Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Abhorrent Vacuums

OK, it's not actually the vacuum that is abhorrent. Or the vacuum cleaner. But the company's sales tactics are dishonest, manipulative, and absolutely deserving of abhorrence.

A couple of weeks ago, I got called to do a survey. I answered all their questions except for the final one about credit card usage (like I would tell a stranger that!). I generally do surveys because I once worked as a telephone interviewer and I sympathize with the difficulties involved in such a job.At the end of this supposed survey, they said that my name was being entered into a drawing. I ignored that because I didn't do the survey for any other reason than to help out the person on the other end of the line.

A few days ago, I got a call saying I had won $500 and a free vacation in the drawing associated with the survey. They said they were also going to ask me to participate in some market research to help them with a product of theirs that was in development. That appealed to my scientific curiosity, so I agreed. Then they said they needed to make an appointment to come by and deliver the gift certificates. I agreed, but only for a time when my husband would be at home, too. I then checked out the named product (a home air cleaning system named Blue Max) with Google, but didn't find any information about it, consistent with its being a product in development.

Imagine our surprise when the delivery man turned out to be a vacuum salesman, lugging a well-past-development-stage vacuum cleaner made by Silver King. We tried to be polite and informed him that our present vacuum cleaner was adequate for our needs and that we were not in the market for a new vacuum cleaner. However, the salesman just went on and on with his presentation, even though we kept telling him that we were fine with our home's present level of dust. He yelled at our children when they got in the way of his demonstration. Finally, he gave up and said that the vacuum cleaner was only for people who were interested in having a healthy, clean home. Then he packed up his bulky vacuum cleaner in silence and left his dirty demonstration filters on our floor. He gave us the promised certificates, but they had so many conditions and extra fees attached to their use that they were worthless to us and we threw them away.

Does that kind of bait-and-switch marketing actually work for Silver King? We found it profoundly dishonest and disrespectful, and it caused us to feel so negatively about the company that you couldn't give us one of their vacuum cleaners now.

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