Friday, September 05, 2008

Can We Welcome You To The Kirby Family?

There is a reason door to door salesmen have such a bad reputation. They inspired an entire marketing scheme aimed at advertising a home owner's distaste for their presence before even knocking. The "No Solicitors" sign can be found in classic metal, scripted with airbrush in country colors on wood, handwritten on a note taped to the doorbell, and of course screamed from behind a closed door by a 70 year old biddy. We should have recognized the reason for this national defense. We missed it.

Adam presented himself at our door one fine Saturday and asked Christopher if there was a room in our house that we would like "dry" shampooed for free? He noted that we was a demonstrator for Kirby vacuums, and for the painless task of listening to his sales pitch he would clean any room at no charge. We had just been talking about the need to rent a Rug Doctor for our family room, so this seemed providential. Christopher told Adam we would be ready for him in 15 minutes. Within moments my peaceful afternoon was gone. We raced around to get toys off the floor for the shampooing, and I had to run upstairs and get out of my pajamas (I told you we were planning on a relaxing afternoon). No sooner had I gotten upstairs but Adam was back, some 10 minutes earlier than expected. Eagerness can be a good characteristic. 

I decided to go full bore and take a shower, allowing Christopher the delightful task of entertaining our new friend for the vast majority of his stay. I figured by the time I arrived downstairs some 30 minutes later our floor would be close to finished, and I could go back to relaxing on my couch, albeit cleaner than originally anticipated. You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the family room and was met by Adam, a very unshampooed floor, and small white disks strewn across my carpet (for hygienic purposes they don't actually attach the bag until after you purchase the machine, so they use a special chamber which sucks the dirt into a clear canister and onto white discs of vacuum cleaner bag material so you can see what the inside of your very own Kirby bag would look like. I am convinced they are trained to leave these discs lying around your home in an attempt to subtly remind you of the disgusting state of affairs resting beneath your feet). Adam was very pleasant to meet me and seemed utterly unperturbed that he had been there a solid half an hour with nothing more to show for himself than a cleverly designed display box housing all the mighty Kirby's attachments.

I am in therapy to try and forget what happened next, but apparently I am not paying my shrink enough for the "total recall" plan. I remember, quite vividly, Adam spending the following 2 hours wasting our time while he tried to sell us a TWO THOUSAND and TWO HUNDRED dollar vacuum. Apparently we are going to die as a result of the dirt housed in our carpets. We are certainly experiencing unprecedented illnesses due to dust mite excrement on our tongues in the morning. We have only our lousy old vacuum to blame for the wear and tear on our lovely, military grade, rented for decades carpeting. And with the new Kirby model we could use the latest technology of "dry" shampooing to insure a thorough clean every time. "So, can I welcome you to the Kirby family?"

We tried to explain that we were buying a home with all wood floors, and would not have the issue of carpet padding trapping all that dirt, dander, and death. We tried to humor him when he raced upstairs into our bedrooms, uninvited, while my baby took a nap. We were gentle, kind, and long suffering when he attached and reattached the same special nozzle 7 times because he had forgotten just one more thing he was supposed to show us. One of the best zingers came when he finally accomplished the "dry" shampoo; and we marveled at how poorly conceived the design to turn the Kirby into a shampooer was managed - water sloshing out of the open receptacle while piles of foam thoroughly soaked our carpet. We even allowed him to jump on our trampoline while we discussed the possibility of purchasing the vacuum (read: figure out how to finally get him to understand we weren't going to buy). But it was finally time, and Christopher broke the news.

Adam was nearly speechless. He couldn't believe we didn't seriously want to purchase this wonder appliance, which did practically everything including make dinner. He asked Christopher what would make him reconsider, and without thinking Christopher blurted out, "I don't know, take 50% off the price." Well, Adam was aghast at this suggestion noting that he had never heard of such a thing before. Yeah, that was kinda the point! We reminded poor Adam that we weren't going to have any areas in our new home with wall to wall carpet. It didn't make financial sense for us to purchase such a substantial vacuum. We reiterated that we did not utilize credit for spontaneous purchases and were not comfortable taking that much money our of our checking when we were closing escrow in only a few weeks. Adam continued to remain speechless.

He finally broke the spell by deciding to call his up-line manager and find out what kind of deal he could make for us. We tried to dissuade him, explaining we were not buying the machine. He called anyway, but received only his manager's voicemail. Ahhh, we sighed internally. Maybe now he would get the point! We were growing weary, and were ready to have him gone. And yet Adam persisted. He began to explain that we would certainly never see the kind of sale his team was offering for quite some time. He became snippy, mumbling under his breath about how much he hated packing up "these beasts" when only moments before he had been asking us if he could welcome us to the Kirby family. In the midst of this tirade his manager called him back and after several moments Adam hung up and announced that he was authorized to give us the Kirby for 15% off. This was such a significant price reduction he was sure we would jump on it. In fact, he stopped packing his "beast". We held firm, once again reminding him that we were not interested in spending that kind of money on a vacuum at this time. Adam began to pack again.

Over the next several minutes, while Adam literally took his sweet time getting his things together, I tried to initiate conversation with him about his job, how much he liked it, and what had made him get into the business. I thought perhaps it would help ease the embarrassment he must be feeling at spending nearly 3 hours in someone's home and having nothing to show for it. Had I not known he was in his mid-twenties I would have thought him closer in age to a 4 year old throwing a bit of a tantrum. He barely acknowledged my questions, giving me the briefest possible answers, and continued to huff and puff about how much he detested packing up. Suddenly his phone rang again. This time it was his area supervisor asking for a status update. Adam explained that we just weren't interested even though he had already offered us the exorbitant deal of a lifetime. After several moments of listening Adam recalled to his supervisor that Christopher had mentioned the "50% off" deal. Adam listened for another minute, and then hung up the phone. He stopped packing, went over to a piece of paper with the original sales price and promo information on it and wrote $1100 on it before handing it to Christopher. "I can get it for you for the price you asked."

"Adam, I don't want to buy it. I am not interested in it."

"But you said you if it was 50% off that would be the right price. Well, here it is."

"Adam, I don't want to buy it. I changed my mind."

"You said you would take it if it was 50% off. I have never seen this before. They have never reduced the price like this before. You will never get this kind of deal again."

"Adam, we don't want it."


Christopher finally had to say to him that he was tired of discussing this, and he needed Adam to pack his things and get out of his house. I don't think I have ever seen my husband come so close to decking someone out of sheer exasperation than that day. It still took Adam nearly 10 minutes to leave. His supervisor called him again, and Adam recounted, in front of us, how Christopher told him he had to get out of our house. He didn't say goodbye when he left.

A few weeks later Leah was talking about how much she missed her friend. 

"What friend, Leah?"

"You know... my friend. Adam."


"Yeah, with the vacuum. He's my friend."

Thankfully we don't run a democracy in Odd, we run a monarchy and Adam has not been invited back.


  1. Yuck! WE had that happen right before Micah was born. It was a long 3 hour night. Our carpet was okay, but we ended up renting the rug doctor anyways. Good vacuum, Bad price, Bad personal skills.

  2. Dorothy P.9:53 AM

    I'm afraid if Adam ever switched over to selling cars, and you tried to leave the dealership without buying, he might jump on your van's hood and hold on to the windshield wipers, smooshing his face on our windshield, yelling "Don't you want to be a member of the Hummer family?" while you drive away on Del Monte Blvd.

  3. Howdy,

    A kirby salesperson is a job I would'nt like to have. Did you talk to him about Christ?

  4. Dorothy,

    I LOVE it! Wouldn't that just be it... holding on for dear life while he screams over our engine. Hysterical. ROFL

  5. XrayX,

    We did actually try and share our faith in Christ through the conviction to be good stewards of our finances. Adam was more interested in nailing the hard sale.

  6. Miss Carolyn6:08 PM

    Leah's comment is CLASSIC...and my favorite part of the story!

  7. Mr Kirby was in your house 2 hours and 59 minutes longer than mine...

    Love Mom

  8. Just came across your blog when I was doing research for Kirby and their reputation. I actually just recently started with Kirby in the Northwest. It really is unfortunate that you had such a bad experience. I do know just from my training alone that is not how it is suppose to be done at all. Perhaps my office is just a bit more tactful...haven't been around any others. Might be random but wanted to apologize for the distaste with the "Kirby Family" Adam left with you.