Nestlé Pure Life Bottle - © Nestlé

Dear Supermarket Manager…

I’ve commented before in this space about how food product makers ‘downsize’ their wares to sneakily raise the price. Now, I just have to expose another deception the beverage makers have started using to save a few cents a unit while deceiving customers about their motives…

Nestlé Water Bottling Plant - © vice.comA Nestle Water bottling plant in Canada. The company sucks up more than
7 million litres of water a day from artesian wells in just two Ontario
towns. That’s a heck of a lot of bottles, thinner plastic or not!

Dear Supermarket Manager:

I’ve complained to you before about product downsizing, and I agree with you that it’s not your fault that manufacturers resort to reducing the amount of product they give you while keeping the package the same size and selling it at the same price. It’s an attempt to make up for increased costs in their process, but it’s deceptive and, in one simple word, a cheat. We’re not getting the same amount of product for a higher price; we’re getting less for the same old price.

But there’s a new scam being foist upon your customers, these days. It’s still about packaging, but it has more to do with mess and inconvenience than cheating on the contents.

Nestlé is advertising, heavily, that it’s reduced the plastic in its Bottled Water bottles by 40 per cent. They’re billing it as a major environmentally responsible investment. In fact, it’s all a front for reducing the cost of their bottles.

How, you ask, does this change – sneaky, deceptive and cynical as the advertising makes it seem – negatively effect your customers?

Here’s the hidden issue: Lighter, thinner plastic bottles are much more difficult for consumers to handle. The plastic lids on most beverage bottles are put on so tight, and have such strong anti-tampering systems, that gripping the bottle tightly enough to make the cap budge can lead to the bottle bursting under the strain. It takes almost no effort to dimple a bottle just by picking it up, with the cap intact.

And here’s the corollary: When the anti-tampering seal does finally break and the cap loosens off, the user’s firm grip causes the contents of the bottle to gush out of the open bottle neck. Not such a problem with plain water, but a constant mess hazard with products like Lemon Juice, which already have too-thin bottle walls and require significant clean-up effort after gushing. Even when you open the thing for the first time in the sink, the gusher spreads sticky juice all over the backsplash and the surrounding counter tops.

And, even if it is just plain water, you lose a significant amount of the product to the spill, and that’s a cheat on the buyer.

Back to your position – being stuck in the middle between your customers and the manufacturers. You have to take the front-line crap and the manufacturers hide behind you when customers complain. But can’t you at least complain to the manufacturers about the complaints you’re getting about the products? Or would that do any good at all?

Believe me, I’m on your side. Likewise, you’re my guy ‘on the inside’, and I’m counting on you stick up for me!


~ Maggie J.