Vacuum users send mixed messages

Consumer Reports News: August 07, 2007 04:52 PM

I’ve fished since I was in the second grade, and this pastime—call it an obsession—stays with me even when I’m researching and reporting a story for Consumer Reports. While full-time employment does tend to get in the way of my fishing, some of my angling skills are transferable to the writing arena.

Take vacuum cleaners, on which I’m reporting for the October 2007 issue (on sale and online in September). Besides poring over our test results, market studies, and other data, I’ve been casting for information on vacuums all over the Web, looking for your user reviews and questions about this household appliance. Just as I troll our vast customer-relations database for your letters and e-mails about products, I explore the Web to learn what you like and don’t like about the products you use on a regular basis.

I recently landed some interesting results. Our customer-relations department informed me that vacuum cleaners generate more reader calls and mail than any other appliance we test except for washing machines. I was interested to know whether, to paraphrase Sally Field, you really like vacuums.

Here’s where it got interesting. I Googled “hate to vacuum” and “love to vacuum.” The first search generated pages and pages of links summarized by various unkind words about vacuuming. People abhor this chore.

The second phrase also reeled in pages and pages of matches. But in this case, people weren’t discussing  how much they love to vacuum. They were talking specifics, say about a particular brand or model.

What’s all this mean? If the information I saw online is any indicator, while you might find the necessary task of vacuuming unpleasant, anything that makes the job easier seems worth your loyalty.

Before you choose a new vacuum, give it a test ride in the store. Push it around. Lift it as high as you might need to at home. A feel for how a model handles could tell determine whether your “catch” is a keeper or one you throw back.Ed Perratore

Essential information: For expert advice on choosing a vacuum, see our buying advice and video buyer’s guide. Before you shop, refer to our Ratings for upright and canister vacuums as well as the brand repair history (available to subscribers).

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