Why are Kirby vacuums sold only door to door and not in stores?

I seem to recall there was a thread on this a while back, but instead of trying to resurrect a zombie thread, I figured I’d just start a new one.
Anyway my wife was visited by a team of Kirby salesmen the other day while I was at work. They talked their way in by offering to shampoo our carpets (which is something we’ve been meaning to get around to). After they did their cleaning and offered their spiel, she told them I’m the one who made all the major purchasing decisions in our household. So after trying unsuccessfully to get her to sign on the dotted line, they left but said they would be back later after I got home.
When my wife told me about this, I said we’ll just not answer the door when they return. When they didn’t come back that night, I breathed a sigh of relief thinking we were in the clear.
A few days later I’m out mowing the lawn and they pull up. I have no escape. In retrospect I suppose I could have told them I was a hired hand and that the owners of the home were away. But it wouldn’t have done much good, as they double-teamed us. The guy came up to me while I was mowing the lawn and another saleswoman went up to the front door, which my wife answered.
So I told them I had to be somewhere soon, but they insisted on giving me the demonstration. The guy drove off in his van and left the woman there to show me the vacuum. The machines, by the way, cost somewhere in the area of two grand.
To make a long story short, I told her outright that I wasn’t buying anything and the guy got all pissy when he came back to see what was going on. The important part is I finally got them to leave after sacrificing an hour of my time that I could have been using to do some much needed yard work.
Anyway all of this prompted me to wonder, why doesn’t the company just set up a distributorship to sell their products through a major department store. From what I’ve heard their machines actually work pretty well and are fairly durable. You’d figure they’d be able to move quite a few machines in a retail setting while also cutting out (partially anyway) commissions for salespeople.
I guess I can sort of understand the mystique (if that’s the right word) of only being able to get a Kirby directly from one of their sales people. But, let’s face it, door-to-door salesmen don’t exactly have a sterling reputation, nobody likes to be bothered at home by strangers and people by and large hate a hard sell, especially when it’s right in their face in what’s supposed to be a sanctuary.
Also has anyone here ever worked for Kirby, and if so what was the experience like?

Well, the answer is that the owners of the business have determined that they can make more money by only selling the vacuums door-to-door and not in stores. That’s really the only possible answer. Whether they are right or not is yet to be determined.

I imagine they rely on their ability to directly sell vacuum cleaners to the public at vastly inflated prices to make up for the loss in volume. No retailer would pay Kirby anywhere near what they want for their machines, nor would they be willing to sell them for that much. Vacuum cleaners have a pretty well-defined market, and no one will pay Kirby prices when they see perfectly good machines right next to it at a fraction of the price.

Um, wtf didn’t you just tell them to piss off? Do you always allow total strangers to bully you?

They caught me off guard. That and I guess I’m just too nice a guy. Still I did tell them from the get go that I wasn’t buying anything.
If nothing else I did get a chuckle at the end when the guy got pissy and said everyone in the neighborhood was buying one - an obvious lie, as the saleswoman had earlier said that they hadn’t sold any where we lived. I felt too bad for her to call him out on the lie in front of her (she seemed to sort of be embarrassed to be there and gave off the aire of someone who had been suckered into a job they didn’t like, but had already made too much of an investment in it to quit outright).

Oh, and you can buy them on ebay for about half the price, which is still overpriced. They will say that it is illegal to sell or buy them on ebay, which is bullshit. Who the hell needs a $1,500 vacuum cleaner?

Yeah, they made it into my parents’ house by offering a free carpet cleaning. We must have gotten one of the better salespersons, because he did his spiel, answered questions, and went his merry way without any pressuring. It’s just that the more research I did for my mom (including starting a thread on the Dope), the worse it sounded. And yeah, while it’s a decent piece of machinery, it’s so overpriced, it’s indecent.

The deciding factor was when we stopped at a sewing/vacuum store there. The lady spent half an hour going over models with us and said she had both a Kirby and a Dyson. She would lend her Kirby out to anyone who asked, but you’d have to pry her Dyson out of her cold, dead hands.

I bought a pair of them on craigslist a few years ago for $20.

Fantastic vacuum cleaner for ten bucks, but $1500? No way.

I’ve seen them for as little as $750 on ebay. I did a little research after my sister told me about buying one for $1500. I convinced her to cancel under California’s 3 day in home sale law. I’ve had a Eureka and a Dyson ($400), and I’ve got to say the Dyson is absolutely wonderful because it is light, durable and best of all, has no bags. But I think the Dyson is overpriced. I’ve seen the ads for the new ball/one-wheel Dyson, and cannot imagine paying more for such a thing that must be very difficult to fix if/when broken.

I just went over to Amazon and did a search of the Dyson reviews that compare it to a Kirby. Having gone through 60 plus of the 400 reviews, I found about 10, and all but one of those people who had owned both found the Dyson better or comparable. One notably hated it.

I don’t particularly trust the on-line web comparisons because those are usually done by people who sell both, and there is a huge mark-up on Kirby’s giving an incentive to promote those over a smaller mark-up.

I bought a $94.00 Hoover not long ago. It’s a new model that’s lightweight, bagless, and can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch. Best vacuum I’ve ever owned.

I had my moms secondhand electrolux for about 20 years [and she had bought it way back whenever, it was this ancient one my mom got in 1949/50 when she was a newlywed. It finally died and couldn’t be repaired any further … :frowning:

I have been seriously unhappy with any of the replacements we have gotten in the past 10 years, they all die and are basically unable to be repaired they are so cheaply made [and I am talking about generally hoover brand, except for one red devil]

I’ve no idea how old you are (and this isn’t meant to be patronising, honest), but for me, learning that it’s OK to tell pushy, manipulative salespeople to fuck off was one of the rites of passage to adulthood that I went through far too late.
(I only twigged it when I was about 25 and became a home owner - and managed to fend off a Kirby salesman after a painful and awkward hour, and an enormously tenacious kitchen saleswoman who took up a whole evening of my time and even tried turning on the tears to close the sale.

It’s really is OK to tell pushy and/or manipulative sales people to Fuck Right Off - They should teach this in school.

My guess is that if you ever saw a $2000 vacuum in a store, there is no way in hell you’d ever buy it when you saw all the much-cheaper vacuums (and I used to think Dysons were expensive at $500-600). They NEED that aggressive sales pitch to sell them, and they fear competition.

What drives me nuts is that my wife doesn’t have any qualms telling me exactly where to stuff it when I try to waste her time, but somehow words fail her when it comes to telephone or door-to-door solicitors. :slight_smile:

Yep. I actually enjoy the rare person who “will not take no for an answer” be they in sales/religion/whatever. I’ll drop into a redneck persona and tell him/her Ima gonna get the shotgun if they don’t get the fuck off my property.

Telemarketers too. I never managed to convince my wife that once you say “I have to go now, goodbye” (pre DNC list days), it is NOT rude to hang up the phone, even if the other person keeps talking. They’re the one being rude, not you.

I actually went as far as to attend Kirby sales training once. I had been unemployed for about two months when I saw the ad in the paper, so I showed up when the ad said. That it turned out to be door-to-door should have had me out the door, but I was obviously close to desperate to find work at that point.

First warning: the owner of the franchise was a graduate of my high school, a few years ahead of me. That he was from my high school wasn’t the warning. The way he milked my emotions by playing on that non-relationship (I’d never seen the guy in my life before this) should have been.

Second warning: the price. Even back then (15 years ago) it was over $1000. For a vacuum cleaner! There was no way I was going to be able to sell a $1000 vacuum cleaner door-to-door in that dying railroad town.

Third warning: teaching the hard sell. I felt like I needed a long shower every day when I got home from that training. The sheer number of ways that we were taught to overcome someone’s misgivings and the expectation that just because the person literally couldn’t afford to eat and buy a Kirby at the same time was no barrier to pushing that sale just made me ill.

I finally, after taking the sample vacuum home to test (and not being very impressed, frankly), decided that I couldn’t do it. I took the sample vacuum back to the office to let the owner know I wasn’t going to be able to do it. After being verbally browbeaten for having no guts (seriously!), my request for a receipt to prove I’d brought the vacuum back was met with faux shock and ersatz butthurtery that I wouldn’t trust a fellow Catholic, a schoolmate!

There was no way I was risking getting dunned for a $1000 vacuum cleaner if his ethically challenged ass decided to claim that I never returned it. It took me a good 20 minutes of arguing before I finally had receipt in hand and got out of there.

I totally get trying to be polite. The TIME to tell the sales people to f-off was before the wife had them clean her carpets which gave them hope for a sale. At that point, it isn’t as easy unless you are a total ass to say “Thanks for taking time out to make my carpets looks great but we never had any intention of buying your overpriced vacuum.”

I agree, but for a different (well, additional) reason. Letting them get a foot in the door is a Bad Idea. They may promise ‘no obligation’ beforehand, but they’ll damn well try to make you feel obliged afterwards.