Electrolux cannister: a rant and a dilemma

aliris19January 30, 2013

"Rant" is perhaps too strong, but I realize my words will be a little emotional here.

I've just had a rather unpleasant interaction - yet again - with our local electrolux people. I'm sick of this and the bottom line question is: if I were to consider switching brands (and I am doing that), what to switch to please?

I saw this thread and the link referenced there from weedmeister to a site that does testing for allergy sufferers of vacuums; I'll peruse that.

But first, back to electrolux and some general questions. Didn't they get sold a few years back? Has this impinged on their quality? How about what they sell? It would seem the latter at least because what I saw on weedmeister's site at a quick glance shows lots of less-than-thousand-dollar vacuums.

Which brings me to the rant, and some historical bemoaning.

I'm from one of those families where the newliweds in the 50's were given an electrolux canister vacuum and it served them well up until such time as the daughter (me) left home and was presented with this hand-me-down. It still worked well for years and years. Then we entered the modern world.

Maybe 18 years ago now? (geesh) I got talked into buying a new electrolux canister vacuum. And since then I will readily acknowledge that I have not cared for it as I should entirely; by now the hose is pretty well failed. This machine has a filter and it hasn't been changed in a couple years (I know: my bad big-time. I called a couple years ago for new filters and was stood up by the company, was very irked with them and set it out of my mind and that's about the last time I even thought about this. Bad, bad girl). And now the wands are broken - really, I can't use it at this point.

So I called yesterday to ask for a wand and they sent a lady over to my house today.

But of course when she gets here all she can do is diss my old vacuum and my treatment of it (doesn't she know this is an emotional thing? She's selling electroluxes - these are inherited items, as is the company-loyalty. Non-stop complaining about my treatment of it and the low-endishness of the model and on and on is not going to engender a good response). She goes from 0 to 60 trying to sell me their *gorgeous* brand new high-end silver-and-black machine, etc, etc... I tell her I might be interested in the low end and she asks me what I paid for this one. Ans: shy of 1K but that was the ballpark I think. So she sniffs, tells me she'll pretzel herself six ways to sunday to take the price lower and brings in a new boxed machine for $1100. Meanwhile I just want a new wand.

In fairness at this point as she's ripping open a new box and going on and on about it I tell her I'm not prepared to buy a machine today; I'm interested to see the new and its comparison with my beat-up old, but I'm just not going to buy this today. It seemed the fair thing to say. I haven't researched this at all, haven't been in the market for ... 18 years. All machines have improved, anything new will be far superior to anything old, independent of this 'improvement' parameter, even. I need to know about these things before I shell out a grand.

So she stands up, shocked, and launches into this "never in my 16 years of selling has anyone said this .... blah, blah, blah" on and on and on - about how she has never seen anyone with a machine in such bad repair as mine not want to buy a new machine, and on and on it goes. For 20 more minutes.

I was trying to be polite and fair to her and tell her where my thinking is at ... which is mostly that it isn't; I'm not prepared to spend $1000 much less $1100+tax on anything, just like that. Absolutely no way. That seems reasonable to me.

But she went on, repeatedly, about how she has never, ever encountered anybody like me in all her long years of selling these machines.

Whew. It was so uncomfortable! I was not in any way agitated or angry in my comments, I was just almost whispering that this was all very well and good and I was interested to see it, but know in advance, I'm not buying today.

Wow. So uncomfortable.

She packed everything up without ever showing it to me ("I'm not going to turn this on then") and when I told her I still didn't know the cost of the wand that I was wanting; that this is what I called for, she proceeded to detail costs in the range of $500 for service, new parts, a new wand, new hose, new floor brush. Now, some of all of this I do need for sure for the machine, if I keep it. But all of this, and this sort of cost, again confirms that I am back to the drawing board in terms of figuring out what to do here.

And thus I'm back to GW, happy for any and all thoughts.

Is electrolux still an amazing brand? Can it possibly be worth its price tag?

What are these lower-end electrolux brands? Looks to me, on first glance, as if if you buy from a rep, price is >$1K on up. If you buy online it's half that. Are the machines comparable? They look different; does this matter?

When I bought my electrolux years ago, my high-end cousin berated me for not buying a Miele which was more expensive at the time. Plus I hadn't heard of it but apparently if you are in the high-end market, this makes you an imbecile. I, however, was in the "hereditary" market ... and that's what seems to have changed.

And that's what this lady had zero clue about. She was so shocked that I, having a machine "this old", could possibly not be happy about its current state and my options, being in a position to have to buy a new machine. She had absolutely no inkling, seemingly, of that "hereditary" market -- of which I am presumably the last remaining, museum-worthy specimen.

So all this must be hallmarks of how the whole scene has changed completely, starting, presumably, with the company's ownership. And -- I know -- the world is different, more finicky and electronicky and machines break sooner. etc.

I'm not actually *angry* the machine is essentially "totaled" -- but when she tried to sell me a $1100 machine (magnanimously lowered from $1500) and pulled out a book to give me the "blue book" value of my old machine and offered to offset the price by $25 ... I'm sorry, but that really offended me. Why bother for twenty five dollars? That's just insulting.

Anyway, onward.

Can anyone suggest how to proceed? Should I write off electrolux? Look at the lower-priced online models? Are they comparable? Should I service the old one for $500? Should I not service it and just get it working again with a wand for $25 and filters for $35? That's not chump change either...

Should I think about Miele? Is there something else comparable? I like the canister style because what you vacuum with, the wand, is so light-weight then. But I know there are other styles.

I guess my real question is: is this attitude and treatment from electrolux at all supportable? Am I way off-base in the sense that they're maybe running a service for ultra-high-end people of whom I am not one and so our expectations are just completely missing one another? Did they change or did I just miss this earlier; has it been incremental?

I'm actually a little bewildered and happy for some correction and any suggestions here. Whew - I don't really feel like buying a new appliance. Plus, the washing machine's not too happy either. Gotta get out my soldering gun for that one I think (I fixed it a couple years ago - cracked solders I think, but it may need a new coating ... or maybe you can only do this once?)

TIA - and thanks for "listening". I know this is a little over-the-top.

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I wouldn't tolerate anyone giving me the high pressure, and evident criticism, in a STORE, let alone in my own home! Wherever the office for that woman is, you should call them and tell them how dissatisfied you are: you had made it clear you wanted a replacement part, and they sent you a high pressure salesperson who insulted you. Tell them how this is absolutely NOT the way to get a customer interested in making a further purchase, even assuming you might be in the market.
I'd contact a vacuum repair place (they are still around here and there) to get the replacement wand, and get them to let you have their view on whether it's still a good enough machine. They have no brand bias, other than actual experience.

And I speak as someone who inherited an elderly Hoover from her parents when she left home, which was still running perfectly when I emigrated from the UK to the US :)

I have no knowledge about Electrolux's current product range, but if that's representative of their selling style, they're in deep trouble.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:10PM
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I think elux vacuums are actualy eureka vacuums.

For vacuums I would spend the extra on miele (if you decided to go this route). Here in canada esp you can get a special edition unit for about $500.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:59PM
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Our Shark Precision works great. Not good enough for the label queens, though.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:43PM
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OK, a little followup here in case anyone's interested.

After calming down a bit I realized the advice above to just find an independent repairer and ask their opinion was the way to go. It took 3 minutes on yelp to find an ideal-seeming guy. I loved him - ironically his repair shop for vacuum cleaners is about the dirtiest place I've been, stuffed with literally hundreds of refurbished vacuums. He has a huge bench of tools and broken down motors. And he's incredibly nice.

He sold me a replacement wand, what had started all of this, for $6. Not $30 like electrolux wanted.

He listened to the motor and said it sounded just fine. He told me he'd be happy to clean the thing, but in his opinion it wasn't necessary.

He sold me filters. He ordered a hose to replace my long-broken one - expensive, but still 60% the cost of electrolux's.

And that's it. He pointed out the reason the machine was smelling badly, a major complaint of the saleslady, was because the bag needed changing "blush>.

Dodged that bullet! I can hardly believe I countenanced this lady's bs for even a moment. But I did, I tried hard to be polite to this woman in my house, entertaining the notion that maybe it was true I was such a bad vacuum owner I needed to just atone with a whole new machine; I actually did try to envision spending $1100 on a product I had done zero research on.

*I* was thinking this?! It is absolutely amazing what a salesman in your own home can get you to think. It wasn't really until she started misbehaving after I warned her I was not prepared to write a $1100 check then and there that the current was broken and I started to think logically again.

I think I've crossed the age divide into foolishness and can no longer be trusted to have any salesman inside of my home for any reason whatsoever. This is a slippery slope, electrolux today, Maddoff tomorrow.

I got increasingly astonished at my behaviour and the way all of this transpired driving home, so decided to call electrolux HQ to complain. In the process the lady tried to explain to me a situation that I still just do not understand. Apparently electrolux was sold 12 years ago to a company now called "Aerus". But -- and this is what I just don't understand -- the Swedish company bought the rights to use the name "electrolux".

So when I call electrolux what company is coming to visit me? I guess it's really Aerus and they aren't selling me (or trying to) an Electrolux Ambassador, because now another company sells that??? Huh?! What they sell looks just like it, but is called a "classic"... I just couldn't get this straight and since it didn't particularly matter, just let it drop. But I think the bottom line is, the company toward which I felt such loyalty either is no more or has changed names ... only maybe it hasn't. Geesh.

At least I will have a fine-functioning machine next week upon hose-replacement. Shoulda done this years ago. I deleted Electrolux's phone number from my phone. So there.

Thanks, all.

Electrolux, RIP.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Thanks for the follow-up. I'm 42, and my entire life I wanted my grandparents' Electrolux! However, my aunt (more rightfully so than a granddaughter) got it. =( I do believe all my mom's aunts had Electrolux vacuums, actually. My parents always thought it was ridiculous to spend that kind of money, so we always had Hoover and/or Eureka uprights/canisters, which worked well enough.

I know you've repaired your vacuum, but thought I'd let you know that I have a Miele White Star, which I purchased in 1998, for $500/550 (can't remember); it still works absolutely fine. We've had no problems whatsoever in all these years. My only regret is that I didn't spend the extra money for the version with the powerhead since we have pets (I was a newlywed, and feeling guilty about making such an expensive purchase for a vacuum). I did just order the mini turbo upholstery tool today, in an effort to better attack animal hair removal from the upholstery.

In 2004, I purchased an Oreck XL21 for ~$700 (it included the mini canister vac and a free iron), which I also love for its light weight and ease of use. However, this model is no longer available (but I still get the annual free tune-ups, which will be effective until I've had the vac for 21 years). This is also when Orecks were still made in America. Sadly, no more.

From the research I've done lately, I've read the cheaper 'Electrolux' canisters are made by Eureka; not sure if that's a good or bad thing. I've been tempted to stop at the Aerus store in my city, but will definitely avoid it now, based on your report.

I've gone on long enough! Enjoy your repaired heirloom!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 10:47PM
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