Just thought I'd share my recent experience with Vortex Spa out of Quebec, Canada.
I purchased one of their largest swim spa models in mid September 2014. During the purchase process, I was impressed with the responsiveness of "Brian", who spent a fair bit of time discussing the product, the order process, and addressing some concerns about other commenters on this forum.
He admitted that they've had some problems with US deliveries, but assured me that they were experienced and had a good system for on-time deliveries in Canada. Although my expected delivery was in 5-6 weeks, he had warned me that if I was one of the rare cases that got caught in a customs hold, there could be a brief delay of a few additional days.
Through September and October we corresponded regularly as we prepared the site, the electrical, and tried to arrange the crane company. Although Brian was still responding, the frequency and timeliness of the responses were slowing quite a bit.
Then, right around the time the delivery was to happen in late October, communications really slowed. About a week after the original delivery date, he told us the shipment was in a customs hold, and that it could be tied up for up to 4 additional weeks. I asked for documentation relating to this hold, and he was unable or unwilling to provide this. I asked him to let me have direct dialogue with the customs broker (just to have a second confirmation of the situation) but this was not arranged.
The late November release date finally arrived, and Brianadvised that it had been inspected and would be put on a train immediately - he would provide confirmation as soon as this occurred. Another week went by, no confirmation.... and no more revised dates. The very few brief conversations with Brian in December essentially consisted of me catching him, him saying he would call me back, and no more.
At the very end of November, I finally opened an inquiry with my credit card company. In my initial communication with them, I stressed that I was not reporting a "fraudulent transaction", but rather would like some help in obtaining more information about the status of the product I paid for in full over 2 months earlier. In late December, I advised them that I was no longer receiving any information from Vortex, and would like to start the process to dispute the charge. The credit card provider advised that as they had received no response from their inquiries to the vendor, they were issuing a refund and cancelling the transaction.
This was very unfortunate. We have invested several thousand dollars in electrical and site preparation. We've planned the backyard and built a deck around the area with a swim spa in mind. I was very excited about purchasing this - the size, layout, and design of the product was more fitting to my needs than anything else on the market (not to mention the excellent pricing).
I don't know what happened here. I'd like to think the best of Brian and Vortex and believe that we've just had some bad luck; but in that case Vortex has failed miserably at communicating with their customer. Particularly in a large $ internet transaction with a long lead time, they need to come up with ways to share information with their customers and ensure that they can be comfortable all the way through. If unexpected delays happen, the need for this transparency and assurance rises exponentially.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the whole thing was vapor. Since the CC transaction cancellation I have sent a number of emails and voicemails to Brian, suggesting that we still try to make a cash on delivery deal - if the product truly was real and really ordered, he must now have a $20,000 spa sitting in inventory tying up his working capital. He should be eager to find a buyer, and I'm the most logical one.
Although I refuse to take the delivery risk again, and will expect a discount from the original deal (I have no confidence in any warranty support) I still remain open to discussing a cash deal with Brian. It seems that he (or "Ryan", but I've never spoken to anyone other than Brian in ALL my dealings with Vortex, so I suspect this is a one-man show in Canada) frequents this forum, trying to discredit anyone who complains.
Perhaps rather than attacking me, Brian/Ryan will take a sensible route and contact me, and maybe move me from an unsatisfied customer to at least "semi-satisfied". It may be good PR for him to call me, apologize, and bend over backwards to correct the situation - often a good clean-up can turn a customer relations disaster into a bonanza. If he does this and makes things right, I will surely report back to the forum.