Is your water
safe? All too often, people selling
water conditioners hope you don’t know, because the less you know about your
water, the easier it is for them to sell you equipment you may not need for a
problem you probably don’t have.
The home water-treatment
business is lucrative. It has attracted
some 400 manufacturers, and sales are expected to top $1 billion this
year. To move their merchandise,
water-treatment sellers have to convince people they have a problem. They often exploit the widespread fear that the water in
your home isn't safe to drink. Sales pitches prey on fear and ignorance.
Of course, some water is polluted, but most people
don't have a problem with their drinking water. Consequently, many people buy equipment they don't need to “cure”
a “problem” that never existed.
If you believe your water may be unsafe, call your water
supplier. Talk to your doctor. If you have a well, call your county or state health
department and ask about testing.
Door-to-Door Sales Tactics
Here are some common sales tactics employed by
water-conditioner hucksters once inside your home:
the sludge test
salesman asks you to run some tap water into a bottle. He then adds a few drops of an unnamed
chemical, probably a flocculating agent
(which combines with dissolved minerals and causes them to precipitate). An unattractive sludge forms and settles to
the bottom of the bottle. Of course,
you are surprised and the salesman looks concerned, but fails to mention that
the chemical visually exaggerates the presence of harmless minerals.
the washcloth test
You are asked to get him a clean washcloth. The salesman produces a container of “treated” water, stuffs your
washcloth in, shakes it and, presto, residual detergent is released from your
clean washcloth and forms a layer of suds on the surface of the water. The point of this hocus-pocus is to show you
how your "raw, untreated water"
keeps your washer from getting your clothes clean. In fact, it’s normal for garments to retain
some detergent when washed in unsoftened water. Such a small quantity of
detergent is harmless, so the test is meaningless. Further, "raw, untreated water” is a
complete mischaracterization of the perfectly safe water 83% of Americans are
served by competent municipal water companies.
bottles on the
Someone leaves a small bottle at the front door, with an
official-looking note asking you to fill the bottle with tap water so it can be
tested. The results are always the same
… the water is "dangerously contaminated" and should be treated with
the company's product.
Your guard should go up if someone tries to sell you a
water-treatment device you didn't know you “needed”. If you are concerned about the quality of your drinking water,
have it tested to find out if there really is a problem. Always avoid the hard sell.