Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Out of the Closet: The Vacuum Cleaner I No Longer Own

In January 2009 I bought a new vacuum cleaner. I knew someone who had the same model, and she raved about it. The reviews (at that time) were pretty good.

But it was a problem from Day 1 - or rather, Day 2. The first time I used it, it worked fine. The second time I went to use it, it wouldn't power on.

Fine: It was under warranty. (I'd even bought the extended warranty.) I took it back - and found out it took six weeks to process a repair.

OK: I borrowed a neighbor's vacuum cleaner until mine got fixed.

I picked it up, brought it home, went to vacuum - and it wouldn't power on. And yes, the outlet was working just fine.

By this time, I was disgusted. I shoved the vacuum cleaner in the closet to deal with later.

But I never did. The thing to do would have been to take it back, right then, and ask for a refund. But for whatever reason, I didn't.

Fast forward to February 2010. I've since bought another vacuum cleaner that works fine, and has that well-made feel that the first vacuum cleaner never had. But that darn non-functioning one was still sitting in my closet. I saw it every day. It brought me down. So I decided it was time - OK, way past time - to deal with the silly thing.

I posted it on my local Freecycle, explaining it was non-functional but could be repaired under warranty, and many people were interested. But when I wrote on Twitter that I planned to just give it away on Freecycle to get it out of my life, someone wrote back and convinced me to try returning it.

I wrote to all the Freecycle people who had expressed an interest, and told them of my new plans. They were all very uderstanding, and cheered me on.

So today I took the vacuum cleaner back to the store. But customer service at the store was close to non-existent; it was hard to even find a sales clerk in the vacuum cleaner section, much less a manager. The only person who might have been able to make an exception to the normal return policy was not in the store today. If I wanted to pursue the return, I'd need to come back another time.

But I noticed another issue, more significant than the extra time I'd need to spend for a doubtful result: I didn't like who I became when I started dealing with the vacuum cleaner. Somehow it brought out the worst in me.

So I came home and gave the vacuum cleaner away on Freecycle, after all. A very nice person came and took it away, within hours of me writing to him.

And I feel wonderful.


Anna said...

I like the point you're making here, and if procrastinating returning a vacuum cleaner and donating it instead is the worst in you, you definitely are a great example to follow! ;)

The Accessory Lady said...

I'm so glad it gets a second life, rather than going to a dumpster somewhere, but you were short changed on the customer service. It's good that your find peace with the situation... and the vacuum. :-) said...

That is a really good point that sometimes dealing with an issue the "right" way brings out the worst in us. I would have never thought to put it the way you did, but that makes total sense.

Louise said...

Hooray! I completely and totally get this. What is it about vacuum cleaners that they can make us crazy? I hated our previous one so much I literally kicked it downstairs, out the door and to the curb. Then I jumped up and down on top of it. Wow! Where did all THAT anger come from?

Now I have a little stick vacuum, not much bigger than a Dust Buster, and it is perfect for our rolling RV home. We have an honest, respectful relationship, this little Eureka and I.

Claire Josefine said...

It's hard to imagine you becoming someone you don't like, but I understand because I do the same thing. For me it's the frustration of running into unnecessary walls. So bravo for recognizing your discomfort in that dynamic and choosing to Freecycle the thing. And it is indeed a wonderful feeling to remove those annoyances/tolerations from our lives! I'm up to 83 items toward my 365-item-toss, including one stray cat and one boyfriend. (I'm not counting all his stuff toward the 365.) Something healing about clearing my space, making sure only the things I truly use, love, and support me are in it.

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments; I was hoping other folks would relate to my story!

Louise: If I hadn't known that someone else could probably get good use out of that vacuum cleaner, I would have loved to vent by stomping on it! And now that you mention it, my relationship with vacuum cleaners has always been tenuous, starting with the first one, ages ago, where changing the bag was a major hassle.

Why is it so hard to find something that's easy to use, doesn't weigh a ton, isn't ugly beyond belief, won't damage my wool carpeting - and cleans up the cat hair?

Claire: Exactly! It's amazing how energized I feel with that vacuum cleaner out of my space.

Mary E. Rossow said...

I have a different question, if you're willing to share the information! I'd like to know the make/model of the vacuum cleaner, AND ...much more importantly, the store where you BOUGHT it. Reason? In the near future, I need to purchase a new one myself, and I don't want to get caught in the same "hamster wheel"! Was it similar to the model pictured in your blog?
================================================Having asked that, I'll say for the official record, that: "I only do business with people I Like, Trust, & Respect™" (LTR), because I want/expect/insist that my consumer dollars are invested in 'relationship-based businesses'. I would have returned the original NON-FUNTIONING EQUIPMENT on Day Two, before the sun set, and would have left with a brand new one. None of this 6-week repair nonsense. (I'd be up to my ankles in dog hair!!!) It's important for vendors to honor their agreements, and if they balk, I'm here to ensure that they do. I 'advocate' for my client DAILY on topics & situations just like this one. Should I be teaching a class on this??? Also, it's important to know that my own company , Rossow Resources, has an unconditional money-back guarantee on ALL services and products that we provide. Period. I add this because I feel it's only fair to never ask of anyone else what I wouldn't be willing to provide myself.
Warm Vacuuming Socks,

Jeri Dansky said...

Mary, the vacuum was the one pictured, and it came from Sears; it was a Kenmore. In retrospect, I should indeed have insisted on a refund on Day 2. (And I usually have no problem being assertive. I don't know why I wasn't that day. Do vacuum cleaners turn my mind to mush?)

To focus on the positive: I recently had very good service at AAA Vacuum & Sewing at 501 South B Street, San Mateo

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Many interesting points in this story! The one I like is your decision not to get caught in what I call the Full Value Trap -- "I paid good money for this and I'm not letting it go unless I recoup at least part of the cost of the darn thing." You just let it go and moved on. Very impressive!

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Forgot to add a cheer for Claire Josefine and her 365 Item Toss progress -- hooray!

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks, Cynthia! I did get caught in the "I paid good money for this" trap for a while, but I got myself out of it!

Anonymous said...

I can relate - I had a Kenmore canister vac with three wheels that was never, ever in the position where I needed it to be. I often found myself yelling at the darn thing. When we moved, I decided I needed something better and spent the $400 on a Dyson - BEST decision ever. Easy to handle, no filters, and it picks up stuff I can't believe I have in my pet-free, child-free home!