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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
St. Louis, MO
BBB Warns: Customer Frustration Bubbles Up Over James Flanagan, Hot Tub Recyclers
BBB is warning consumers to be careful when dealing with James Flanagan or his companies, Hot Tub Recyclers and Hot Tub Addict of Taylorville, Ill.
November 21, 2013

hot tubSt. Louis, Mo., Nov. 21, 2013 – An Illinois company that sells and services secondhand hot tubs is coming under fire from customers who say they paid up to $2,800 for refurbished tubs that have not been delivered.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises caution when dealing with Hot Tub Recyclers, Hot Tub Addict or owner James Flanagan. The business has a showroom and repair shop on South Spresser Street in Taylorville, Ill.

“I’ve given up talking to the guy,” said a consumer from Champaign, Ill., who paid $2,600 for a refurbished hot tub in May, but has yet to receive his order. “I’ve never had this happen with any business before.”

Hot Tub Recyclers has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible. BBB has received a flurry of recent complaints involving the company, several of which have gone unanswered.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, called the company’s business practices “absolutely unbelievable. People are paying hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, for products they expect to be delivered and installed in a few days,” she said. “Instead, many of them are ending up with nothing.”

Flanagan told BBB he is struggling to make good on the orders. “We’re a small business that got too big too fast,” Flanagan said. “We are not going to run from it; we are going to try to clean it up.” He said the company expects to make good on all refunds, but added that it could take some time.

Customers in Missouri and Illinois tell BBB that promised repairs have not been made, ordered parts have not been shipped, and hot tubs that were purchased have not been delivered. Customers said Flanagan has promised repeatedly to make good on their purchases, but failed to deliver.

A woman from Oakley, Ill., wrote in a BBB complaint, “Buyers, please beware. Do not do business with Hot Tub Recyclers!” The woman said her husband paid $2,000 for a hot tub for her birthday in July, but it still had not been delivered nearly four months later. She said Flanagan has missed several delivery dates. She recently hired an attorney. She described Flanagan as a “good old boy who will walk up and shake your hand and look you straight in the eye.”

A man from Chillicothe, Ill., said he paid $2,800 cash for a hot tub that was promised by his son’s birthday on Sept. 18. When the tub never came, the family ordered a tub from another company. The consumer said he is still trying to get a refund.

A woman from Weldon, Ill., said she paid $1,200 for a hot tub in August. It was delivered promptly, but she immediately noticed it was leaking.  She has been trying for three months to get the company to repair it. “I’ve heard so many excuses; I don’t want anything to do with them,” she said.

The company advertises tubs, repairs and a hot tub moving service on Craigslist, mostly to consumers in central and southern Illinois, although it also does business in Missouri. 

“Relax in a spa that meets your needs . . . and fits your pocketbook!” the company says in an online site. “We are known as one of the only businesses that works with used hot tubs.”

BBB tips for consumers buying used products or appliances include:

  • Research a company carefully. Make sure that it has a strong history of customer satisfaction and service. Check its BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or calling 314-645-3300.
  • Ask whether the product comes with a warranty. Read any warranty carefully before agreeing to make the purchase.
  • Ask for referrals and contact them before doing business with the company.
  • If the product you are purchasing is not immediately available, get in writing when it can be picked up or delivered. Ask whether you will get your money refunded if the company does not meet the delivery deadline. 
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you need to challenge the purchase.

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, communications@stlouisbbb.org, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.  Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.