About a year and a half ago, after paying $45 for disposable waterless urinal cartridges that filled up, clogged, smelled horribly, one to many times, I decided to order the Eco Cartridge from EcoTechWater. I had read about the Cartridges on several green building websites and how they functioned by using a plastic collapsible funnel that straightened out and drained when liquid was applied and then curled up and sealed off after the liquid drained away. The idea was simple and logically made sense. Unfortunately, this new cartridge, which had a lifetime warranty, had the potential to eat significantly into the never ending gravy train of people and companies that had to continually buy the $45 disposable filters from Falcon. To understand the amount of money that was at stake, think about this: these waterless urinal cartridges really only last about 2 months in a commercial application, meaning that each installed urinal, and there are +100,000 now, was bringing in somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 a year into Falcon. Ecotech was selling their lifetime warrantied replacement for the Falcon cartridges for $159. Lots of money was at stake. Unfortunately, the big guy with the deep pockets won on the basis of clause in the plumbing code that essentially outlaws any moving parts in a plumbing trap(“no mechanical traps”). So Ecotech had to stop selling their filters for replacement for Falcon and Sloan(who licensed the waterless urinal from Falcon) waterless urinals. To read more about this lawsuit, go here: http://greensource.construction.com/news/080502Ecotech.asp
Now, I have always been a strong supporter of the little guy. I don’t shop at Walmart(lousy social equity history, poor environmental record) and love shopping at Mom and Pop stores and Trader Joes. I loved the idea of a little guy with a great idea and this seemed like the perfect company to support with my dollars and a great product to purchase. So I filled out the form, payed my $159 plus shipping and waited for the solution to all of my problems.
Unfortunately, what I got was not at all what I ordered. The company send me out a round piece of plastic with hole in it. Attached to the hole was a 6″ long, 1/2″ diameter curved plastic J-trap that attached to the bottom of the plastic plate. There was no explanation as to why I didn’t get what I ordered nor how this piece of plastic was better than what I had ordered. I was also delivered 6 green wax based plugs that looked vaguely similar, yet smaller than a standard urinal cake. The inadequate directions stated that I needed to add one of these cakes, called EcoBugs, to the urinal every 3-4 weeks and that I could buy more of them for about $6 a piece. These Ecobugs dissolved the uric salts that precipitate out of settling urine, resulting in the constant clogging of the Falcon cartridges and their subsequent necessary replacement.
Now, what I ordered was a lifetime warranty waterless urinal cartridge replacement that would need no replacement and really no maintenance and what I got was a completely different product that was going to cost me $110 bucks a year. I called the company to find out why I didn’t get what I had ordered. No answer, and messages were not returned. I wrote emails, no response. So, I tried using this replacement. The EcoBug plugs lasted about 8 days each, the 1/2″ diameter trap started clogging about 6 weeks after the last Ecobugs were used, about 2 months into usage of the replacement EcoCartidge. So I have now spent $36 in Ecobugs for just over 3 months usage of a waterless urinal located in a house with two males, 1 – 38 years old and the other 6 years old. Flushing an old 7 gallon per flush toilet every time either of us urinated would not have cost us $36 in water in those three months. Again I called EcoTech, no answer. Again I emailed, and again, no response.
So, trying to make good out of a bad situation, meaning my wife was tired of the whole downstairs of my house smelling like urine from a urinal that took 6 hours to drain, I removed the cartridge and literally scraped out the uric solids. Yes, these deposits are common precipitates from urine and no I don’t eat to much iron in my diet. I reinstalled the urinals and it worked for another month, then started clogging again. I have repeated this process 5 times in the last year and a half and finally, the cartridge broke and I had to remove it by prying up on the edge of it with a knife.
I called Ecotech again and, yes, no response, until a week later, after two more calls, the CEO, T.E. “Terry” Janssen, CEO (Direct Line: 727-367-5395 (firstname.lastname@example.org) , called me directly. He agreed to look at some pictures of the urinal after I told him what my experience with it. Here are the pictures:
Clogged EcoUrinal Cartridge
Broken EcoUrinal Cartridge
I also asked him why I didn’t get the cartridge that was advertised on his website when I ordered the cartridge and he stated that it didn’t meet the plumbing code and they didn’t sell it anymore. I then asked him why, over a year and a half later, their website still had the original cartridge that they cannot legally sell and have not been delivering for over a year and a half AND makes no mention of the plastic J-trap cartridge that they are sending out now(the one that costs $112 bucks a year in Ecobugs). He said that they have been working on changing their website. For reference, their website for the Eco Urinal Cartridge( http://www.ecourinalcartridge.com/default.html ), with the intro page, warranty page, contact page and installation page is a total of 4 pages long, oh, plus a one page order form. I sensed something was amiss when a 4 page website takes over 1.5 years to change.
I sent Mr. Janssen the photos, and this was his response:
I have been in this business for a long time and have never seen a mess like this. There is no warranty issue here. If you want a check valve cartridge I may be able to find one and would be willing to sell it to you for $200.00 plus freight. If you want it send me or call me with credit card info.
Wow, so he is not willing to adhere to his lifetime warranty but he is willing to sell me a filter that is illegal to sell or install, for $200, 25% more than the first time I bought it, or tried to buy it. I wrote him back asking him if he was kidding and telling him that to promise one thing and then send something completely different is not only false advertising, but it is fraud and that if I was not given the Cartridge that I originally purchased, I would report him to the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates interstate commerce. This was his response:
“Take your best shot you fucking pin head. Your web site is terrible.
T.E. “Terry” Janssen, CEO
Direct Line: 727-367-5395
The moral of this story is this: don’t buy a waterless urinal someone comes up with a better solution to the expensive, plastic disposable cartridges AND Don’t buy anything from this guy.
My Solution: come up with a solution to this waterless urinal problem before the female family members of my house make me rip the waterless urinal off the wall and throw it away.