Sympathy For The Kirby Vacuum Guy

12 Jan

I had never heard of a Kirby vacuum cleaner, so the first few times the Kirby guy came to the door, I didn’t know what he was talking about.

And that’s what he did, just popped by like a 1950’s milkman, did the old Shave-And-A-Haircut knock, and then when my kids asked who he was through the door, he just said in a bored, routine-sounding voice, “Kirby guy!”

As if that would be grounds for letting him in.  It wasn’t.  Beat it, Kirby Guy.

Then every few months, he’d come back.  It made us suspicious – why was he presenting himself as someone children should let into the house?  One time he showed up about thirty seconds after a gaggle of twelve year-old girls came in for a birthday party, did the same thing.  That time we may or may not have called the cops.

Anyway, this time they tried a different tack.  They sent a cute college chickaroo to the door first, who told us that they were doing free Kirby demonstrations with No Purchase Necessary in our neighborhood tonight – and what’s more, if she scheduled one more demonstration that night, her and her roommate got to go on Spring Break to Cancun!

This approach was successful, but not for the creepy reason you might think.  I was right in the middle of blithely closing the door on the Spring Break Girl, even though she was still chattering.  My wife then made a strange move. 

No wait, she said, let the strange college girl who likes to party come on in.  I should like to avail myself of this free demonstration she speaks of.

Well okay, sure, why not.  The girl came in and explained that she would have a technician here very shortly who would then demonstrate the amazing Kirby vacuum cleaner for us, and she must have reassured me ten times that no purchase was necessary.

She of course did not have to do that.  It’s very rare that allowing someone into your home equals a solid, legal obligation to purchase a $1600 vacuum cleaner from the next person who comes into your home.  I mean, I’m no lawyer, but I’ve been around a little bit, seen a few things, you know?

So then the Spring Break girl – who really, kept telling us about Spring Break, long after it was clear that my wife wanted her to send a technician over – went away.  I was thinking, man, if I had just been creepily suckered into letting the college girl in, I’d be kind of feeling stupid right now, since she’s leaving and now a dude with a NASA technology vacuum cleaner is coming, and something tells me he’s not going to be cute at all.

He was not.  There were in fact, two of them.  One was a technician, and one was a sort of laid-back, Alec Baldwin Sales Chieftain, who was here to confirm that in fact, a demonstration was taking place, which I guess is how the Spring Break Girl gets credit for setting the appointment. 

The Chieftain began by introducing our Technician – I’ll leave their names out of it – and then proceded to engage in a series of psychological ploys in an attempt to get me to like him.

For instance, he noticed my chess board and said, “Ah, you play chess?  Heh – I probably wouldn’t know how to move the pieces.” 

Translation:  You are smarter than me, Tom, so please relax and get out your money.  If the chess board had been a weight set, he would have said, you are stronger than me, Tom, so please relax and get out your money.

I blinked at him.  Took a swig of beer.  Yes, I play chess, Chieftain, thank you for asking.

Meanwhile, the wife was getting pretty excited at the prospect of getting this guy to clean as much of our house as possible for free, safe in the knowledge that No Purchase was Necessary.  I went ahead and made her a white russian, let’s take that edge off.

So then the Chieftain withdrew from the house, and the Technician began to really elaborately assemble his Super Vacuum, and I wasn’t making that NASA thing up.  He literally told us that NASA helped design the vacuum cleaner.  I started thinking about that Dyson Ball guy on television whose entire being revolves around improving the vacuum cleaner and I thought, I’d feel better about this guy and his rocket vacuum if he had a cool accent like the Dyson guy. 

Meanwhile, he put the thing together with a weird demeanor which was one part boredom and one part expertise, making as he did so ten more attempts to win me over psychologically by trying to get me to agree with him about practically anything.

Just absoltuely clamoring to get the word “yes” to come out of my mouth.  This had to be a specific part of his training, because I could see that he was getting frustrated by my refusal to say the actual word.

You seem like a smart guy, right Tom?  

Big football fan, Tom? 

Say, Tom, I like to breathe air, how ’bout yourself?

Blink, blink, blink.  Glug, Glug, Glug.  Ahhh, that’s a tasty beer.

The whole time he was casually, confidently scattering parts of what appeared to be a time machine all over the living room.  This is presumably done so that it takes longer to tell him “no” at the end, and then get him the hell out of your house. 

By the time he tells you that it’s $1600, his crap is all over the place.  You can kick him out, sure, but then you have to stand there awkwardly, watching him gather all his belongings, looking hurt that you’ve refused his sales pitch after all you’ve been through with him.  It’s like, man, you’re the one who ziplined in here out of nowhere, no one invited you.

Well, I guess Spring Break Girl did, that’s true.  Where did she go, by the way?  I miss her.

Fortunately, I have the kind of wife who doesn’t feel even slightly awkward about tossing a vacuum cleaner salesman out into the street, regardless of whatever personal connection they’d enjoyed during his visit. 

So, after spending nearly an hour and a half crawling up and down the hallway, scrubbing baseboards with a variety of oversized dental attachments, after watching the Technician vacuum our entire living and dining room, and even our couch, well then she simply said, wow, great vacuum cleaner.  Why don’t you go ahead and hit the bricks now?  It’s getting late.

We hurt his feelings, that’s for sure.  And I think we really disappointed him as human beings, as well.  But the fact is, it’s just a vacuum cleaner and it’s not even that mind-blowing and we didn’t ask for one and the chances of us paying sixteen hundred dollars for it were exactly zero percent.

A rough gig though, for the Kirby Guy.  I know a few car salesmen who have nightmares about my wife, and she was at her most cunning and ruthless that night.  I felt kind of sorry for him the whole time, as I was lifting up my feet so he could vacuum under them for free while I blogged about it.

You might be hearing a little more about the Kirby vacuum guy – I found the entire experience absolutely fascinating.  Soon, perhaps I’ll really dissect his sales pitch and put it up here for anyone googling them as he’s going through it.  A lot of cool psychological tricks to watch out for.

Anyone else have any experience with the Kirby Vacuum guy?  I’d love to hear it.


Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Future Tom Grab Bag


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “Sympathy For The Kirby Vacuum Guy

  1. robertgbobo

    January 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

    My guy is still in the basement and we care for him much like you would a ferret. When he longs for daylight he is allowed to come up, do his pitch, clean the carpets and then back downstairs he goes. Lucky the Spring Break girl didn’t come here first….

    • Tom Chalfant

      January 13, 2011 at 12:34 am

      See how you went trotting right past the creepy line there, Bobo?

  2. Kimberly Kinrade

    January 13, 2011 at 12:39 am

    My ex actually fell for this BS, thought we would never survive the amount of nastiness in our beds and floors if we did not spend a fortune on this futuristic vacuum cleaner. I told him we didn’t have the money. He negotiated with the guy to make payments. We divorced. (Not JUST because of Kirby, but it’s there, ya know?) and as far as I know he is still making payments on a vacuum cleaner that has been collecting dust in storage for over a year now.

    And we only got a small square of our living room carpet cleaned, but he left little marks of “test dust” all over the floor.

  3. ecossie possie

    January 13, 2011 at 2:53 am

    We had a load of Gypsys door knocking in my neighber hood a few years back.Selling clothes pegs cheap carpets that fell of the back of a lorry ect..An they were persistant like several times daily.An they would send there kids round selling lucky heather?If its so lucky I thought how come your meeting me….I put up with it for a few days politely refusing all offers.Then one evening for about the 4 th time the door knocked.Of I storms to the front door an opens it to some guy with a breifcase.I never gave him a chance to speak just told him that I wasnt interested in any of his dodgy crap to stop effing knoking my door or Id set my dog on him an other choice words.He never uttered a word just looked at me quizikly.Wich realy pissed me off.When Id finished my diatribe he silently handed me a folder with his photo an ID wich explained he was deaf an mute .An from some charitable organisation raising money an awarness an asking me to treat him with curtisy ect.Long story short I spent 20 pounds on tea towells toilet seat covers an other assorted crap.

  4. Bill V

    January 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Our vacuum story is from 1987. I lived with my brother and sister in law in a rural agricultural area of our school district. We were poor and apparently more stupid than we looked. The rainbow sweeper guy shows up and demonstrates his product. My brother got it in his head that this thing “can suck the hair off a cat.” Dad built our house and this guy was vacuuming pounds and pounds of dirt out of our twenty year old carpet. I was surprised he didn’t extract our missing barn cats out of the carpet. Cha Ching! SALE. Our cousins, who didn’t buy one, would swing by to mock us for being dumb enough to pay a thousand dollars for a sweeper when we made about $12000 per year.

  5. Craig

    March 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Today 2 girls showed up to ask me if I would accept a free Glade Air Freshner. If they showed me a product that I “just loved” would I tell my friends and neighbors about it. I thought they were talking about the air freshner so I agreed. Just then 2 men came in the front door carrying several boxes. I was able to blow them off so they left, saying that they would be back when I had more time. The 1 girl then asked me for the air freshner back so she could use it as a door opener at the next house. By the way, the girls pitch was that they would get free credits for the college they were attending. BS.

  6. Jon

    April 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I’m pretty lazy, being one of those college students whose working at kirby for credits, and getting real-world experience instead of sitting in a room listening to someone TELL me about the world out there.

    As far as the kirby sales technique, we offer free cleanings as advertising because NO ONE is going to buy a $3000 vacuum because you TELL them it is the best in the world. And it certainly is one of the best. If you only make 12,000 you cannot afford a Cadillac. I know, that’s more than I make. However, if you want the best you and can afford it, you get a cadillac, or a kirby. It will protect you’re carpet in a way the Dyson guy never will.
    If you only care about how you’re house looks, don’t get a kirby, the Dyson with the colors that were market-researched to look pretty to you will do fine. But know that everytime you slightly push down on it and it makes that whining sound…you’re damaging you’re carpet. I know, I clean the fibers it tears apart up with the kirby and then take the dyson as a trade-in to our office.
    Then we donate them for a tax right off to people that only make 12,000 a year.

  7. david

    May 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I am a Kirby guy and not all Kirby guys use phycological warfare to get you to buy just so you know I put on a show and have a legitimate conversation with you

  8. Tom Upham

    January 16, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    I hope my opinion drawn from experience helps all sides of what can be a contraversial subject and shed light upon “the poor Kirby Guy”
    Respectfully acknowledgeing that many discruntled people have the right to voice their discontent in their experiences and it’s likely so.
    But the vacuum itself didn’t create the contraversy, people do. Eliminate the human element in the equasion and what’s is left is a machine that does what it’s supposed to do when used correctly. The operator should also have a good understanding of why a Kirby works the way it does to get the full benefits the system has to offer.
    Put the machine in the hands of a professional educator and fact equals reality. Anything else is just spin if the educator can’t prove it like a good honest lawyer.
    So it is possible the sales guy didn’t know how to present the benefits of an American made quality piece of equipment that will outlast most people and vacuums in longevity with proper maintenance and use. Perhaps he didn’t appeal to the thread of common sense within each of us. If the demenstration is presented from the view point of an educater chances are most people would invest in a Kirby. Truth is the most powerful thing known to man.
    It’s likely most people have thrown out several or more plastic sweepers, destroyed carpet and burnt up expensive electronics do to overheating from dust build up inside.
    Ever wonder why there is usually a significant amount of dust on the outside of other sweepers. The phrase, dirt and dust equal damage to everything in your home including many individuals with allergies or in general, may take on new meaning. And why was that Christmas glitter still in a carpet anyway ? It has almost zero weight?
    And if you suffer from allergies, ask yourself why is the thing that is supposed to keep my house clean practically the the dirtiest thing in the house? You wouldn’t stick your head in that canister upright would you ? Well the dust on the outside came from the inside of the surface sweeper you may be using.
    And isn’t it anoying when those particles of say ceral or whatever goes shooting out the left side of a bagless? Tip them over and check out how almost all upright canisters are designed the same.
    Virtually all the suction is around the 2 inch little hole. And when it comes to more air flow, that Kirby has true suction all the way across the nozzel (where the brush is located). Suction is really defined as air flow. More air flow more suction.
    So a maintenance system that will pay for itself in carpeting savings doubling its life,(if used properly, because it gets the sand and grit out that weaken carpet fibers at the base like a saw that surface sweepers can’t get out), and save you alot of money in throw away plastic electric brooms and electronics, plus keep air quality healthy? Hmmm True HEPA Filtration.
    Save money on cleaning carpets, ya if used correctly and a few tips and tricks… An all in one machine that addresses most all cleaning issues….
    Heavy ? Not if picked up using common sense so it is balanced like one hand under the hood where the light is (there is a flat spot but Kirby Corp. doesn’t mention that for its own purposes. I’d say it’s really not designed for grasping but more for stabilizing in my opinion that is how I present it)and one at the bottom opening of the handle. Equal in weight or less than some plastic models. But what do you expect for an aluminum machine made to last 50 plus years or a lifetime !
    Is there such a thing as wear and tear insurance ? A machine that does what a cleaning machine should backed by 100 years American Made expierience speaks volumes !!
    Unfortunately there are bad apples in every basket. The priveledge to show the most powerful effective by design cleaning machine for home maintenance should always be respected. I always say, I’m not a salesman I’m an educater. Maybe a little bit preacher and lawyer. I can prove what I say and show you. Seeing is believing. If the facts and information presented to you doesn’t convince you to invest in one, you will at least understand why people buy them.
    In closing, respectfully speaking, those who choose something else to clean their home is a choice and the right thing for an individual to do. Just because someone might own a kirby doesn’t mean one can’t have more tools in the box in a manner of speaking.
    Not everyone likes a Kirby and that’s OK. It is a machine that isn’t hard to use but you do have to learn how to use it. Teaching a child to tie their shoes is a task more technical than operating a Kirby. To those who are frustrated with their Kirby, I will be making available tips and tricks to help you !!
    I own a kirby vacuum repair center. Have sold hundreds of them in the field. I am an independent advocate for the Kirby Vacuum and everything I have stated is drawn from my own experience in the sales field. The Kirby Corporation is not responsible for anything I have stated nor has The Kirby Corporation endorsed me in my opinions.(I believe they would though. : )
    I put my name to this informative piece of reading material because I can prove what I say. Not say what can’t be proven !
    Thank you for your time.
    “If you like clean, I’ve got the machine.”
    Tom the Kirby Guy…Omaha, NE.


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