IT MUST BE ME – Marilyn Armstrong

It can’t be coincidence. There has to be a reason. I have spent literally every day for nearly a week on the phone with customer or technical support. Earlier, it was computers. The PC, iPad, Macbook Air.

I got through it. I am alive to tell the tale.

All computers are working except the PC which still won’t accept the download from Microsoft. They try a couple of times a day and it gets rejected each time. Eventually I’ll call and find out how it’s going on, but they said it might take a few weeks — not to worry. I’m not worried, at least not about the PC. It is working fine.

Today, Garry put the laundry in the machine and kindly offered to vacuum the rug. At some point, he stopped and I emptied the cup where the dirt goes (is there a name for that? and put the dirt thingie back in the machine. Which is what we’ve done dozens of times.

Pushed the on button. Nothing happened. No clogging choking sounds. No sounds at all. An utter silence where there ought to be something, at the very least, a sucking noise.

After accusing Garry of breaking another vacuum cleaner, which he instantly rejected as he hadn’t done anything except vacuum our 4 by 6 rug  and a bit of the floor … which, he pointed out, was voluntary … and there I was accusing him … FALSELY … of malfeasance. In my own defense, Garry has slain more than a few vacuums  so it wasn’t such a big leap.

This time, it just died — on its own.

I reviewed the machine. I checked the brushes. Put the plug in a different outlet. This machine isn’t rechargeable and has a 25 foot cord. I have heard, though, that other machines have this problem. Apparently something in the electrical box pulls apart during use. Easy to fix — if you can fix something electrical. Which I definitely can’t. I’m not even sure why electricity doesn’t come slithering out of the walls on its own.

I switched it on again. Nope.

Turned it off. Resisted the temptation to give it a whack with a hammer. Did it again and again because I couldn’t believe it would just stop working, for no reason, when there had been no previous problem.

Finally, I said: “Well, for once, I actually bought a warranty.”

Why? Because these little lightweight machines don’t hold up. I’ve never had one survive longer than a year. This one didn’t make it to six months. Five months, less three days, actually. The warranty cost only $10, so I said “You know what? I’ll buy it.”

I found the warranty and the website. They wanted information in formats I couldn’t provide, so finally I called them. The third time, I got a human on the phone. She said it was still under the manufacturer’s warranty, so they should take care of it. She called them as a three-way call.

Shark offered — IF I sent it back — to send me a new one for just $20 … plus tax on the full price ($8) — and I would have to buy the box. Which, considering this is a vacuum cleaner, would be another $30. But they’d pay for the shipping.

Wow. That’s real service.

Moral of the story? A limited warranty is worthless. In years of buying things with limited warranties, never has one of them paid for anything. Limited means “You’re kidding, right?” If it’s limited, it’s not a warranty.

Eventually, the SquareTrade representative said “Shark is giving you a ridiculously hard time, so we’ll just honor our warranty and refund your money. Let’s hear it for SquareTrade!

“And I won’t,” I commented, ” be buying another Shark.” But I don’t know what I’m going to buy. I can’t push a heavy machine and Garry’s getting tired too. Maybe an Oreck Commercial type.

They  break too. I know. I owned one and the belt broke almost every time I used it. Of course, that was years ago, so maybe they have improved. I sure hope so.

Is it me? Do I have some kind of weird problem with service? Or do they do this to everyone? If this is how the world is turning, life is going to be a total bummer … even worse than it already is!

From start to finish, this event took almost four hours. Four more hours spent dealing with customer service and I didn’t shout at anyone, not even once. All for a $99.99 vacuum cleaner I bought last December that should still be working.

Oreck vacuumI used to earn that much every other hour I worked and now, I do this for free. It must be some bizarre karmic thing because nobody who isn’t working for customer service should spend this much time talking to them.

It was a pretty good machine — for its brief life of just under five months. I noticed that Amazon isn’t selling it anymore. Shocking.

I wonder why not?

Categories: Customer Service, Humor, online shopping, Shopping

Tags: , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. So Ok if you haven’t yet thrown the Vac away there’s one more thing you can try. Many of these things have a “safety cut off” switch activated by removing or, deactivated, by re-installing the dirt catcher. If, for some reason, you didn’t put it back exactly correctly the switch may not be engaged and, of course, the unit will not turn on.

    Another possibility is I’ve got an Oreck that I don’t use, which is working just fine but I pretty much removed most of the carpet I have in the house and I have other units to deal with the occasional need to vacuum. Bottom line; you’re welcome to the Oreck if we can figure a way to ship it to you? But try the above suggestion first.


    • I tried repositioning the little trash thingie a bunch of times. That was actually my first thought — after checking to make sure the circuit hadn’t blown. I’m pretty sure it’s an electrical connector. This is apparently an occasional problem with many vacuum cleaners and is fixable — if you know what you are looking for. I may get Owen to open it up and see if he can see something that disconnected. The shipping charges on the Oreck would be half the price of buying one because of its bulk. Anyway, they refunded the money for the Shark, so the Oreck, after other deductions was about $55 … and it would cost at least half that to ship it, if not more. Just buying the right size box can cost you $25. Shark should have directed me to someone who could FIX it. This whole “throw it away” rather than repairing it is really environmentally terrible and it’s such a waste, too. We used the Shark MAINLY on the hard floors. We don’t have much rug either. Not with three dogs! Rugs and dogs? Nope.


  2. Add on warranties are merely pure profit for the companies that provide them. Our cashiers are trained to pressure customers into buying the warranty….. er, excuse me, “maintenance plan” on any item they ring up that uses electricity. Pure profit. Store warranties are useless. I’ve never bought one and never will….


    • Yet SquareTrade (I think it’s an Amazon offshoot) paid me. Every penny and Amazon added the tax. i got all the money back today, literally, to the last penny.

      I have had warranties pay off but always private ones — and occasionally, new car warranties. Usually, I will only consider a warranty on something that is VERY likely to break — and lightweight vacuum cleaners are one of those things. This is the fourth one I’ve had and at least this time, I got my money back.


  3. I use a Dyson Animal. It’s somewhat heavy but it’s also motor driven. It’s tough and mosty repairs can be done by anyone. It’s my third Dyson in 15 years. One of them I left at my old house in CA still running well. I bought my current vacuum refurbished off Amazon for $200. It’s four years old. It’s doing great (though it needs a new switch). I truly think these are the best vacuums expecially for people with dogs.


  4. FYI, AVOID Dyson as well. I bought one, it lasted about three months, something broke in a machine that was advertised as “unbreakable”. Feh. The thing still used a belt, and that’s what broke. Sears (where I got it) refused to do anything about it, insisting that they couldn’t find any evidence I’d purchased it there. I’ll never deal with THEM again either. So no, dear, it’s not just you that’s noticed the severe decline in decent equipment AND customer service. Everyone’s experiencing that, most just bow their heads and keep on taking it though. That’s why (IMHO) nothing changes…there aren’t enough of us crabby ones to make a difference. I subsequently bought a Shark and it’s still going strong (knock wood). Been five years too. Maybe I should hide this post from it? Heh..


    • The Shark was a great little machine until it stopped working. I’m sure there’s a broken electrical connection in there that in a time when you could get something repaired, would be fixable. But these days, we don’t repair — we replace — and that’s ANOTHER thing wrong with this world. Things that could easily be fixed aren’t because there are no people doing that work anymore. It fills the world with trash and the rest of us with remorse. Trying the Oreck this time, though I know for a fact — they break too. But at least there are places that fix them.

      Sears has gotten really AWFUL. I won’t deal with them at all. Their installers are also idiots.


  5. Five months! Unbelievable! Send it back. As for customer service – doesn’t exist anymore. Mind you, I did have some success with the telephone company yesterday.


  6. In Australia I believe you would have been entitled to a refund or replacement at no charge because it is reasonable to expect an appliance to last longer than six months. I never buy extended warranties myself as I think they are asking you to pay for something that you should get for free anyway under our consumer laws. Of course that doesn’t mean that we don’t ever have arguements with suppliers and manufacturers some do the right thing and some have to be persuaded. I’m glad the Square Trade guys came through for you in the end.


    • I bought the warranty because SquareTrade has a good reputation … and it was only $10. Yes, Shark should have replaced it. And after i got through with paying them to ship it to me ($20) and buying a carton for it (another $25 to $30) … AND paid them tax on the new machine ($8) … That just $15 less than it cost in the first place. SquareTrade paid me the full price and Amazon added the $3.60 tax.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a Shark vacuum that’s about five years old and it’s still working great. It was between the Shark and a Dyson when I bought it, but the Dyson cost more than twice what the Shark cost and I couldn’t justify it. But in the end, I’m pretty happy with the Shark. Sorry that yours only made it for six months.


    • I’m sure mine can be fixed … but I’m no kind of electrician. There’s probably a broken wire in there that someone who isn’t me could easily fix. But no one fixes anything anymore. It was a GREAT little machine. But it is small and it is light and these little lightweight machines break easily.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Machines today are built to die, it is all,part of business

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You’d have thought it would last longer than 5 months!
    I had a problem with my phone today — a land-line phone that’s been converted by the service provider (Cox, which also does TV and internet) to something digital. I had a dial tone, I could call out, the attorney I was calling could hear me, but when they tried to respond they could only hear themselves in an echo. I could call other numbers — just not the attorney! I called Cox, who asked me to reset the modem and try again, then to call a friend and see if it worked for other numbers, etc. They did set up a Customer Service call to resolve whatever the problem is — he’ll come tomorrow. In the meantime a QC rep came next door because they’ve been doing some work there — he agreed to look at it, and found two old wires that were connected but should not have been. I have made several calls this evening, but will probably let the service people come tomorrow just to make sure. It’s odd that they keep wanting me to reset the modem, which they installed only a couple of months ago!


    • Cable companies use really cheesy equipment. That’s the answer to most cable-related issues. Meanwhile, I’m just hoping the new vacuum — the Oreck — lasts awhile. A heavier machine works longer and better … except for the whole getting old thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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