Vacuums Built to Fail?

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Are vacuum cleaners being built to fail?  Helping consumers avoid the “clunkers”.

Seattle, Washington. (August 10, 2009) In 2008 more than 2.5 billion dollars was spent on vacuum cleaners in the USA.  And this figure continues to climb. Almost every household today has a vacuum cleaner - some have several - but are consumers getting the short end of the stick when making a purchase?

Have you ever heard “They don’t make ‘em like they used to?”  It’s true, they don’t.  Many of today’s manufacturers develop appliances with planned obsolescence in mind.  Planned obsolescence is essentially building a product to fail after a certain period of time or use.  This is a money-making proposition for the manufacturer as consumers are forced to purchase more often – they may feel they are getting a lower price up-front but they are actually paying over and over again as the products need to be replaced frequently.   

At Vacuum Cleaner Advisor we have found that a huge number of vacuum cleaner consumers are complaining about shoddy workmanship and the very high failure rates of vacuums, and there are more than just a few comments lamenting the old days of the Hoover or Electrolux that was in the family for 20+ years.  Those days are gone, and the consumer needs to do his/her due diligence when making a vacuum cleaner purchase today.  

One danger sign of possible planned obsolescence is a very short warranty period.  Less expensive machines often come with a one-year warranty while more expensive and higher quality units sometimes carry a 5 or 6-year warranty.   But be sure to check on the warranties for motor, parts, and labor – these are sometimes for different periods for a single machine. For example some Miele vacuums carry a 7-year warranty on the motor but only 1 or 2 years on the remainder of the vacuum.  Generally speaking the longer the warranty, the better the return on your initial investment.

Also, it is very important to read consumer reviews before making a purchase. After more than a year of analyzing thousands of consumer comments from all corners of the web, vacuum-cleaner-advisor.com has found that some reviews are more helpful than others.  Many a consumer touts the brilliance of their new machine shortly after their purchase. Guess what?  Most machines are not “planned” to fail immediately.  One must consider how long the reviewer has had the machine and also pay close attention to reviews that are updated over time. (They do exist).

Additionally, do not solely rely on the manufacturer's or retailer's information regarding the vacuum.  These materials are, of course, marketing materials and their purpose is to get you to buy the machine - not to educate you on the strengths and weaknesses of the vacuum.  Most of us know this but there is still a tendency to rely heavily on the sales information.  This is likely because other more detailed or insightful information is not readily available at the store or website where you may make the purchase.

And finally, as someone once said “You cannot afford to buy cheap”.  This isn't always true but it is often true.  The cheaper machines typically fail quicker and when this happens it is generally not worth getting them fixed so you simply have to go out and buy another.  More expensive vacuums usually last longer.

You may want to check out some of the top rated vacuums (rated by multiple consumer review sources) in our vacuum cleaner ratings table.

Nigel Russco Nigel Russco has been writing for Vacuum Cleaner Advisor for years and has a background in business and engineering, as well as a keen interest in anything related to vacuum cleaners. Connect with Nigel on Google+


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-1 # Billy Frisco 2013-07-09 04:22
I purchased a Bissell Upright Lift Off Multi cyclonic Vacuum approx. 1.5 years ago and it is in my opinion a cheap piece of junk. The belt broke so I ordered some new ones, put it on, and now the roller is very hard to turn. I guess the bar is junk, but I am not going to buy one. I will purchase e new vacuum (not Bissell).
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About Me


I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer originally from the west coast of Canada.  I love to review vacuums and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I make every effort to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide average consumer ratings for each and every vacuum cleaner I investigate.  My ultimate goal is to ensure you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.  

I also like to help when I can so feel free to send comments.


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