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The Best Water Softener, Filter or Reverse Osmosis System: Let the Buyer Beware

by Mark Timmons November 21, 2022 4 Comments

If you are in the market for a water softener, water filter, salt-free conditioner, or a reverse osmosis system, it would seem logical to “Google” something like “Best Water Softener” or “Best Reverse Osmosis System.” That's what many people do without really understanding what is happening.

When you Google “Best Water Softener” the search will take you to a page where it says something like this:

  • 10 Best Water Softeners (2022) - Buyer's Guide Best Picks 2022
  • The Best Water Softener Systems of 2022
  • The 8 Best Water Softeners of 2022
  • 5 Best Water Softeners of 2022
  • 9 Best Water Softener Reviews
  • 10 Best Rated Water Softeners of 2022

Of course, you are assuming that this is some independent rating service that is going to test each product and give you an honest opinion of which ones are the best. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

What you are getting is a website that rates the water softeners, water filters, or reverse osmosis systems by how much the manufacturer or dealer is willing to pay for that rating. If you want the Top Spot, then you must pay the most. If you are ranked Number One and someone else wants that spot, all they have to do is outbid you.

Many people call this “Influencer Marketing.” I call it Shady, Sleazy Marketing! Maybe I am just old fashioned but it used to be that to make the best water softener or any product, for that matter, you really had to build a quality product and have hundreds or maybe even thousands of people try it, like it, recommend and refer it. This took time… months or even years. Now, you just pay some sleazy marketer the most money, and PRESTO, you have the #1 rated product!

I think that is dishonest and simply wrong! Most, if not all of the sites that rate these products have never even touched or seen the product. It's just a transaction. You simply pay for the rating. You might ask if that is legal. Yes, it evidently is. A better question to ask is if it is ethical. I know that most people I have talked to about do not believe it is ethical and many, in fact, feel duped by the experience. The internet is a wonderful tool, but this type of unethical trickery shows how something good can be used for misleading purposes. We have tried it and frankly, find the process distasteful.

In light of this information, how is a consumer to discern what is The Best or even what is a Really Good Water Softener? Well, it's really not that difficult, and I am going to give you a few tips on what to look for.

Six Things to Look for When Considering Water Treatment Equipment

  1. Check out the Company's Better Business Bureau Reviews. Do they have an A+ Rating? If a company has an A+ rating, it does not mean that they are perfect or have no problems. No company is perfect, but an A+ Rating is a very good sign that a company is responsive to problems and resolves them. You may see a few bad reviews. Some people just can never be satisfied or reasonable and you should remember that the vast majority of people only leave a review if it is bad.
  2. Check out the Warranty. I have always been of the opinion that if you make it better, it should have a better guarantee. On one “Best Water Softener” site, the product in the #1 position had a 1-year warranty on the valve and electronics. Our best water softener, the Matrixx has a 10-year warranty but is not even listed because we did not pay someone to say that!
  3. Check out their Customer Service. How do you do this? Well, that might be a little trickier, but one way is to call the company around 5 PM and ask for technical support. If they don't answer, leave a message and see if they respond. You can ask simple questions such as, “how do I program your water softener?” Many companies are eager to sell you a product, but it is alarming how many offer little to no service after the sale.
  4. Guarantee of Satisfaction. If you are on City or Municipal Water, a report about your water quality is on the internet. Water utilities are required to publish this information on a regular basis. However, if you are on a well or some other “non-municipal source,” it is imperative that you have a detailed laboratory water analysis of the well water by a third-party laboratory that does not have an interest in the outcome. Once you have the results of that water test, a sound solution can be engineered - one that is rooted in scientific fact and backed by a Guarantee of Satisfaction. We think a One-Year Money Back Guarantee is reasonable, so that is what we offer.
  5. What do you Know About the Company. Just about every Website has an “About US” page. So many websites say things like, “We are passionate about your water and have been doing this for 40 years (or whatever), but offer no names, locations, or even a face. They are nameless, faceless sellers of water equipment… but who are they really? We really don't know. I don't know about you, but I like knowing who I am dealing with. I dislike very much people who hide behind boilerplate hyperbole.
  6. Are they Ethical and Members of the WQA? The WQA, or “Water Quality Association,” is a not-for-profit association for the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. The WQA membership is comprised of more than 2,500 manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and dealers around the globe whose focus is on water quality improvement and services. They also have a Code of Ethics that requires their members to be ethical in their advertising and marketing. Anyone who violates these ethics is banned from WQA Membership. The fact that a water treatment company bears this seal tells you that they are honest and ethical. If they display the “Master Water Specialist” Logo, you can rest assured that they are highly professional and educated about water treatment.
Member Water Quality Association Master Water Specialist, Water Quality Association

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November 30, 2022 Jim Walters

Interesting take Mark! I really couldnt agree more, you can imagine my surprise when I learned you do the same thing your talking about in this post. Does that mean you use Shady, Sleazy Marketing?

November 30, 2022 Mark Timmons

Right in the blog, we admit to using it. We are under contract and have tried it to see how this works. We do find it distasteful and evidently so does Google as they are changing their searches because of it.

December 01, 2022 Jim Walters

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the quick response. I don’t see anywhere in your blog where you mention that your company admits to using them. I must have missed it! Your comment got me thinking, so I had to do some research. It turns out it’s called affiliate marketing, and they have to fully disclose that they may receive money for pushing products to be compliant with FTC guidelines. What are your thoughts on this?

December 01, 2022 Mark Timmons

" We have tried it and, frankly, find the process distasteful." Is what I wrote on the blog. I just looked at three of these alleged affiliates and could find no such disclaimers. Not saying they aren’t there – just that they are not readily apparent – which means they effectively are not there. Also, some internet sellers of water treatment products own sites where they rank their own products as #1. It is a slippery slope – I just wanted to alert John Q. Public that what they are reading may not be real.

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