I just received a call from a “customer” wanting to know when his GE Merlin RO system was going to ship. He did not have his order number so I had to look him up by last name. But I did not find his last name. Long story short, he ordered from another company and called us by mistake. That happens from time to time because there are so many water treatment equipment dealers online that it’s nearly overwhelming.
But I was able to find the company he bought the Merlin from. They had a fantastic price listed there of $349! If you clicked on the link above you’ll see that we are selling them for $399 and we are quite proud of that price. Upon further examination of the competitor’s web site, I found that their price of $349 did NOT include a supply valve. The supply valve we provide with the GE Merlin retails for over $25 so I guess you could add that to the competitor’s price to bring it up to $374 which is still a great price. Oh, but then they charge for shipping too I see. Well, I looked back on some of our recent invoices from UPS and the cost of shipping a Merlin to North Carolina for example is $28 which is not bad considering the size and weight, and that also includes insurance.
So let’s see, now we’re up to $402. Oh. Well, that’s only $3 more than us. But wait a minute. This “customer” was calling us wanting to know when his RO was going to ship and he ordered it on the weekend. He’s in Las Vegas so if he had ordered it from us he would have had it by yesterday. Hmm… Maybe that $402 is not such a good deal after all?
Let’s face it, if a company has been in business online as long as we have (5 years), then they must be doing something right. One of my duties is comparing our offerings to others and it’s pretty rare when we find a competitor that can charge less than us and at the same time offer value to the service/product that we do. And when I do find those types of deals, I make sure that we figure out how they do it and adjust our proceedures accordingly.
That “customer” is certainly not getting ripped of. After all, he’s getting a great RO system and the out-of-pocket cost is not that much more than we charge, but he would have had his Merlin by now.
Greetings and thanks for taking the time to read.
This last weekend saw numerous equipment orders, but what was different compared to just about any other weekend was the fact that many of these orders were from returning customers. A few were buying reverse osmosis systems after originally purchasing water softeners or automatic filters. Others were from referrals and at least one was from a gentleman in Indiana who has purchased numerous softener systems (I think he’s starting his own dealership!). All of this made me come up with the idea for this week’s Water Weekly article.
The equipment we sell and support is not at all like the systems you can pick up at the local home improvement store. These are professional grade water treatment systems that are designed to be trouble-free indefinitely. After all, you can’t run a successful water treatment dealership if your products keep breaking down.
We’ve been getting asked quite frequently lately about the amount of salt that is used by our water softeners. The answer to this question can be made quite complicated as I’ve witnessed on some of our competitor’s web sites, but it’s really pretty simple. The amount of salt or brine (salt saturated water) used by a water softener’s regeneration process is directly related to the amount hardness in your water. Because the process of removing hardness from water is called ion exchange, you can safely assume that there will be equal amounts of salt (or potassium chloride) ions exchanged with the hardness (calcium, lime, etc.) ions. If your water test results indicated 20 grains per gallon of hardness then your softener will require at least 20 grains of salt per gallon. But to ensure peak efficiency, an additional amount of brine should be used during regeneration to guarantee that all hardness ions are removed. A good rule of thumb is 10%. The amount of salt/potassium used by your softener can be adjusted; check your owner’s manual, but the factory default settings for the Autotrol and Fleck brands we carry are sufficient.
Back when I joined Water Value Company, they were a local dealership that wanted to get on the World Wide Web and I had some experience with that. After investigating the competition out there at that time (6 years ago) I found that an Internet presence for the company would be a great idea. Upon launching the web site in 2002, sales started coming in right away although slowly. While these orders were slow to begin with, they eventually started picking up to the point where the local dealership was no longer needed and we switched to 100% online marketing in late 2004. But before all of that, we invested a great deal of time closely examining the nature of web based water treatment equipment supply. It was discovered that there are a great number of people interested in repairing their water treatment equipment as opposed to hiring someone to do it or buying a whole new appliance. So we dedicated our efforts to providing components and parts for the Fleck and Autotrol brands of softeners/filters that we carry. After all, this equipment is designed to last for decades and if one o-ring should start to leak or an electric motor die, why replace the whole system?
So we began compiling an online database of inexpensive and easy to replace parts such as o-rings, drive motors, pistons, etc. Some of these parts were not normally stocked by the manufacturer and had to be specially ordered. This could cause a delay of up to two weeks before shipment, but it was better than the alternative which was either replacing a controller valve or even an entire system. For years Water Value was successful in providing these hard to find parts to our loyal customers; that is until recently.
On January 12th, a customer placed an order for some Fleck 5600 timer gears and shaft that the manufacturer does not stock. We charged this customer a whole $13 for these hard to find parts, but he will save himself at least $100 in service call fees and more than that if he were to replace the entire controller. But he did not get his parts until February 1st, so he initiated a “charge-back” on his credit card purchase. Basically, a charge-back is performed by the credit card issuer who feels that their client’s needs were not met by a specific purchase for various reasons. In this case the client felt that two-and-a-half weeks was too long to wait for special order parts.
So the credit card issuer took our money and gave it back to their client. The client never did contact us to complain at all, he just took back his payment. And did I mention he still has the special order parts? Even though it clearly stated on the purchase page which the customer bought from that these parts would take up to two weeks to ship, he and his credit card company felt justified in taking the money we earned for those parts. I honestly do not understand how some people can sleep at night.
As a direct result of this customer’s actions, we are now in the process of removing all of these special order parts from our web site. It is unfortunate that one person out of countless thousands that have purchased from us, can ruin it for future parts seekers, but so long as some people will do nearly anything to save a buck and the credit card companies will gladly take from others to give back to them without proper justification, we have no other choice.
We’ve started carrying a new accessory product on our web site for the purpose of repairing old water treatment equipment. It is a silicone grease which the manufacturer named Dow Corning #7 Release Agent. It is designed to coat rubber and vinyl o-rings for better water-proofing and also acts as a lubricant when slipping tight fitting PVC, plastic and Noryl parts together for a leak-free seal. It does not contain any petrolium products which would corrode or deform plastic, Noryl or vinyl parts. Find out more about it here.
I see we had a couple of posted responses over the weekend on the blog site. Unfortunately, they were spam. They appeared to be automated posting bots designed to search for “spamable” web sites. We do have the option of installing verification features for this web log but I’d rather not for now. We’ll wait and see if this keeps up or not. Water Value encourages anyone to post anything good or bad here on our blog, but only posts from real human beings will remain.