I would like to share my Great Lakes experience with anyone who may be considering buying a hot tub. First and foremost, do your homework. Ask friends who own one of the service/experience they have had with theirs.
I purchased my Great Lakes Ottawa tub in November of 2003. Upon delivery I was pleased with my investment. Within 6 months, I experienced my first problem. My GFI breaker kept tripping. I attempted to contact my dealer and much to my surprise found that he was no longer in business. I went to Great Lakes web page and quickly found that you can NOT speak directly with a representative, you must contact a Great Lakes dealer in your area. After finding another dealer, I was able to speak with them about my tub. I then found that the dealer did not service the tubs but fortunately, I was able to obtain "their" telephone number to contact Great Lakes directly.
When I contacted Great Lakes directly, it was like I had broken some secret code. It was immediately apparent that this was not the norm. After getting through that barrier, I was able to speak with Tim Volkers (sales representative for my area). Tim walked me through a trouble shooting process and told me to take the front off of my cabinet. Tim asked me to reset my GFI and to turn on the jets. What I saw next blew my mind. My tub of less than one year began spraying water all over the electronic board inside. That tripped the GFI. Tim advised me that Great Lakes had been experiencing problems with an "elbow" underneath. He further advised that he would send me the replacement part right out. He was true to his word. Within a couple of days, I received the part, which I myself, had to replace.
Fast forward. At about 1yr 10months (tub warranty-2yrs), I again began experiencing problems. Once again, my tub was inoperable. This time it would not run. I located a new dealer in my area. The dealer set up an appointment to come out and check my tub. Bare in mind, I now had to pay for a service call even though the tub was under warranty. The technician determined that I had a bad electronic board. He advised me that he did not have one is stock and that it would have to be ordered. The part was ordered and within 2 weeks, he returned to install the new board. This time, the technician told me that the "top control" must be bad too as the tub would not work. Again parts had to be ordered, and again, the tub sat for approximately two weeks inoperable. This time, the technician returned to install the top control and discovered that the electronic board that he had just installed two weeks earlier, had in fact burned up also. Again, another electronic board had to be ordered. On the next service call, the owner of the company responded. I should mention that the warranty had now expired on my tub. Even though the problem was diagnosed within the two years, Great Lakes did not want to cover the parts. After calling the "secret" number and complaining, I was able to convince them that it was "their" responsibility. After great discussion, I was able to get the parts (not labor) covered.
Now, approximately one year later, my tub again quit heating. I contacted my local Great Lakes dealer to set up an appointment. The dealer advised me that from the description I was giving him over the phone, it must be another bad electrical board. You do the math, that’s the 4th bad electrical board (the original plus 3 replacements). He advised me that it would cost me $438.00 to have it replaced (parts and labor). I asked him if the part was warranted and he advised that it was for two years. I mentioned that the last board was replaced less than one year ago and he advised me that Great Lakes would not cover it since the last board was covered under warranty. Since my last part was covered under warranty, Great Lakes does not start the warranty at replacement date. They count it from purchase date. What a crock!!!!
Since I had to pay for this electronic board, I guess the one he will have to put in next year will be covered (less labor) under warranty. Although I am satisfied with my local dealer, I am very disgusted with Great Lakes. I would never even consider buying another product with the name Great Lakes stamped on it.
Could it be possible that the faulty elbow that sprayed water all over the electronic board caused the first electronic board to go up? I think so. Could it be that the next two boards also had defects? I also think so. If this is normal maintenance for hot tubs, I guess I have no complaints, but I know many who have hot tubs and none have experienced any such problems. To anyone considering buying a Great Lakes hot tub, I have one word of advice, DON’T!!!! And for anyone having problems with their Great Lakes hot tub, let me give you their “secret” number so that you may contact them directly-1(877)454-7748 or call (616)392-5947 ext. 359 (Tim Volkers).
I hope that this bit of information will make you think before spending your hard earned money on what I consider a piece of garbage product.