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 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,,,, 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, 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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