Home > Uncategorized > This Vacuum Sucks.

This Vacuum Sucks.

When are companies going to learn that a complaint from a customer is an opportunity to not only strengthen the relationship they have with their client, but also to perhaps create such a bond that the customer will stay true to the company for life? The company who built my family’s current vacuum—or sweeper, as my mom calls them—hasn’t learned this lesson.

My Eureka moment

Throughout our 20 years together, my wife and I have, when it comes to products such as microwaves, DVD players and vacuums, been, shall we say, very frugal. If some company would manufacture and market a line of products under the brand name “Cheapo”, we’d be among the first buyers. However, we are now becoming recovering cheapskates, especially with vacuums. Tired of hand-me-down uprights and yard sale dirt suckers, about a year and a half ago, we realized that every family in America needed a bright, shiny vacuum, and professed that you should buy the best vacuum you could afford. So, we did what most Americans do. We went to Wal-Mart.

We left with a brand-new, expensive-for-us Eureka bagless model. It was construction yellow in color and had attachments to do everything except fix breakfast, and boy did it suck, but in a good way. I loved that vac and used it regularly. (We have to, our crazy beagle-terrier mix, Rusty, sheds all of the time. Then one day before the vacuum was even a year old, I turned it on and practically burst an ear drum. It sounded like a Harrier jet was performing a vertical takeoff in my living room. Rusty went bounding for the door to get away and I had to turn on the machine for fear of losing what little sanity I have.

Like a good husband, I began to investigate. I checked the hose: no clog. I checked the belt: it was perfect. I even disconnected the belt and beater brush and then started the vacuum to see if they were part of the problem: nope. I realized that the problem had to be in the motor itself.

Time to call the company

I’m always hesitant to call the company, but I was willing in this case. After all, this was a new, somewhat expensive vacuum. I had to search diligently through the manual and finally on Eureka’s web site to find a customer service number. (Note to companies A: We, your customers, like it when we know how to talk to you.)

Positive Experience #1

I somehow in trying to find the phone number discovered that Eureka’s customer service center was in Peoria, Ill. I felt a connection already, since I grew up just an hour away from Peoria. Even more appealing to me was that when I did call I got to speak to someone who had what broadcasters would call a Midwestern-American accent. To me it meant that I was talking to someone whom I could understand. (Note to companies B: Even though your telephone customer service representative may say her name is Mary, we know that the odds are good she’s located in the Provash region of some country we’ve never been. Your customers are here. In my opinion, your customer service should be, too.)

Positive Experience #2

After exchanging niceties about our days and about the Peoria area, I explained my problem to the customer service representative. I was impressed. Especially when she said, “Let me hear it.”

I started the vacuum and aimed the phone at the wretched thing. After a few seconds, the customer service rep agreed with me: my vacuum was toasted. She thought probably a bearing had gone bad in the motor. She told me that the company would replace it.

How long?

I was thrilled that Eureka was going to replace my vacuum. She told me that I’d be getting the newest model, which was an upgrade from what I had. Again I was thrilled. All I had to do was to peel off the model and serial number tag from my unit and mail them in along with a 6-inch section of the power cord, including the plug. I’d have a new vacuum in six to eight weeks.

How long? Six to eight weeks? You’ve got to be kidding. I want someone to explain why it would take nearly two months to get a replacement. Think about it: two or three days for my stuff to get to Peoria, a couple of days until someone can open the package, find my information in the computer and realize that they need to send me a new vac. It should only take an afternoon to pull a box off of a shelf in a warehouse and load it on a UPS truck. Then, a few days later, a new vacuum should arrive at my house. Even with weekends, it should be two weeks max. (Note to companies C: If you want us to buy your products now, don’t think we want the same level of service. Six to eight weeks is, from my perspective, lazy.)

About six weeks later (after several awkward requests to borrow my neighbor’s vac), the new vacuum arrived. I eagerly assembled it and started its maiden voyage. It was great. This one was a modern looking device, white with light blue trim and a “comfort” handle that was a complete circle. It was one of the newfangled units with the clear canister and the tornado-like action where you could watch the dirt flying around in a circle inside the vacuum. My son said it looked like a piece of hospital equipment.

The vacuum worked wonderfully the first few times I used it. I even empty the canister each time I finished cleaning the floor, just like I was supposed to. (This model featured a latch at the top of the canister that opened the bottom of the canister for convenient, no-mess emptying).

Things turn ugly

After a few months, I noticed that the little pieces of dog hair and dirt weren’t flying around the canister at NASCAR-like speeds any more. In fact, they weren’t flying around at all and my new Suck Dirt Special (yes, I named the vacuum) wasn’t really sucking like it was supposed to. Once again, I found myself taking apart a vacuum to figure out what was wrong. Once I found the culprit, I began thinking unkind thoughts about the engineers at Eureka.

At the top of the canister is a filter that looks like a small air filter in your car. This filter is sits in a bowl with holes all around. It sort of looks like a colander or the place in the Kerplunk tube (if you remember the kids’ game) where you put the long sticks. Outside of these holes, there’s about a half-inch gap between the bowl and the canister. This is where I guess the suction starts.

It’s also where the clogs begin. This chute and the holes in the bowl are perfect places for dog hairs, dust, dirt, little bits of paper and who-knows-what-else to gather and stay. The result is poor air flow, poor suction and a vacuum that either doesn’t suck or really sucks, depending on your perspective. As a result, every other time I vacuum, I have to take the canister apart and remove the clogs and debris, covering myself in dirt throughout the process.

Turning to customer service—again

So, I call Eureka again, and tell them that while I appreciate the new vacuum, it’s in no way as good as my old one. I tell them of problems with it and express that I really like the other old-and-not-improved model better.

A Missed Opportunity

The customer service representative listened very politely, but told me there was nothing she could do. “It’s policy that we only send out one replacement,” she said. “Well,” I replied, “it is now my policy to never buy another Eureka.” I told her that I was disappointed in both the vacuum and the level of service. I did not get a “let me see what I can do”, or an “even though we can’t do anything, I’ll let the designers know”. Never even a “I’m sorry.” I all heard was a statement about policy.

Do the Math

So, I now either have to consider buying another vacuum (which will be some other brand) or I have to practically take a bath after each instance of emptying the canister of my current vacuum. Realizing that I will have to buy a new vacuum eventually, let’s explore the realities. Assuming that the life span of a vacuum is five years (which may be generous), that means I could purchase as many as eight or nine more vacuums in my lifetime. If they wholesale for just $50 each, that means my friends at Eureka will not see $400 of my money—it will instead go to the competition. Of course, both of my teenagers have seen me looking like a chimney sweep after cleaning our floor cleaner, so they’ve sworn off Eurekas also. That’s at least another $500 each.

Bottom line, Eureka, your decision to follow policy and not send me a basic, non-clogging, unfancy vacuum to replace this top-of-the-line piece of junk, could cost your company as much as $1500. That may be nothing to you, but repeat this experience in household after household and with disappointed customer after customer and you’ve got a real mess that no vacuum can clean up.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Aaron
    April 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I know you don’t want to hear this, but (I know you love when people say but) that is why I really suggest Dyson Vacuums. They have a 5 year warranty through Dyson, that is better than the service plans that Best Buy sells on the other vacuums, and it never loses suction over time. Most vacuums only last about 1-2 years now if you have pets, I have had my Dyson for 2 years now with 2 dogs (then 1 now) and it has never broken down. You should call me about this and we can talk more about it. I know some stuff 🙂

    • Royce
      December 14, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Go for a used Kirby G7 Ultimate. I paid $200 for a used one with the carpet and home accessories and it works great. G7 was the last model with cast aluminum bodies although the plastic body starting with the Sentria model is no slouch. G series Kirbys all use a disposable bag and parts are readily available at vacuum shops or online. My grandmothers old Kirby from the 1950s ran until 1999

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