I Just Think Things Should Work Properly too, Mr. Dyson. UPDATED 7/7/09

By Paul Michael on 8 June 2009 (Updated 7 July 2009) 86 comments
Photo: Pmichael

I don’t own a lot of stuff that’s considered top of the line. Hardly anything in fact. But I do have the “Rolls Royce” of vacuum cleaners – The Dyson DC14 Complete (well, it was top of the line when we bought it, costing over $500). And it sucks. Boy, does it suck.

When my wife and I first got married, we couldn’t afford the holy Dyson. We wanted one. We lusted after one. But instead, we bought a Kenmore from Sears and it did us proud for five years. It needed a clean now and then, but it was quiet and ran well.

Then, in 2006, we decided to bite the bullet and use what little savings we had to buy the vacuum cleaner we would keep forever. The vacuum cleaner that never loses suction. The vacuum cleaner that all sorts of people were swooning over.

We ordered our DC-14 Complete and I picked it up a few days later. It sure looked pretty. And it cleaned the floor like nothing we’d ever had before. In fact, we cleaned an area with our old vacuum, then went over the same area with the Dyson. We picked up dirt that the old vacuum simply couldn’t lift. Terrific! We sold the Kenmore for about $50 (it had originally cost about $250) and put our beloved Dyson in pride of place on the top floor.

Then, after about 18 months, problems began. Very occasionally, it would make a noise that sounded like a lawn mower having a panic attack. It was horrendous. The kind of noise that makes you think the whole thing is falling apart. We would turn it off, turn it on again and it would go away.

But after another few months, the noise became more than an occasional event. And after just over two short years of owning a Dyson, a $539 marvel, it had gone from something we loved to something we loathed.

We called Dyson and the customer service department was far less appealing than the eloquent Mr. James Dyson in his ads. I was on hold for a while, then a quite abrupt CSR took me through a “home fix.” It didn’t work for long. When I called back, just a few weeks later, I was taken through the same fix. It didn’t work at all.

That’s when I asked about my five-year warranty, the one that comes big and bold on all the packaging and the adverts. I was told that my warranty had already ran out. “After two years?” I said, shocked. “Yes” I was flatly told. “Two years.” I was given the name of a local authorized repair shop, but I would have to cover the fix myself.

Now, I did some digging. As it turns out, the earlier Dyson machines didn’t come with the now famous five-year warranty. It looks like it was introduced because the machines that Mr. Dyson just wants to work properly, don’t actually work properly. A lot of them have faults ( I looked through over 100 complaints before writing this article) and that was just the tip of the iceberg. So, perhaps the five-year warranty was introduced to overcome some of the complaints being registered on the web?

I wrote to Dyson to see if I could get some kind of help with my own Dyson vacuum, a machine we can now only use when our little girls are outside because the noise scares them so much. I was hoping that I could get some kind of good will resolution, after all, I paid top money for a vacuum that lasted less than two years before developing a fault…you’d expect better than that from a $150 vacuum from WalMart.

I received a short reply from Dee Carter, another helpline representative, who told me:

“Thank you for contacting us! I apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused you. According to our records the vacuum was purchased in 2005 and at that time the vacuum came with a limited 2 year warranty. We will be more than happy to refer you to a local Dyson authorized repair center to have the vacuum inspected and repaired. Unfortunately the repair will be an out of pocket expense. Again I apologize for the inconvenience.”

I'm not sure where Dee got her information from, but I still have my receipt from March of 2006, so Dyson's records are wrong. But that's of little consequence, because the two year warranty has expired anyway. Ironically, if I'd bought the same vacuum a few months later, this wouldn't be an issue.

So, I’m on my own. And I’m left with three options:
1: Pay a lot of money to have my Dyson repaired
2: Sell my Dyson and buy a new one
3: Sell my Dyson and buy a Hoover bagless model
4: Do nothing and vacuum wearing earplugs.

Right now, I’m looking at option three. I worked hard to pay for a vacuum of this quality, and it turned out to be a façade. And I write this to warn you all of the Dyson vacuum cleaner and the possible consequences of buying one. Yes, you’ll get a five-year warranty. But it may suffer from many problems in those five years. And when they’re up, you’re looking at stiff repair bills.

If only things really did work properly. It’s nice in theory, right Mr. Dyson?

UPDATE:
Well, after I posted this story I was contacted by a Dyson customer service representative. From the sounds of it, she was the head of customer service relations. Anyway, after a few minutes of empathizing with my situation, AND telling me that I was just a few months short of buying a vacuum with a 5-yr warranty, I was told that there was nothing she could do. Actually, let me rephrase that...there was nothing she was allowed to do. She could, in fact, have easily picked up the bill for the repair of this broken machine, but it is against Dyson's policy to treat any customer any differently. Although, I suspect if I were someone famous or rich, that would work a little differently. I did wonder why she had contacted me to tell me something I already knew; they weren't going to help. She said she'd get back to me. That was a few weeks ago. So, I bit the bullet and forked over the money to have the machine repaired. While my machine was in the shop we borrowed a Miele, and yep, my wife fell in love with it instantly. So, I guess the Dyson will be going away soon, never to return. What an awful situation that Dyson could have so easily put right.

 

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Guest's picture

This is certainly a lesson in hindsight. You found all these complaints about the Dyson to write this article. If only you had done that before you bought the vacuum! My brother and sister-in-law have a Dyson, too, for the same reasons. I don't think they are having quite as many problems, but any time I've used it, it hasn't been impressive at all. My $40 Dirt Devil works better.

People reading this should understand that any big purchases should be researched like crazy beforehand, to cut through all the hype! This is a great warning for them.

Guest's picture
Don

Wow, I feel for you .Dyson's customer service really SUCKS. My 1 year old $500 DC17 , broke a belt.Sure it cleans great when the motorized brush works (via the belt).My carpets do not get clean without the brush working .I went to all the local stores which all sell Dyson, and lo and behold no $5 for sale. So I call the CS line on MAY 17, they say they'll ship me out a belt.Well it's now JUNE 23 and still no belt, I called CS 5 times , spoke to 2 Supervisors and still no belt !What is the 5 year warranty , if they can't even replace a belt ? Luckily, I bought it at Sam's Club and will be taking it back tomorrow , for a refund.

Guest's picture
Khürt

Wow! That sucks! We have a different issue. We bought a Dyson hand vac for the kids to clean up their spills. It sucks. But ... the battery life sucks as well. I think the charge last about 10 minutes.

Guest's picture
Connie

This is really a thing that companies should know about. The internet makes it so that ordinary consumers now have a voice. (Not calling you ordinary of course). I wonder how long it would take for them to contact you now that it is on a blog with a 4 google ranking.

Guest's picture
cavale

i've forwarded this to the consumerist

Guest's picture
Guest

Yes! I was going to suggest this too.

Guest's picture
Guest

and it's broken after two years. You made a deal and now you're complaining because it came back to bite you. I appreciate you letting me know that it didn't work out for you, but I don't see why you have such spite toward Dyson. Sounds harsh, but why do you have any right to complain? They didn't guarantee it would work for 5 years - just 2.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow. You must be from Sony to have a mentality re: warranties like that.

Guest's picture
shane

It really is unfortunate that your product has a problem, but the manufacturer offers a 2 year warantee (which is pretty good), and yours it outside of that. If I were you, I would have it repaired. It's probably something simple like a belt that they can replace. I wouldn't continue using it though, as you may just make the problem worse (and more expensive). Sorry for being cynical, but you have to expect a certain amount of risk with any product and understand that something may happen to it.

Guest's picture
kath

Wow. Sorry to hear you had problems with your Dyson. We've had our DC-14 for about 5 years now and it works as well today as the day we bought it. I love that it's easy to take apart in case things get stuck in it and the filters can be cleaned and reused and the suction is still great. You must have gotten a lemon.

Guest's picture
Tyler

I hope that Dyson is happy that their inability to work with their customers just lost them at least 2 possible customers.

Guest's picture
David

Before you buy that Hoover, go to your local library and look at the Consumer Reports March 2009 issue. They did a whole vacuum cleaner review for both uprights and canisters. It helped us decide which brand and model to buy.

We seriously considered a Hoover Wind Tunnel which was reviewed well but upon reading the fine print, Consumer Reports noted that there were many complaints about that model having design (breakage) issues. Looking the vacuum up on Amazon and reading the reviews confirmed this.

After researching vacuums heavily for a few weeks I've come to the conclusion that even the best of them aren't made like they used to be..

Guest's picture
Guest

I can attest to the Hoover Wind Tunnel reliability issues. Mine broke just before the 2-year warranty expired. Another month and I'd have had to pay for repairs out of pocket.

Guest's picture

curious as to where you got your info that they were the 'king of vacuums'? Even consumer reports touts miele above Dyson... and the cool thing? You can get a miele at bed bath and beyond for less than what you paid for the dyson. (works much much MUCH better, very reliable). If you get those 20% coupons off in the mail, you can save even more. We did a large amount of research before buying the best vacuum we could. And we ended up with a miele. YOu dont have to buy the top of the line. Their simple 1200W canisters with three attachments not only pickup ALL dirt, the bags are hepa level, AND it is quite possibly the QUIETEST vacuum you will find on the market. We had tried a friend's Dyson once. After I almost lost my hearing... I didnt care if it could suck up every micron of dirt in our house... if we were going to go deaf doing vacuuming every day.. wasnt worth it.

Guest's picture
deb

I bought a refurbished DC07 5 years ago and it works great. I've NEVER had a vacuum last that long. I have 2 dogs that shed like crazy, 2 kids and lots of dirt to vacuum. My Dyson is frequently used and well loved.

Guest's picture
Guest

Your vacuum had a 2-year warranty, and you first experienced problems after 18 months. If you called Dyson before that 2 years was up, they're responsible for fixing it. It doesn't matter that the two years is now past; what matters is that you contacted them during the warranty period.

Can you offer any kind of verification of when you first reported the problem to them?

Guest's picture
hillarie

Interesting to hear your horror story about Dyson. We have had a Dyson since '06 ourselves and never had any problems. I have a feeling that Dyson may want to restore themselves to your good graces after this blog entry makes its Internet rounds, though. I hope so, anyway.

Guest's picture
Amy

I've had a dyson for almost 7 years now and love it, it works great, it is super easy to clean, don't have to mess with changing dustbags and whenever it gets stuck, I just take it apart and dust it off and it goes great again.

Sorry you got a lemon, but Dyson did make it so that almost every manufacturer now offers 'bagless' vacuums, and that makes them a star in my book just for that innovation being spread to the masses!

Guest's picture
Guest

Ha ha ha...I love when a company's name can be publicly smeared when their product is cr*p!!!

Now if only I could be a blogger on here, and complain about the GEEK SQUAD.
I'd have a LOT to say....and NONE of it would be good...

Guest's picture
BlogKitten

I've had my Dyson for over 6 years and with three cats and a lot of carpeting, I will never use another vacuum again. It was worth every cent of the price I paid for my fantastic vacuum.

The only maintenance I've done is to cut the hair off the roller brush bar (I have long hair) periodically and clean the lifetime HEPA filter.

That's it. It's worked PERFECTLY since the first time I used it over 6 years ago.

I'm of the opinion that you got a defective one, so don't paint every Dyson with the same brush of condemnation that you've used on your own.

Guest's picture
Carrie

It's funny. I'm a researcher, like many of the folks commenting here. So much so that unless we really, really need something, we hardly ever get around to making big purchases. It's too much work.

I did buy a Roomba a couple years ago after reading tons of reviews. Some of them were bad but enough were good and I really wanted it. It worked pretty well for about a year, although I got tired of emptying the tiny bagless cannister. But then the battery crapped out. At first it needed to be "reset" a lot, until finally even resetting it didn't get it back to working normally. And by that time I was sick of struggling with it, sick of emptying that little cannister, and sick of the noise.

As valuable as online reviews can be, they frustrating part is that many people review products when they first get them, and of course many problems crop up after a year or so. And when people DO write about something they've had a few years, they're probably not writing about the same model you're looking at in the stores.

Guest's picture

Wow! Glad we didn't buy a Dyson! My husband and I lusted after one for years, but just recently gave away our old upright vacuum cleaner because we got rid of our wall-to-wall carpeting entirely a few months ago and had no need for a vacuum besides the small hand-held one we have. Guess we won't be getting a Dyson now!

Guest's picture
mes

How did you not hear all of the negatives about Dyson before? My friend (who owns a cleaning business) told me to avoid them, my mom talked to a vacuum repair guy who said the same thing, Consumer Reports didn't have them at the top of the list. We got a Kenmore a few years ago and are thrilled with it. We've had a couple of Hoovers, and liked them. Just avoid the self-propelled models - the belts wear out really fast.

Guest's picture
SimpleLife

Wow! Thank you for this post. Your post are always interesting and to the point. I think there should be more products review instead of cheaper ways to get drunk with wine spritzers on cinco de mayo and making recycled underwear out of used napkins (joke) on this site.

Thank you also for the little bit of anger toward the big corporations (I felt it and shared it, too) -- for the most part they are truly evil entities, in my opinion.

I thought they were nice vacuums, but I haven't gotten one because I can't afford it, and I think that after surpassing a certain amount it becomes obscene to spend money on an item.

Guest's picture
Chris

I researched my vacuum on consumer report. Took the top 2 in each category, and looked up the reviews on Amazon.com. From there I chose a bagged version for 129 bucks that was number 2 on the CR list. Loved it, worked great and would still have it if the mover didn't "lose" it.

I always worry that some of these "specialty" manufacturers have horrible CS. I guarantee its 100% outsourced and outsourced to the cheapest provider.

What I am curious is how Kirby vacuums hold up given that they are owned by Berkshire Hathaway, i.e. Warren Buffet.

Guest's picture
Tim J.

Kirby? We've had one for nearly 20 years. Sure we've replaced the belt a few times, we've had the motor serviced a few times, and have had to buy new brushes because they were worn down to stubs. But 20 years in it still sucks as well as the day we bought it. $750 was a lot of money for a vacuum 20 years ago (still is, actually) but it's relatively inexpensive if you can get 20 (or 30?) years out of it.

Dyson's have always struck me as cheaply built plastic toys.

Guest's picture
Jasi

I'm a new mommy of two small children and a recovering neat freak. I have honestly been a little depressed over how I'm unable to clean to my standard while chasing around two little (wonderful) mess machines. Enter a shiny, new Dyson D-14 Full Kit (ret.$299/fs @Macy's) and my troubles are over. This thing is incredible in reach, ease of use and performance. It's also lovely to behold. There are a million things I love about my Dyson. Just sorry you've had a bad experience.

Have you been keeping up with maintenance? It requires an awful lot to function well, but it's a relatively quick task. Absolutely essential, though. Good luck.

Guest's picture
Kirsten

I bought a DC07 and it lasted quite a few years, but then as I was cleaning to move out of an old apartment, the motor overheated after just 1 room. I let it rest and it started again, but didn't last long. I tossed it in the trash and felt no remorse, since my husband and I had 2 vacuums between us. The Dirt Devil won.

Guest's picture
Heather

We bought the DC15 Animal Ball Dyson back in 2006 because we had a dog and a cat who shed like crazy, and light carpets. It's worked really, really well for us; no problems at all, and when it gets dusty inside the canister my husband brings it outside and blows it out with our leaf blower.

That being said, we moved into a house with no carpets about ten months ago, and now I only pull out the Dyson once every couple weeks to do our few area rugs. The thing doesn't work particularly well on bare floors, and unless I need the extension arm I keep it in the closet.

BUT I do use my $15 Swiffer vac that I bought at the grocery store every day. I have to keep it charged, and granted, the battery doesn't last more than ten minutes, and yes, I have to buy the replacement pads that I replace every few days, but it's fast, small, and lightweight enough that my not-quite-2-year-old will ask to use it.

I wouldn't specifically buy the Dyson again if I didn't have a house full of carpets, but it certainly works much, much better than the $250 Kenmore canister we first had. Now that thing was a waste of money.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thank you so much for this post!!! I was thinking about splurging on the famous "amazing dyson" but now I see I should definitely save my money...

Guest's picture
Jim

We got a deal on our Dyson about 4 years ago by doubling our Discover points using only $250 to buy the $500 unit.

The first one didn't work long, maybe a couple of months. Dyson gladly exchanged it for a new one that worked. But then we started having more problems. Little plastic pieces were breaking. We could live without the cord winder however one part had to be replaced - and I found out the 5-year warranty pitch didn't apply to my machine.

Now the hose is shot and I can't get it off the wand to hand vacuum.

We also have a battery operated unit that just stopped working.

My mistake: not buying the units from Sam's or Costco where they give a LIFETIME WARRANTY on everything. We got these Dyson's cheap but they really ended up costing us a lot more!

Guest's picture
Guest

$500 for a vacuum cleaner? I didn't pay much more than that for my last car.

Guest's picture
Guest

If you don't understand the concept of warranties, you probably shouldn't be writing for WiseBread. Look, I'm sorry you bought a lemon (it happens to all of us), but it's not Dyson's fault. You had the opportunity to fix it when it was still under warranty, but you didn't. Lesson learned, right?

Guest's picture
Donna

If I may offer a suggestion for a replacement vacuum if you aren't going to have your Dyson repaired...I spent way more time than should be necessary to figure out what vacuum to get. I needed something that would suck up the dog hair really well. I considered a Dyson and almost got one but came to my senses. I just could not spend that much on a vacuum. I ended up getting the Bissell Healthy Home. It has GREAT suction and costs only around $200. I think I got mine for $250 at Target and got a $50 Target gift card with purchase. I've had it for a year and haven't had any issues, save for a lego getting stuck in the hose. It works equally well on bare floors as it does carpet (my house is almost all bare floors).

The nice thing is that if this vacuum breaks in a few years, I won't feel so bad replacing it since it wasn't too expensive in the first place. If I had a $500 vacuum and it broke after 18 months, I'd probably end up chucking it through the window of the Dyson HQ!

Guest's picture
Sara

I bought my Dyson in March of 2003 and it still sucks. Sucks the dustbunnies in from the adjoining room and everything. I've just cleaned the filter on the schedule Dyson recommends and replaced one hose - cost me $34 on ebay.

I keep reading on line of problems, but have had none with mine, nor have any of my Dyson enthuiast friends had problems. YMMV, I suppose.

Sorry yours was not a good experience. But hey, at least you didn't cough up the BIG bucks for a Kirby! ;-)

Guest's picture
Guest

Miele! Miele! Miele!

Guest's picture
Joe

...paying $600 for a vacuum cleaner is kinda asking for it. I mean no disrespect whatsoever, but a vacuum cleaner really shouldn't cost more than a laptop computer. I wouldn't pay $600 for that thing even if it had an unlimited lifetime warranty.

Guest's picture
michelle

I got two years out of a $50 vacuum and was mad about that. There are still working vacuums around from the 50s. How hard can it be to make a quality product. You would think that spending $600 on a vacuum would at least buy you more years of use, but apparently not Anyway, thanks for the warning. I guess I can now stop saving my money to buy the dyson I've been planning on and buy another $50 vacuum. At $25 a year, that now looks like a bargain.

Guest's picture
kyle1745

I have a couple of comments...

1. Did you research Dysons before buying one, they are know for their cleaning power but not their reliability at least last time I looked. (a couple of years ago)

2. Buying the best funcationing pruduct does not mean its the best quality. Check out the cost of maintenance on a Farrari...

3. Sometimes the old stand buy just does the job. I have a 14 year old Eureaka thats actually been on fire and still runs to this day. (yes long story...)

Just my thoughts as Dysons are more a fad than a good product in my opinion.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just thought I'd share in case it helps you -
I had to buy a new vacuum in December after our Eureka Bagless kicked the bucket after only two years. I spent a day on the internet, and finally settled on the Bissel Momentum Cyclonic after reading reviews on it from Sam's Club.com and Amazon. I really like it. It's easy to clean (ie: it was really simple to get out the baby wipe I inadvertantly sucked up from under my daughter's bed), and does a good job with pet hair. We bought it from Sam's Club for $89 which was about $50 less than comparable models from Target.

Good Luck!

Guest's picture
GTrant

People like the original poster with their sense of entitlement.

Dude, you bought a vacuum with 2 year warranty that broke after 2 years. Dyson offered you the option to have it repaired on your dime instead of telling you to get a new one. Try that when your iPhone breaks.

FWIW We have one of the original Dyson DC-07 Animal that has been working strong for the past 6 years with a cat and kids. But you won't hear me writing a blog entry about "Hey, my Dyson is awesome!" You only get blog entries and tweets of whiners with a sense of entitlement.....

Guest's picture
Guest

Just a thought, but I know that our American Express card will extend the warranty of items purchased with the card. I believe they will extend the warranty up to one year for products that have warranties of five years or less, and if the item breaks within that time, they will either offer a refund or cover the costs of repair. If you bought the Dyson with a credit card, it may offer additional protection. It would probably be worth checking in to at least.

Paul Michael's picture

My bad. But if you don't like my articles, you certainly don't have to read them. Other people do, and that's cool. If you don't, that's cool too. But there's no need to whine about it.

Guest's picture
Kenneth

Our first DC-14 broke in a similar way. It's the clutch mechanism inside the beater bar that wears out over time, particularly when you get it stuck on the edge of carpets and such. Luckily, we had bought it at Costco so we just returned it after three years and have the nice new DC-17 now. Costco's return policy ROCKS, unlimited on this type of stuff, and in the end, we got the new model and a $100 or so refund for doing the "upgrade" (since the new model was cheaper after years). All in all, goes to show that where you buy something can have as much to do with the product itself. As for the Dyson, it's still the best vacuum out there, and yep, it sucks... sucks hard.

Guest's picture
Jim

You're right about the return policies of Costco and Sam's, although Sam's tries to get you to buy an extended warranty. What's up with that?

I've returned lots of merchandise at both stores with only one very isolated problem: a watering set that I bought at Costco five or six years prior wasn't working. I brought the set back to a Costco and the manager said I had gotten my expected use out of the product and stood firm. A letter resulted in a full refund and $25 for gas expense!

At Costco they will laugh at you if you ask for an extended warranty.

Sears on the other hand limits returns to 90 days? and ALSO charges a restocking fee. In the 2 years since I learned this and wrote a letter with no response, Sears lost over $6,000 of our business.

Guest's picture
Amanda

Go buy a new one that looks just like the one you have... (Target has a 90 day return policy) use the new one for a while... 30 days or so, put the old one in the new one's box and return it saying it doesn't work right.

Paul Michael's picture

That's just wrong in so many ways. I love it! Very inventive. But it's wrong and I just couldn't do it.

Guest's picture
Sarah

lol, That is so wrong, but come to think of it - I've been so royally screwed over by Dyson and the lemon they sold me for nearly $600, I'm so tempted to use that criminal idea! lol - Target would RTV it for vendor credit, no??

Your articles are going to get me in trouble! :)

Guest's picture
Guest

Is this now a consumer complaint forum? While I love WB, I don't think this is a proper post just because you're a dissatisfied customer. This type of post reduces the quality of Wise Bread, clearly a "Personal Finance and Frugal Living" website.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sell a broken vacuum? If I find myself screwed, I never add to my list of options one to pass that screwing along to the next guy. That's nearly as bad as Amanda suggestion to screw Target or the person who buys the open box return. Just full of amazement at people here. Broken stuff goes in the trash -- or on freecycle to someone who has a chance of fixing it.

Guest's picture
christina

I too have 2 Dyson's I have the DC-07 and the DC-07 Animal. I bought the first one when they came out and dished out 500.00 bucks only to find one year later is quit sucking. The one that is not supposed to have that issue. I sent it back and it still doesn't suck. so I went on a limb and bought another one. So again 500.00 bucks and this one so far is ok, but let me say my Hoover bagless windtunnel worked just as good. Now when I say I need a new vaccuum my husband say we're getting a Hoover. I work for a major retailer that sells Dyson and let me say I do not push them. Hope my animal keeps up!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

Re: Amanda's post: If you were being serious, then you are a really horrible person.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just read the author's tagline: "An adman with inside knowledge, I'll steer you to wiser choices." Oops...

Guest's picture
Guest

And the moral of this story is ... do your research before you buy (caveat emptor!) We like to pay once for things that last a gazillion years without having to think about it or do very much to maintain it.

Way back when, this was how things were -supposed- to work, not a "sense of entitlement." Anybody who's ever driven an old slant-6 engine car or used their grandmothers vintage-avocado-70's Kenmore washing machine knows what I'm talking about. We used the same old hand-me-down, 35-pound stainless-steel casing, rust-orange Jetson's-flying-saucer shaped Hoover vacuum from the late 1960's until it finally died last year. Always worked good, never needed anything more than a $5 replacement hose and a new belt every decade, always got the floor clean, and did a passably decent job sucking up pet hair out of the rug until the day it finally died nearly 40 years after it was made. Since another relative gave us a nearly-as-old Kenmore canister vacuum from the early-80's that also works perfectly fine, we have yet to spring for a new one.

In any event, never trust anything any salesman or ad says. As I tell my kids when they see an advertisement, "ads are tricks to get you to spend money you don't have on something you don't need." First, research every major purchase first in Consumer Reports. Their research is funded by Consumers Union, a non-partisan, non-profit ratings organization which is completely independent of the products they are rating. Warning, there is one sneaky product advertising website with a very similar name which is totally funded by the companies selling products!

Second, check the "low" ratings (the 1 and 2 out of 5's) on Amazon.com and similar websites. Be careful ... all those "5's" are rated when the happy new customer first gets the new product in the mail, while the 1 & 2 ratings are usually from people who started to have problems a few months after they bought it. Mine the 1&2's for information about problems you might have a few years down the line and use your judgment about whether this is an acceptable risk.

If it's a big-ticket item like a $600 vacuum cleaner, google "customer complaints X-product" to see if there are frequent product or customer service complaints. You'll pull up all sorts of websites (like U-Hell) with lots of complaints just like this article. Every company will have a few complaints, but if your browser throws up numerous websites with hundreds of customer complaints, you'll know this is a company and/or product to completely avoid.

Also, google "service bulletins X" and insert the product name into the search engine. You'll often pull up service bulletins for similar products the company has issued for it's repair vendors for known defects. This is usually a "horse is already out of the stable" research tool, but it's a good way to research if you have grounds for legal action if the company knows the product has engineering defects. Often a "demand letter" that meets the requirements of your states consumer protection statute is all it takes to get the company to offer some sort of remediation to fix your problem.

Lastly, if Consumer Reports hasn't rated your product, or if the item you are purchasing is a repair to your car, check the parent company's standing (or repair shop) with your state attorney generals consumer protection division, the Better Business Bureau, and/or the Consumer Product Safety counsel. Most have an internet database you can check to see if these government agencies have gotten enough customer complaints to take legal action, initiate mediation, or do a product recall. This won't help you find the best product, but it's a good way to avoid companies that repeatedly abuse their customers when they have problems.

Caveat emptor!!! Let the buyer beware ... but thanks to the internet the buyer isn't helpless.

Paul Michael's picture

I certainly don't claim to know everything, but by writing this post I'm hoping to steer people clear of possible problems with the Dyson.

Guest's picture
FrugalNYC

I think proper care for any product can go a long way. That said. if documented properly and the fault was with Dyson, I think Dyson should help. Things should be made to last, but nothing lasts forever.

Guest's picture
Rachel

I don't think you should give up on Dyson making things better. Find the email address of someone high up in the company, and send off an executive email carpet bomb (name coined by The Consumerist, whom another commenter already mentioned). When you send them your polite note, mention that you've already blogged about your problems with their vaccuum on a high-profile personal finance site, and give 'em the link.

I bet they'll bend over backwards to help you make it better.

Good luck!

Paul Michael's picture

I actually did that before I wrote this article. I was hoping for a good resolution so that my faith in Dyson would be restored and I would have a different spin on the story. Alas, I received the small note mentioned in this article instead.

Guest's picture

I'm not kidding you -- we bought a Dyson just last week after we couldn't stand using our miserable excuse for a vacuum anymore (a Hoover bagless). I am crossing our fingers that we don't have the same problems. I wonder, should I take it back? Hmmmm....

Andrea Karim's picture

My Dyson runs really well - the whole family has them and we've never had a problem, but it really sucks when one bad piece of equipment (and lack of concern on behalf of the company) ruins an entire brand for you, you know? In my case, spending that much on a vacuum is worth it - keeps the dog hair and dander to a minimum, thus keeping my asthma in check. Of course, I suppose I could probably just freeze dry my dogs and be done with it. :)

Guest's picture
AMP

Huh. My comment about the headline got deleted, but now the headline is fixed, I see.

I like honest bloggers. Too bad you're not one of them.

Paul Michael's picture

I'm sorry but I don't have the ability to remove comments from my blog. That is something the admins do at their own discretion, without informing myself or the other bloggers. You will see that I made mention of fixing the title in the comments section and that is still up. Perhaps your comment was considered inappropriate in some other way. But anyway, I made the change to the title asap and even announced that is was my bad. Anyone who knows me knows I am too honest for my own good most of the time.

Guest's picture
Coley

Our dyson is just over two years old... sure it runs, but it gets randomly loud that it makes me anxious to use, as I'm just waiting for the sound to come and it also smells like it's burning after more than one room. Sigh... I hoped that it'd last longer than two years, too...

Guest's picture
Guest

Sorry you're getting so much flack from all directions. I think we've all made purchasing errors of one type or another. My dad always said, "No one sets out to make a bad sculpture". We make the best decision we can with the information we have at the time. And we learn.

Guest's picture
Carol

I have lusted after a Dyson for ages. With 14 cats and 6 dogs, you can imagine how long a "regular" vaccuum lasts in our house!!! I figured the Dyson "pet" model would be perfect for us. But after your review, I have decided that I'd rather deal with the cheapies...at least then you get what you pay for!

Guest's picture
Tom

Thanks for the review and the heads up on Dyson operating practices. No doubt others will think twice about Dyson as well. What I have found as interesting were the mixed bag of comments in feedback. Those that were acting like you should be glad that you got to use the vacuum cleaner for the approximate time of the warranty. Let's get real. The warranty is to give you assurance that the problems that might have slipped through quality control during manufacturing will be resolved, not life expectancy of the product. Who would be satisfied to purchase for a second time a premium priced product that only lasted the time of warranty? That's why Dyson would have done far better to accept responsibility and leave you to praise there product, which seemed to be how you felt about the vac before things went wrong for you. Good Luck with you next vac. Personally I've never seen anything clean better than a Rainbow...but everybody ends up hating to dumping that little container of water. That's why you see them often for sale in the Want Ads section (cheap). Again thanks for sharing. ---Tom

Guest's picture
Sam

You could google the problem with the machine & see if it's an easy fix. There's no point in paying someone $XX to replace a simple belt.
The fixitnow.com (for appliances) and googles have saved me thousands in repair costs over the years. I only contract out the big things now - like replacing the motor on my beloved shampooer.

Guest's picture
lizrizriz

Roomba, and never look back.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can't believe that no one mentioned Electrolux in all these comments. Ten years ago I inherited a canister model that was probably 10 years old then. I can't attest to the company's current models, but this baby is fantastic! I've had to have it repaired maybe three times - each time costing less than $50.

Guest's picture
Guest

get a $119 Bissel, ..i got mine from target and it is a simple great vacuum cleaner...easy to empty, and works great. and I won't be devastated when it kicks the bucket. Good luck.

Guest's picture
Judi

I had bought a digital camera at Best Buy just 2 months shy of them releasing a newer warranty that actually covered more than a lens cleaning (their words!) but of course it doesn't matter. I suggested that they were obligated to let current crappy warranty customers know about the new service available because, like you, it would've definitely mattered.
I know this is a bit different as I had consciously purchased my 2 year warranty service (camera broke in the 9th month) while yours was included with the product already, but I still think they can make an effort to contact current customers. I mean they do that for a recall of bad parts. AND it would help keep them in business with people upgrading a warranty! After all if they make a good product worthy of buying, what do they have to lose? 2 to 5 years shouldnt matter. A vacuum should last more than 18 months.
Suffice it to say, I wish Circuit City hadn't been the one to fold...

Guest's picture

I've never been drawn in by names or hype so when hubby was wanting a Dyson I nixed it as being too heavy. I'm glad I did. We use Dysons at work and I'd say they blow more than suck. A waste of time and energy they are.

At home we have a nice, light and easy to push Bissell. When my last one died I got the newer, updated, pet version, although my earlier one worked just fine on our pet challenges. I've been so pleased with what you get for the price that when we needed a steam cleaner we chose the Bissell as well.

Guest's picture
Fee

Same story re: Dyson for us. Except Dyson Customer Service told me "the never loses suction is on the hose only." This was after the noise problem was repaired out of our pocket and then it would not pick up anything off the carpet. Does anyone use the hose only on a vacuum? So we can now pay for yet another repair or the vacuum store offered us $50 for a trade-in for a vacuum that actually works (not a Dyson). I feel you.

Guest's picture
danceteammom

Sorry to hear about your experience; I have the same model and have had it for over 6 years...it's the best! You MUST have gotten a lemon...although I guess it worked for over 2 years?

Guest's picture

I have 2 questions for you:
1) Does it still work (although loud)? You paid $500+ for a vacuum that doesn't lose suction, not one that was quiet. If it still works while making the noise I don't see how all this is realted.
2) Have you priced out getting it fixed? If the air conditioner in my car starts to make a noise, I don't get rid of the car; I get it fixed.

I find your expectation that paying more for something means it will work perfectly forever to be a bit strange. I expect my dyson to last for a very very long time (4 years and counting), but I expect to have to maintain it during that time as well. Sometimes that means getting it serviced for small problems.

But your description makes it sound as though the vacuum still performs its basic functions (sucking stuff up); if that is the case I really think you are overreacting in an unfortunately public way.

Really, my biggest problem with this whole thing is that you posted on a fairly well-read site about your experience with a company not fixing a product under warranty that wasn't under warranty any longer. Thinking they would is unreasonable.

Guest's picture
Katrina

This article is great! I was planning on buying a Dyson in the next two months- after reading this, I will continue buying the cheapo vacuum and plan on buying a new one every two years as I have always done!

Guest's picture
James

Hi

I have a DC01, it was my mum and dads from when my dad (facilities manager) was looking into replacing 150 national vacuums with the 'new' bagless technology in the early ninety's.

It still works, and yes, the company chose the new Dysons. They where brilliant, not sure about current products since manufacturing went to Malaysia, but my mum and dads replacement DC08, seems to still be alive.

Lemons are abound, but bad design creeps into every company.

p.s. I went to school right next door to the first and original factory, which is now an R&D place.

Guest's picture
Guest

We bought the Dyson Animal when it first came out and found it to be such a disappointment. At the time, I had 5 big dogs. You know those abandoned dogs you see running across the highway or parking lot without tags? They come to live with me. Anyway, I am a neurotic cleaner and vacuum daily for fear that my house will smell like 'dog'. We bought the Dyson after doing a bit of research (clearly not enough) about the company's claim to picking up pet hair. Huge disappointment. (Prior to this I owned a Hoover (w/ bag) for years and in retrospect was superior to the Dyson.) Because of the daily use of the product, I performed regular maintenance on an accelerated schedule. I diligently cleaned the machine and had it to repair shops for 'reduction in suction' on more than one occasion. It always technically worked - but it didn't take long (months) for it to lose overall suction. Maybe if I had resigned myself to vacuuming the same spot for 5 minutes - I would have achieved the results I was looking for but maybe not. I ended up giving this working vacuum to a friend without pets who was in desperate and immediate need of any vacuum. More in depth research (once bitten, twice shy) led me to Miele. After 2 years of EXCELLENT results, I am never buying another brand. It is lightweight, quiet and suctions like a champs. My dogs are not afraid of this quiet vacuum and so b/w that and the excellent results - we all live in a peaceful, clean home.

Guest's picture
Don

I got even !!, I'm still waiting for my belt since May 17th, I posted yesterday.Today, I took it back to Sam's Club without my receipt, told them Dyson's CS was horrible and I want a refund.I didn't have my receipt but they were able to pull it up on their system.I got a gift card for the whole amount I paid TWO YEARS AGO !
The best part was calling Dyson CS after I left Sam's Club.CS asked for serial number and said 'your belts should be going out soon".I said you know maybe you'll even get to put them on the machine, he said "what do you mean" I said the machine was just returned to Sam's when it gets back to Dyson, put the belt on yourself :).
So I had a free vacumn cleaner for 2 years .Now I'm gonna buy a REAL one.

Guest's picture
Don

HA

Guest's picture
Guest

I work in electronics retail and nothing pisses me off more than customers who purchase a product, bring it back outside of warranty, and expect the company to do anything at all. The worst is when they say "I swear it happened during the warranty" as if that somehow is a magical password to having your product fixed for free; when in fact all it shows is that you are pretty much a moron for not getting it fixed while it was under warranty.

When you purchase a product from a manufacturer, it is basically a contract: they agree to provide you with a product and X time-span of warranty service, while you agree to pay them some money (I believe we call this a 'transaction'). The mere idea of setting precedent by fixing even a single product past warranty is mind-boggling: if a year and a day, why not a year and a week? Why not 18 months? If 18 months why not 5 years? Why not a lifetime? And the fact that it was expensive is even more irrelevant. Does spending x-dollars mean that your one year warranty is really 14 months? What if you spent twice as much? Does the person smart enough to NOT spend $600 on a vacuum deserve less customer service?

This is a perfect example of why the 'customer service' culture has gone too far. When people believe that they, the customer, are always right, they begin to expect and demand irrational things.

Guest's picture
Guest

I suppose the flipside to this is that you, the customer, are perfectly free to vote with your dollars and shop elsewhere. My hope is that people reading this will see it for what it is: a case of an entitlement culture creating irrational expectations.

Guest's picture

Dang, that sucks,... pardon the pun. I would expect much more from that company. That's horrible marketing on their part!

Guest's picture
David

That sucks that you had that much problems with your Dyson. I think it is always a crap shoot when you buy any item, and man does it hurt when something goes wrong with a higher priced item, it hurts bad!! But overall good article about your experience. And the Miele, well that certainly takes the vacuum price to a new level, but boy, those things are nice!!!

Guest's picture
GuestAnthony

Well, sorry to anyone who has had a problem with their Dyson, but my wife and I bought ours when we got married and have had no problems with it at all. We have been married for eight years going on nine now and three kids later and still have the same vacuum with no problems. So while I feel sorry for your that your investment didn't pan out for you ours has done more than we expected.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks, I'll be looking at the Miele.