pak?

Cabinetry - Teak? Cedar? How thick? Composite? Fiberglass? Some sort of plastic?

Frame - 2x2 and particle board? Plywood? 2x4s? Steel? Plastic?

A top of the line 3 or 4 pump 80+ jet spa without a stereo usually winds up at the dealer's doorstep for around 6 grand.

Cost of manufacture of a true high end spa? Labor and all, about 4K.

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While I would state that ANY big box store has better purchasing power and lower overhead than a

"mom and pop" store, selling almost any product, - mom and pops scream bloody murder when Walmart moves to town - I was really hoping this thread would not restart the Costco and Evolution debate, which was why I was trying to gather more generic information.

Lets (at least try) to go with your comment above "You know what it costs to make a low end 7 ft spa? About $1500 before shipping. "

lets not get into the engineering man hours, as that discussion will get nowhere fast...At a wholesale parts level, I'm just not seeing much difference in cost of a low end tub ($1500 according to poster) and a high end tub? low end controller $200, high end $400? Low end pump $100, high end $200? There seem to be a few people on this forum who are familiar with parts costs, so if a low end tub costs $1500 to build, talk me thru why a high end tub should cost more than $2500 to build? lets not get into stereos and other optional extras...

Arf, I don't think this is off topic, but I understand why you'd want to shy away from another Costco debate. Here's the deal, lets see if we can actually answer the original question without talking about quality. Just hear me out.

You have three identical tubs:

Tub #1 Tub one is sold by your standard mom and pop spa dealer that sells under 50 tubs a year, and has other business at that location, billiards, pool, fireplace, and BBQ's for my local dealers.

Tub #2 Sold by Bob's Spa Emporium, which does 50 plus tubs a month.

Tub #3 is Sold by a big box store, factory direct.

For the question at hand wet test is irrelevant, service is irrelevant, quality is irrelevant as they are the same three tubs.

How do you rank the three in terms of markup? Don't let the question get derailed, it's what you wanted to know in the first place and I think the answer is fairly obvious.

DK117

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You have three identical tubs:

Tub #1 Tub one is sold by your standard mom and pop spa dealer that sells under 50 tubs a year, and has other business at that location, billiards, pool, fireplace, and BBQ's for my local dealers.

Tub #2 Sold by Bob's Spa Emporium, which does 50 plus tubs a month.

Tub #3 is Sold by a big box store, factory direct.

For the question at hand wet test is irrelevant, service is irrelevant, quality is irrelevant as they are the same three tubs.

How do you rank the three in terms of markup? Don't let the question get derailed, it's what you wanted to know in the first place and I think the answer is fairly obvious.

DK117

Your assumption is that they are identical tubs, which is not the case. The example is invalid.

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You have three identical tubs:

Tub #1 Tub one is sold by your standard mom and pop spa dealer that sells under 50 tubs a year, and has other business at that location, billiards, pool, fireplace, and BBQ's for my local dealers.

Tub #2 Sold by Bob's Spa Emporium, which does 50 plus tubs a month.

Tub #3 is Sold by a big box store, factory direct.

For the question at hand wet test is irrelevant, service is irrelevant, quality is irrelevant as they are the same three tubs.

How do you rank the three in terms of markup? Don't let the question get derailed, it's what you wanted to know in the first place and I think the answer is fairly obvious.

DK117

Your assumption is that they are identical tubs, which is not the case. The example is invalid.

ugh, you and I aren't going to get very far are we? :P But you've proven my point, you're not really willing to discuss the fact that Costco has lower mark up. So what should we talk about? The OP asks about dealer mark up, and you want to talk about hydrotherapy and spa quality. Both interesting topics, but doesn't really get to the point that dealers have a very large markup that some of us find unpalatable. And we'll all go on pretending that we didn't see the invoices posted for a Hot Springs dealer that were taken down within a few hours of being posted (prior to your arrival here Guru, over a year ago.) I do thank you for attempting to answer the OP in response 12. It's when Arf mentioned big box in response #15 that we all jumped in and things got silly.

DK117

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DK, there are two mark ups, the factory one, and the dealer, whether that dealer is mom & pop or Costco.

I posted at some length some of the differences you can find in spa manufacture that make differences in quality.

No dealer will carry a line which is carried by Costco, unless the dealer ALSO gets a piece of it, and the dealer writes off the loss as advertising cost thru a factory co-op program.

To show you the difference between your spa and a premium one, I would need to see photos of the equipment, a photo of the edge of the spa shell, your insulation, your base, and your structure.

What was the shipping weight of your spa?

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DK, there are two mark ups, the factory one, and the dealer, whether that dealer is mom & pop or Costco.

I posted at some length some of the differences you can find in spa manufacture that make differences in quality.

No dealer will carry a line which is carried by Costco, unless the dealer ALSO gets a piece of it, and the dealer writes off the loss as advertising cost thru a factory co-op program.

To show you the difference between your spa and a premium one, I would need to see photos of the equipment, a photo of the edge of the spa shell, your insulation, your base, and your structure.

What was the shipping weight of your spa?

two markups, fine, purchase in bulk sell in volume and both will be lower.

I get the odd impression that you're trying to help. But I just don't comprehend your angle. Are you now saying that you've never seen a Strong? You want photos of my equipment bay? I had to go to costco.com and assuming my tub is the same as the current offerings, it's 950 lbs dry. I'd ask that you please be as concise as possible and avoid combining Costco sucks (Costco doesn't manufacture hot tubs but they have a quite successful business model) and all hot tubs sold by Costco suck. They sell more than just Strong. Also, while I've never been to one, Strong does have dealers, my Coscto Model CSXi80 is very, very similar to the Vienna (so similar in fact that the packaging said Vienna, not Evo Spa's CSXi80.) I'm going to take a breather, I'm getting bored, and we're totally off topic.

DK117

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Guys, this topic was about mark up.

#1 - there is no doubt large outlets (like Costco, Walmart and such) operate on quantity with lower margins. That is not even debatable.

#2 - Small dealer have more mark up but offer much more service. Some people (like myself) might decide it is worth to pay more for that service. If I was not a brand new 1st time spa owner, I might have opted for the other.

#3 - There are enough Spa owners from Costco to justify , for the money, they are a good deal.

I waited over a year to buy a spa. I was all set to buy a Evolution (Strong) spa from Costco. I chose to buy a Sundance because of the fact I was a new owner and needed the local dealer support. I was not comfortable enough to buy one from Costco and wing it. For me (and only me) I was willing to pay more money for the total set up, warranty and the service. If I was an experienced Spa owner, I might have bought a different Spa. Lets face it and stop the squabbling.... Costco offers a lower priced Spa made by Strong and sells it for lower margins. You give up local service and Warranty. I have no problem paying for this service and warranty. I am lucky enough to (at this time) afford it. For some, buying Spa from Costco makes perfect sense and for some buying from a local dealer makes perfect sense. No wrong answer guys, that has been proven by a 19 page thread. It depends on your situation and need. I do believe from all the reading I have done Costco has in the past sold some less than par Spas, but I also believe the Evolution Spa is not bad for the buck either. So lets agree to disagree as I know from the history I have here that you are mostly all sincere in what you say. It is a individual choice. I do love my Spa. :-) Happy Tubbing to all!

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Walleye - a very well stated post and I agree with most of what you state ... and will violate my own original statement with these follow-up comments...

(a) though I agree with your #1, why some try to debate that point, is beyond me, and I think they loose creditability when they won't even concede that one point

(B) yes, I spent some extra time acting as my own "general contractor" hiring out set up, and electrical myself.

© it's your service and warranty comment I don't understand, and I asked this question before when a similar point was made and no one even tried to answer. Whether I buy a spa from Costco, Homedepot, or the best mom and pop spa dealer around, if the spa breaks during the warranty period, I call a tele #, and a technician repairs it under warranty, if it is out of warranty, I call a repair man and pay to have it fixed. If you are going to state about finding a repair man...if you live in central Montana, that could be hard regardless of the brand, and if you live in a metro area, that should be easy with any spa made from industry standard components...and made from "industry standard components" is a separate subject from where a spa is purchased

(d)I have purchased chemicals at my neighborhood spa dealer, and they are eager to sell them to me, and provide lots of advice with those chemicals...yet the funny thing is, Waterbearer, the main poster/moderator in the chemical forum, says DONT buy checmicals at the local spa dealer, they are basically ripping you off...

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Arf1410:

I don't disagree with anything you say. As far as service and warranty. I am talking about getting 1-2 years VS 3-5 yrs. That is what you give up for less money. Same scenario, while under warranty, call and presto it is fixed. Just the more expensive Spa you are paying up front. So I don't quite understand what you mean as we agree on this. Basically what I am saying is you give up warranty (time wise) with a less expensive spa. Service is based on where you live I would guess. Yes, if you live in the middle of Montana (or N Dakota where I was from) then you may wait regardless. In my case, I have all kinds of choices once my 5 year warranty is expired. Like I said, there is no wrong answer, all up to what is right for you.

As far as Waterbear telling us tips about spa additives, I don't take it like he is telling us we are getting ripped off as much as I take it as advice on how to save some money. He is here to help and I very much appreciate his and others help. I will support my dealer on certain items, but I will likely buy the baking soda and Bleach from the grocery store. Trust me, there are plenty of other items we support our local dealers with. Baking Soda, Borax and Bleach will not make or break them. :-)

Again, there is no wrong answer, it is what is right for you in your situation, and what is right for me in my situation.

Lets all just enjoy our tubs and stop worrying about what anyone else does. Lets worry about our self and make our own choices and support each other when others make a choice. After all this is to help each other not put each other down. There is enough of that all around us in everyday life, Right?

Happy tubbing.

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I get the odd impression that you're trying to help. But I just don't comprehend your angle. Are you now saying that you've never seen a Strong? You want photos of my equipment bay? I had to go to costco.com and assuming my tub is the same as the current offerings, it's 950 lbs dry. I'd ask that you please be as concise as possible and avoid combining Costco sucks (Costco doesn't manufacture hot tubs but they have a quite successful business model) and all hot tubs sold by Costco suck. They sell more than just Strong. Also, while I've never been to one, Strong does have dealers, my Coscto Model CSXi80 is very, very similar to the Vienna (so similar in fact that the packaging said Vienna, not Evo Spa's CSXi80.) I'm going to take a breather, I'm getting bored, and we're totally off topic.

DK117

strongspa.jpg

Spa brands come and go out of Costco all the time, Strong is just the "saveur du jour".

If you want for me to respond specifically to the brand you have, then with your volouminous research, you should be able to answer my questions, because, yes, believe it or not, I'm trying to be helpful.

What I am not here to do is validate your decision. If you have no idea the brand of pump, the style of shell manufacture, the makers of the mother board, brand of jets etc are, you essentially only know your spa's model name.

You seem to be basing your purchase decision on Costco, not on in depth knowledge of the product.

By knowledge, I don't mean reviews and opinions, I mean facts.

I posted in detail the differing decisions a manufacturer must make, how does your tub rate on these criteria?

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Spa_guru, though I'm guessing this is not the point you were trying to make, but that review link you posted shows that particular Evolution spa is one of the highest rated products of any type I have ever seen on the Costco (or even Amazon) website, on any product with more than ~10 reviews. 91% satisfaction with an average rating of over 4.5 out of 5 stars is almost unheard of on sites with consumer ratings, especially with 50+ reviews. With any product, or service with a large number of reviews, you'll virtually always have a few bad ones. So based on what you've posted, as a whole, owners are EXCEEDINGLY satisfied with that product. You've probably just made a few more sales by posting that link!

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Spa brands come and go out of Costco all the time, Strong is just the "saveur du jour".

If you want for me to respond specifically to the brand you have, then with your volouminous research, you should be able to answer my questions, because, yes, believe it or not, I'm trying to be helpful.

What I am not here to do is validate your decision. If you have no idea the brand of pump, the style of shell manufacture, the makers of the mother board, brand of jets etc are, you essentially only know your spa's model name.

You seem to be basing your purchase decision on Costco, not on in depth knowledge of the product.

By knowledge, I don't mean reviews and opinions, I mean facts.

I posted in detail the differing decisions a manufacturer must make, how does your tub rate on these criteria?

A quick Google search provides me with the specs, I mean facts, for my spa, it doesn't make me any smarter. How many times must I say that this is my first tub, that all the pro's here have vast and vo·lu·mi·nous knowledge on a subject that I have little. And honesty Guru, I'm not asking for you to do a review of my tub (why did you want pictures?) I think it might be an interesting exercise, but my intention was for us to be a bit more specific when discussing the various tubs that Costco sells.

I do think you have an accurate assessment of my purchase decision. After experiencing less than positive impressions at Arctic and Hot Springs, then inadvertently attending a Master roadshow ... and quite a bit of sticker shock ... well I had a long standing relationship with Costco, I purchased from Costco as a dealer knowing that a close family friend returned a spa to Costco the previous summer (different manufacturer.)

Do I want you to validate my decision, no. But even you have acknowledged that in some situations "a Costco tub might be an ok choice."

Finally, how does my tub rate on your criteria? I'm not sure, the little information that has been transferred to me in the last two years on this forum is that only time will tell. Evidently I need to have a trouble free tub for at least 4 or 5 years before I can offer any facts or educated opinion. I'm ok with that, at least I paid a lower markup than with a local dealer, that's a fact.

DK117

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I get the odd impression that you're trying to help. But I just don't comprehend your angle. Are you now saying that you've never seen a Strong? You want photos of my equipment bay? I had to go to costco.com and assuming my tub is the same as the current offerings, it's 950 lbs dry. I'd ask that you please be as concise as possible and avoid combining Costco sucks (Costco doesn't manufacture hot tubs but they have a quite successful business model) and all hot tubs sold by Costco suck. They sell more than just Strong. Also, while I've never been to one, Strong does have dealers, my Coscto Model CSXi80 is very, very similar to the Vienna (so similar in fact that the packaging said Vienna, not Evo Spa's CSXi80.) I'm going to take a breather, I'm getting bored, and we're totally off topic.

DK117

strongspa.jpg

Spa brands come and go out of Costco all the time, Strong is just the "saveur du jour".

If you want for me to respond specifically to the brand you have, then with your volouminous research, you should be able to answer my questions, because, yes, believe it or not, I'm trying to be helpful.

What I am not here to do is validate your decision. If you have no idea the brand of pump, the style of shell manufacture, the makers of the mother board, brand of jets etc are, you essentially only know your spa's model name.

You seem to be basing your purchase decision on Costco, not on in depth knowledge of the product.

By knowledge, I don't mean reviews and opinions, I mean facts.

I posted in detail the differing decisions a manufacturer must make, how does your tub rate on these criteria?

The thread is a question on markup, not on the quality or design choices. Not that I think markup has any relevance to anything, but that was the question.

But to answer your specific issue, what's in a Strong has been pretty well documented elsewhere. The CSXi80 has:

* Balboa VS series controller. Standard heater (not titanium)

* Waterway Executive 56 pumps (2) with the AO Smith 12A, 2 speed motors (not Chinese knockoffs as was intimated in another thread)

* Continuous cast acrylic shell with acrylobond backing

* Polyethylene cabinet, rotomolded in several pieces and assembled with stainless steel screws. No frame - wood or metal - at all. Tool-less access, 8 total removable panels (2 per side). Not as cool as some of the stone-look upgrade cabinets at the Sundance dealer, but far better than their standard offerings. The best standard cabinet I've seen. And I was worried that it would look like plastic crap before I actually got the spa.

*Full ABS plastic bottom

*50 sq ft filter (pleatco supplied w/ spa)

*80 waterway (mine are marked MADE IN USA) jets, most are singles, about a dozen clusters come standard (I can't be exact, I changed out a bunch of mine). All have stainless face trims.

* Too lazy to go out and measure the tubing size running to the jets. It could use more jet performance, but that is helped by changing the jets and closing jets on unused seats (just remember to open them all back up when you exit the spa - keeps the plumbing much cleaner).

The spa is manufactured in the USA. Of course the controller has parts from Asia, almost all electronics products do. Still, it's a Balboa.

But, a guru would know that a list of parts doesn't tell you much about the build quality, comfort, or how well the components play together. For that you need actual reports from people, no?

So what's you're point exactly? Or did you post the costco website review to highlight to visitors that a spa arrived dead? Look closer, 91% of owners would recommend it to a friend. 91%. If you read many internet reviews for any type of product, you'll recognize that 91% is pretty darn good.

Costco makes its profits on MEMBERSHIP DUES. That's their business model. Look at the financials. It's all right there. Almost no gross profit from sales. The membership dues drop to the bottome line. Costco markup covers their overhead, which is extremely low - after all, it's a warehouse store. In the case of spas, they drop ship from the factory. That's why stuff is cheaper there than, say, WalMart, who has more buying power and generally sells lower end stuff. Really... you would have to be delusional to beleive that a traditional spa dealer - with rent, insurance, salaries and commissions, and a full load of other small-business overhead, could possibly have a comparable markup to Costco. Or maybe that's why the dealers all converge on any Costco oriented threads? Just sayin...

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Spa_guru, though I'm guessing this is not the point you were trying to make, but that review link you posted shows that particular Evolution spa is one of the highest rated products of any type I have ever seen on the Costco (or even Amazon) website, on any product with more than ~10 reviews. 91% satisfaction with an average rating of over 4.5 out of 5 stars is almost unheard of on sites with consumer ratings, especially with 50+ reviews. With any product, or service with a large number of reviews, you'll virtually always have a few bad ones. So based on what you've posted, as a whole, owners are EXCEEDINGLY satisfied with that product. You've probably just made a few more sales by posting that link!

I'm not here to sell one or the other, I am here to give advice based on my 25 years of experience as a spa tech.

I have no doubt there are a large number of satisfied customers.

I have said repeatedly that if you have low expectations, you will be happy.

DK117, what you have been sold is a spa with a fraction of the power needed to run the jets effectively, because jet numbers sell spas, but they don't make power, they need power to work, 30 jets/pump is a good ratio if each bank of 15 is split with a diverter valve.

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Spa_guru, though I'm guessing this is not the point you were trying to make, but that review link you posted shows that particular Evolution spa is one of the highest rated products of any type I have ever seen on the Costco (or even Amazon) website, on any product with more than ~10 reviews. 91% satisfaction with an average rating of over 4.5 out of 5 stars is almost unheard of on sites with consumer ratings, especially with 50+ reviews. With any product, or service with a large number of reviews, you'll virtually always have a few bad ones. So based on what you've posted, as a whole, owners are EXCEEDINGLY satisfied with that product. You've probably just made a few more sales by posting that link!

I'm not here to sell one or the other, I am here to give advice based on my 25 years of experience as a spa tech.

I have no doubt there are a large number of satisfied customers.

I have said repeatedly that if you have low expectations, you will be happy.

DK117, what you have been sold is a spa with a fraction of the power needed to run the jets effectively, because jet numbers sell spas, but they don't make power, they need power to work, 30 jets/pump is a good ratio if each bank of 15 is split with a diverter valve.

Guru, you said you could offer some specific comments if you were given some details about the spa. You've got details. So what are your comments? Thinly-veiled negative statements like. "if you have low expectations, you'll be happy" don't count.

Many owners, including myself, have already commented that the power is a bit on the weak side - that's not really new information. The easy solution is, turn off jets. There are plenty you can pick from to leave on, and if you shut the others off the jet performance is ok. Honestly, still not as good as my previous spa. But ok. If you have been working on spas for 25 years then you surely know that diverters are convenient but you pay a price in pressure loss when one is put in the circuit.

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Costco or Sam's Club is clearly going to be making less of a profit on the spa, they can afford to give it at a cheaper price. However, 10-15 years from now, your spa will most likely be in a dump somewhere. You get what you pay for. This is why I would not hesitate to go and spend $7000 on a new spa when my current one bites the dust. I got my tub for free, and put about $400 total into it. Finding replacement parts was very easy, my dealer had everything I needed in stock. Let me know where you're going to find parts for your Strong spa when it is 17 years old like mine is.

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Costco or Sam's Club is clearly going to be making less of a profit on the spa, they can afford to give it at a cheaper price. However, 10-15 years from now, your spa will most likely be in a dump somewhere. You get what you pay for. This is why I would not hesitate to go and spend $7000 on a new spa when my current one bites the dust. I got my tub for free, and put about $400 total into it. Finding replacement parts was very easy, my dealer had everything I needed in stock. Let me know where you're going to find parts for your Strong spa when it is 17 years old like mine is.

The Evolution tub I purchased came with a complete parts list, and best I can tell, uses only industry standard Waterway and Balboa parts. What parts are you implying wont last as long, or will be hard to find a replacement for?

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I'm not saying that you won't be able to find parts, because I don't know that, for all I know, they could be the next HotSprings. But can you honestly say that you can drive to your dealer 10 minutes away and pick up a replacement part? Who knows if they'll even be around. I'm just saying that to me at least, it's worth paying a premium for a better product.

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I don't think that there is any doubt that dealer mark up is high, because dealer overhead is also high. However, as a question of worth or value, only the individual can answer that question. Costco certainly does have a different marketing/sales model than most spa dealers, but that doesn't mean that everything you buy at Costco is a screaming deal either. In many instances, I've been able to find stuff sold at Costco even cheaper online, especially with electronics and high end purchases. I think Costco's prices are fair for what you get with their tubs, especially the Evolution series by Strong. However, don't fool yourself into thinking your saving yourself thousands just because you bought from Costco! The recognized top tier manufacturers have similarly priced value line models that aren't far off the prices that the Evolutions series sells for. I just saw Costco added an $8500 tub with saltwater that would compete nicely against HotSpring's Vanguard, which can also be had in that price range.

Personally, I spent a good amount of money for my HotSpring Grandee with ACE, but I have no regrets whatsoever. I use the tub at least 3-5X a week year round, and I'll likely hold on to the tube for a minimum of 10-15 years. Not to say the tub will be problem free that entire time, but I also have a local dealer who gives me great service when I need it (already replaced a led controller behind a moto massage under warranty). When you buy through Costco, that's the one thing IMO you sacrifice. While, I'm sure Strong stands behind its products, the lack of dealer network means that they're going to independent spa techs for service, which may be hit or miss. Things will get interesting now that Strong is offering higher end and more costly tubs to Costco though.

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"it's worth paying a premium for a better product. " I certainly agree with that statement. but I'd like to see some examples ie the $9k Hotsprings has a flux capacitor made by ABC, the Evolutions is made by XYZ, and the XYZ is generally only used by cheap chinese knockoffs...

If the Evolution and the hotsprings use the same parts...why is it any less likely the local hotsprings dealer 10 minutes away would have either one in stock? The reality is if its an unusual angle fitting not used in 10 years, it'll half to be ordered regardless of who snapped together the tub.

I guess the reason I started this thread...is it really seems there's not much to most spa...simple design,I wouldn't think a lot of engineering effort, and most of the same parts just snapped together by different manufacturers, making their own cabinet and shell ...so as long as you avoid ones that do NOT use industry standard parts, it strikes me the differences are personal preferences - ie colors and styles, which one my butt fits in better ...and really, I'm not sure why a QUALITY tub needs to cost $10k...other than inefficiencies in the sales and marketing of the product...ie sold thru high over head sales systems, too many manufacturers - maybe 10 instead of 50 would yield a smaller number of higher volume producers, thus driving costs down...

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What people don't seem willing/able to acknowledge is that ABC makes a number of different flux capacitors, at qualities and different costs.

I can't speak for other people, but I certainly understand that in most cases, ABC will produce different lines of flux capacitors with different features. What I am not willing to accept, without supporting evidence (which I assume you have, as you are making this claim), is that within a given manufacturer, they produce products to different build standards/ quality/ improved reliability, geared towards the home market (as opposed to an industrial line). My experience is the majority of manufacturers do not do this, but yes, I'm sure a few do. Let me give three quick examples:

/1/ Toyota produces Lexus, Toyota, and Scion product lines. Certainly Lexus has more features and better comfort, but the data shows it is not more reliable than the other lines.

/2/ I was replacing a gas hot water tank a few years ago, and being without a hot water tank is a PITA. I was willing to pay more to get a more reliable, longer lasting tank. Within a specific manufacturer I was looking at, they produced models with an 8, 10 and 15 year warranties. I was about to pay extra for the 15 year tank, as I wanted something that would last longer. However, I was soon advised that the tanks were mechanically identically, with minor cosmetic differences, and esentially just an extended warranty priced into the product.

/3/ While a slightly different point, for major appliances, the "high end," designer manfacturers usually have much worse reliability than the standard brands.

So, you have made two claims, which I have seen no evidence to support (or to disprove) that primarily Waterway or Balboa (or other major part supplier?)

(1) makes different lines of products with different build qualities (as opposed to different features or longer warranty)

and

(2) that Jacuzzi/Artic/Hot Springs / other major spa uses the higher quality part, and Evolution uses the lower quality part.

Thanks everyone in advance for keeping this discussion civil, respectful, and fact based.

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I can't speak for all of the brands, but HotSpring doesn't use the same brand parts as Evolution/Strong. Most of their parts are proprietary, and unique to HotSpring. This includes all of the jets, the Wavemaster main pumps and SilentFlo circ pumps, ceramic mesh filters which last 5+ years, and the titanium heater. The IQ2020 controller is one of the few outsourced parts, and it's made by Invensys not Balboa, and is higher end than anything Balboa makes. For reference, the Evolution tubs are using the VS (Value Series) Balboa controllers, which are the lowest end Balboa makes. Compare warranties, and I think you'll get an idea of who stands behind their tubs more. Again, don't fool yourself into thinking your getting a more expensive tub with the Costco Evolution line. They've proven to be reliable economy models, but the lower end tubs lack circ pumps, use primarily or only bullet jets (little hydrotherapy value), are underpowered due to the number of jets versus pump size and rely on bottom suctions (unfiltered water) when pumps are running. This isn't a bash, and doesn't mean Evolution/Strong makes bad tubs, but definitely not an apples to apples comparison against HotSpring! If you want a similar value oriented tub made by Watkins (parent company to HotSpring), you need to look at Limelight, Hot Spot, Tiger River, etc. Features will likely be similar to the Evolution tubs, and price won't be far off the mark.

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