Trick or Treat? False Claims or Real Benefits…

(the frightening reality of vacuum marketing)


 In honor of Halloween, I always like to address some of the spooky, freaky and downright scary aspects in the world of vacuuming!  What do I find to be the scariest? FALSE MARKETING CLAIMS!!



Disappointing, perhaps; But scary? You would think that spending as much time with vacuum cleaners as we do would make us numb to some of the more disgusting aspects of their existence. On the contrary: We’ve become hyper aware of how different machines work, how they often don’t work, and how their performance sometimes differs greatly than claimed or expected. What makes a false or misleading claim scary is the consequence the user may suffer from believing it!

Following are some CLAIMS attached to certain vacuum cleaners. See if you can guess which claims are a "TRICK" (as in totally bogus or just misleading) or a "TREAT" (that is, a feature that really has value.) THE ANSWERS MAY SURPRISE YOU! 

"So powerful it can pick up a Pick up a bowling ball!"  Answer: TRICK

This one has been around forever, and is just plain hysterical. Oreck uses a bowling to demonstrate the suction power of its little companion canister vacuum, the “Buster B Vac.” The use of the funnel-type device at the end of the Oreck’s hose is the key.  The funnel cups around the bowling ball providing a suction cup-like effect, truly requiring only the slightest amount of vacuum to provide the seal. This is NOT a great indicator of suction, let alone cleaning performance. In fact, this little Oreck has some of the worst suction on the market.  

 "No Loss of Suction"  Answer: TRICK

This is Dyson’s famous line. The company did suffer some slight legal trauma over this claim...they now have to include some fine print that supports the point.  But the mighty Dyson can and will lose suction eventually. The tag line is not exactly trickery, but too many people make the errant assumption that they don’t have to wash the vacuum’s filters or empty the dust collection bin regularly. If this required at-home maintenance is neglected, the poor Dyson suffocates and just won’t suck anymore. That equals a dirty house.


"Zero Emissions"   Answer: TREAT!

Most of the allergy-provoking particles in your home are sized between 0.1 and 10 microns: a fraction of the width of a human hair. The bodies of many vacuums leak badly, allowing fine dust and allergens to escape once sucked up.  On the contrary, vacuums like the Miele S5 canisters and S7 uprights rate as some of the best filtering vacuum cleaners on the market. Using an air particle scanner, a Miele will record a zero emissions rating at .3 microns setting. I’m not aware of any other “sealed-system” domestic upright or canister vacuum that achieves this degree of clean air being exhausted back out into your home. This means great relief for allergy sufferers! (And those who hate having to dust the house after vacuuming!)  The good thing is that this claim is pretty well regulated, so when you see it you should be able to believe it.

"No expensive bags to replace"  Answer

Define expensive! Many bagless vacuums are advertised using this lie - I mean line. The majority of these machines utilize a pleated HEPA filter in the dust collection bin, which serves to separate the dust from the clean air inside the vacuum (which a bag would normally do.)  The trick is that these filters are not free! They need to be replaced every 6 months to one year, which can cost you the same annually (and sometimes up to twice as much) as disposable paper vacuum bags.  Lastly, the long term expense you really have to consider is the vacuum itself. Since most bagless vacuums manage dirt so poorly internally, their motors tend to short out much sooner than their bagged counterparts...replacing a whole vacuum frequently is what really gets expensive! 


So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you see on TV or a vacuum’s packaging (at least not without doing a little research first!)  If you rely on an advertised feature working exactly as claimed, please consult an expert to make sure that it can live up to your expectations. Look at the KEY WORDS in the claim. Are the terms clearly definable and provable? Do they even seem like an accurate method for measuring the vacuum’s cleaning performance? If it seems too good to be true, it just might be (or at least not without paying the price of extra money or your time.)



By: Rachel Decker (Co-owner, Queen Vacuum)

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