Northern California is historically known for three things: marijuana, hot tubs and Huey Lewis. Normally, these work in tandem to generate all the electricity as far north as Eureka and as far south as Santa Cruz. When one of the legs of this tripod of NorCal perfection becomes wobbly, the entire system collapses and that’s why the financial crisis happened. While both marijuana and Huey Lewis are doing fine, (get stoned and watch Duets if you don’t believe me), our local hot tub market isn’t doing so great.

San Francisco-based ChooseHotTubsDirect.com is currently in hot water (haha, pun), as it’s being investigated by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office after receiving an F rating from the Better Business Bureau and 260 negative customer comments.

The company, which also operates as Chooseoutdoorkitchens.com, Choosefireplaceandstove.com, ChooseDirect.com, DirectToHomeAppliances.com, DirectToHomeAppliance LLC, and Choose Direct, is beset with complaints over long overdue deliveries, broken tubs and non-existent customer service.

Company president Steve Barbarich blamed the economic downturn, an unexpected spike in orders and an unreliable shipping company for his troubles but the issue here is clearly one of unrealistic expectations.

Most customers don’t understand how difficult it is to produce a hot tub: once an order comes in, they have to plant a tree, wait decades for that tree to grow, mine the metal for a chainsaw, build a chainsaw factory, produce a chainsaw, take a taxi to a car dealership, buy a car, drive that car to the chainsaw factory, pick up the chainsaw, drive to the tree, cut it down, fashion the wood into the shape of a hot tub, have lunch, order a bunch of pipes from ChoosePipesDirect.com, hire an Italian plumber to jump on all the mushrooms inside the pipes rendering them safe for use, drive to the library, check out a book on how to make hot tubs, read the whole book, have dinner, put all the pipes inside the hot tub in a way that looks good enough to the untrained eye, put completed hot tub on a truck. They have to do that every single time an order is placed.

If the above scenario were true (it’s not), that might explain why customers like Darlene Frawley are mad at the company. She tells CBS5 said she ordered her hot tub in July of 2010 and was told her $3,100 tub would be delivered in 12-14 weeks, but still hasn’t gotten it, a refund, or a call back from the company.

Though the company claims they’ve resolved most customer complaints, customers like Frawley disagree — and the company continues sketchy business practices like refusing to accept credit cards, a practice that effectively prevents customers from getting refunds.

Our advice, based on this report: stick with our Huey Lewis and our weed, but maybe look elsewhere for your hot tub needs.

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  • Coastside Services

    If only the rest of the planet had access to this article and someone could tie all the volumes of complaints filed against Mr. Steve Barbarich and his continued fleecing of consumers. There are more articles concerning Choosedirect.com, Directtohomeappliances.com and Mr. Barbarich on ripoffreport.com then you can read in a day! The Better Business Bureau has currently listed 266 complaints filed for various claims against this company. That number was actually at 279 last week, but since these number are based on 36 months, then time is stripping the numbers down… The actually number of complaints is likely way over 300 since 2008. It’s simple enough to find a volume of information surrounding this company by researching Choosedirect.com, Steve Barbarich, DirecttoHomeAppliances and any of the other numerous website names he uses to rape the public, on Google. Sorry Yahoo, no plug for you this time. There is also a Facebook Fan page for “Choosedirect Sucks” as well as a “Steven Imaloser Barbarich” Facebook Profile, which people can leave their comments, experiences and maybe even get together and organize a class action.

    How do I know all this? Because I’m the company that Mr. Barbarich was using to provide telephone tech support for his poor unfortunate consumers who bought his Chinese imported tubs. When it became apparent to me that this company did not pay their bills and did not honor their warranty and did not provide parts and did not want to hear that their product was reaching nearly 90% failure rate and clearly stated a total disdain for supporting their product or customers and I started receiving calls from customers complaining of personal injury, property damage from using these tubs, I started advising them to file complaints with the BBB, US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Needless to say, since March of 2010, Mr Barbarich has tried to blame his company failures on everyone else, including my company and several others with slanderous and unwarranted article postings, website creations and I’m sure other bullying tactics we have not found yet. Mr. Barbarich has posted MANY articles online painting this wonderful picture of being a great guy, superb business man and even generous in his supposed donations to charitable organizations. Once you actually meet or deal with him the TRUTH is quickly realized.

    ANYONE thinking about doing business with this Mr Barbarich, be forewarned, You will regret the day you believed his CON.

    I continue to receive calls from defrauded consumers who simply want their hot tubs fixed.

    NEVER BUY A SPA ONLINE WITHOUT RESEARCHING THE SOURCE, BRAND, AND SUPPORT! The vast majority of these spas are imported and clearly do not meet the federal and local consumer safety laws we have in this country to protect us. If you really feel you have to try and save money, stop and evaluate the product and DEMAND to see the ETL CERTIFICATION for the SPA, Not the equipment in it! Many of these online cheap spas may have etl rated controls, but never got the ETL certification for the SPA as a whole appliance as REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW. Who is going to actually work on it when it breaks? The pain and suffering you can experience from a online spa purchase is often not worth the “cheaper price” then buying one from a local spa shop.

  • Coastside Services

    If only the rest of the planet had access to this article and someone could tie all the volumes of complaints filed against Mr. Steve Barbarich and his continued fleecing of consumers. There are more articles concerning Choosedirect.com, Directtohomeappliances.com and Mr. Barbarich on ripoffreport.com then you can read in a day! The Better Business Bureau has currently listed 266 complaints filed for various claims against this company. That number was actually at 279 last week, but since these number are based on 36 months, then time is stripping the numbers down… The actually number of complaints is likely way over 300 since 2008. It’s simple enough to find a volume of information surrounding this company by researching Choosedirect.com, Steve Barbarich, DirecttoHomeAppliances and any of the other numerous website names he uses to rape the public, on Google. Sorry Yahoo, no plug for you this time. There is also a Facebook Fan page for “Choosedirect Sucks” as well as a “Steven Imaloser Barbarich” Facebook Profile, which people can leave their comments, experiences and maybe even get together and organize a class action.

    How do I know all this? Because I’m the company that Mr. Barbarich was using to provide telephone tech support for his poor unfortunate consumers who bought his Chinese imported tubs. When it became apparent to me that this company did not pay their bills and did not honor their warranty and did not provide parts and did not want to hear that their product was reaching nearly 90% failure rate and clearly stated a total disdain for supporting their product or customers and I started receiving calls from customers complaining of personal injury, property damage from using these tubs, I started advising them to file complaints with the BBB, US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Needless to say, since March of 2010, Mr Barbarich has tried to blame his company failures on everyone else, including my company and several others with slanderous and unwarranted article postings, website creations and I’m sure other bullying tactics we have not found yet. Mr. Barbarich has posted MANY articles online painting this wonderful picture of being a great guy, superb business man and even generous in his supposed donations to charitable organizations. Once you actually meet or deal with him the TRUTH is quickly realized.

    ANYONE thinking about doing business with this Mr Barbarich, be forewarned, You will regret the day you believed his CON.

    I continue to receive calls from defrauded consumers who simply want their hot tubs fixed.

    NEVER BUY A SPA ONLINE WITHOUT RESEARCHING THE SOURCE, BRAND, AND SUPPORT! The vast majority of these spas are imported and clearly do not meet the federal and local consumer safety laws we have in this country to protect us. If you really feel you have to try and save money, stop and evaluate the product and DEMAND to see the ETL CERTIFICATION for the SPA, Not the equipment in it! Many of these online cheap spas may have etl rated controls, but never got the ETL certification for the SPA as a whole appliance as REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW. Who is going to actually work on it when it breaks? The pain and suffering you can experience from a online spa purchase is often not worth the “cheaper price” then buying one from a local spa shop.

  • claudia

    Hey, I really hope we will get a big following here. I ordered a hot tub in october 2009. Many excuses, plain lies and sob stories later I still don’t have it. Approx US 3.195. Spoke to many “representatives”. Robert Valencia, Lisa Roundtree Fitzpatrick (can’t remember her name correctly), Sameer Pimpalkhute, Angela Brecker, who all seemed to be quite willing to give false info about hot tubs being fabricated, delivered, giving extended warranties and bonuses for late deliveries and them being made by another Spa company who upon inquiries did not have a clue. I just want my money back, why is that so hard, state of California?

  • claudia

    Hey, I really hope we will get a big following here. I ordered a hot tub in october 2009. Many excuses, plain lies and sob stories later I still don’t have it. Approx US 3.195. Spoke to many “representatives”. Robert Valencia, Lisa Roundtree Fitzpatrick (can’t remember her name correctly), Sameer Pimpalkhute, Angela Brecker, who all seemed to be quite willing to give false info about hot tubs being fabricated, delivered, giving extended warranties and bonuses for late deliveries and them being made by another Spa company who upon inquiries did not have a clue. I just want my money back, why is that so hard, state of California?

  • Marnielynne

    My Grandmother paid in full for her hot tub over 2 years ago and never received a hot tub or a refund. Lisa promised her a refund about a year an half ago….she hasn’t heard from them since. She took them to court and won her case, but they still haven’t paid up. Stay away from this company. If you actually get a hot tub from them, it’s a death trap, or you may not get one at all. BBB was of no help. She contacted the SF DA and they are trying, but this isn’t a new situation. This company has been ripping people off for YEARS.

  • Marnielynne

    My Grandmother paid in full for her hot tub over 2 years ago and never received a hot tub or a refund. Lisa promised her a refund about a year an half ago….she hasn’t heard from them since. She took them to court and won her case, but they still haven’t paid up. Stay away from this company. If you actually get a hot tub from them, it’s a death trap, or you may not get one at all. BBB was of no help. She contacted the SF DA and they are trying, but this isn’t a new situation. This company has been ripping people off for YEARS.