In the past year we've seen a number of scandals resulting from companies misrepresenting their products.
Several have involved blatant fraud, such as Volkswagen's manipulation of emissions data and major vitamin companies selling supplements that didn't contain the ingredients on the label.
There's another consumer rip-off going on right now. And despite the fact that it's wasting millions of gallons of precious drinking water each year and violating a federal law, we have yet to see it covered in the media.
It's fraudulent low-flow shower heads.
A huge number of cheap imports are sold online each year through marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. It's no wonder these shower heads are selling so well. They're inexpensive and they get good ratings.
Customers say they feel like the old high flow shower heads they remember. That's because they ARE high flow shower heads.
Based on our own tests, some units which by law were supposed to flow at 2.5 gallons per minute or less at 80 pounds per square inch (psi), and whose product descriptions also claimed water-saving flow rates, actually flowed at a minimum of 5 and even as much as 8 gallons per minute. Again and again we've found that these shower heads are not equipped with any kind of flow control mechanism which all legal shower heads must have.
Domestic manufacturers as well as reputable manufacturers internationally are all playing by the rules and following the 1992 Energy Policy Act. But we are all losing millions in sales to fraudulent off-brand units mostly made in the Far East.
Consumers are not getting what they paid for and communities are unnecessarily wasting precious water.
Lawmakers will need to act to put an end to the online fraud. But in the meantime, as a consumer you can take action to protect yourself and conserve water.
For starters, buy only products which are EPA WaterSense-certified. This is an even higher standard than the federal law requires (20% greater efficiency) and any shower head that carries this certification has been independently tested and has passed flow rate and spray strength tests. (All High Sierra showerheads are WaterSense-certified and either meet or exceed this standard.)
If you live in the Golden State, starting in July 2016 you can now purchase shower heads that are listed in the California Energy Commission (CEC) database. Each shower head that receives this designation from the state has been evaluated and certified in a third party lab. All of High Sierra’s shower head models are listed in the CEC database.
During our drought here in California, it's been troubling to know how much water - and money - is being wasted unknowingly by consumers who bought what they thought were low-flow shower heads. It's going to take an effort by all of us to get the word out.
So tell your friends to buy only certified water-saving high efficiency heads, whose flow-rates and spray performance have been tested by independent labs and certified by Federal or State agencies. For starters, they should always look for “EPA WaterSense-certified” in product descriptions.
And if they want to FEEL like they're using a lot of water while actually using less, suggest they get one of ours!