Washington DC

The most dishonest place in the US

Friday 26 July 2013 at 1:27 pm.

Washington DC

Coca-Cola's Honest Tea tested whether Americans would pay for the drink at self-service kiosks. One location ranked far below the others.

Washington, D.C. (© Bilderbuch/Design Pics/Corbis)When Coca-Cola's (KO -1.10%) Honest Tea tested whether Americans would voluntarily pay up for the drink at unmanned kiosks, one place fell far below the national average for honesty.

That turns out to be the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., where only 80% of people honored the test's system of putting a dollar in a box to pay for a bottle of the iced tea. In fact, the town was so dishonest that the CEO's bike was stolen during the test.

Overall, Americans are 92% honest, but some states and cities are more so than others. The most honest locations are Hawaii and Alabama, where 100% of participants paid for their beverages, Honest Tea said. Coming in third and fourth were Indiana and Maine, where 99% of people in both states paid up. 

While the company has tested the honor system before, this was the first year that all 50 states were part of the plan. The kiosks, set up with cold beverages, included a notice asking people to pay $1 for a beverage. Consumers could either pay or steal without consequences, but Honest Tea employees were stationed nearby to record who skipped out and who paid up. 

"Even though my bicycle was stolen the same day as our D.C. experiment, it's reassuring to know that 92% of Americans will do the right thing even when it seems no one is watching," Honest Tea chief executive Seth Goldman said.

Consumers were noted according to gender, hair color, hair length, facial hair and accessories. Blondes were more honest (at 95%) than people with gray hair (92%), while women were 95% honest, surpassing men at 91%. 

West Virginia was No. 2 behind the capital as the most dishonest region, with only 85% of consumers paying. Texas was the third, at 87%. Three states -- Louisiana, Arizona and Mississippi -- failed to rank because not enough consumers participated. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 


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