Carbonic Acid Monopoly

When you buy a Sodastream soda machine, you also pay for the acid container. If you require additional containers you pay for these as well.

Despite this, you actually do not own the bottle. Sodastream lawyers have designed a contract that you have to accept to be able to buy their machine, a contract where only Sodastream can refill the Alco2jet carbonic acid bottle. This is running up the price of acid, and it is damaging the environment.

Environmentally, the Alco2jet-bottles should be refilled by a local refilling station or directly at your local store, but this is not actually done.

Consequently, Sodastream runs a monopoly on all refilling of Sodastream machines carbonic acid bottles.

Both I and several others regard these terms as both excessive and price-driving. In an example from Sweden, when comparing Sodastream canisters of 425 gram at 9 Euros to the canisters of a competitor at 300 grams and 4 Euros, this price elevation becomes obvious.

Carbonic acid costs next to nothing and with real competition prices should range from 3 to 5 Euros.

With the correct equipment, i.e. a scale, a tap and a pump, it really is no harder to refill a canister to that of a tire on a bicycle. The process takes a total of 20 seconds and thus could easily be done while waiting in line at your local supermarket. There are also local refilling stations who today refill canisters for bars, fire extinguishers, fish tanks and more. These functions could also be easily performed at local stores and supermarkets.

In the Partyman store in Malmö in Sweden, it was possible during the 1980’s to get carbonic acid for free when buying flavours and aromas, the carbonic acid was supplied by Sydbrand. Sodastream consequently denied service to Partyman, and sued Sydbrand.

With their massive legal machinery, Sodastream crushed Sydbrand leaving them financially ruined and with an order to remove all Sodastream branding before being allowed to resume filling. So as we can see, Sodastreams desire for monopoly is not a recent phenomenon. The new contract that consumers have to accept is a continuation of this. Sodastream would probably even take action against consumers if they were bold enough to refill their canisters somewhere else.

In 2006 this story was repeated in Germany, when another company started refilling Alco2jet-bottles belonging to Sodastream. This was immediately met with legal action however in this case Sodastream lost as the German legal system concluded that this would constitute maintenance of an unwarranted monopoly thus leaving Germany without 3rd-party refilling. Because of European law, this law can probably now be applied to all of Europe however no small business has yet dared to challenge Sodastream while Sydbrand is still fresh in memory…

If you own a Sodastream in a country where Sodastream has a monopoly and you would like to make an effort for the environment, file a report with the authorities. If you think that the terms of your agreement are unreasonable, that it is unacceptable not to own canisters you have purchased, that it constitutes a misuse of a monopoly and or it helps increases prices, then take action and report this.

During the 80’s, when Partyman was still giving out free carbonic acid, their co-workers were trained by Sydbrand. None of Sodastream’s retailers were better trained and even today Sodastream’s retailers still don’t weigh bottles to ensure that they are properly refilled with the exact amount of carbon dioxide stated.

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