Is bottled water the biggest con-trick in history? | Notes and Queries (2022)

Is bottled water the biggest con-trick in history? | Notes and Queries (1)
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Is bottled water the biggest con-trick in history?

Guy Dowman, Tokyo, Japan

  • No, that's organised religion.

    Tom McMaster, Manchester, UK

  • In Los Angeles, they now have "Oxygen Bars" - where you go and pay to breathe in designer air.

    Jon Seder, Brooklyn, NY, USA

  • We have the French to thank for having the discernment to realise that water has a taste, though apparently they did it originally for matters of health and hygiene. The con regarding bottled water is the price. The savvy marketers (in the US, anyway) have priced domestic bottled water the same as imported bottled water (the same strategy as for wine); whereas the French water is only expensive because it is imported!

    Daniel Morgan, Boston, USA

  • How about Moisturiser where you can pay huge sums of money for something where studies show the only active ingredient is water.

    Colin John, Derby

  • My vote for the greatest con-trick is gift-wrap. It adds nothing to the quality of the gift being given, it wastes ink, adds to landfill and has a markup of up to 400 per cent.

    Mary McGrath, Dublin

  • I can safely say that having lived and visited quite a few countries, the biggest con trick is buying ANYTHING in the UK

    Joel Bradley, London, UK

  • I heard recently the state government of Victoria sold 20 megalitres of water to a company for A$25,000. The consumer buys the water off the shelf for A$0.80 per litre.You do the maths.

    Steven, Melbourne Australia

  • What does evian spell backwards?

    Rosie O'Connor, London

  • Most tap water stinks of chlorine and/or is cloudy in colour. Not exactly the best start for trying to get a refreshing drink.Mind you, is it my jaundiced imagination or was there less chlorine pre-privitisation ?

    John Kelly, Newcastle, UK

  • I think it was Danny Baker who pointed out that distributors of natural spring water are the luckiest people in the world. The water has been percolating through the mountains for thousands of years but they managed to catch it and bottle it just a few months before its "best by" date.

    Ev, Chesterfield UK

  • Only if you already live within walking distance of the Italian source of San Pellegrino. Incidentally though, sparkling waters with carbon dioxide added artificially, as opposed to those like S.P. and Perrier where 'on-site' CO2 is re-introduced, are believed by many including my osteopath to be damaging to those with bone problems like arthritis.

    Jay Illing,

  • I wouldnt say it was, at the end of the day I was in Spain for my holidays and was warned not to drink the Spanish water and decided to try and and was stuck in the toilet for the next two days so I would have to say that this is no con trick

    Ian, Newcastle England

  • Complex Question: are you asking for the biggest con job (organised religion) or whether bottling water is a massive rip? I've been to a few places where I was thankful for the bottled water but then it always seems to be cheapest there (and most expensive in the UK). On an interesting aside the Oxygen Bars are not offering "designer air" (nothing different about it except maybe slightly cleaner than the rest of Tokyo) unless you go for the religion con and then you can probably name the designer yourself. Maybe it's the gift wrapping on the water that's the (second) biggest con?

    Tony Jay, Guildford England

  • Evian's even more expensive in Sweden than in the UK. But then the water here tastes nice straight out of the tap - and you can even drink the water in the lake on which Stockholm is situated.

    Bottled water is cheap in France because it's a necessity for many rural communities. It's expensive in Britain because people are prepared to pay through the nose to avoid the godawful tap water you have there. It's expensive in Sweden because there's no reason to buy it and the quantities imported are very small.

    Justin Steed, Stockholm, Sweden

  • Peckham Springs to mind.

    Olly Spratley, UK

  • The price shall be what the market will bear. If enough idiots purchase bottled tap water for three bucks (as is the case at our local zoo, it really is tap water!), the price of bottled tap water shall be three bucks.

    Dave Link, Grandview, MO USA

  • Crude oil is brought from deep underground, transported half way round the world, refined into petrol, transported again under stringent safety precautions, taxed at over 50%, sold at a profit and is still, at 75p a litre, cheaper than Perrier.

    Keith Wright, Brixton England

  • In Response to the Newcastle lad complaining about tap water, you want to try it here in london. I bought a kettle when I lived in Newcastle and used it for 5 years without trouble, after six months in London it now has about an inch of limescale in the bottom, which makes the tea taste interesting... Give me kielder / Tyne water anytime!

    jamie, london uk

  • I'd have thought an even bigger con perpetrated on the public was the myth that CD's were virtually indestructible and superior to vinyl records. (That and nearly every British Movie made in the past 20 years!)

    Duncan Morris, London UK

  • Our water here hasn't been through six stomachs between Oxford and London, it comes from a clean river. Here you can drink the water from a toilet flush (difficult, but possible). Anybody in Chester who pays for bottled water is paying through their ****.

    Liz, Chester UK

  • In England, no, because the water here is nasty and the only way to get rid of that limescale is to use overpriced filters. However, in Wales, yes, because the water is nice and you can drink it from the tap without retching

    Teifion, Brighton England, UK

  • By and large, Spanish tap water is clear, clean and tasty these days, but at the equivalent of 18p for a 1.5 litre bottle, nobody here thinks twice about buying mineral water. Of course given the weight it adds to your shopping, it also helps that the supermarkets do home delivery...

    Jim Turner, San Vte de la Barquera Spain

  • Nope, its the water that is injected into your meat, retained by mangled protein from who knows where and sold to you at the same price as the real flesh that is the biggest con.

    Peter Nightingale, Reading UK

  • Biggest cons in history? What about overpriced food and drink: £12 000 for a bottle of wine at Gordon Ramsay's infamous city slickers' £50 000 lunch. Or celebrity: the notion that a persons value to society can be measured by the number of people who've heard of them. Or royalty and class systems: the delusion that some folks are just born inherently better than others, because their parents have large bank accounts. And as a result of this percieved superiority, the belief that we need to be constatntly subjected to the most inane details of the lives of their spoilt offspring, as though, somehow, images of them cavorting on Scottish beaches, horseriding and playing polo will have some major impact on our everyday lives. I could go on all day... Bottled water is the least of these cons...

    Lindi, Durban South Africa

  • No, Audi A3 cars are - they're even more expensive vis a vis what you get for the price than bottled water (and yes, of course, mine just broke down AGAIN!)

    Nick Carding, Eindhoven The Netherlands

  • Inheritance tax: you earn money, having paid tax on what you earn; you buy a house, paying stamp duty; you manage to save some money from what you have left after VAT and duty on almost every purchase you make, and pay tax on the interest you earn; when you get old, you pay for your own personal care. Then, once you've embarked on the greatest of journeys, most of what you leave is taxed at 40%!!

    Disillusioned, London

  • Bottled water may not be the biggest con trick but it's one of the most environmentally unsound products you can buy - oil is mined, refined, transported and turned into plastic bottles which are then filled with something that is readily available free from the tap in your kitchen. It is then shipped all over the place, distributed to millions of shops, and you buy it, drink it in 30 seconds and throw the bottle away to sit in a landfill for 200 years. Nice.

    Lulu, London, England

  • All I'll say is that Los Angeles periodically (usually after rain) says pregnant women shouldn't drink the tap water. That tells me tap water isn't 100% safe. Besides, bottled water usually tastes better than what you'll find pouring out of the big city tap and you can bet the FDA has done some studies on the bottled stuff to insure against bacteria/viruses.

    Mochaboy, Portland, USA

  • No, Chip and Pin.

    You are normally charged for every movement of your money that you have lent to the banks.

    Chip and Pin is not secure with only a four digit numeric code - if you have online access to a bank account, you need about a dozen digits, most experts believe that at least 24 digits are needed, including alpha and numeric. Of course it does save an awful lot of money for the banks, because they are no longer responsible for checking every signature on every document. The labour saving must be enourmous.

    I am not a number!

    Geoff Freeman, Bracknell, England

  • I would suggest that insurance is the biggest con of all. However, the introduction of cell phones and the double charge (sender and receiver) has to be the most blatant money grab of modern times. Come to think of it, though, ownership of anything is a pretty remarkable deception.

    Lewis Nicholson, Toronto, Canada

  • Anti-comet pills were pretty good. They were sold by the truck load, a brilliant campaign based purely on peoples fear that Halley's comet's tail, reputed to be full of mustard gas, would cross the Earth and kill millions. Hair restorer would be another one. How many millions of gallons have been sold of that bunkum? Probably enough to fill the Nile. People are gullible, we all fall prey - in varying degrees, to the charltatanism of our times. Take elections. How many times have you been conned into voting for another lying swine? You'd think we'd learn, but I seriously doubt we ever will.

    Daniel Lillford, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia Canada

  • Interesting the London and South-East bias in the England replies. The tap water down there may be as described but up here in the north it is good. Sheffield tap water contains so little lime you can put it in radiators and irons and it does not fur up. And over 90% of consumers cannot tell it from bottled water by the taste. Perhaps if you live in London or Brighton you need to buy bottled water, I don't know. But don't make sweeping statements about the rest of the country.

    Susan Deal, Sheffield, UK

  • No. It's Jesus Christ.

    Yin Sung, Westmount, Montreal Canada

  • I once was on an excursion in the mountains near Banff, Alberta, marketed as one of the world's pristine areas. Water supposedly from Banff is bottled and sold in other parts of Canada and perhaps the world. I had forgotten to bring my water bottle (which I normally replenish with tap water) and was forced to buy bottled water just for the container. The only water available? Evian. I wonder if in Evian, France, they sell bottled water from Banff.

    Carol Stone, Vancouver, Canada

  • Bottled water has been estimated to be approximately 1000 times more expensive per litre than tap water - so yes it is a con.

    Joshua Hardcastle, Huddersfield, UK

  • I buy the Alps water daily (no mentioning names). The water in the Midlands stinks. Probably sourced from local trout waters. I've asked Severn Trent to check and 3 times some senile bloke turns up and takes a sip and says nowt wrong with that and then barks away.Don't forget - you get what you pay for and you pays your money and makes your choice. If it was such a rip-off, nobody would buy it.

    Azr, Nottingham, UK

  • Many people refill water bottles from the tap or water cooler at work to measure 2 litres a day for personal hydration. If we all used dishwasher-friendly water bottles then and refilled them then this would save 1.5 million barrels of oil used to manufacture PET water bottles.I hate bottled water for use in developed countries that should know better. Drink more water from the tap instead.

    Jon Yates, Harrogate, UK

  • How about water bottled by an organised religion?

    Po Rees, Lincoln, England

  • Check Dasani on wikipedia: attention to the Uniked Kingdom section - it's hilarious.

    Chris, Dunbar Scotland

  • My heart goes out to those who, despite all EU norms and regulations on quality and purity of mains water, have to deal with Victorian piping and substandard drinking water.In an ideal world, water should be clean, pure and drinkable from the tap everywhere... This is apparently the case in Italy, Europe's greatest consumer of plastic bottled waters, but some people are finally beginning to see the light:

    chris park, geneva switzerland

  • Maybe we're forgetting about the 1990 worldwide recall of Perrier bottled water. They recalled 70 million bottles of Perrier in the United States and Canada, not to mention other countries. What was the contaminant? Benzene.Yep, that very same stuff that causes cancer on laboratory test mice. So, you don't have a thing to worry about, unless, of course, you're a mouse. As for oxygen bars, breathing pure or concentrated oxygen merely increases free radicals in vast amounts. I don't know - maybe it's just me - but I thought people were trying to reduce free radicals.

    Barry, Delaware, USA

  • Even though bottled water has got more minerals and salts in it, it doesn't make it better for you.

    Paul K, Stockport England

  • Not for southerners - I live in Cambridge and the water is undrinkably foul. I was born in Sheffield and the tap water there is absolutely gorgeous, much better than the bottled stuff. Yorkshire water are missing a trick - they should bottle it, get Sean Bean to advertise it and sell it down here. I'd buy it - stuff the environment. All my friends from the north who live here regularly fill up with proper water when they go home !London water has been through 7 people by the time you drink it, I understand.

    V Ratchett, cambridge UK

  • Tap Water in Christchurch, New Zealand, is some of the purest in the world. Someone bottled it and sold it as 'alpine-fed deep spring mineral water'. They were sued for deception, but the courts ruled that the description was technically accurate, except for the minerals, of which it has less than most other tap water.Despite this, bottled water from far and wide still sells in Christchurch supermarkets. Go figure!

    Caroline, Wellington, NZ

  • 1 Cubic metre of water weighs one ton. 30 of these constitute the entire load of an articulated lorry. Imagine each lorry can only carry 30 cubic metres of water before it is overloaded (assunming the lorry itself weighs eight tons). That's just over a three metre by three metre cube. Now that is criminal. Before you begin to contemplate the Oil used to transport these amounts from France. Please stop buying this water ASAP. Never mind the plastics involved!

    Wayneskie, Manchester, UK

  • I use bottled water half the time for the convenience of the bottle. If I carried a bottle around I'd fill that with tap water. For me - it's the packaging!

    John Smith, Warrington, Cheshire

  • No, it is not. I live in the London area and the tap water really hurts my stomach, so I stick to bottled water.I have it delivered weekly by a London based company called Aqua Amore who provide me with a variety of premium bottled water depending on my requirements.I would recommend them to anyone! http://www.aqua-amore.com

    Sophie Walker-Smith, London, United Kingdom

  • No, it is not. I live in the London area and the tap water really hurts my stomach, so I stick to bottled water.I have it delivered weekly by a London based company called Aqua Amore who provide me with a variety of premium bottled water depending on my requirements.I would recommend them to anyone!

    Sophie Walker-Smith, London, United Kingdom

  • No bottled water is not a rip off for countries/areas that need it. Sheffield water in the uk, is beautiful. Espesh the out skirts. But anywhere else in the UK I've been it tastes horrible. Travelled the world also (not Italy though) and again, bottled water is needed. Shocked to be made aware London water is recycled!! What! This is supposed to be GREAT Britain. How is that modern or humane. London citizens need to be causing up roar about this, as clean drinking water is not available. Crazy.

    Sonja kelly, Sheffield uk

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