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News: It's Easy to WIN ("cough") "Best Buy" Awards - Just Buy Them!

Article Date(s):09/28/2016

Who’s really believable?

As a distributor for the many vacuum and scrubber manufacturers, we are kept up to date on manufacturer’s current ad promotions, etc. Manufacturers also tell us when to stop using a particular promotion in our advertising of their products. As such, I have come to realize that product “testing” which results in some “best buy” or “top rating for customer satisfaction” accolades has to be bought by the manufacturer! That’s right. And we know this because when they decide to quit paying for it, they send dealers such as us a letter telling us to stop using (in our advertising) their “Best Buy” ribbon or other such award they pretend to have won. The memos don’t even try to tap dance around it: they say something to this effect: “...we will not be buying the license for...” or, “...we will not be renewing the...”etc. So while I would have rightly expected this chicanery from the likes of Consumer Digest and Good Housekeeping, I’m disappointed to find that it’s the same with JD Power (at least when they “rate” vacuum cleaners).

Worthy of note is that as much as I’ve busted this publication’s chops over generally nonsensical ratings, I have no smoking gun that Consumer Reports does this, although I DO have such evidence that the others do. Given that Consumer Digest seems to have a parallel business model as Consumer Reports and the inept way Consumer Reports rates vacuums, I’ve always assumed they accept “sponsorship” from vendors just like the rest. Since they’ve been around longer than the rest, they probably are the originators of the practice (but I can’t be sure - it is my opinion based on available facts and in no way implies that I have hard evidence to this effect). I assume the above disclaimer will keep me out of court! So these types of organizations add credibility to products, and we rely on them when making buying decisions, and maybe we shouldn’t.

The other place that is increasingly used is customer reviews - I always read them when buying something, although what usually happens to me is that out of the 100 great reviews, there’s 1 guy who hates the product and he turns out to be right! I was reading vacuum reviews on a vacuum from a big box store and it had 231 reviews, only 5 reviews were a “would not recommend”. In reading them, many of them started with “...I just got this vacuum yesterday but I’m here to tell you it’s the best I’ve ever owned...”, I assume most of you can see the stupidity of this statement, but I’ll just repeat a common line we use here at our stores: ALL VACUUMS WILL WORK GREAT THE 1ST TIME, WHEN THE FILTERS ARE BRAND NEW. In fact, it’s the only time a bagless vacuum will work that great until the day you buy new filters and install them, because after one use, the filters aren’t 100% clean anymore. Filling cups of dirt is impressive, but it’s the dirt that’s not in the cup that is really the issue, and you can’t see that. P.S. - Poison Food is delicious when you 1st eat it, but Give it a Day and then write a review about it. Another review I read, went like this: “I bought a Shark and it was great, but it lost suction and kept shutting off. So I took it back and got a Dyson. It was nowhere near as good as the Shark was. When it’s time to get a new vacuum I’m going to get the Shark again!” Get ready, ma’am - that day is coming soon.

This new breed of consumer will probably be the death of our sanity. Who wants to buy something, anything, that has already failed on them? Maybe the time is right to start selling Sea Monkeys again. So if I were being kind, I'd say you have to weed through the reviews to try to get to one that might actually be helpful, but as with most products, a review after owning something for a short time is absolutely worthless information. Perhaps a field should be required to state how long someone has owned the product? This would be valuable in weighing the validity of the review. Maybe even a sort function to put the fanatically overjoyed new product owners back on page 13...

In summary, we repair and sell thousands of vacuums a year. And to me, the patterns that emerge regarding our customer satisfaction, machine longevity and general maintenance requirements over the past 75 years is some of the rarest "No-BS" data available, and it doesn't match their data. So contact us next time you’re ready to buy a vacuum cleaner, preferably in person, so you can actually see and test drive what you’re really spending your hard earned money on!

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