D.C. Nabs 'Most Dishonest' Title in Annual Honest Tea Checkup

By Amber Ferguson
|  Monday, Jul 29, 2013  |  Updated 5:16 PM EDT
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D.C. Nabs 'Most Dishonest' Title in Annual Checkup

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Being honest in the District has been put to the test...and the results weren't pretty.

The Bethesda-based Honest Tea once again conducted its annual experiment in all 50 states and the District, trying to see how honest people would be when no one was looking.

From July 8 to 18, the company set up 61 locations where bottles of their drinks were left unattended -- available to the thirsty for a suggested price of $1. Hidden cameras recorded the results.

The experiment revealed that D.C. was the least honest location, with only 80 percent of people paying for their drinks.

Residents of Alabama and Hawaii can hold their heads high; 100 percent of participants paid their dollars there. Virginia had a 95 percent honesty rating and Maryland hit 89 percent.

Funny thing is, the District was considered one of the most honest cities in 2012, with 95 percent of Washingtonians paying for their drinks. So what went wrong this year?

Perhaps the extended heat wave over the region caused people to temporarily forget their manners (and their wallets). The heat index was between 102-108 degrees the week of July 15, reported NBC4's Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer.

The furloughs certainly weren't helping anyone's paychecks, either. In a city where government workers are the norm and speed-light cameras are on every corner, how can one resist the lure of "free" tea?

Another scenario: A lot of people in major cities don't carry around cash like they used to. You can pay for Uber cars, most shopping purchases, and $3.50 Starbucks coffee using a debit or credit card. In a 2012 MasterCard survey, three in four Americans say they use less cash today than they did 10 years ago. Maybe if Honest Tea had accepted plastic during the experiment, D.C. could have come out on top again.

Maybe we're just trying to be optimistic.

But at the end of the day, at least 80 percent of our neighbors kept it honest while sipping their drinks.

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