Last week we stayed at a hotel in San Antonio, right next to the Alamo. It is a great walking town with the River Walk, Children’s museum, and other attractions right in the same area. Our hotel also wasn’t that bad for the location – $125 most nights. (Plus almost 16% in hotel taxes! I always wonder if cities think sticking it to tourists is the way to get people to come back.)
In the room, however, were two bottles of water, as shown in the photo above. Not the price on the sign in the middle of the bottles – $8 per bottle! We stick the bottles high up on top of the TV stand, to make sure no one accidentally opened one or something.
I remember when the whole bottled water thing started. The sorority girls were walking around campus in the early 1990’s with their $1 bottles of Evian water, which is supposed to be imported from a hidden spring in France (but an urban legend claims that it was just a plan by a couple of entrepreneurs to see how gullible people are. Realize that “Evian” is “Naive” spelled backwards!) We all thought they were silly to be buying water in a bottle, and many of them admitted they often refilled the bottles from the faucets. Still, at least they had to ship this water over from France, and people felt like big shots because they were walking around with fancy bottles of water.
Then one day, the campus store decided that they could make more money by bottling their own water. They got rid of Evian, which cost them $.40 per bottle, and started selling U-Mart water, which cost them $.20 per bottle. They now made an 80 cent profit per bottle instead of 40 cents, which the people buying water thought was unfair. And yet they continued to buy it.
A few years after that, the bottled water industry exploded. Everyone started drinking water from little plastic bottles. At first it was just a convenience when they were on-the-go. Then, people started to buy it for home and sticking bottles in their refrigerators. They liked to be able to reach in and grab a cold bottle instead of getting a glass and some ice and filling a cup from the sink. (Gasp, it’s so much work!) Restaurants and street vendors loved it since now they could get an extra $2 or more per person by selling bottled water instead of giving away tap water.
People also came to believe that the water was cleaner and safer than tap water. Studies then found that the bottled water is actually often more contaminated than tap water, and that the bottles themselves leech plastic into the water with unknown consequences (but it probably doesn’t have any effect due to the low amounts). The advice was given to drink the water quickly instead of storing it for long periods of time and to keep it from getting hot since this would cause more material to leech out. And still people are still buying bottled water.
Everyone says they would like to save and invest, and yet they can’t find any money to do so. Here’s a hint – ditch the bottled water. Drink tap water at home and save a couple of dollars a day per person in bottled water, not to mention the gas you spend carrying all of that weight home. Buy a reusable container for $5 to $10 once and take it with you for years. You can even leave it in the refrigerator to get cold. For a family of 4, this could easily be a savings of $10 per day, which adds up to $3650 per year – enough to almost find the college IRA of two children each year.
But what about the $8 bottle of water? Would anyone pay this amount? During our stay, my daughter looked out the window at one point and shouted that someone was buying a bottle of the high-priced water. A couple was eating dinner by the pool and the waiter was bringing a bottle of the Voss water. To our dismay, the couple refused the bottle and sent it back. I guess the waiter was trying to sell them the bottled water when they asked for “water,” but they sent him back of tap water when they saw the expensive bottle coming.
So has anyone out there paid $8 for a bottle of water, or even the $5 for the bottle of water in hotels that is often there? Can you tell us why? Please?
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