Tests left at your door could be watered down sales pitch

BALTIMORE - It's free and accessible.  But many of us skip the tap when we need water unless we're washing dishes.  Instead we may switch to the bottle thinking it's safer or healthier to drink. 

Angie Barnett with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland says, "People are more health conscious today.  They're looking at greener products, purification."

And that's one reason water testing might appeal to so many.  It claims to turn up problems in the H20 that ends up in your house.  It's being offered locally with little hassle, thanks to water testing kits that show up at your door.  But Barnett and the BBB say beware, "This is historically a well known scam."

Barnett along with local government entities warn these tests are often a means to an end.  You give these door to door companies a sample and in return they take an opportunity to sell you something.  Barnett explains, "Most often all they're trying to do is sell you a water purification system."

The BBB says the problem is that's not always how you're approached.  Instead for some companies, the upfront pitch may not mention sales at all.  And while some disclose they're not testing on behalf of your local health department or municipality, the BBB says not everybody is as clear.  And there could be no way to verify whether the results you get are legitimate.  Barnett says, "You may be spending a lot of money for a purification system or some type of water system within their home that you actually don't need."

So before you send away your sample, float the idea of doing the testing independently.  The BBB suggests calling the municipality you live in and asking which provider they use to test water.  If you have well water, a call to the health department may be more appropriate in your case.

If you decide to submit one of these sample services, be sure to ask up front if the company is selling water systems and whether you can have the test without hearing a pitch.

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