Why I'm Trading in My SIGG Bottle

SIGG was less-than-repentant about BPA being in their bottle liners. (Photo: Scott Akerman [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

It’s been interesting as I’ve read everyone’s comments from my post on Monday about the e-mail instructions I was sent by SIGG. The e-mail told me how to send in my SIGG bottle to get a replacement that was free from the lining that contains Bisephenal A (BPA).

I asked for your opinions on the e-mail, but I didn’t give my own opinion.

Here’s my opinion.

The e-mail reads like it was written by one of my boys trying to apologize because he’s been told he needs to apologize but doesn’t think he should have to. Instead of a genuine apology, my child will make it clear that the infraction is not his fault and furthermore makes it clear he thinks I’m ridiculous for even expecting an apology.

The e-mail is defensive. It begins with the statement that the liners are non-leaching. It mentions later in the specific return instructions that “You may choose to keep your current bottle as they have been proven not to leach.” That statement is also found on the return label included in the e-mail. I feel like SIGG wants the post office to know that the person sending this package is overreacting.

Okay, I get this. They want to get the point across that they don’t believe the old liners are a problem. If the e-mail had only contained that, along with the instructions for return, I might not have a problem. It’s the last paragraph that I find problematic.

As a person concerned with BPA, you may also want to know that it can also found in dental sealants, household appliances, children's toys, cell phones, protective coatings, flame retardants, eyeglass lenses, medical equipment, CDs, DVDs, consumer electronics, and canned food.

Really? This is where the e-mail fell strictly into a child’s reasoning. It’s like when I catch one of my children using a bad word. When confronted, he doesn’t admit he is wrong. He proceeds to tell me about the bad word that came out of his brother’s mouth when I wasn’t in earshot. It also seems like the equivalent of “everyone else is doing it.” I was half tempted to shoot back an e-mail that said, “If all of the companies that make those other products jumped off a bridge, would you do it to?”

Finally, there was no signature with the e-mail – no name or even a company logo to take responsibility. It ended abruptly after the last paragraph. If the e-mail had just been mailing instructions, that wouldn’t have seemed odd. But since it read very much like a letter that was addressed to me personally with a “Dear Robin,” some sort of signature would have been appropriate.

Still, as annoying as the e-mail was, I’m not judging the entire situation based on that e-mail. I remember reading in this 2008 Treehugger post (or one very similar to it but I know it was on Treehugger) that when asked about their liner, SIGG replied that they couldn’t reveal what was in the liner because it was “proprietary” – a trade secret if you will. The Treehugger writer’s conclusion was that SIGG did not deny BPA in their liner – it could be there.

In that Treehugger post, it’s also mentioned that last year, SIGG’s CEO Steve Wasik said, "Despite the scientific evidence that SIGG bottles are 100% safe, I understand the desire of some people to know more about the proprietary SIGG liner. As our Swiss supplier insists on protecting his formula & keeping it confidential, I have commenced the process of exploring new suppliers." So SIGG did reveal that they were changing their liners due to safety concerns at least a year ago.

I also remember something I learned many, many years ago (believe it or not from The Brady Bunch.) It’s the Latin phrase “caveat emptor.” Translated it means “let the buyer beware.” I knew SIGG was not revealing what was in their liners, and I knew they never specifically denied having BPA in the liners – at least nowhere that I had ever read. I asked for my SIGG bottle (it was a gift from my husband) with this knowledge. I liked the design. I chose the bottle. Caveat emptor.

Do I think SIGG went about informing the portion of the public that wanted to know specifically about the BPA in their liners in a good way? No. They did it poorly; they chose their words in the past carefully to skirt the issue, and now they are reaping the PR nightmare for it. They made poor choices when it came to transparency and those choices will have consequences. Many people will never trust SIGG again. There are people calling for boycotts. They certainly have a right to do that.

Me? I’m going to turn my SIGG bottle in for a new one. I’m not going to boycott. Will I buy SIGG again? I don’t know. I have lots of metal bottles in my cabinet and only one SIGG. It wasn’t my go-to brand. Like I’ve said before several times, “I just liked the design.”

Now that you’ve had a few more days to let the SIGG news sink in, how are you feeling about it?