Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sales Pitch

The other afternoon, the doorbell rang, and standing on the front stoop was a young woman with a nose ring and a tongue stud who politely asked if I wanted a free carpet cleaning, since the company had a representative in my area right now. Normally I turn down these offers, but the effort required not to stare at her facial jewelry dulled my reaction time, and I found myself assenting. Fortunately I'd picked up the living room that morning and had even vacuumed, so the place was mostly presentable. And so I ended up having a demonstration of a Kirby vacuum cleaner -- very nice, very effective, very expensive.

The salesman calling on my area right now was a pro -- he knew his pitch, he knew his product, and he picked up enough clues from the house to know us a bit. He had a prime opening, as our twenty-year-old industrial vac with no attachments was sitting out. Frankly, I'm appalled by the amount of dirt that came out of the carpet I'd just vacuumed an hour earlier. There's no question my vacuum cleaner is not all that effective, though at least it picks up the obvious surface debris. But no matter how polished a salesman may be, I'm just not ready to drop upwards of $1000 on a vacuum cleaner.

I think that he realized early on that I wasn't a viable sales prospect. After changing out the demonstration filter, once again, the salesman asked, "What would your husband say if he came home to find that you'd bought this vacuum?"
"Well," I said, "He'd probably say, 'I thought you wanted a piano?'"
No arguing with that.

I was surprised at how sensitive I was to the image we presented the salesman. I wished that I'd swept the bread crusts off the kitchen floor, I wished that baby wasn't missing the top button off her dress, I wished that Noogs didn't have mud on her cheek from excavating the back yard. The occasion also served to highlight the differences between the big girls. Noogs was clambering all over the living room in her t-shirt and jeans, wanting to help the salesman and horsing around with vigor. Meanwhile, Babs changed her outfit several times and sashayed into the living room to model for us. She sat nicely on the couch during the shampooing, and Noogs wanted to get down in the suds and romp. Not to be left out, Baby demonstrated that she has reached the "mom good, strangers bad" stage and refused to be put down or looked at.

So now Baby sits on a thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed carpet, and my bank account remains undepleted. But I wish I didn't know how dirty my carpet really was. The sales presentation didn't convince me to buy that particular vacuum, but it did spur me on to serious thoughts of buying something newer and better than the red behemoth with the broken cord holder. I wonder if there are statistics comparing the the incidence of sales presentations of Kirby vacuums with the overall rate of vacuum sales?

One thing is even clearer than before: I hate carpet.


Anonymous said...

"So now Baby sits on a thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed carpet, and my bank account remains undepleted."

A win-win situation I would think -- especially since it didn't cost you anything. (I didn't know Kirby vacuums could also do shampooing.)

"But I wish I didn't know how dirty my carpet really was."

Don't buy a new vacuum; get hard flooring! Then you won't have to think about the dirt that has sifted through the carpet and under the padding.

I'm struggling with the similar decisions about the new house I'm going to be moving into, fantasizing about replacing the carpet in the future bedrooms and library with wood or tile.

PB said...

I have heard that, compared to Kirby vacuums, a Dyson does just as well if not better for around $500, which is still plenty of money!

I would go with hardwood floors.

mrsdarwin said...

My mom has a Dyson, and I've been thinking about one of those. They're supposed to perform well. On the other hand, WOOD FLOORS!

Darwin said...

Kirby vacuum: $1200

Hardwood floors: $3500

Watching the cat wipe out as he tries to gallup across the living room: Priceless

Doogie said...

I got hardwood floors, but after picking up a sizable sliver in my heel the other day, I remain firm in my preference for carpet.

And I bet that if you vacuumed after he left, you'd get more dirt out still - even with your paleolithic model. Carpets keep everything in.

But they're nice and soft and warm, and I'm a bit of a wimp.

Anonymous said...

Wayne and I have mostly hardwood floors in our 90 year old house, but for the few carpets we have, the Dyson Animal works great. Due to allergies, a strong vacuume is a necessary addition to the family. He grew up in a "Kirby" family, and shows a marked preference for our current brand. The color scheme leaves something to be desired, though: purple and grey? At least it's not orange and hot pink!

Dorian Speed said...

Am I the only one confused about whether the salesperson was male or female, after reading this?

Anonymous said...

I was confused too...
A blessed day to all of the Darwins!

Anonymous said...

They usually work in pairs... So, my bet is that the young woman was assisting the salesman, but I could be wrong...

Btw, MrsDarwin... My sister has a Kirby, but wishes she had gotten a Rainbow or Dyson. Not that it wasn't a good vacuum, just that the others probably would've been better investments.

-- Slick

mrsdarwin said...

Sorry about that -- the young woman was just the person who knocked on the doors and made initial contact. The salesman was, indeed, a man. I'll have to clarify that.

Anonymous said... I understand. Thank you.
I still love my central vac....over 16 years old and still working great.

Kiwi Nomad said...

Actually, I have been to a lecture recently where it was discussed that kids need to eat dirt etc, and that we are being "too clean" for the development of healthy immune systems. So I wouldn't let any vacuum cleaner salesman make me feel bad about Noogs with "mud on her cheek from excavating the back yard." Mud is good!

Anonymous said...

We had an old Kirby for quite some time. Steel construction. Woohoo, baby! That thing was a hoss! However, after 20 years or more of use, it has since been retired. I believe someone lifted it out of our garbage before we moved to WA. It was a reliable vacuum, but it was also a free hand-me-down.

We got something else (forget what it is) on a killer sale around Thanksgiving before we moved to WA. It sucks, which is what vacuums do. :-)

We did have a Rainbow salesman bait us early on. We initially bit, but then we changed our minds... too much money.

Rick Lugari said...

Oops, your salesman broke the first rule about giving a demo for a high priced product. He should have never shown you the product without Darwin there. Spouses usually will not make a big purchase without the other's consent, and even if they do, when the spouse comes home and finds out the other spent $1000 on something because "the demonstration was just so amazing", they will have the order canceled.

Anyway, MrsD, carpet is good because it provides a home to millions of God's humblest creatures and they return their thanks by eating all your dander saving you from having to sweep it up.

mrsdarwin said...

Why did I follow that link? I knew I wouldn't like it even before I clicked.

Anonymous said...

NO TILE! We have white tile in our den, living room and upstairs hallway. I can't stress how much I hatehatehate it. It's a pain to clean, and the grout looks horrible (discovered after the fact that the previous owner of our place didn't seal the grout - ugh). Wood floors = prettier and less ugly :)

Matthew Lickona said...

When I sold my little book, the editor wrote me, "Congratulations. Go buy your wife some jewelry." The Wife, God bless her, would have no such thing. She asked for a Miele vacuum cleaner instead. It was indeed stunning to think of spending so much on a vacuum cleaner, but since the money was a windfall, it didn't hurt so much.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Ah, another demonstration of the benefits of free enterprise: you get something of value to you, for giving the salesman something of value to him -- but, fortunately, not also that valuable to you.

Of course, not a total win-win, as he did not make a sale. However, he got something of value: you were left saying nice things about the product -- on your blog no less! Now the whole world knows how awesome the Whizzomatic Suckotronic 2000 is! Are you not that much more likely than before to buy this product, someday? So -- not a total loss for his company, either.

On another note . . . my mother seemed to be of the opinion that while cleaning was important (and we had a clean house, seems to me), all of us, particularly children, seem to do just fine living in dirt.

Excessive cleanliness is a fetish, turning one into what sadly became of Howard Hughes at the latter chunk of his life. And with seven children, too high a standard of cleanliness is just torture anyway.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine had a humorous post about his experience with the Kirby vacuum guy. He discovered that a lot of it is a ploy and if you clean the filter that he used in his Kirby and put in in your vac, the filter will pick up as much dust as it did in the Kirby!

Here is the link if you are interested:

mrsdarwin said...

Thank you, thank you for that link! Believe it or not, that comforts me. It also hardens my resolve to replace the damn carpet.

Dorian Speed said...

I covet a Miele.

That is all.

Oh, no, wait, it's not. My mom has a Rainbow and let me borrow it. Eh. The whole deal with having to empty out the water is pretty grody. I didn't think it cleaned that much better than my totally retro Hoover patched up with duct tape.

LogEyed Roman said...

Modest carpet cleaning tip: Woolite makes this carpet-cleaning stuff. It comes in spray cans. You spray it on the carpet; it forms suds. You scrub at dirt until it comes loose. Then you just let everything dry out overnight. Then you vacuum it up. Even a tired old vacuum cleaner will clean pretty well. Might be feasible as an interim solution until you can afford $1,000 + vacuum cleaners.


CMinor said...

I've heard Rainbows are a pain to clean--anybody know anything about that?
Having done in a couple of vacuum cleaners on dog hair and cement dust from a badly finished slab, I spent the summer laying wood parquet-about $1/square foot plus adhesive. It's easier than laying tile and much easier to clean than carpet.
Some Kirby distributors will sell used rebuilt models at (sometimes considerably) less than the new ones cost--I've talked to a couple of ladies who swear by theirs.

Author Known said...

I vote for Dyson. The engineering and design are terrific. Best vacuum I've ever owned.