The day the electric floor-care industry adopts a standard for rating vacuum performance might just be the day it dies.”
That was the opinion expressed by Dick Beall, executive director of the Vacuum Dealer Trade Association (VDTA), regarding the latest volleys on standards between Hoover and Eureka and just about every other vendor in the industry.
“You know what vacuum cleaner is really the best one on the market?” Beall asked. “It’s the next one coming down the road. Every salesman has the right to say that their cleaner is the best because they have to believe in something in order to sell it. And now, if they do that, someone turns around and wants to sue them.
“We don’t need a test or rating that identifies which product is the best and if we have one, it would be the saddest day for the entire industry,” Beall added. “That one vacuum would sell and that one company would enjoy success, but where would the industry be?”
“There would be a decline in sales, a decline in competitiveness and soon, even the company that had the best cleaner would be selling only marginally above what they normally would. There’s no way one company is going to sell all 12 million units.”
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Instead of a standard on vac performance, Beall is calling for the industry to concentrate on becoming more consumer conscious.
“We need to educate the consumers on how to better use a vacuum or a deep cleaner. We have to show them how to properly care for their carpet. If a person is vacuuming and they are vacuuming in the wrong direction they could actually be pushing the pile down instead of making it stand up which leads to longer carpet life,” he said. “We must, as an industry, understand that we are in the floor care business, not in the vacuum business.”
Beall instead proposes a standard that rates the life expectancy of a machine, or how much it costs to operate for a year. He said that no other industry has a rating system that categorically states: this machine or appliance does a better job than that one.
“The current talk about standards has not improved the quality level of vacuums as much as the competitive nature of the industry has. When Hoover attacked the performance of specific products, those companies chose to improve their products to be more competitive–not to conform to some standard either real or imagined.”
The current fight over standards is unhealthy for the entire industry, Beall added, saying government intervention is a distinct possibility. “The last thing we need is for the government to get involved,” he said.