I sent this e-mail to Trader Joes corporate offices in Monrovia:
"You've changed Gerolsteiner from glass to plastic bottles. In doing so, you've changed the carbonation and the taste. Now Gerolsteiner is virtually flat and the taste is awful. So you or Gerolsteiner may save some money on weight but you've lost my wife and my business. We'll find another better tasting carbonated mineral water. Seems to me it's stupid to tamper with a successful good-selling product to save some bucks. Tell the German company that. And let them sell the plastic bottles in Europe. By the way I've been doing business with Trader Joes as Pronto before it opened the Pasadena store by the freeway, when I lived in Eagle Rock, so I'm a faithful customer who has liked most of what you've done; I even traveled to go to your first store in Pennsylvania when I moved there in Exton."
My wife added, "It tastes terrible now."
With Albertson's having very fine fresh herbs, something my wife liked a lot, and Tesco opening a new store in Laguna Hills, maybe Trader Joes needs to watch their flanks.
I'll probably go to Costco and buy their Italian sparkling water; see if it measures up.
This change to plastic bottles and different carbonation looked like a classic way to cut someone's costs - whether it was TJ's or Gerol's I couldn't say - but it did happen on TJ's turf and so they must have approved the switch.
Has anyone else encountered this type of switch at Trader Joes' before, and has it been a sign of reduced quality?