When buying a vacuum don't mistake reputation for reliability

Consumer Reports News: March 28, 2012 05:23 PM

J.D. Power and Associates released the results of its 2012 Upright Vacuum Satisfaction Study earlier today. The study, based on responses from 5,700 owners who purchased an upright vacuum cleaner in the last year, measures customer satisfaction across six criteria: performance, ease of use, features, price, styling/appearance, and warranty. Miele came out on top in the ranking of 12 brands, with an overall score of 809 on a 1,000-point scale, followed by Dyson and Riccar. How does that compare with Consumer Reports' upright vacuum Ratings?

Miele and Dyson both have several models on our recommended list. The Miele S 7210 Twist, for example, is one of our highest-rated bagged upright models, while the Dyson DC28 Animal is among the best bagless models. They're both on the pricey side, however, as are the Riccar vacuums in our Ratings, which don't receive a CR recommendation.

That gets at one of the key differences between J.D. Power's findings and our own--the emphasis on price. "Consider a high-quality brand, even if it may be more expensive," J.D. Power advises. "Although a vacuum may be initially less expensive, you could end up paying more for repairs or even having to replace the vacuum in less than five years, if the quality is low." But we emphasize reliability too, which is why we always recommend you check our brand reliability charts before making a purchase. In the case of vacuums, the data is based on feedback from 96,000 readers who bought a vacuum between 2007 and 2011. Kenmore and Dirt Devil are two of the most reliable brands in our analysis of upright vacuums, and they're also relatively inexpensive, with Dirt Devil earning a CR Best Buy. They rank 9 and 12, respectively, on J.D. Power's list.

Other J.D. Power advice is more consistent with our own. For example, we agree with the point that you should "focus on finding a vacuum that is going to provide consistent, strong suction and has features that meet your specific needs." As for style and appearance, those attributes aren't factored into our Ratings, and not because we know vacuums spend most of their time behind closet doors. It's just that all of our testing time goes to seeing how well vacuums suck embedded pet hair from carpets, pick up sand from hard floors without dispersing it, and perform in other tasks.

So which brand is number one in our Ratings? Read the full report.

Daniel DiClerico

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