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  • Report: #821338

Complaint Review: Sparkletts Water

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  • Submitted: Wed, January 11, 2012
  • Updated: Thu, June 28, 2012

  • Reported By: Tom — Los Angeles California United States of America
Sparkletts Water
4500 York Blvd Los Angeles, California United States of America

Sparkletts Water Deceptive business practices to get you under contract, and no customer service response Los Angeles, California

*Author of original report: You should be a top-tier manager for DS Waters

*UPDATE Employee: DS Water Does not charge State Sales Tax. Energy Surcharge is for Fuel

*Consumer Comment: And?

*Author of original report: GET A LIFE (and learn to read)

*Consumer Comment: Really

*Consumer Comment: This company is the worst

*Author of original report: Ken, it would help if you knew what you were talking about -- do you work for Sparkletts?

*Consumer Comment: I don't like Verizon's cell phone surcharges either, but will wait until my contract expires before any action on my part.

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I ordered service from them for my office, and when the first bill came it was all wrong -- but most annoyingly, there was a "energy surcharge" on the bill which the sales rep had "forgotten" to mention would be applied (and would vary in amount from month to month). I called Sparkletts' Customer Service, talked with someone and explained my concern/objection and was told that they would pass my call on to a manager who would get back to me. After a week w/o hearing from them, I called again and was told that they were "reviewing" the situation, someone would get back to me.

Needless to say, no one ever did. I paid what I owed, minus the "surcharges", but then the delivery guy stopped bringing water -- even though I saw him in the building one day and specifically asked him to bring me a bottle b/c I was almost out. He said he would, but then didn't show up, and a few weeks later he left a bottle outside a neighbor's door (in the hall) but didn't come into my suite. In the meantime, Sparkletts kept billing me for the cooler rental, even though I didn't have any water. I finally asked my neighbor to tell the delivery driver to pick up the cooler or I would just leave it out in the hall.

Now, they have the nerve to send me to collections b/c I "cancelled" my contract before the year was up. My point of view is that 1) there never was a contract b/c of their fraud in getting me to sign with them in the first place, and 2) if there was a contract they breached it by failing to deliver water.

Hopefully, either they or the agency will wise up and not really get me upset, b/c if they do they might find themselves on the wrong end of an unfair business practices lawsuit. (I am an attorney who doesn't like people who engage in deceptive business practices.)

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/11/2012 04:02 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Sparkletts-Water/Los-Angeles-California-90041/Sparkletts-Water-Deceptive-business-practices-to-get-you-under-contract-and-no-customer-s-821338. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
3Author 5Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

You should be a top-tier manager for DS Waters

AUTHOR: Tom - (United States of America)

I appreciate your response and hope that if you stay w/ DS Waters, you will advance in management. They certainly could use someone who understands that rather than screw someone out of a small amount of money in the short run, they will do better building a good and mutually beneficial relationship with a customer who will then be loyal and stick with them for years.

Just to clarify, however, the energy surcharge was never even mentioned or addressed -- it was just kind of buried in the paperwork (and it was left blank, probably b/c if he had filled it in I would have looked at the provision).

As for the driver, he was not helpful -- although I spoke to him about the problems, he didn't do anything. Further, after the situation was resolved he let me know that he didn't want to have to deal with anything other than bringing my water according to the schedule -- and in fact, although I have asked him to stop in more than once a month (he has another account literally down the hall, and he comes there twice a month), he doesn't do that. He has told me that if I need anything, I should contact the manager. He's a pleasant enough guy (courteous) but he certainly doesn't seem to want to be bothered by this problem (and I'm  guessing he is buds w/ the sales rep, so that's fine, I understand it.)

In any event, thank you for your reply -- as I said, you should be a top level manager b/c you clearly understand the concept of the long term relationship. Good luck to you in this economy, hope things get better for you.
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#2 UPDATE Employee

DS Water Does not charge State Sales Tax. Energy Surcharge is for Fuel

AUTHOR: DS Water Associate - Las Vegas, NV - (United States of America)

To Unhappy Attorney in Los Angeles, CA,

I apologize the Sales Representative did not explain the fuel surcharge while he was explaining the contract to you. Firstly, I would like to explain that the "Energy Surcharge" is in lieu of taxes you pay on your water (coffee products have sales tax as they are convenience items). Secondly, This is to compensate for fuel costs as they have inflated and become far more volatile in our generation than ever before. Thirdly, when you sign the contract this surcharge is fixed for the entire duration of the contract (the sign up month determines the surcharge for the life of the contract).

However, this is no excuse for the sales consultant not explaining the charge to you. In addition, there is no excuse for the sales consultant not explaining the cancellation period and fees. Typically when I sign someone up for service I explain and calculate their first bill, their typical delivery bill, and how cancellation works (written on the back of the paper contract). MOST consultants do not do this. It is simply a lack of sales training on DS Waters part. I have the luxury of a long and successful sales career behind me (that collapsed with the economy), which dictates how I do things to keep a customer LOYAL (regardless of how my manager tells me to sell them). 

Lastly, the driver should have been your point of contact for collections and accounting issues long before you were taken to all out third party collections. did he ever approach you or your office manager about the account? The drivers are paid per bottle and another lucrative stop on their route is in their best interests.

I apologize for your experience with Sparkletts and would like to advocate that this is not a typical experience. Thank you for taking the time to review my rebuttal as I understand your time is valuable.

DS Water Consultant
Nevada
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#3 Consumer Comment

And?

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

Wow! Robert, you apparently have nothing better to do than read 2+ month old postings and then respond to them (inaccurately, at that).
- The only reason I responded to it is because it got "pushed" to the top because someone else had responded to the 2+ month old report.  Why didn't you say the same thing about them?..Oh yea they agreed with you.

I said, ". . . they might find themselves on the wrong end of an unfair business practices lawsuit." What part of "might" do you not understand? Any of it (all five letters)? OK, let me break it down: it means that there is a possibility that something MAY happen. Not that it will happen -- it MIGHT happen.
- And what part of "I am certainly not going to sue them on my behalf" did you not mean?  There is no longer any "might" there is NOT as in you WILL NOT.  So I will ask you again..why at the time did you state you would longer sue them?

You then question why I "won't go after Sparklets",
- You never answered the question. Since I quoted you correctly, why at the time would you not go after Sparklets?

Finally, I want to report to everyone that a few days after my initial post, I got a call from the Sparkletts District manager whom I had tried to speak with several times before.
- So why did it take you two months to come back and say that you worked it out?  I guess that it was good that I posted to 2 month old post otherwise you would have left the impression with people that it was never worked out.  I give you credit for finally coming back, but have you really been fair to Sparklets over the last two months by not posting that little bit of information?
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#4 Author of original report

GET A LIFE (and learn to read)

AUTHOR: Tom - (United States of America)

Wow! Robert, you apparently have nothing better to do than read 2+ month old postings and then respond to them (inaccurately, at that). Do you ever go outside? ever leave the computer?? I'm guessing, "No."

As to your first paragraph, the original post is not inconsistent with the second: I never said in the first post that I WAS going to sue them -- I said, ". . . they might find themselves on the wrong end of an unfair business practices lawsuit." What part of "might" do you not understand? Any of it (all five letters)? OK, let me break it down: it means that there is a possibility that something MAY happen. Not that it will happen -- it MIGHT happen. The difference is best illustrated by the following sentence: "Under no circumstances will I respond to any further reply by you, but you MIGHT choose to respond to this update." Get it? In the first part of the sentence, I am saying something that WILL happen: I will ignore any future posts you place on this issue. In the second part, I am acknowledging that I don't know what YOUR response will be, and that your response MIGHT be to continue to flog this dead horse as you apparently have nothing better to do than pen screeds on a matter that was settled some time ago. (More on that below.)

Moving on: you quoted me correctly as saying, "but if someone (or several someones) were to come to me and tell me that they had dealt with a similarly unscrupulous company, I would certainly consider taking their case -- especially b/c attorney's fees can be awarded by the court." You then question why I "won't go after Sparklets", and veer into some blather about taking a case on a contingency and why you think I would not do that.  You then offer your speculation on what I would do if I "really thought [I] had a case."

Again, you're way off base (I'm guessing that you've heard that a lot of times in your life). Attorneys don't "start" class action suits (well, at least I don't). We/I have clients come to us/me b/c they believe they were wronged in some manner. Typically, an attorney will consult with a client and obtain information (especially as to the extent and nature of the damages claimed). If their individual harm is relatively minor it probably isn't worth it to sue b/c of the costs involved (which would include filing and court fees, attorney's time, copying, research, parking, court appearances, depositions and depo transcripts, etc.) It's not practical for an individual to take on a large corp b/c the corp can spend a lot of $$ to defend itself (probably paid for by their insurance policy), while the individual must foot his/her bill (or are you proposing that the attorney work for free unless/until there is a judgment or settlement?) On the other hand, if there are a LOT of people who have been cheated out of a small amount, a class action is appropriate b/c the court can award fees, and a careful evaluation of the case will lead a prudent attorney to either accept or reject going forward (based on the strength of the case). 

You close by turning to the Honda class action lawsuit, and comparing the results of that to the individual (Heather Peters) who won a small claims judgment. Ms. Peters has probably not gotten anything, and may well never get anything (although I am rooting for her) b/c Honda has appealed the judgment. Further, Ms. Peters appears to be exceptionally intelligent and resourceful, and far better equipped to go in front of a judge/commissioner and present a reasoned case supported by admissible evidence. Unfortunately for her, she now will have to go up against an attorney at the "trial de novo" in Superior Court -- an attorney who knows the rules of evidence and will be able to challenge her presentation -- with the end result that she most probably (a variant of "might" -- see above for a discussion of that concept) will lose in the end.

Finally, I want to report to everyone that a few days after my initial post, I got a call from the Sparkletts District manager whom I had tried to speak with several times before. He apologized for what had happened and asked me if he could fix it. I responded that I appreciated his apology and then told him I had always liked Sparkletts (we had it when I was a kid, many years ago) but that the way this had been handled had left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

Bottom line is that we worked it out -- he corrected the billing, sent out another cooler, and threw in some free water/supplies. I now have his direct contact info and if I have any problems I can contact him directly. I got what I had wanted from the beginning -- to have them supply me with good drinking water and accurately bill me, according to our contract and the rep's representations -- and they got what they had wanted from the beginning -- another customer. It was just too bad that it took so long b/c a phone call from him back in August would have resolved the whole thing.
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#5 Consumer Comment

Really

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

In your update you posted the following..I am certainly not going to sue them on my behalf, In your Original post you said the following..Hopefully, either they or the agency will wise up and not really get me upset, b/c if they do they might find themselves on the wrong end of an unfair business practices lawsuit. - So what changed between the two, to where you are no longer going to sue them?

but if someone (or several someones) were to come to me and tell me that they had dealt with a similarly unscrupulous company, I would certainly consider taking their case -- especially b/c attorney's fees can be awarded by the court
- So why would you only take a case on a "similarly unscrupulous company"..is there some reason you won't go after Sparklets?  Would you take a case on contingency against Sparklets?  If I was to guess I would say no.  Because it is not a "slam dunk"..and I think you know it.

I think if you really thought you had a case you would be leading the way to start a Class Action Lawsuit..after all if they did it to you they must be doing it to other right?  As a lawyer you know must know that is where the "money is at".  Just look at the Honda Class Action that is recently in the news.  It is proposed that each person of the class is going to get between $100-$200.  The lawyers are getting a proposed 8.5 Million.  Of course if these people went after Honda on their own, they may be as successful as a person who got just shy of 10K in small claims court. 

Oh and before you ask I am not now or ever been an employee of Sparklets.  But if you have been around this site for a while you would realize that it is SOP for someone to be accused of being an employee when it is not liked what is said.

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#6 Consumer Comment

This company is the worst

AUTHOR: Jonathan - (United States of America)

My driver leaves extra product at my door that I get charged for and I've had to call twice to get them to refund it and they say they did but I don't think anything actually went rough but who can tell because their billing is really confusing. Also I was on auto payment and get charged before any invoice is even up for me to see. Drivers also decided not to pick up empty bottles that they then charge you for...they eventually picked up all my bottles and supposedly credited me but again their billing is confusing. If you launch a class action please let me know because they are a huge ripoff. Now I'm going to have to cancel their "service" and will probably get charged a ton of money for it.

I guess there's nothing I can do but get ripped off and warn my friends.

P.S. I'm in Arizona.
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#7 Author of original report

Ken, it would help if you knew what you were talking about -- do you work for Sparkletts?

AUTHOR: Tom - (United States of America)

Ken, you don't have a clue as to what my contract with them says or doesn't say -- so I will help you out there. They do NOT have ANY cancellation period, other than "You may cancel this Agreement at any time by providing written notice to us at least one full period prior to the desired cancellation date." While a "period" is a billing cycle (28 days), they charge you a $100 early cancellation fee -- so how/where do you figure that they allow cancellation w/in 90 days of start of service? In fact, the cancellation penalty is assessed immediately after the agreement takes effect -- which is immediately, upon installation. I would therefore have to have cancelled, continued with the service for another month, and then paid an extra $100.

As for not paying the bill, do you pay bills that are incorrect? If so, you might want to get someone to help you out (they're called "conservators"). If the bill isn't correct, I don't pay it, or I pay that part of it that is correct (which is what I did). Apparently b/c I didn't pay the full bill, they then cut the service off -- but they kept billing me?? How do you defend that? (That's a rhetorical question, as I don't really care how you defend it, as I'm sure you will. Whatever.)

If you knew anything about California law, you would know that there is a section of the Business and Professions code (section 17200) that addresses unfair business practices. I am certainly not going to sue them on my behalf, but if someone (or several someones) were to come to me and tell me that they had dealt with a similarly unscrupulous company, I would certainly consider taking their case -- especially b/c attorney's fees can be awarded by the court. But I know that you don't know anything about the law b/c you don't understand that oral contracts -- that's the proper term, not "verbal contracts" -- can be fully enforced. Why you would have brought that up, however, is beyond me as my complaint didn't say anything about oral contracts.

What's really interesting here is that you have ignored that I tried to resolve this with them, and that they didn't respond despite two attempts by me. Again, my guess is that you work for Sparkletts . . . 
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#8 Consumer Comment

I don't like Verizon's cell phone surcharges either, but will wait until my contract expires before any action on my part.

AUTHOR: Ken - (USA)

You're so obviously an attorney....you didn't pay the full bill then claim they breached the contract by not delivering your water. My trash service also has an energy surcharge that has upped my bill over 5 years from $48/3 months to $81/3 months. 

"Hopefully, either they or the agency will wise up and not really get me upset, b/c if they do they might find themselves on the wrong end of an unfair business practices lawsuit. (I am an attorney who doesn't like people who engage in deceptive business practices.)"   Go for it, keep us all updated on the progress of your suit.  I love a good laugh. You can include Verizon and Waste Management in your suit, for me. 

Sparklett's Terms allow cancellation within 90 days of start of service and a cancellation penalty is assessed after that.  What does your contract say about all that?  Have one of the secretaries read it to you. Perhaps you should have had someone read it BEFORE you signed it.  What's that they say about verbal contracts?...they're only as good as the paper they're written on...but YOU should have known that.
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