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The Hard Water Corner

Common sense information about a common problem.

What is The Difference Between Water Softeners?

shrugged shoulders

People ask me all the time what the difference between water softeners are. There are lots of water systems and lots companies that sell them. In fact, I just Google searched for “water softener Jacksonville FL” and there are 35,400 search results. Holy Cow. So I wanted to provide a road map of simple ways for you to define the differences between water softener companies and make a well informed decision. The main differences that you will encounter are price point, warranties, and company reputation.

Price Point.

Price simply put is how much you will pay a company after all taxes and fees for the installation of a water softener system?

 Water softener companies in Jacksonville FL have different price points. In fact prices will vary greatly depending on which company that you consult. Some smaller mom and pop companies that sell softeners from their homes garage, meaning they have no business location, will range from $1200 to $1500 including installation. While other companies that utilize pushy telemarketing campaigns to solicit you will range from $5000 to $7000 or more! An obvious question you may have is, “so, what’s the difference between these systems since the price is so much different?” The answer is probably not much. In fact they probably both will soften your water, they will both use salt to do it…etc. The difference is business philosophy and ethics. Personally, knowing the cost of the equipment and the cost of running a water business, I believe charging $5000 to $7000 is unethical. But that is my opinion. And I can see how my opinion can be considered bias since I run a water business. So, I want to offer you some hard data on water softener prices. The annual dealer survey for 2014, which surveys most water companies in America, stated that the median cost was $1600 while the average cost was $1850. That’s it. If you receive a price from a company that is two to three times than this amount it would benefit you to get a second opinion.

A recent client of ours had a water softener company pitch them at $6000 initially but just after a few minutes of back and forth the company was down from $6000 to $3000. I think that you would agree that most people would interpret this kind of sales practice as shady and un called for.

Warranties:

What are your responsibilities with the new water softener and what are the responsibilities of the company selling the system to you in both parts and labor?

There are two ways to buy a water softener that will dictate warranties and service. The first way, like the mom and pop shop mentioned earlier, is to purchase a whole sale brand of softener from a reseller (mom and pop). This transaction is interesting because even though the manufacturer has a parts warranty you may not end up benefiting from that warranty. The reason is twofold. First, the brand that you purchase, let’s use Clack for an example, does not have an infrastructure that is designed to communicate with every end user of their products. Clack is a very reputable company and one of the most successful component manufacturers in the world but their infrastructure is modeled to deal directly with the supplier (middle man in between mom and pop and Clack) not the end user. You see most manufacturers will only ship in quantities requiring a single order to completely fill a 53’ eighteen wheeler. Mom and pop can’t place an order that large but a supplier can. Then mom and pop can purchase one to two units at a time as needed. Now, say you purchase from mom and pop and they go out of business or decided they have had enough of the entrepreneur lifestyle, do you still have a warranty? Hmm…Probably not. We call it our principle of 15. We receive on average 15 calls per month from customers seeking service for their water softener that cannot find the mom and pop style company that sold it to them. When we provide service for these individuals they are likely to pay for the service call parts and labor because I have no way of knowing which supplier originally supplied the unit and how much warranty is left.  If you called the manufacturer, and IF someone calls you back, they will instruct you to contact the company that installed it originally. Back to square one we go.

The other way is to purchase a national brand like 3M, Culligan, Kenitico or Rainsoft. National brands should have a customer support infrastructure that allows the end user (you) to reach out to the manufacturer directly. And national brands should have more than one participating dealer within the region in which you live. For example 3M has three east coast dealers within a three hour drive and our customers have access to 3mwater.com were you can register your product and communicate via live chat at any time. Unlike the previous scenario with mom and pop a national brand will have a much stronger network to serve its customers.

Company Reputation:

It still amazes me that some customers will buy a water softener that is priced two to three times more than their actual value from a company that they have never heard of who methodically produces negative customer experiences. But it happens.

Over the years we consumers become more and more empowered by the internet. For companies who consistently produce negative customer experiences this is not good. It’s seems that you can post an online review or opinion almost anywhere. And on certain third party sites like Google and the BBB, there is absolutely nothing that companies can do to remove or un-post a review they are permanent. What you see is generally what you get. You now have a fairly reliable crystal ball. Mostly positive, hit and miss, or consistently negative experiences with water softener companies is now up to you. Can mistakes happen? Absolutely. But companies that maintain a consistent positive reputation do so by taking care of customers when things don’t go to plan.

To sum up.

Most people don’t mind paying a fair price for a water softener. However what they don’t want is to get ripped off or to receive incompetent customer support down the road. I hope this post today helps you with your research on purchasing a water softener. At the end of the day the biggest difference between water softener companies is the price that you will pay, the warranties that you have and the reputation of the servicing dealer that you have to live with. If you have a question or a story that you would like to share please contact us. 

I am adding this thread to my blog because i want your help. Last night i met with a couple who had a water softener company from Home Depot attempt to sell a water system for $7000!!! We saved them tons of money with our straight forward common sense pricing. Have you received an outrageous price for a water system? Share your story with us. 

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