Levelling the field for hot tub sales

Local businessman not impressed with mainland company’s actions

Published on April 29, 2014
Bubba’s Tubs and Pools owner Greg Butler says recent signs erected in the city do not actually promote a hot tup expo, but are advertising for only one company.
— Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Bubba’s Tubs and Pools owner Greg Butler has no problem with competition, but he’s not impressed with the tactics employed by a mainland company staging what’s billed as a Hot Tub Expo.

“It’s not an expo,” said Butler, looking at one of the signs for last weekend’s event in St. John’s. “If you look at the website that they put up, they make it look like local vendors can participate and try to create an environment whereby the consumer who sees this thinks that it’s going to be a bunch of hot tub companies out there. It’s not. It’s one guy out of Ontario for a manufacturer in the (United States). ... They’re the quintessential fly-by-night guys.”

According to Butler, signs have been illegally plastered on poles for the last four years promoting such events, held throughout the spring and summer months and moving from one location to the next. The most recent was held last weekend at a site on Kenmount Road.

“Both Mount Pearl and the City of St. John’s have bylaws that prevent local people who are here paying taxes and employing people, supporting local charities, raising families, prevent us from doing that,” he said of the signs, which typically begin to appear on poles near Stavanger Drive and Kelsey Drive on a Friday to promote a weekend event.

Butler has been making calls about the matter for years to city staff in Mount Pearl and St. John’s, with little to show for it.

On Tuesday, he was told the City of Mount Pearl has someone to look after such matters. The signs have appeared on poles close to his Mount Pearl business in the past, including one for the latest event.

“I’m not trying to say no to competition, but I am saying no to unethical practices that everybody else is not allowed to do,” Butler said. “Without these signs, these guys won’t exist.”

He attempted to contact the company responsible for the events two years ago, and claims he re­ceiv­ed a legal threat in response.

A call to the number listed on the website for the most recent event was answered by an employee for SubZero, a business that sells hot tubs in Ottawa. In 2009, the federal government’s Competition Bureau penalized that company and several others for falsely claiming Dynasty Spas products were associated with the energy efficiency-related Energy Star program.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew