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Dec 11, 2012: Avoiding Sales Tricks


During the Celtic Tiger years, many water treatment firms used pressure selling techniques and questionable methods to test water, unfortunately money was easily parted with in times of abundant work and accelerating house prices.

Recession has meant money has become tighter, now there is no need to get fooled by sales people asking customers to part with large sums for filters at hiked up prices.  If you get a knock on the door from pushy sales folk or phone calls saying you have won a prize, it is likely pressure sales techniques are being used.  See below what sort of monkey business is going on around the kitchen sinks of Ireland ...

The "Husband and Wife" Request - Sales firms often eager to seal a deal on the day try to "handcuff" buyers into an on the spot decision, requesting both the householders to be present.  They do not trust the wife or husband to make decisions for themselves.  They insist in advance that two householders are present because they will not risk turning up and have the wife or husband say they have to consult "my other half" later on, to avoid the pressure of the sales person trying to close the sale.

The "Get`em Saying Yes" Routine - Easy one to spot.  You're asked a series of questions that you will likely answer 'yes' to.  "Do you want pure, safe water?" (Who doesn't?)  Is the safety of your family a concern?  This is supposed to "set you up" to say yes to the all important "closing" question:  "Will you sign the contract today?"  If you see this pattern developing, just say you will think about it and tell them you prefer not to be pressurised into making large purchasing decisions on the spot.

The "Sales Deadline" Tactic - Many firms run sales promotions for limited time periods.  This sets up an atmosphere of supposed "urgency", wherein you must decide to make the purchase right now.  The urgency is suspect since they will likely be running another "Last Chance" sale, with the "Lowest Prices" the day after tomorrow.  Again, they just want to make it difficult for you to shop elsewhere and compare prices.  Companies that respect your intelligence will of course leave as long as you need to decide.

The "Dirty Water Scam" - Many US states (see WQA.org ethics) have disclaimed "Precipitator" tests which gave the impression to the public that water was dirty and unfit to drink.  This scam was often used by shifty sales people to dupe the public.  Two metal probes were inserted into hard water converting it into a dirty looking sludge.  Lime scale in kettles and scum on tea is no real harm for drinking and has no reference value by the EPA or EU directives regarding potability.  See; http://www.espring.com/english-eu/ResearchCenter/ElectricPrecipitator.pdf



The "Low TDS Scam" - Handheld TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meters are low cost digital meters giving a basic indication of dissolved minerals such as lime in water.  Water with 0 to 50 ppm of lime content is listed by the EPA as being soft water and unrelated to drinking water quality.  Water containing 500 ppm of lime is safe in normal drinking water yet some sales people often suggested that any level of TDS in water is harmful even lower levels.  Most reverse osmosis membranes remove 95% of TDS down to single figures on most mains water or 10 to 30 ppm on the hardest mains water.

The "Dirty Water Scam" and the "Low TDS Scam" were used by con artists and did not suggest that filters being sold were of good quality or offer bacteria reduction.  A higher goal for water filter devices to achieve, along with chemical substance reduction, is the reduction of bacteria using high quality membrane filtration for at least 99.9% reduction of bacteria and cysts.

The "This is the Last One" Ruse - This is an attempt to play on our fear of "missing out" on something.  Simple logic tells us that even if it is the "last one", whoever made it will be glad to make another.  But fear is a powerful motivator.  Ask - is this the last one because they're not making any more?  Why?  Was it a bad design?  Didn't sell well?  Sounds like a reason to negotiate a lower price!  Don't be pressured into a premature decision. Companies should generally have plenty of what they sell.

The "Paperwork" Euphemism - Salespeople ask for things like; "I just need you to "OK" the paperwork", or "just initial this for me".  So called "paperwork" may be a legally binding contract; so the "C" word is transformed into the more innocuous "paperwork".  Whatever they call it, if you sign it you may be legally bound to buy and forfeit a deposit if you change your mind.  The best advice is not to sign any paperwork or contracts, avoid paying any deposits and feel free to shop around.

Extended pre-paid service-warranty plans usually incur costs in keeping the equipment regularly serviced, they can provide valuable protection, or they can be a waste of money.  Ask for honest, transparent, printed info about the cost of servicing and the overall likelyhood of repairs on certain equipment to make a decision.

Reverse osmosis pre-filters rarely ever cost more than 25 euros each, (or 75 euros for a set of 3), plus a small callout / fitting charge.  Water softeners should run 10 years before service and then a 10 or 20 year service (ion resin refill) should not cost more than 100 to 200 euros.

The main thing that people want to know is the price of the equipment being sold.  For a start if the company do not operate a clear pricing policy on all the equipment they sell by listing it on their website, printed brochures and over the phone, then you are dealing with a firm that cannot be trusted with the simplest of information you want to know up front.

Any company asking big money for a filter system using salesmen, without telling you the price up front, or giving clear info of the location of the factory of manufacture, manufacturer warranty, NSF validation etc, are more than likely trying to put you in the poor house.  There are many tried and trusted top brand NSF / WQA water treatment systems that range from 300 euros to 900 euros.

As for water softeners, you can now buy the most advanced, larger domestic household water softeners for under the 1,000 euro price level, installed.  Water softeners have now become the best value for money types of water treatment equipment on the market.  Look for only Clack Corporation based systems, as no other proven systems on the market get anywhere near to their range of specifications, reliability and build quality.

GE Osmonics Autotrol systems have been a popular seller in the past but the 255 valve body designs are still based on the 1960's valve design and are quite ancient, although recently given a face lift, they are low specification and fail on several counts of "hard water / raw water brining" causing dirty brine tanks, they use metal screws which are prone to rust making them difficult to service and do not have metering systems and the in built diagnostics of the Clack valves.

Ask where the manufacturer is located, the manufacturer direct warranty back up, manufacturer literature and manufacturer warranty provision, apart from just the dealer supplied after sales provision. 

Harmless water substances.

EU Directives regulate the quality of drinking water for human use by defining 53 parameters or characteristics of water under a broad scope for evaluation and set harmful concentration limits only on those deemed to be risk to public health.

A small number of the 53 parameters that are evaluated with no significance in terms of public safety or ‘have no reference value or recommendations’ in terms of a health risk are ;

TDS (total dissolved solids)          Hardness          Alkalinity          Temperature

The above 4 parameters are included as a significance for other purposes of water measurement requirements, but are not in themselves classed in any way harmful.

Three other parameters that are far more noticeable than the above 4 parameters to members of the public that have minor recommendations are : odour, colour, taste and turbidity.

This particular group of characteristics are the foremost things that people worry about in terms of a health risk, but if other harmful substances are tested as safe and a remaining level of harmless odour, colour, taste or turbidity exist in the water then the water is (in terms of public health) ‘safe to drink’.

TDS levels

TDS measurements in water reflect the total concentration of things in water that can be measured simply by conductivity, or their ability to conduct a current of electricity and not their ability to cause harm. TDS as a measurement is only generally used as a brief way of indirectly indicating very approximate levels of lime hardness.  Hardness or dissolved lime (calcium carbonate) found in excessive levels in most water sources is the essential conductive ingredient that TDS monitoring instruments display as their conductive totals.

Lime is found in most rural mains tap water in levels expressed by TDS meters in the average range of 200 to 400 ppm and in most supermarket bottled mineral waters in the range of 50 to 300 ppm.

Lime is only considered a problem to domestic water pipes and appliances and has never been established by any respected international scientific authority, health institute or government as being a problem whether in high concentrations (for example; 400 or 500 ppm), nor has it been concluded by any authority as being a problem in low concentrations or when absent from water.

In recent times, there have been a widespread number of water filter businesses, mainly American but some European that have attempted to mislead uninformed members of the public, by aiming to sell water filtration products by trying to give the impression that lime or TDS levels in water are somehow harmful, carcenogenic or toxic by nature.

By doing so these companies are breaking the fundamental charter of the WQA (Water Quality Association) and basic principles of the testing of water related products by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) along with consumer laws that prevent dishonest practices in the selling of goods to customers using intentionally misleading and dishonest descriptions of their goods.

If dishonest companies are awarded basic membership of the WQA and regularly use misleading selling techniques, and if these practices are reported to the WQA, their membership would very likely become terminated.  It is very rare for any of these companies to have products that undergo the rigorous certification of NSF quality accreditation leading to WQA ‘Gold Seal’ approved products.


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