Selecting a Water Filtration Cooler
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
I recently went through the exercise of selecting a Water Filtration Hot/Cold Cooler system. After speaking with four different vendors, I made the best selection based on the options presented. Boy, did I go through some serious “water” education. And here I thought water was just water!
Bottled Water Cooler vs Water Filtration Cooler
In the past, our office has used both coolers with the large 5-gallon jugs and a water filtration cooler. The bottled water was becoming too expensive. Plus there was the awkward hoisting and positioning of the bottles onto the top of the cooler, often resulting in water spills (money down the wall and onto the floor). In addition, the full and empty bottles needed storage, and we had to keep track of delivery quantity and times. An issue also arose that debated how clean the water actually was since those 5-gallon jugs inserted into the cooler weren’t sanitized on the outside.
The water filtration hot/cold cooler worked well. Essentially, it is exactly like a bottled water cooler … except without the large bottle on top. We have a kitchen area, and the water pipes beneath the sink are tapped into so that the water runs through tubing to the water filtration system in the cooler. There are spigots for both hot and cold water, and the usual drip tray to capture spillage.
Are there Different Types of Water Filtration Coolers?
Yes, there are different types of water filtration coolers. We opted for a basic cooler with a 3M carbon sediment filter. The filter will effectively cycle 1,500 gallons of water, and it is changed once a year (or more depending upon water usage). We figure we will only need the once-a-year filter change based on the number of employees using the machine. The cooler also has a stainless steel holding tank.
There is also a system known as “Reverse Osmosis”. After talking with people, and researching it online, I came to the conclusion that there are hugely varying opinions on whether this system is worth the money. Essentially, reverse osmosis further purifies the water. One person explained to me that a “carbon filter” system produced water tasting like Poland Spring or Belmont Springs water. Reverse osmosis produced water more like Evian water quality. After more digging, I also discovered that for every gallon of water produced by reverse osmosis that three gallons of water was “flushed down the drain”. Talk about wasting water!
Tips on Selecting a Vendor for a Water Filtration Cooler
I talked to a lot of people and did research before making my final decision. Here are some points you will need to consider before committing to a vendor:
1. What Comes Included in the Package
Every vendor I spoke with had a different slant on what came with the water filtration cooler. After narrowing down my choice, I asked for the following: A) the cooler unit, B) a free carbon sediment filter, C) inspection of the unit every six months, D) a free filter change once a year, E) should something break on the machine there will be free replacement, F) no installation charge, and G) a one-year contract.
One company tried to charge me for the filter in addition to the cooler. The company I opted to do business with included service and inspection of the unit twice a year (compared to only once a year provided by the other vendors I spoke with). Make sure the annual filter change is free (one vendor explained they charged $60.00 for the filter even though the “service” was free). It’s always good practice to make sure that should the machinery break that there will be no additional costs to have it replaced. Also make sure that installation is free.
Examine the contract and how long you are committing to use the cooler. Two of the contracts presented to me were for 5 years. One had a 3-year length, and one was for a single year. Our last water cooler came with a 5-year agreement. Changes in the office can affect whether that long a contract is a good decision. An internal situation suggested we needed a more flexible arrangement, and the water company would not let us back out of the 5-year agreement. Now we have a one-year agreement with a new company and are happy with it.
2. Let’s Talk About Cost
Pricing played a large part in our decision. Our old water filtration cooler was costing us $50.00 a month, which included a hidden “insurance charge” that was not explained to the person who made the decision to go with this company. We felt we were charged too much for the service provided.
During conversations with other vendors, pricing went as low as $29.99 a month to as much as $52.00 a month. Make sure to cover everything that will be invoiced. I asked about hidden fees, extra fees of any type, if we had to pay for filters or service, if installation was free, and if there was an early cancellation of contract fee. The answers varied and sometimes were surprising, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
3. Cancellation Notice and Additional Fees
In today’s economy, flexibility is a key word. We chose the vendor who offered a one-year contract, and the $29.99 a month fee. We also had the option of paying automatically via credit or debit card or of being invoiced. (Another vendor offered us a month-by-month plan with no contract, but we would have had to pay a $125.00 installation fee.)
Also make sure to thoroughly read the contract … and don’t sign anything without approval (if it is needed). I heard some horror stories. One vendor told me they lost a major account because an employee signed a contract with a different vendor, not realizing they shouldn’t do it. Also beware of someone trying to have you sign something saying that it isn’t a contract … but it really is.
Our contract states that there is a $100.00 fee if the contract is canceled before the year is up. Also, late fees apply as well as a fee of $25.00 per “returned check or debit card”.
Another consideration is automatic renewal. We made sure that the contract would not automatically renew, and the company is happy to bill us from month-to-month (at the same rate) after the first year.
4. Document Everything
Even if your vendor business is conducted all via phone or in person, make sure to capture the discussion details in writing. For instance, if I had a phone conversation, I made sure to follow up to the person with an email that recapped what we discussed. That way if a problem arises, it won’t devolve into a “he-said / she-said” argument. Everything will be documented so that there are no misunderstandings.
It never hurts to talk with various vendors before making a decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure the money you are paying per month is worth the service you will be receiving. We are very much enjoying our water filtration system. The vendor even gave us a choice of whether we wanted a white or a black cooler. The service technician was thorough and without hesitation answered every question I asked. I also made sure that the six-month service visits would be automatic so that I didn’t have to make any phone calls. The water cooler is working great, and we like it better than the last machine.
Enjoy the day !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2010 Dawn Lesley Stewart