Why Do People HATE Culligan So Much? BRUTALLY Honest Review

Article Last Updated: July 2022

Culligan is one of the best known water softening brands today. Their line of softening products have been around since the 30’s.

It is worth taking your time to read about all the problems and complaints before purchasing. Also, take a look at the comment section to see what customers and past Culligan employees are saying.

Why Do People HATE Culligan So Much?

In very simple terms, their prices are considerably higher than similar products offered by other brands, which incur expensive on-going costs and their products are not DIY friendly. But by far the biggest cause of hate is their poor customer service. 

Culligan Prices Are Too High And So Are Its Operating Costs.

Culligan water softeners are among the most advanced in the world and this comes at a cost.

Their machines are so expensive they don’t put a price on their website.

Also, there is NO such thing as a Culligan water softener price list.

  • If you want to buy a Culligan water softener expect to pay upwards of $4000.
  • Bear in mind that they have services starting at just $9.95 per month for their water cooler services and bottled water delivery service.
  • Culligan rentals start at $23/month which include maintenance.

But you will soon discover, getting a Culligan water softener is not for the faint hearted when it comes to spending money.

Apart from the expensive unit, you can expect regular visits from your Culligan service man which also come at a cost.

It is hard to skimp on this because their machines are not designed to be DIY friendly.

Also, a maintenance issue might not be something that your local plumber can deal with because s/he doesn’t have specialist knowledge. Especially as a lot of Culligan machines are made with proprietary technologies.

Let me break down the type of costs you can expect:
  • Actual machine, $2000-3000+ (bear in mind that you need to speak to a company representative who is inclined to up-sell you to their top line of units).
  • Replacement parts if the system breaks down.
  • Frequent visits from service personnel to maintain the machine.
  • Possible extra costs on things like water softening salt.

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Poor Customer Service

(Very Bad Culligan Water Softener Reviews Consumer Reports)

A quick Google search online will reveal lots of people that have written their own Culligan water softener review.

And most of them have nothing but bad things to say 🙁

Online reviews should always be taken with a pinch of salt because they are not representative. It is usually the most aggrieved and unhappy customers that will take the time to write up a whole essay on their experience.

While happy clients are not so passionate about sharing their views.

Culligan Water Softener Reviews Consumer Reports

However, lots of bad reviews from places like Consumer Affairs and Yelp are hard to ignore. It seems the units do not always work as they should. And customer service is poor.

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These poor consumer reviews mean that I personally can not recommend Culligan softening machines. Even though this is a Culligan water softener review, I think other brands have a better reputation and customer feedback. Prime examples are Pelican or Aquasana, which also come at transparent competitive prices too.

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What is Culligan Like as a Brand?

The Culligan brand can be traced back to 1936 when it was founded by Emmet Culligan.

Pelican Standard Softener“Culligan Zeolite Company” was set up in partnership his two brothers in Northbrook, Illinois.

The company was set up with a small amount of seed capital put together by the brothers.

Their first effective water softener device was created after Emmet punctured holes into a coffee can and filled it up with greensand, which turned it into a manual filtering device.

Believe it or not, this creation became a smash hit and allowed him to open 2 franchise stores in both Illinois and Maryland in 2 years.

Culligan came from those humble beginnings to be named as the #1 franchise in the softening industry in 2004 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Trivia – The Culligan brand is most recognized for their classic “Hey Culligan Man!” advert. It was a very popular slogan which often featured in their early radio and TV ads. See video below.

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Why Get A Culligan Water Softener System?

The next part of this Culligan water softener review is to point you towards 3 solid reasons why you could get a Culligan device:

  1. They provide some of the most reliable water softeners that you can use today.
  2. Culligan products use ion exchange technology, which is one of the best ways to soften hard water.
  3. The ion exchange is also a primary factor behind the brand’s longevity.

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Top 3 Culligan Water Softener Models

Before talking about why the brand is so hated, I think it’s only fair that this culligan water softener review looks at good things about this brand.

  1. Culligan High-Efficiency (HE) Water Softener System.
  2. High Efficiency (HE) Twin Tank And High Efficiency (HE) Progressive Flow Water Conditioner.
  3. Culligan Gold Series Water Softener.

In the spirit of fairness, I’m going to take a closer look at 3 different Culligan water softeners.

At the time of writing this, Culligan have 8 water softener models to choose from.

However, do bear in mind that although salt based water softener systems are the company’s main product, there are other products. They have a long line of other products including water filters and water conditioners.

1. Culligan High-Efficiency (HE) Water Softener System

Culligan High-Efficiency (HE) Water Softener SystemThis Culligan HE (High-Efficiency) water softener system has a unique patented smart technology. It allows you to save on the salt, water, and electricity that you use. Hence, the name “high-efficiency”.

On average, it is 46% more efficient than similar devices.
That covers the basics, now let’s look at specific benefits that you get with the HE water softener technology:

  • It gives you total control of the soft water that your home gets.
  • The device will tell you how long your softening salt will last.
  • You will use significantly less salt, water, and consume less electricity – thereby also saving you money.
  • The HE softener has customization options that will let you adjust the level of hardness in water.
  • Your Culligan man will automatically receive reports sent directly from the machine. This means you won’t have to worry about scheduling the next appointment.
  • The HE Culligan machine is also certified by the Consumer Digest (Best Buy Seal).
  • This certification is a seal of approval and a trusted mark in the consumer industry.
  • The tank size is 1.0-3.0 ft3

2. Culligan High Efficiency (HE) Twin Tank And High Efficiency (HE) Progressive Flow Water Conditioner

Culligan High Efficiency (HE) Twin Tank And High Efficiency (HE) This is Culligan’s response to the popularity and trend towards twin tank systems. The “High efficiency twin tank and high efficiency progressive flow water conditioner” is essentially the HE system times two. The twin tank system means that it has a higher capacity. This means it is perfect for large homes, big families and commercial establishments.

Here are the specific benefits that come with the Culligan high efficiency twin tank and high efficiency progressive flow water conditioner:

  • This twin tank device has a smart sensor that responds accordingly. For instance, it will auto adjust if the quality of soft water changes.
  • Its twin tank system means that each tank alternates when producing soft water and therefore has no downtime. This is similar to Kinetico twin water softeners and it just means there is always a standby tank on back up.
  • It also comes with a “Dial-a-Softness”. A feature that lets you configure the softening settings at your own convenience.
  • Another very handy feature is that it will let you know how long your softening salt will last.
  • Gives you complete control of soft water coming into your home
  • It is a HE (high efficiency) model meaning that it works on significantly less salt, water and electricity.
  • It also has third-party certification from Consumer Digest.
  • Your Culligan man will automatically receive reports sent directly from the machine. This means you won’t have to worry about scheduling the next appointment.
  • The tank size is 1.0-3.0 ft3 (this applies to each tank).

3. Culligan Gold Series Water Softener

This is one of Culligan’s basic types of water softeners in spite of its name. In essence, the Culligan gold series water softener is designed to give you reliable soft water every time you need it. And this is all without worrying about maintenance because this is something that Culligan will take care of for you.

Here are some of the gold series water softening benefits:

  • The gold series comes with a very big capacity. This means it can supply your home with enough soft water for laundry, shower and other home water related needs.
  • You can also expect to get an advance control valve which will regulate the water pressure supplied to your home.
  • It includes a smart sensor. This sensor monitors the systems performance in order to minimize energy and water costs.
  • This device has received third-party certification from Consumer Digest.
  • The tank size is 1.0-3.0 ft3

Culligan High-Efficiency Water Softener System
Culligan High-Efficiency (HE) Water Softener SystemKey Benefit: It is 46% more efficient than other softeners.
Key Feature: Patented Smart Technology.

Cost? It’s hard to say, Culligan don’t provide costs upfront.

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Culligan High Efficiency Twin Tank Water Softener.

Culligan High Efficiency (HE) Twin Tank And High Efficiency (HE)

Key Benefit: Comes with a smart sensor and “Dial-a-Softness”. Key Feature: Twin Tank Combo.
Cost? It’s hard to say, Culligan don’t provide costs upfront.

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Culligan Gold Series Water Softener For Generating Soft Water.

Key Benefit: It has advanced control valves that regulate the water pressure.
Key Feature: Basic technology with advanced control valves.
Cost? It’s hard to say, Culligan don’t provide costs upfront.

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Culligan Water Softener ProblemsDashed Line

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Culligan Water Softeners Are Very Complex Devices

Pelican Whole House Softener Filter ComboAccording to the many reports and feedback I have gathered, most complaints are about how complex the device is.

Of course this is to be expected as Culligan water softeners are some of the most advanced softening systems in the world.

However, the very features intended to make the product helpful also seem to cause the most problems for its users.

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Culligan Water Softeners Are Very Expensive.

Understandably, many people are annoyed about the high prices. Culigan addresses this by offering flexible payment terms.

Word also has it that the company are considering making more affordable and budget-friendly products in the future.

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Culligan Water Softeners Are NOT DIY-friendly.

One of the important issues that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention in this Culligan water softener review is that they’re not DIY-friendly. This is important because many customers wish to save money by installing water softening systems themselves.

There are some water softeners that are designed so that they can easily be installed by the average person. They arrive IKEA style, with the most important parts already being assembled for instance, BRITA’s tap water filter.

If you’re looking for something you can easily install yourself Culligan is not for you. However, if you’re a hands-off type of person and already know some very good local plumbers then you shouldn’t have an issue.

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You Can’t Repair Your Own Culligan Device.

Following on from the points made earlier, Culligan is not very user friendly on almost all counts. It doesn’t help that they tend to keep all their technical information as exclusive as possible. This means there is not a lot of options available to you if you’re a DIY enthusiast.

This is not to say that you can’t find parts online, because some parts are indeed very easy to find.

Just do a quick Google search for the name of the exact replacement part(s) you need. And a dozen or so online retailers not tied to the company should appear.

However, the more intricate the part (e.g. their signature drive motors and control valve head), the harder it is to find. In most cases you will only be able to purchase it directly from the company itself.

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Culligan Water Softeners Are Hard To Maintain.

Culligan prefer that their expert engineer and service people deal with any maintenance issues with their machines.

Aquasana Whole House InfographicCustomers find it very difficult to maintain their devices because they have complicated systems.

The fact that you need a qualified service personnel to maintain your system means that Culligan have a slightly higher operating cost when compared to other water softener brands.

Therefore, I highly recommend that you comprehensively study their products and units so that you make the right choice. And are fully aware of what the likely operating costs are.

For more information, it is best to contact Culligan directly via their contact page or call heir customer service on 877 386 0823

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Culligan Water Softeners (And Therefore Their Parts) Are Not Easy To Find…

It seems odd but you can’t easily find a Culligan water softener on places like Amazon, eBay or other large online retailers.

You have to order directly from the company website. This means that if you need a spare part you will most likely need to buy direct from Culligan.

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Culligan Water Softener Troubleshooting

Have you already bought a Culligan water softener?

If you have this machine and want a replacement or troubleshooting manual then use the “Culligan Product Manual Library” to find your product.

Once found download its corresponding manual in .pdf format.

These manuals will also help you if you need to find the right Culligan water softener settings.

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Where Can I Buy Culligan Water Softeners?

To my knowledge there are 2 places you can buy Culligan water softeners.

  1. Direct from Culligan themselves or,
  2. Try somewhere like eBay for a second hand / unwanted brand new version.

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BEST Culligan Water Softener / Filter ALTERNATIVES

If you are looking for the best Culligan Water Softener alternatives check out my selection below. This is based on the best selling water softeners that have good customer reviews and great features.

I have previously reviewed all of these whole house water softener systems.

Aquasana Salt Free Softener and Filter System

Pelican Whole House Filter & Salt Softener

Aquasana Whole House FilterPelican Softener with Filters
Treats hard water UP TO 25 ppm (low to medium low hard water).Treats hard water OVER 25 ppm (medium to extremely hard water).
- Powerful salt-FREE water softener.
- 1,000,000 one million gallon capacity.
- Aquasana Rhino exceeds NSF standards.
- Treats hard water WITHOUT salt.
- Removes chlorine, bacteria, iron, sulfide, manganese, mercury, lead etc.
- Includes pre-filter, copper-zinc and carbon filtration stages with standard fittings.
- 90-Day "Pure Satisfaction" Guarantee.
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- Powerful salt-based water softener.
- Also includes a multi-stage filter.
- Easy installation (inside or outside)
- No waste water, requires NO electricity or drainage.
- 90-day satisfaction, 5 year performance guarantee and limited lifetime warranty.
- Sufficient for 1-3 bathrooms.
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