Consumer Alert: DS Services (Crystal Water) Co Accused of Unethical Business Practices

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DS Services specializes in delivering an array of bottled water brands such as Crystal Water, Fiji Water, Hinckley Springs, Sierra Springs, and Mountain Valley Spring Water, among others. Photo Credit: water.com
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By: JV Staff

In these fraught times in which we live, (coronavirus and economic hardship) the last thing that companies who have struggled to remain open and viable need is to deal with fraudulent vendors who are seeking to exploit and cheat those they purportedly serve.

Case in point:  Long before the onset of the coronavirus, the Jewish Voice had opened an account with DS Services, a water delivery and breakroom supply company. This company delivers a water cooler for office and residential use as well as monthly supplies of 3-5 gallon bottles of water

DS Services specializes in delivering an array of bottled water brands such as Crystal Water, Fiji Water, Hinckley Springs, Sierra Springs, and Mountain Valley Spring Water, among others.

Problems began mounting from the onset with DS Services. Firstly, their customer service leaves much to be desired. Other than an 800 number in which one speaks to an agent, their web site does not list an e-mail address in which to communicate with them.  There was no account manager assigned to the Jewish Voice, nor is there any manager or supervisor that can be spoken with.

Officials from the Jewish Voice said that when water bottles were delivered, two weeks later an invoice would arrive that did not accurately reflect the amount of the delivery. When one called to question the charges on the invoice, one did not receive a satisfactory response. Secondly, the invoice from DS Services required immediate remittance of payment. If payments were not received by the company within only days after receipt by the Jewish Voice, a hefty late fee charge would be added to the already bloated and inaccurate invoice. The amount of the late fee was so extravagant that it at times matched the amount of the invoice or even surpassed it.

The dubious business practices of DS Services did not stop there. During the coronavirus when Jewish Voice officials had closed their offices in compliance with the lockdown restrictions that were mandated by the city of New York, the company immediately contacted DS Services and asked that no more water bottle deliveries be sent to their offices.

DS Services totally ignored this request and made the delivery of water bottles despite the specific instructions given to them. Jewish Voice officials have said that the water bottles were found outside on the street and soon thereafter, yet another bogus invoice was sent; one which again demanded immediate remittance of payment.

Moreover, on many occasions, DS Services would deliver water bottles to the Jewish Voice without picking up the empty water cannisters, even though that service was included in their bill.

What made this untenable situation even more frustrating to the Jewish Voice officials was that there was no way of documenting their legitimate grievances in written form as the company does not engage in e-mail communication with customers. This is a highly circumspect way of conducting business in the age of the internet and the proliferation of electronic correspondence.

Research of DS Services has revealed that the Jewish Voice is certainly not the only company that has suffered maltreatment at the hands of this water delivery service.

According to the Better Business Bureau website, there was 980 complaints filed by customers against DS Services in the last year alone.

In the category titled “Billing/Collection Issues” on the BBB web site, many irate customers have voiced their angst at DS Services.

As of June 9th of this year, one customer said to DS Services:

“Why am I STILL being charged for an ENERGY SURCHARGE, WHEN GASOLINE IS AT AN ALL TIME LOW? I was told that we were being charged a monthly Energy Surcharge because of the high costs of Fuel at the time. Now that Fuel Costs have been at an ALL TIME LOW we are still being charged monthly, back when it began it was less than $3.00 monthly, now is at $5.82 a month with fuel lower than it has been in years. I do not believe it is legal to charge this fee, especially during this time, with fuel costs so low.”

Under the category listed as “Problems with Product/Service” another customer also said on June 9th:

“No water delivery since early May! We moved to a new location a mile away from where we were receiving service. I put in the change of address request online and then called 3 subsequent times when I was transferred to ‘account experts’. I spent around 45 minute on each call and each time ‘account expert’ was taken by surprise that my address had changed and each time they apologized profusely, made a system change of address and promised that water will be delivered very soon.

I was given dates like May 16 then May 22nd and so on. In the mean time I have the rental equipment and continuing to pay for it while there is no water delivered. I even asked them after the first call if they have trouble delivering water to the new location and if so I could cancel the service. But they always apologize and confirm the service will start very soon and give out a date but no delivery. This way they keep the account and continue to get rental equipment payments without providing the service! I originally got the service from Costco and talked to them about the situation as well. They suggested that I call and complain about this issue with Crystal Springs directly.”

Yet another customer in June said of DS Services on the BBB website under the category “Problems with Product/Service”

I have been trying for two months to have 40 empty 5 gallon water bottles picked up and a refund issued for the deposit. I have been trying for two months to have 40 empty 5 gallon water bottles picked up and a refund issued for the deposit. I have spent over 3 hours on the phone with them, and each time, they say they will send someone out to pick them up, but nobody has been out. Customer service is the worst I have ever dealt with in over 15 years of managing purchasing. I expect a refund for the empty bottles. They will be thrown out before the end of the week. We cannot have trash in our plant. It is a fire hazard.

In the aforementioned complaint, it is noteworthy to emphasize that the customer said: “Customer service is the worst I have ever dealt with in over 15 years of managing purchasing.”

Before filing their own grievance against DS Services for the lack of service that they have provided, Jewish Voice officials await a resolution of their legitimate issues from company executives.

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