Yesterday afternoon, my phone rang. This is not so unusual. What is unusual is the fast-talking spiel I got from a gentleman claiming that his company was working with the EPA to test the water in New York City—and when could they come by and test mine?
Readers, maybe you’d have been immediately suspicious. I was immediately annoyed, but not mistrustful. When I worked at Good Housekeeping, we once had to cold call hundreds of people in various cities to ask them if we could test their water for an investigative piece we were doing. So actually, I was vaguely sympathetic for this guy who (I assumed) had a legitimate purpose and was probably enduring the abuse of a telemarketer. (Future Me looks back and says, Hahahahaha.)
Hey, if the EPA needs to test some water, I’m their gal. But when I asked him how I could verify his business venture, he just rattled off a lengthy schtick riddled with science-speak. I don’t want to drink arsenic any more than the next person, but something seemed off.
Then the conversation got odd.
Him: Can you give us your address so we can verify that what we have is correct?
Me: Well, what do you have as my address? (See? I’m not totally stupid.)
Him: (Pause) Um, West 45th Street?
Me: Sorry, no. That’s not where I live. Or have ever lived.
Him: Are you in zip code 10036?
Me: Not so much.
Him: Are you between 15th and 60th Streets?
Me: No sir.
Him: Let me just check with my manager to see if we’re testing other areas in the city. May I call you back?
I didn’t expect to hear from him again, but of course I did, because after I hung up the phone I Googled the name of the company: Aqualife. A company that makes water filtration systems. (Ohhhhhh.) And then I found this from RipoffReport.com.
Aqualife came to my house to provide a free water test. Of course, the result of the quality of the water showed that I should have died 65 years ago.
I could survive this water, but I couldn’t survive the pressure from the sales person who was working with me. He promised me everything that you can possibly imagine a water purifier to do. Best of all, the price was incredibly low – only $200.00 at the point of the test and a little bit more for the filters after delivery and installation.
…Guess what? After I made my payment of $200.00 the price for the additional filter turned out to be another $1,600.00
That was from Michael in Brooklyn, New York. (I fixed a couple of typos, Michael.)
But wait. That’s not all. There was also this: Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System – Worst Homeowner’s Nightmare.
Then there’s the consumer who created an entire blog for the sole purpose of complaining about the company. It used to be located at aqualifeinc.blogspot.com, and it used to say, “AquaLife is a Scam.” That blog no longer exists (but a cached page in Google lasts forever).
Suffice it to say, I let Aqualife’s callback go to voicemail. No, Vinny, I will not be ringing you to schedule a quick in-home test. It just goes to show that you have to trust your gut. (Which was telling me that the EPA does not go door-to-door testing water.) And, of course, a little Internet research never hurts.
How are your scam-sleuthing skills?