Thursday, 30 July 2009

Open Letter to Kirby: How not to sell a vacuum.

Yesterday I was bamboozled into sitting through a demo for Kirby vacuums. This, dear friends at Kirby, is the first thing you did wrong. I'll start at the beginning.

At roughly 3pm yesterday I was greeted by a knock on the door. Very surprising, given that I know no-one in the neighborhood and was expecting no packages. I was greeted by a young bubbly college student, and she chatted with me most pleasantly for a few minutes before she got down to business. She talked very quickly, but mentioned that a few of my neighbors were getting carpet cleaning done, and so I was being offered one free room, it would only take an hour! I had been offered something similar a few months before but turned it down out of hand because I wanted a NAP. My mind went to the vomit stains that I'd failed to remove from the living room, and so I agreed.

I knew, being free, that this was some kind of sales ploy, but at this point I really thought that this was for a steam cleaning service. Like, "Here, we'll do one room for you and then offer the other rooms super cheap" or whatever. And that would have been fine, truly. She promised to return in 10-15minutes, thanking me profusely.

Mistake #1 Kirby, not being upfront with your customer. Already you've started off your sales pitch with misconceptions and lies. I worked briefly as a Cutco representative (knives) and we were not allowed to cold-call people or go door to door. We could only call someone referred to us by a customer, that had agreed to being called/receiving a demo. This GREATLY increases your chance of sales and hey, then you're being honest to start. (I only stuck with Cutco for a week mind, and they did use some of the same tactics used later in the demo, but I think they started off with better footing.)

So I scramble to get all the toys off the floor in preparation for my "cleaning". Now two young men show up, carrying massive boxes. The vacuum. Of course. They try to eaaaase me into the demo, mentioning how he would have to vacuum the floor before the shampooing. Meanwhile my two year old is waking up, and we can all hear him making noise on the monitor. I'm still kind of in this "they're only here to clean" mentality since they haven't really come out with it yet. I tell them I have to get my son, and that he'd get in the way of the cleaning so I would keep him upstairs a bit so they can work. Looking a little panicked E (the salesman, the other guy left) asked that I at least poke my head down sometime so he could show me how the vacuum works. (I'm thinking, perhaps, that you push it around on the floor and it sucks up dirt? Just maybe?)

15 minutes later I return. He's covered about a square yard of carpet. Laid out on the other side of the room are 100 little white/black circles of paper with bits of dust and dirt on them. It all became clear to me in this moment: it's a vacuum sale. Damnit.

Let's take a moment here...I have a Dyson. It's less than a year old. It's one of those new fancy Ball vacuums you may have seen advertised, though it's the small version. It still cost me $400. It's a fantastic little vacuum, and I use it almost daily. LOVE it. During all this it was sitting in plain sight, with two days of dirt in the canister. QUITE a bit of dirt and hair, I might add. From this room. My last vacuuming (at the point of the demo) was the day before. I gotta say...I was really unimpressed with the amount of dirt he got up. Furthermore? Thanks a million for aggravating my dust allergies by leaving all these stupid things all over the place. And now my 2 year old is running through them and rolling around in them. GREEEEAAAAAT.

And he continues to lay them out all over the floor, while I literally, physically, FIGHT with Ray to keep him out of it. GET A CLUE. I saw the amazingness an hour ago, pick it the fuck UP already. Even after asking if we could stack them off to the side he still didn't get it.

After this we sit down and he does his little demo's, my vacuum vs his. He takes mine partially apart, after saying that all vacuums are built the same and that the motors ALL only come from two companies, he obviously has no clue how my dyson works. Further, my Dyson's motor is in the ball, I find it a little hard to believe that it's the exact same kind of motor in all the bissel's and hoover's and that I paid $400 for packaging alone. (Speaking of, isn't Dyson a foreign company?)

Anyhow, I think that selling a product with negativity is kind of a bad plan. You bamboozled your way into my home, I have things to do that are time sensitive, and I'm having to fight my own toddler in his own home to keep him from upsetting your dirt pile. Which, again I say, made its point AN HOUR AGO. CLEAN IT UP.

I know when the last time I vacuumed was. I know how well it gets up baking soda. I know my own product, so just show me YOURS. I'm not an imbecile.

I had a pretty valid reason for disliking the Kirby and it flustered him a bit. I don't want a bag. Certainly not one that lasts 6-8 months. I like my canister because I have a toddler and I'm forever vacuuming up FOOD. I really don't care that your super bag (which costs MONEY) will hide the smell of rotting food in there. I really don't want that in my house. GROSS. They cut me a pretty good deal (if you can every call a price reduction on a $3000 vacuum that cleans marginally better than mine a good deal) but when it came down to it, I don't like the bag. I don't want a gazillion attachments filling my closet. I don't want to carry that metal beast up and down the stairs. Also? You took over two hours to clean one tiny spot of floor. I know this wasn't the vacuums fault, but now I have this feeling that doing even one room with this thing is going to be a long, drawn-out chore.

Yes, I could probably scrape together the monthly payment. But really? I just plain don't want that thing. And he guilted me for it, calling "the boss" 8000 times so they could go down the list of allowable price cuts to offer me. (It's like playing Deal or No Deal! LOL) I know how this works. This thing is not worth $2900 and we all know it, because if it was no salesman would agree to a $1000 price cut. And then "he'll pay your down payment out of pocket!". Oh, so now it's personal. E acted offended, like I had personally kicked his friend, his boss, in the nuts, by refusing this generous offer.

Some of this comes back around to knowing your demographic. This is military housing. We are not rolling in dough. AND, it's MILITARY HOUSING. As long as I don't completely and utterly decimate this cheap ass carpet, they're not gonna care when I move out what kind of vacuum I used on it. I pointed this out to E, that maybe if I owned my own house and really cared about the life of the carpet, then having a higher quality vacuum might matter more to me. But I already, for all intensive purposes, have a move-out date a few years down the road. And I know that they'll likely just replace this carpet regardless when we do so. My allergies are well enough in hand thanks to MY vacuum.

Then, after he finally finished the shampooing (quietly, pouting, because I would not be getting him 1/2 sales for his CRUISE IN WYOMING) he took over half an hour just putting all the pieces back in the box. (LOL WYOMING AND A CRUISE WTF?!)

Don't get me wrong, he was a really nice guy, was great with Ray if a little clueless on the dirt circle pickup. I'm really not blaming him personally, because he's just selling them as he was trained to do.

And what it comes down to, is becoming an annoyance. They try to be so freaking annoying that you will sign on the dotted line just to get them OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. Whether this is the original intent or not I hear the same story time and time again so I know it's not this one guys personal technique. You are teaching them this. Which is also a huge turn off for me. Sorry, ask my husband how good I am at saying no to buying things! I will go to a store for one thing I really want, walk around with it in my hot little hands for ten minutes, then decide I really don't need to spend money on it and put it back. It's really not hard for me.

Sorry Kirby, your vacuum just doesn't do it for me. Work on your sales tactics. I just lost all respect for a 95 year old company.

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