Thursday, July 6

How To Get A 'Cheap' Kirby

An errand to buy vacuum bags reminded me of the story of our Kirby vacuum cleaner. I thought you might like to hear how a tightwad like me ended up with such an expensive vacuum cleaner.

Our first vacuum was a thrift store find, $20 if I remember correctly. It lasted through 3 apartments and one house. By the time we moved into our second brand-new house, it was belching more dust than it slurched. Only our preoccupation with getting moved in saved it from going in the dumpster.

Back then we only had three kids and I got away with vacuuming only every week or so. Between times I kept forgetting how awful the thing was. Then I'd use it, find myself in a cloud of dust again, and put it away saying we HAD to replace it. If only we weren't so new-house broke.

Sensing the dust in the air, along came Mr. Kirby salesman. My first mistake was letting him in. Due to the trauma of this experience(AND the unfortunate meat-salesman incident, which I will spare you) we have since instituted a firm no-saleman-inside rule at our house.

But back then we did not fully understand the power of a saleman in your living room, especially the power of salesman selling something you desperately NEED. And so we let him in.

All I was thinking at the time was that the living room desperately needed a vacuum, and if I could get it for free, all the better. (Ah the innocence of youth!)

Mr. Salesman, accompanied by Mr. Trainee, came in and proceeded to give us a demonstration involving a coffee filter showing just how much awful dirt lurked in my lovely new (expensive!) carpet. I'd get years more use out of this rug if I just took care of it, he claimed. I stared at that coffee filter, appalled, imagining the ravages of having half a sandbox lurking in my carpet at any given moment. He had me in the palm of his hand.

And then he told me this vacuum had a shampooer. I felt myself salivating. Just think how much money we could save by never having to rent a shampooer! Then he shared with my husband the finer points of the automatic transmission. (Yes, this puppy is so heavy it needs a transmission.) Now my husband was drooling too. Sensing his moment, Mr. Salesman lowered the boom. For only $1600.00 we could have this wonderful tool. And --they took credit cards.

We. were. shocked. $1600-- for a vacuum? No way. We were ready to show him out right there. But then he said he could maybe go down a little on the price. How about $1400? No? Well, then, $1300, and he would throw in some extra vacuum bags. By this point we were feeling his eagerness, and we did need that vacuum. How about $1200, we said. He was more than happy to take our offer. With some trepidation, we signed all disposable income for the next year $1200 away.

The carpet would last much better, we told ourselves as we waved him off. The kids would be healthier. And we'd gotten such a good price. But soon after he left, guilt began to nibble at us. It just didn't feel right.

That night we both tossed and turned, unable to feel peace about our purchase. The next morning we reluctantly called him and told him we'd changed our minds and that he needed to come get the vacuum. He sounded downright cranky. But our resolve was firm. We had to get the thing out.

By the time he got to our house, still trailed by Mr. Trainee, his voice was chipper again. We realized as soon as he opened his mouth that he was still trying to sell the thing to us. "No," we said, "it's just too expensive."

Oh, he wanted to sell it. He offered to sell it to us for $1100, but we were unswayed. He seemed very eager to impress Mr. Trainee with his stellar sales techniques. Finally, looking nervous, he asked Mr. Trainee to go wait for him in the car. Then, voice lowered, eyes darting nervously, he said, "$700. I can sell it to you for $700. But you can't tell anyone."

John and I looked at each other. We went into the other room to talk. What had seemed way too expensive at $1200 suddenly looked much more appealing at $700. And there was the shampooer. And the attachments. And the micron filter. And the transmission. By the time we came out of our room we had sold the thing to ourself again.

For the second time in 24 hours, we signed on the dotted line. Mr. Salesman went and triumphantly let Mr. Trainee out of the car. "It was just a little payment plan issue," he told him. No way was he going to admit to the guy he'd just sold us a vacuum at cost.

We have gotten 13 years of hard use out of that vacuum cleaner. Daily use for most of those years. We've sucked up a million rocks, scrubbed away the evidence of dozens of puke-fests. I heart my Kirby. I don't think we would buy one again, even for 'only' $700. But it has stood the test of time. We have rode that baby hard. And it's still going strong.

Every once in a while I think about Mr. Salesman and wonder if the same can be said for him.


At 9:14 AM, Blogger Jeana said...

Oh, that's great. I have a similar story about a minivan. :-)

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Aunt Murry said...

I have always wanted a Kirby. But I just can't see spending that kind of money one a vacuum cleaner.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Erin-erin-bo-berin said...

Oh Boy. We have a plaque just above our doorbell that reads 'NO SOLICITATION'. After having a dozen boys offering lawn service or spitting out monotone schpiel about 'saving youth from the hazards of being latch-key kids'ignore the sign and ring the doorbell in the middle of naps anyway, I created an additional sign from a neon index card that reads: 'Baby Sleeping - Please DO NOT DISTURB' . It is under a magnet on my steel front door, and it still only keeps a few solicitors away. Maybe I should stop sweeping the spiders down from my front porch and stop clearing off the leaves that gather under our front patio. Then, Salesmen would just be too freaked out to even ring the bell!

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

That is SO cute! Yes...we got one of our first vacuums out of the dumpster when we were first married, and my hubby, Mr. Fixit, got it running. And I remember, all too well, the power years later of letting Mr. Salesman into the livingroom!
Funny post! :)

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Avery said...

We actually have hardwood floors in all of our rooms, and only carpet in the dining room (yeah a little backwards I know) but we let every sales guy who comes in, and let him vacuum the 10 foot carpet, he knows once he is inside and sees this is all the carpet we have he is lost, we get the super duper vacuum and we crack jokes at his expense the entire time (all while telling him, no, we've never seen a sales guy do this before.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger JeepGirl said...

Good job! Sounds like you two are good bargin shoppers. I have a rainbow and did the same thing. Got it brought down 500 bucks. Not as good as your deal but it still makes your feel good.
They do last a long time. Congrats.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger A Voice said...

Oh, that is too funny! LOL
But I have to say I still think $700 is too much for a vaccum!

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Shash said...

I don't know if I could mortgage a product, my vacuum was a hand-me down from my SIL - when she bought her Kriby-wanna-be, a Tri-Star.

It's held on for 10 years with duct tape but works fabulously... until just recently when someone was helping me out, cleaning up and thought my vacuum was junk and tossed it! Now I have to buy my first vacuum.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

This post brought back memories to me. My mom used to have this very old dinosaur of a vaccum, a big huge, RED Kirby. It was so heavy. It took three people to lug it up the stairs. My mom finally parted with the thing not long ago, but I think she shed some tears over it. :)

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

I want a kirby. We almost got one at the house we were renting, then ended up buying a house with all wood floors. I was kinda glad we didn't shell out all that money, but then recently when we had our flea problem, we borrowed my inlaw's kirby and I am in love again. It sucked up all kinds of stuff from the cracks of the floor that brooms just moved from one crack to another. So, now I wouldn't mind having one, but it's a huge investment we cannot afford. Think I'll just buy some vacuum bags and borrow my inlaws LOL

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Heidi said...

Pretty cool Mary! We've spent about that much total on our vacuum and steam cleaner but they are two different machines so you need twice as much storage space!
I hear ya about the not letting in any salesman....

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous abc momma said...

My mother-in-law gave us our first vacuum, and then when we built our house, my vacuum salesman brother-in-law gave us our central vacuum.

I let the Kirby guy in to get a free shampoo. Very impressive, but expensive. Now I have a steam cleaner I got at a garage sale for $7. Haven't used it yet, so I hope it works.

My weakness is with the Cutco people.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Heather said...

MY FIL has a Kirby -- I HATE that BEAST with a vengance! It is the most unwieldy heavy monster I have ever used!

It does a great job and my DH raves about it but I just Can.Not.Stand.It.

So funny how something sooooo expensive can be great to some and horrid to others.

I love my Dyson! (yup - the $500 one I got as a floor model for $100~~~~~~)

At 7:26 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Read Heather's comment. Dyson are supposed to be good too. I wouldn't complain. Anything beats the broken dirt devil I have sitting in my closet! LOL

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Carol said...

That's a good story! I wish I had a Kirby even though they are tremendously heavy. And I would never take it upstairs for fear of killing myself in the process. My current (relatively new) Hoover could stay upstairs, maybe?

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Marian said...

Just for fun,I shared your story with my husband, who is a sales trainer. His classes are always very colorful and he uses examples from just about anywhere, so I'll bet your poor Mr. Salesman's story is bound to be comically referenced in his next class that covers overcoming buyer's remorse!

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Tess said...

my inlaws (when they were actually married to each other 28 years ago) bought a kirby, and it took us through 3 years of marriage. then it died a painful death and we invested in an Oreck. I ♥ my Oreck!


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