Rant #6 – The Kirby Salesman Got Me in 2010 (for $2,200)




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Have you ever come across a salesman that was just so good that you forgot you were actually being sold to? When the Kirby salesman came to our condo in 2010, he did such a great job demonstrating the demo that I had to have one. He went on and one about the features & benefits:

  • Kirby vacuums are made entirely of metal, they are real tools instead of your plastic toy vacuum.
  • All Kirby vacuums come with a lifetime warranty.
  • The Kirby had two motors so the sucking power would never be degradation like other vacuums that only ran on one motor. One motor is used to propel or drive the vacuum, while the other is used to suck up all the nasty stuff on your floor.
  • The Kirby wasn’t just a Vacuum, it was also a shampooer.
  • The Kirby also had other attachments that would allow you to clean all kinds of flooring: carpet, hardwood flooring, tile, etc.
  • This beautiful hunk of medal could even spray paint (the only feature I have yet to use)

As he went on with his pitch and demonstration, I can’t help but remember some of his catchy phrases, when preparing the vacuum for cleaning:

“Red on red and you’re ready to remove the head”

“Green on green and you’re ready to clean”

Those little jingles do stick with you and make it easier to explain to people how to use the vacuum. Yes, I know, it should be intuitive to use a vacuum.

I remember my mother in-law borrowing the vacuum one time and it required me to spend a full 10 minutes to give her the rundown of how to operate the thing. She wanted to use both the vacuum function as well as the shampoo function.

When she returned it she told me how hard it is to push the beast back and forth while using it. She forgot to put Mr. Kirby in Drive. Yes, it’s a lot harder to effortlessly use it when you leave the thing in neutral.

But I digress…

The final demo, before the close, was the salesman telling us about all the bed mites and dead skin that built up in our mattress over years. He showed us how we could use the Kirby to suck up all those nasty mites and dead skin. I was completely grossed out by the pictures he showed me and had to have one.

I am sure there are a ton of details I am leaving out as this was a 2 hour sales pitch and product demo. But my memory is a little foggy since it was over 5 years ago. Let’s just say he had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Up to this point it was a very soft sell. In reality the first 90 minutes was really just a demonstration and transfer of his product knowledge (extremely polished and rehearsed).

Then came the Hard Selling Tactics:

  1. Urgency – You can only buy this from a distributor and we are not sure if and when we are going to be back in your neighborhood.
  2. Scarcity – We are offering a special price tonight only. So even if we were back in your neighborhood one day, you won’t get the same price again.
  3. Exclusivity – I think both 1 & 2 cover this one as well.

Still no mention of price.

He then proceeded to ask me the following questions:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • You must make pretty good money for your age, right?
  • Do you own or rent this place?
  • Either way, you want to keep this place nice right?

Again there were other questions he asked, which I am pretty sure were just qualifying questions so he could decide where to start on his offer.

Basically he was trying to gage how much of a sucker I really was. And boy was I the biggest sucker that night. At this point I was getting tired, I was worn down, and was sold that I needed that vacuum.

I look back on this situation and just laugh at myself, because there is no way I would ever do something like this today. I research every product I buy and grind the price as low as possible. I have a rule to never buy anything over $500 on the spot. Plus these days I tell anyone that comes to my door that I am not interested. I don’t even know what they are selling.

And one more thing before I get to the price that I finally paid. At the time, we were living in a 1,100 sqft condo with only about 300 sqft of carpet.

The Close & The Cost


The salesman finally delivered the price of Mr. Kirby.

He said something to this effect: “So here is what I can do for you tonight, I can give you the vacuum, all the attachments, extra bags, and shampoo liquid. All this for the same price as I normally sell just the vacuum itself. I can do it for $2,800.”

Holy Crap! (I said that out loud.)

That is a lot of money to pay for a vacuum. He then went on to explain that this wasn’t like any other vacuum. This would be the only vacuum that I would need for the rest of my life. Plus, you said you make good money, so it’s not that much in the grand scheme of things right?

He was now playing to my ego. If I said yes, then I would seem like a baller right? Well, at least in my head. But I was determined to get something from him before I said yes.

I proceeded to tell the salesman that it wasn’t about the money. I could write him a check right then and there on the spot. This was the truth but not really something I really wanted to do.

He explained that if I was willing to do that, he would be able to knock $200 off the price.

I then told him that I really didn’t want to pay for it up front, but I wanted the lower price. Then he offered a payment plan with financing (with something like 6-8%). I proudly told him that I don’t pay interest, I only earn it.

In all honesty, I was trying my best to get myself out from buying the vacuum. And it almost worked!

Then in a last ditch attempt, he asked me what it would take for me to buy the vacuum that night. I thought to myself, “What is an offer that he won’t be able to do?”

So, I told him that I would be willing to buy the vacuum tonight if he could drop the price to $2,000 and give me 0% financing for 6 month.

He had to call his supervisor to get approval for the deal. At least that is what he told me. He came back saying the best he could do was $2,200 with 0% financing.

Somehow I thought that was a good deal and agreed to the counter offer.

Let’s just say I was sold that day!

That purchase would go on to help form my own philosophy on price. That being that the price you see is not the price you pay.

– Gen Y Finance Guy

Gen Y Finance Guy

Hey, I’m Dom - the man behind the cartoon. You’ll notice that I sign off as "Gen Y Finance Guy" on all my posts, due to the fact that I write this blog anonymously (at least for now). I like to think of myself as the Chief Freedom Officer here of my little corner of the internet. In the real world, I’m a former 30-something C-Suite executive turned entrepreneur turned capital allocator. I am trying to humanize finance by sharing my own journey to Financial Freedom. I believe in total honesty and transparency. That is why before I ever started blogging, I decided that I would share all of my own financial stats. I do this not to brag, but instead to inspire motivate, and also to hold myself accountable. My goal is to be a beacon of hope, motivation, and inspiration, for you, the reader, by living life by example and sharing it all here on the blog. My sincere hope is that you will be able to learn from me - both from my successes and my failures! Read More



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19 Responses

  1. Yikes! Live and learn. My mother bought a Kirby vacuum used 15 years ago for like 300 bucks I think from a friend whose husband bought her an even newer/fancier model. My mother stills uses that same vacuum to this day.

    1. FF – Sounds like your mom got a sweet deal. I won’t lie, for a vacuum it is built well, and I have no doubt it will last a lifetime. But I am sure I could have gotten a much better deal. It was not a very informed decision or a good use of capital.

      Not my proudest moments.

      Let me know when your mom is ready to upgrade 🙂

  2. Oh man! What an experience…it’s amazing GYFG, you’ve come a LONG way since 2010! It’s great to look back and recognize the progress. Funny thing is, in college I got roped into a “salesman” situation where one of my classmates tried to get me involved in a pyramid scheme. I never experienced anything like it before, and when you think you’re just attending a meeting to connect with other “like minded students” to find out what it’s really about – you’re stuck in that meeting…I learned a LOT from that experience and needless to say it’s a shame how my naivety led me to that. Yikes.

    1. Hey Alyssa – You know what they say “the path to success is paved with failures.” As long as we learn from our mistakes, that is all that matters. Hopefully they are not that big and easy recoverable.

      Was the MLM company they were trying to get you to join involved in trying to sell phone and internet service to your friends and family? I sat in a high pressure meeting like that in college and almost got suckered in.

      All I had to do was give them $495 to join and I would make triple or quadruple that in the first month they promised. Here is how I got out of it…I said if you are so sure that I will make this and more in the first month, how about you cover my fee and I will give you 100% of my first months earnings.

      The backpedalling began and a scam was averted.

  3. Dominic,
    Want to hear an even worse Kirby story? In 2008 a Kirby guy came to a townhome I was renting a room in.

    My roommate was totally sold on wanting the thing. She was broke, but Kirby had some lender that did financing arrangements. I didn’t want the vacuum at all, but she was desperate. Me, not knowing any better, CO-SIGNED!

    You can probably guess how this turned out, but I’ll tell you anyway. After a few months of the $190 payment (12 payments), she disappeared—with the vacuum.

    I ended up making the last six payments to protect my credit score.

    At least you got a vacuum out of the deal. I just got the lesson.


    1. Dude! That is worse than my story. At least at the end of it I still had a vacuum, albeit overpriced.

      Did you ever see that roommate again?

      Co-Signing was another mistake of mine (that was rant #5).

      1. Dominic,
        You know better than to ask questions you already know the answer to 🙂 . OF COURSE I never saw her again.

        I think I looked her up on Facebook a year later, but realized that the certain domestic incident that would have occurred wasn’t worth the thousand bucks.

        Keep up the good work.


        1. You never know…I though maybe you guys might have had a common friend that could had resulted in a run in with each other.

    1. Maggie – I will make you a sweet deal. Next year we will be putting in tile flooring and losing half of our carpeted space (1,700 sqft of carpet gone).

      But before I make you the offer, did I mention that it also turns into a spray painting machine? There has got to be some weird Alaskan rebate where you can recoup most of the cost back right? 🙂

      So, here is the deal. I paid $2,200 for it 5 years ago, and I estimate its useful life at 30 years (at least, it actually has a lifetime warranty). That would put its current value at $1,833.

      I will sell it to you for $1,300. I will eve throw in a few extra belts and bags and all the accessories.

      How does that sound?

  4. Wow that guy gave one heck of a long pitch! I haven’t heard of Kirby before but I don’t know much about vacuums. My mom has an Electrolux that cost a fortune – not sure if it was a much as yours or not. I use a cheapo handvac (my expensive one died) most of the time b/c I’m too lazy to bust out the big vacuum.

    1. Yes, it was an extremely long pitch.

      I could not imagine trying to vacuum our entire house with a handvac 🙂

      We have two dogs that shed like crazy.

  5. Kirby has been hitting up my neighborhood lately, but its funny because the salespeople suck. Literally, they launch into the pitch without noticing that we don’t have any carpet. We don’t even have rugs right now.

    1. Oh, I forgot to mention that it has attachments to clean hardwood and tile floors as well.

      Hannah – I will make extend you the same offer I made to Maggie 🙂

  6. Kirby’s are great vacs. Best place to find them are the thrift stores for about $50-$75. They last basically forever, so it hard to find a used one that does not work.

    Rainbow vacs have/had a similar sales pitch, but don’t last as long. Don’t ask he how I know!

  7. I succumbed to the pitch of a charming young Kirby salesman a few years ago — got the machine for $1,600 after a long, mesmerizing demonstration that convinced me my home could never be properly cleaned without this hulking pile of metal. Forked over the cash and loathed everything about the machine for the next few years until miraculously it broke down (!) and I was able to purchase a nice Shark for about 200 hundred bucks — works great and I sing as I vaccum now. A pox on Kirbys — they’re clunky, heavy, hard to adjust and maneuver. How I wish I had my $1,600 back.

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