A Very Sucky Valentine

If you love someone, don’t give them a vacuum!

Vacuum or rosesValentine’s Day is just around the corner. Isn’t it wonderful coming up with thoughtful ways to show our loved-ones we care? A nice dinner, chocolates, roses…a little cliché, but still very sweet. Some guys spring for jewelry…quite a statement.  I give my husband tools – hey, he likes that stuff! It’s the type of gift that keeps on giving, and actually makes us both happy. How’s that, you ask? He loves to work on his cars and nice tools make it so much easier for him to do that.  Easier work = happy man. Fewer bloodied knuckles = less gross laundry I have to do. So are practical gifts the real formula for romance?? Well, I guess it depends….

  

Maybe I’m weird, but I really appreciate gifts that are useful. When someone hunts down and gives me an item that really makes my life a little easier or more comfortable – it shows that they cared enough to know my needs, and put thought into how to meet them.  For example, my hands are always cold.  When my husband gave me a box of those silly little hand warmer packets, I was just delighted!  He found me a gift (albeit small) that showed me he had listened to my complaints, and really solved an annoying problem.  Those little packets make me feel so much better, and I can’t help but think of his kindness when I feel the circulation resuming in my frigid little digits.

Okay, you knew I had to sneak in something about vacuum cleaners – that’s what this blog is about right? And given a vacuum’s incredibly practicality, doesn’t it seem natural that one would make a great Valentine’s present?! Well, as much as I’d like to convince you of that, I must urge that you use caution…

You know you’re loved one better than I do. Would he or she take your gift as an insult, a not-so-subtle hint that they need to clean? Or would that person be overjoyed at your generous expression to help ease the monotony and drudgery of his/her cleaning routine? Beyond that – even if your honey would find your efforts heroic, are you confident that you could pick the perfect vacuum for him or her? There are so many styles and features to choose from…

A person will love their vacuum when they’ve been matched together well. It’s a relationship much like any other. (Professional help never hurts either.) Everyone’s cleaning needs are different, as well as pet peeves, preferences and physical limitations.  It can be difficult to pick the vacuum that exactly meets the criteria for any given individual – even for the individual! And a vacuum itself might be great, but if not a good fit for its owner, becomes lousy.

So if you love someone and want to give them a thoughtful, useful gift for Valentine’s Day…DON’T just buy them a vacuum, silly….give them money or a gift certificate to Queen Vacuum so they can come pick one out for themselves!

 

Does Baking Soda RUIN your vacuum?

Baking soda is one of nature’s great deodorizers. Effective and inexpensive, baking sodabaking soda can be used in so many different ways from cooking to cleaning, and is often used to absorb unpleasant odors. Thus, baking soda and other powder-based carpet fresheners are very popular products on today’s market. When sprinkled on carpet and vacuumed up, these products purportedly work by absorbing bad smells and often have added perfumes so as to leave behind a fresh fragrance on the rug and in the room. That’s great  except for three big problems…

1. The particles of baking soda are so small, that a portion of the product remains in the carpet fiber and/or sifts beneath the rug and padding to the floor below (never to be recovered!) Don’t believe me? If you use baking soda and one day rip up your carpeting, you’ll see a surprising amount of its residue left behind!   But, in essence, that’s exactly how the product executes its claim of freshening the rug because that indeed is where much of the product stays.

Baking soda under the microscope2. There is also a serious problem caused by the physical nature of Baking Soda’s micro-particles…they’re very sharp!!  The “scrubby” texture of these grains work wonders on loosening grime or scrum from your dishes or bathtub. But left behind, buried deeply in your rug, the rough edges  slowly “saw-away” at the base of the fibers.  Walking over the rug exacerbates the situation.  This leads to the premature breakdown and thinning of your rugs. That’ll be expensive!

3. Again, due to the small particle size of baking soda or freshener product, these can clog the pores of your vacuum’s bag or HEPA filter. This can drastically reduce suction resulting in poor cleaning performance and cause clogs to form. Even worse, this dust can escape the filtration system in which your vacuum’s motor can “breathe” these particles and eventually short out.

This is not to just bash baking soda or Carpet Fresh; large quantities of any fine dust such as fireplace soot or sheetrock/construction dust is highly dangerous for almost any vacuum!

Agh But you want your carpets to smell good! Now what?! Keep in mind that, unless the product is specifically labeled as a drycleaning agent or stain remover, Carpet Freshtype powders are NOT able to remove the source of the odors. To truly clean and freshen carpets they must washed with a water solution by a carpet extractor machine or some sort of “dry” detergent agent. Think about it – how clean would your clothes be if you only sprinkled baking soda on them? Miele upright on Mohawk carpetCarpet-freshening sprays, foams or powders generally just leave behind fragranced residue that covers up lingering stink. Quite frankly, it’s the activity of vacuuming slowly and thoroughly thats achieving the results of removing the embedded, smelly and decaying particles!

A pretty aroma certainly makes your cleaning routine more gratifying and can help mask the stinky things now living in your vacuum! And the good news is that there are vacuum-freshening products available that are non-toxic, effective, are completely recoverable, and will not clog/blow up your vacuum! Fragrant Scent is a product we carry to take care of your smell vacuum without the nasty side effects! It is a product made of nicelyfragranced puffy granules (made from natural vermiculite) large enough not to fall through the carpet or clog up your vacuum. vacuums scentsJust shake a little out of the re-sealable bag onto your rug and vacuum like normal. Plus, as the granules get sucked up they also help to dislodge some of the dusty buildup, cleaning the inside of the vacuum’s hoses and tubes! Fragrant Scent is smell great!

**BONUS** Mention this article during your next visit to Queen Vacuum and receive 50%off your purchase of any package of Fragrant Scent vacuum granules!

We’re the WORST Salespeople… You should tell your friends!

Our Sales Pitch SucksDon’t worry – this newsletter will not be a self-deprecating bash fest. It will, as always, be filled with lots of useful information for you to apply to your life! But we like to be honest with our customers and friends. Our business relies heavily on word-of-mouth, so we thought we ought to make it clear to everyone that we are terrible salespeople.   

Some of you reading this are looooong-time customers, some of you may be new.  Those of you who have already bought vacuums or other supplies from us (hopefully) think what I’ve said is CRAZY, because you thoroughly enjoyed your sales experience here at Queen Vacuum!

Since I’m a terrible liar with a nagging conscience (two strikes against me already, right?) please allow me to clarify…

Our business is strong and we do quite well for ourselves. But we, like most, want to be even better! Although we repair countless vacuums each week, our favorite thing is selling new vacuums. It’s so fun and we’ve been told by customers that we are wonderful at it. However, we’ve been told by several of our regional manufacturer Sales Reps that we’re doing it all wrong!

It’s not that my team and I are not extremely good at what we do. We know our products in and out; we’re very kind, patient and teach our customers well. We genuinely enjoy the challenge of figuring out the perfect vacuum or cleaning product for your specific needs.  

Although we are eager and excited to help each of our customers,
we’re so afraid of coming off pushy. Why? Because we hate it when people do it to us! We have so much passion and knowledge to share but are, admittedly, a bit timid. Top salespeople are NOT afraid to share opportunity; ask the questions; push the boundaries. Guts and risk-taking usually yield impressive results. Timidity does not pave the way to early retirement, does it?

 

Too often, my team and I wait until someone walks in specifically asking to buy a new vacuum today. All the while, so many folks that walk in don’t even know we sell vacuums at all! Hmm…Might’ve been nice if we said something….oops.  If you ASK us a question, by golly we’ll tell you all you care to know! But we’re not going to spout pushy sales jargon to herd you into our showroom and trap you there until you buy something. …And thus, our sales number could be better.  It’s hard to tell someone not to fix the vacuum they just drug in and to buy a new one right now. And I just can’t look someone in the eye and tell them they should spend more than they can really afford or “need” features that they’ll never have a use for.

 

I am always happy to know what product and service resources are available to me and why they are important to take advantage of. But I don’t like being taken advantage of, nor pushed into decisions when I’m in a poor frame of mind. I know we, at Queen Vacuum, need to do a better job at letting the world know what products and services we provide. But rest assured, we won’t be showing up at your house and attacking your mattress with a vacuum, nor will we be cold-calling people at dinnertime. Could you tell others for us…Maybe? Please?

 

CONCLUSION

If you work in sales too, perhaps you can relate to this story. However, I certainly hope you are better at your job better than I! If you’re not, perhaps this will spur you to be a more empathetic as a customer. Regardless of what side of the sales counter we’re on, it’s important to remember that we are all just people: People with goals in mind, feelings, and hopefully a working conscience. And in order for everyone to get what they need, we have to work together! Consumers have to be forthcoming and clear about their needs and expectations – yet ideally, not belligerent or demanding. Salespeople need to be patient, informed, honest and good teachers – yet not arrogant, shady or pushy. Dramatic demonstrations, special incentives, excited voices DO really work. If they didn’t, nobody would buy anything and creepy salespeople would stop it already! But in our store, we don’t have the stomach for all that drama! If you don’t either – we encourage you to come to us when you need help about a vacuum (and to send your friends and family!)

Get your WAY the NICE way…

golden rule
… live by the Golden Rule and get Royal Results!
I think we are pretty “nice” people…we’re told that often enough so I believe it to be true! I think it’s fun to be nice. It feels natural and right to be nice. Niceness usually means that you get niceness back – and that feels great to receive! Are we perfectly nice 100% of the time? No, nobody is, but we sure try our best! But what IS niceness? Let’s explore this topic to see if we can agree on what “nice” behavior is, then see if it’s as effective as being aggressive in a sales or service situation. Oh – and what does this have to do with vacuum cleaners? You’ll see…
I enjoy producing articles that teach a “bigger” message. But to answer that last question, remember that your vacuum is a machine.  Like many others you have it frequently requires professional service and replacement parts. With that comes personal interaction between you and your service providers (like us!) And when everyone plays nice it makes every experience SO much more enjoyable and rewarding for both parties! If you work in retail you surely know what I mean! Just remember that we all are consumers also and we can all-too-quickly forget what it’s like to be on the other side. So this concept applies to your vacuum cleaner and to a multitude of areas of your life!
I believe that “nice” behavior is a cocktail of several different qualities expressed in an exchange between two or more people. If even one of these elements are left out the situation can get heated, stressful, be difficult to resolve the problem and/or cause an irreparable blowout! So, what should be in this ideal mix? In my book, the requirements are: Gentle tone of voice, a smile, patience, carefully listening to the other’s perspective or/or needs, sincerity and honesty, relaxed body language, respect for the other’s time… Be sensitive to the other person’s feelings and perspective – yet aim to NOT be so sensitive personally (i.e. have a thicker skin.)
For example, here at Queen Vacuum, most of our customers are absolutely amazing; the most delightful and appreciative folks! Yet we must remember that when a customer comes in frantic, upset, demanding or angry that their vacuum isn’t working that we shouldn’t take it personally. And like every business, we have systems in place that keep the work flow orderly, efficient and allow for thorough execution of each job or transaction. It makes work easier when customers respect that our systems are in the best interest of all of us. We of course try to be flexible and super-helpful for those who some in with true “emergencies” or special situations. BUT – badgering, questioning and extreme, on-the-spot demands are discombobulating, stressful and unfair to everyone, including other customers – like, duh LOL!! 
If you ever have a real predicament, special need or lots of questions – feel free to call in advance to kindly explain and see if/when/how we can arrange a solution. We’re happy to help you any way we can! But it might be too hard for us to help and think critically when our benches are already full of complicated repairs AND the showroom is full of active sales appointments AND the phone is ringing off the hook! NO, we may not be able to unclog someone’s Dyson RIGHT NOW while they wait no matter how much they beg/make a scene/threaten to never come back again LOL!!
MORAL OF THE STORY: We all get cranky and impatient sometimes. But I genuinely believe our lives would be so much better if we were all a little nicer. Our encounters in life are often brief and with little or no background. We don’t know each other’s situations or hardships and one tiny straw can indeed break the camel’s back.
So whatever side of the sales counter we’re on, let’s ditch the ‘ol “chip” on the shoulder and choose to be happy and kind! Instead of being aggravated, impatient, demanding and/or accusatory let’s all pledge to assume the best, give the benefit of the doubt, be patient… you know, “golden rule” stuff! A little respect and a friendly smile can go a long way to getting everyone what we desire!
 
By the way…if YOU are a nice person too – STOP IN and be sure to send in all your FRIENDS if they’re anything like you! 

Do NOT Take it Back!  (Top 3 reasons why it’s kinda EVIL to RETURN a vacuum cleaner)

We’ve arrived at the height of the shopping season… Vacuum cleaners are not necessarily the most popular of gifts, but new machines are commonly purchased at this time of year due to the excessive cleaning and preparation that goes along with entertaining! And with lots of sales come lots or RETURNS, right? Let’s hope not (we’ll get into why shortly.)

So, today I’m going to touch on a topic that’s, well, a little touchy…Returns! Ever buy a new vacuum at a big-box store and notice a little piece of paper that fall out of the box when you assemble?  “…DO NOT RETURN TO THE STORE.” Why on earth is that? Besides, retailers like Wal*Mart and Costco take back everything, no questions, right?!

That note was inserted by the manufacturer of your vacuum, and it’s pretty standard-issue. They know that most consumers are on their own… They know that at any given big-box store there’s no store staff member to help a customer select correct machine for their home and it certainly won’t be assembled for them. These product manufacturers (like Bissell, Hoover, Dyson, etc.) at least provide an owner’s manual with simple instructions and a free hotline or website link for basic troubleshooting.

Despite the disadvantages in the mainstream shopping method for appliances like vacuums, the actual setup and maintenance on most vacuums isn’t so bad.

But many folks simply lack the patience (or think they don’t have the mechanical knack) to utilize the resources provided to solve their issue. Thus, combined with the extremely liberal return policies of many retailers, today’s customers’ first inclination is to immediately return the vacuum to the store.  

But what does that really solve and how does that affect the retailer?

By the end of this article I hope you’ll understand the many reasons why returning a vacuum is such a BAD IDEA! You’ll also learn it’s so much more practical and valuable to shop with a dedicated small appliance seller and repair station like Queen Vacuum!!

Here are the top 3 Reasons why it’s kinda EVIL to RETURN your vacuum:

  1. It’s not ETHICAL.  By this I mean that it is potentially hurtful to others. Here’s how…

a.) One of the unfortunately typical causes for vacuum return is a practice called “retail borrowing” or “beturning.” But, quite frankly, it’s stealing. As it relates to our business, it’s unethical to buy a new vacuum then use, abuse, neglect, get it clogged, etc. and return to the store claiming it’s defective. Everybody (should) know that it’s wrong to purchase a product with the intent to use it briefly (borrow it) then return it. Have you ever suffered through the chafing caused by carefully tucked-away price tags in that too-expensive white cocktail dress (and avoid all red-colored foods and drinks) only to return it after the fancy event? Ever buy a massive, HD flat screen TV only to return it shortly after the Super Bowl? Tisk, tisk….

nasty cashierWhat’s the Reason for your return?

b.) New Jersey consumer protection laws prevent retailers from ever re-selling certain categories of products again as “new.” Products contaminated with biological waste or water like vacuums, toilet seats and water filters fall in this category.  In other words, if Home Depot sells you a new Hoover, you go home, use it for a few days and decide to return it, they can never sell it again as new. They give you back your money but take a loss. It cannot go back on their shelf, new.

c.) Thus, “beturning” a machine to a store (that really shouldn’t be accepting returns on this kind of product anyway) opens up the risk of passing contamination on to others. Some big-box stores are not very careful with such returns and occasionally re-stock that contaminated product!  This opens consumers up to the risk of receiving product that had collected hazardous construction materials, excrement, pet allergens, mold or insect infestation.  Vacuums properly refurbished and boldly disclosed as “used” are fine, if you choose to buy one from a reputable source. But buyer beware!!

  1. It’s not ECONOMICAL…. This type of activity actually hurts people’s pocketbooks and bottom lines in a few ways. a.) It’s not fair to make the store buy back and suffer the loss on a machine that is not actually defective (which partly this relates back to the ethics issue.) Did you realize that 9 out of 10 vacuums that are returned are simply clogged, dirty, the belt snapped from a small accident or had been operated on an incorrect usage setting (so that it wasn’t “working right.”) By returning it, the same problem is likely to happen since you’ll never learn what simple mistake you’d been making. What a waste of time in the long run.  Typically, the “tenth” machine is genuinely defective and therefore is entitled to a simple warranty repair, paid for by the manufacturer (it’s their fault anyway!)  Losses incurred from a liberal return policy add up quickly and the only means of a business’ survival is to raise process or cut costs from somewhere else. For consumers this means you prices go up service quality goes down.

b.) You should know that, with very rare exception, manufacturers do NOT buy back vacuums returned to their product’s retailers! Units they’ve produced that are proven to be genuinely defective can be repaired for no charge to the customer by a contracted warranty station like ours. But big-box stores do not fix anything! As you read above, the retailer simply bears the loss themselves. With laws restricting what can be done with these unwanted vacuums, they may either be sold through back-door deals to private refurbishers or will be discarded (which brings up my final point…)

  1. It’s not ECOLOGICAL…
    Because manufacturers do not buy back their “junk” from retailers, many of these mass-returned big-box store vacuums just end up in the dumps in mass quantities!
Off the the dumps they go...
Off the the dumps they go…

a.) Our culture has supposedly become increasingly “green-conscious,” yet we find instead that consumers are all too eager to throw away large appliances like vacuums at the first moment of inconvenience. Do you realize the quantity of plastic and precious metals involved in their manufacture? Sure, they can be dismantled and recycled….we do it all the time here at Queen Vacuum. Does Wal*Mart take the time out of their day to do that?  This is why it’s most wise to purchase a high-quality, long-lasting machine that is simple and serviceable. Get help picking one out and establish a relationship with a reputable service facility like us. You don’t throw away your car when the oil needs changing or the alternator quits, right?  Cheap machines are typically harder to maintain and fail very quickly. Don’t waste your money, time or the valuable space in our landfills.

 

What are we thinking these days? 
Back in the day, when the vacuum acted funny, Grandma or Mom likely would’ve grabbed the manual and said “Hmm…I bet I just broke the belt. Let’s check the book to learn how to put a new one back on.”  Or “Rats, I wonder what I sucked up that clogged my vacuum? Let me turn it off and see if I can clear out the culprit.”  Today, it seems that consumers look at these situations much differently. Their inclination is to get angry, assume that the vacuum is genuinely defective and that it’s best to return it to where they bought it. Alternately, many believe that the $50 vac they bought is literally disposable, so off the curb it goes once the dirt bin is full, belt breaks or filter gets too clogged. But other than buying back the yucky, now useless vacuum at their loss, how is Wal*Mart helping you?

CONCLUSION:
Keep in mind, this is in NO WAY an attempt to steal away or diminish the rights of the consumer! After all, we’re consumers too! If you’ve been treated unfairly or received defective goods by all means, stand up for yourself! I just implore that you take a logical, fair approach (by taking whatever personal responsibility is needed) then follow the logical, fair channels to truly fix your problem. This article simply attempts to illustrate how the abuse of one’s consumer rights and stores’ policies can have very far-reaching negative consequences on the economy, our earth’s ecology, and hurt other people – consumers and retailers alike. Be thoughtful, be fair and everyone will benefit in the long run!

 

HELP Helpers to Help You Better…

Crystal Ball with vacuum stuffWith Mind Readers in short supply – Arm yourself with the right info to get exactly what you need! 

What do PSYCHICS have to do with getting you the correct type of printer ink, brake pads or vacuum cleaner bags? NOTHING!  (And that’s precisely why you wouldn’t want to rely on one to get the products you seek!)

Let’s take a light-hearted look at an issue that drives consumers, retailers and service people equally nuts…We call it “Crystal Ball Syndrome,” CBS for short. It all has to do with expecting others – specifically those we do business with – to be mind readers!    

With our lives as busy as they are, we all need HELP! Thus, we employ the services of a wide variety of “helpers”(i.e. repair people, hairdressers, cleaning ladies, etc.) to do things for which we don’t have the time and/or expertise.  We also need stuff (i.e. food, clothing, electronics, household supplies and replacement parts.) With so much to wade through and so many variants, we often rely on salespeople to point us to the right aisle, or to select the correct product for our needs.
But have you ever gotten all the way to the store to pick up something like an ink cartridge, only to realize that you have no idea which type (of the 100 choices on the wall) that you need! Perhaps a nearby sales clerk takes pity, trying his best to jog your memory for details that can help him figure out what style your machine takes. But you can’t even offer him the brand….All you know is that “it’s blackish/grayish, square-ish, about yea big…”  Both of you are frustrated. He makes no sale and you go home empty-handed.

Crystal Ball Syndrome strikes consumers and retailers alike…no one is immune. Parties on either side of the sales counter become understandably feverish over wasted money, effort and disappointing results. The good news is that this affliction can be prevented by executing two simple measures: Homework and Communication.

As a consumer, your HOMEWORK should be to always take a little time in advance to collect your thoughts about what you want, for what purpose, and why. Be confident and secure in what you seek, up-front. If you’re undecided it will be equally helpful to tell your salesperson exactly where you need clarification or tailored advice. Details are key! Here are some examples specific to our business…    

Let’s say you need a replacement part for your vacuum cleaner:

  • Learn the NAME of the part you need of (i.e. Drive Belt)
  • Write down PART/STYLE NUMBER if you can find it (i.e. Style 4/5)
  • Write down the BRAND and MODEL number of the machine in case (i.e. Dirt Devil, #M085590)
  • If you’re not sure what type of info you need to bring – or don’t know where to find it – Call first to ask.

If you want to buy a new vacuum cleaner, come in having considered:

  • Your budget (up front and annual)
  • Size of your house and number of levels
  • Types of hard flooring and types of carpeting
  • Pets? Kids? Cleaning service?
  • Family health issues or physical limitations like allergies or back problems
  • Vacuums you’ve liked or disliked in the past and why

COMMUNICATION: This, of course, works both ways. In other words, although service/sales people are not psychics, they should of course be skilled, listen carefully, and have a strong command of their responsibilities and products. They must also be clear to you, their customer, about what info they need in order to give you the product or result you seek.  However, their ability to help you to the fullest relies on your ability to clearly communicate your needs, likes, dislikes, budget, deadline, other expectations or questions. Try to use the right terminology if you can, but don’t be ashamed to ask what things are called – We can all work together better when we speak the same language!

We’ve all been victims and inflictors of CBS. So remember that “helpers” can’t read your mind (and neither can customers.)  Just like your husband that can’t guess why you’re upset – your cleaning lady can’t know you are allergic to PineSol if you don’t tell her.  And although you shouldn’t expect us to remember the belt style for the vacuum your Mom bought from our store in 1984 – we need to be able to help you find the model number we need to look it up and get it for you! 

In spite of the mental fog and lack of patience caused by our hectic lives, we can take steps to prevent further suffering…  Since it’s easier to do something right from the start, vow to be prepared: Know what you have, know what you want, and learn the right terminology to use to enable someone to help you to get what you need!

Bed Bugs…BUSTED!

Send the kiddies safely off to school, and SLEEP more soundly… 

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”  GET REAL! Who can sleep after even mentioning BED BUGS? If you have just sent your kids packin’ to college, you may not be sleeping very well as it is. And worrying about their living conditions states away certainly doesn’t help. COLLEGE KIDS PRACTICALLY LIVE OFF OF THEIR BEDS, in close quarters with a high level of social interaction, and are not known for their cleanliness. So you can imagine how easily bug problems can be missed and spread. But don’t freak out…Knowledge is power!

Let’s review some common-sense tips on how to detect, and potentially avoid bed bugs with just your wits and the tools you already have! (If you already know a lot, skip to the summary.) 

(Excerpted from CDC Website, about Bed Bugs)

 What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat, nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1 to 7 millimeters in length. They can live several months without a blood meal. Infestations of these insects usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.

They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, and under any clutter or objects around a bed.  They tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep. Bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they can transport stow-away bed bugs as they travel potentially infesting new areas, including their homes, as they relocate.

How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation:

One of the most noticed signs are bite marks that appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, and any other body parts. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea – a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite. These bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These other signs may include:

  • the exoskeletons of bed bugs after molting
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets
  • a sweet musty odor
  • rusty-colored blood spots from their blood-filled fecal material that is often excreted on the mattress or nearby furniture

A comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program  to control bed bugs may include methods such as:

  • using monitoring devices
  • removing clutter where bed bugs can hide
  • applying heat treatment
  • vacuuming
  • sealing cracks and crevices to remove hiding places
  • using non-chemical pesticides (such as diatomaceous earth) and
  • judicious use of effective chemical pesticides
  • bed bug infestations will not go away without intervention, and intervention is most effective when populations are low

The Huffington Post printed a great article specifically on the issue of bed bugs in college dorms.  Here are some highlights… (FULL Article)

Ways students can protect themselves:

  • When going on vacation, place luggage on luggage racks rather than a bed. And if you have to use a bed, vacuum your suitcases upon return from a vacation.
  • If you’re purchasing used furniture for your apartment, make sure you thoroughly investigate it before you bring it into your home. The last thing you want to do is PAY for bugs!
  • If a bed is provided in your room, thoroughly inspect it for signs before you move in, and periodically check your mattress and surrounding areas for signs of bugs. (see below)

WHAT TO DO if you discover (or suspect) a bed bug infestation:

  • DON’T PANIC! While bed bugs are not thought to transmit disease, infestations decrease the quality of life by causing discomfort, sleeplessness and embarrassment. Please don’t start rumors until an infestation is confirmed. Also, skin allergies or other bug bites can be mistaken bed bug bites….
  • Yet be on the safe side – watch where you place your clothes, shoes, bags, etc. and limit sharing of belongings.
  • If at school, tell your R.A. you suspect a problem, so that they may arrange for proper, professional diagnosis and extermination if needed. Do not try to exterminate on your own.
  • Seek medical attention if your bites are causing you distress.
  • SEEK PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS & EXTERMINATION SERVICES.
vacuum mattressSummarySo, use your smarts (as well as a flashlight and good vacuum) to check out your sleeping quarters regularly!   Change your bed sheets often and look at the mattress for signs of bugs. And one of the best things you can do to keep your MATTRESS fresh and free of allergens, dust mites, and to nip bugs in the bud – is to VACUUM it!

Utilize a powerful, sealed-HEPA vacuum cleaner with disposable HEPA bags to do this job correctly. Your goal is to pull out fine, creepy particles like dead skin cells, dust mite eggs and excrement, as well as bed bugs, their eggs and fecal matter. The vacuum must be of the highest quality so as not to expel those particles back out into the air! Dispose of your bag immediately to eliminate the contamination. Miele vacuum cleaners are the best choice for this task, and they even produce the SBD10 Mattress cleaning attachment (pictured above) to reach the awkward crevices where dust and bugs accumulate.

Now that you’re in the know don’t neglect your mattress and don’t send your kids off to school without an education about bed bugs and a good vacuum to keep their dorm clean! But DO get a good night’s sleep!

A Little R & R… How YOU benefit from US taking a vacation!

In this edition of Queen Vacuum’s blog, we’re going to take a break from talking specifically about vacuums, and talk about taking a BREAK!  

Nope, there will be no reviews of the best vacuums or how to hunt down dust bunnies today! I can assure you that you’ll still be left with thought-provoking tidbits of advice. We are not claiming to be shrinks or life coaches, but we’ve learned a few things during our 16+ years as small business owners, and it wouldn’t be right to keep it all to ourselves!

Remember; this blog is for you, our readers/customers. The subject matter is up to you as well. We write stories to answer the questions you have, whether asked explicitly or inferred through general conversation. So how could we ignore one of the most commonly-asked questions of this past year? Albeit unrelated to vacuums or cleaning, we are happy to discuss why we are closed on Saturdays and other random dates throughout the year. And as is always our goal, we hope that you can take what you learn here and apply it to improve your own life!

I encourage you to read the full story…there are details which may really speak to you. But for those short on time, I’ve borrowed a snippet (that I used on our website a while back) that sums it all up:

“Please PLAN AHEAD…We’ll announce exact dates as they approach, but we will CLOSE to take one short vacation MONTHLY (usually one of the last weekends or around a major holiday.)  …We’re a true “mom & pop” biz, solely operating 6 days a week for your convenience. But after over 14 successful years (sans vacation) we finally realized that we need a rest! Thanks to your encouragement we decided to close for short, occasional breaks… These will actually offer the maximum net operating hours for you while giving us enough back-to-back days to visit out-of-state family, attend the occasional wedding, complete home-repair projects and have a life! We’re so grateful!  Stay tuned…”

We work hard, really hard – as do you. We genuinely want to help people, and although this business is our life (and we must keep our sanity a high priority) we care more about your needs than you can imagine. We understand your life is complex, so we do our very best to make our service to you as effective, valuable, pleasurable and easy as possible. But as you’ll read, we learned the hard way that we can’t be all things to all people, and it’s hard to know when to stop or say “no.” The disappointment we feel when we can’t help somebody is physically palpable among us. But we’ve also decided to be the absolute best at what we do, even if that means scaling back on certain products, services or operations that are better served elsewhere.

So, what do you do when the business is growing and you’re achieving your goals, but it’s at the expense of your personal health and relationships? Re-evaluate. After some extensive experimenting (also  enlisting advice from certain trusted business-friends and other professionals) we settled on a schedule with enough “open” hours to serve the majority of our loyal customers. But it also allows us time to get through the large amount of work that can only be done after-hours, without interruption and in the quiet. Lastly, it gives our team time on Saturday to enjoy Shabbat,  a “blessed rest,” and recuperate/enjoy life a little. Perhaps some people assume we are lazy or not “customer-friendly” because our hours are somewhat limited. But truthfully, our most loyal, best customers are supportive. “Good for you” or “you guys deserve a break” they say. The relief we feel upon hearing that cannot be described!

It took us many years to figure out that WE ARE NOT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! We cannot replicate the format of some other stores because we do not do the same things. We fill a gap left behind by all other “big-box” and online retailers. We are here for the folks who need and/or appreciate expert advice, as well as repair service. This is best achieved though a small, personal shop operated by a highly skilled (and invested) team. Perhaps one day will we grow to the point where we can afford more employees to expand our hours? Eh, maybe. But with expansion, operating costs go up and personalization goes down…  Amazon.com and Wal-Mart are great for some things, but Queen Vacuum is better for others. So we’ve made a point to work hardest at what we’re good at – what our best customers need – and forget the rest!

Here’s a little more “back-story,” if you have an extra minute….   Several years ago, while still operating our two store locations, our team had unanimously decided to take back our weekends! For the most part, all of us could now attend special weekend events (like out-of-state weddings and family gatherings) with a little relaxation to spare.Incredibly, that action launched our business and lives to the next level! However, as you may know, our 2nd store location in Neptune City was destroyed in a flood in 2014. Since then we consolidated our stores into just our (former) Red Bank location. To serve our “displaced” Neptune customers and spread out the excessive work we opened back up for a 6th day. With a little creative scheduling and the extra retained staff available it worked out alright!  However, in January 2017, our dear Erika who had to move away. John and I now had some seriously skilled, hard-working shoes to fill…and away went our extra day off LOL! We’decided to maintain the 6-day “open” work week our customers had recently become accustomed to. But without enough time off and a TON more work to complete we quickly grew weary.

So, we decided to follow the pattern of many other small businesses. We grabbed our calendar and blocked out the federal holidays, penciled in a few 3-day weekends around major personal/family events, and a 2-week vacation for ourselves. Now we work ourselves to-the-bone 6 days, rest like it’s God’s business on Saturday/Sabbath, and ENJOY a few larger blocks of refreshing and/or productive time off!!  Funny thing…Each time we’ve made these minor operational modifications, our productivity and revenue has gone UP, our relationships improve and the “spring” returns to our step!! We’ve enjoyed our loved ones, friends and hobbies while getting a little vitamin D, and we come into work on Sunday mornings completely refreshed. This helps us stay sharp and work harder for our customers all week!

MORAL OF THE STORY: This article is not designed to be a long-winded excuse to have a few days off per month (not that that’s really a lot to ask.) I mean it when I say that we have learned a LOT about ourselves, people, and life itself over the past decade. This article is about learning what’s truly important in your life, then taking care of it. Step back from your daily life, habits, routines and chores and look at what you’re doing. Do you like what you see? You must take care of YOU, or you’re no good to anyone else. Your choices and changes you make may affect other people, so be respectful of that fact. Ideally the situation will work out to the benefit of all. But others should respect your choices as well, so that the favor can be returned someday. Furthermore, assume the best, give the benefit of the doubt, be patient… you know, “golden rule” stuff. A little respect and a friendly smile can go a long way.

We’ve finally learned to take some of those wise, old adages more seriously: “Quality versus quantity”; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”; “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you”; “All work and not play makes Jack a dull boy”; “You can’t win them all.” We looked into our business and personal lives to decide what was important. We learned to be protective of our time; to “weed out” unfruitful things that weren’t in line with our goals, leaving time and resources to “fertilize” the good stuff! Things got better. So we hope that that by having read our story you’ll not only gain respect for our decision to close Saturdays and for an occasional vacation, but also finds ways to streamline and improve the quality of your own life!

Going CSI on your Vacuum Warranty…

To Warranty or NOT to Warranty? Using our “CSI” skills to decipher your vacuum’s eligibility…

To be perfectly honest, warranty is not a fun topic to discuss. It is a wildly misunderstood part of our industry and often makes for cranky customers…Imagine you buy a $500 vacuum and within 3 months it is up in smoke and inoperable! So let’s clear up the confusion.  What is warranty, how does it work and how can you get the most out of it? (Keep in mind – this applies to lots of products, not just vacuums!) 

When a manufacturer produces product, it makes a promise to the consumer that the product will work, as intended, for a given period of time. They are usually a “limited warranty” meaning that there are reasonable exclusions. It is NOT a “100% Guarantee” and it is timely! It’s very logical, really. And luckily your entire warranty contract (as well as maintenance requirements) are all included in your owner’s manual. Yes – you must read your manual! You run the risk of poor performance, permanent damage and voiding warranty if you don’t follow the “rules.”What is WARRANTY?

 

What IS covered? 

“Defects in materials and workmanshipThat’s it. The company protects you from defects in their manufacturing.Things like burnt-out switches, bad computer control boards or batteries that won’t charge are typically covered. Occasionally, a plastic clip, cuff, bracket or internal valve cracks. But clogs, broken belts, filters, damage by animals or falls, sucking up water are a few examples of excluded issues/items.  A true defect is usually easy to spot. It’s something that a consumer in no way could cause to happen!

Although your car may encounter potholes, it’s not meant to drive into them. Your auto dealer cannot cover damage from hitting a pothole under warranty. If the fuel pump relay went, sure. Similarly, cracking your vacuum’s housing on the coffee table or sucking up wet Cheerios or socks is not coverable.

So really, how do you tell a defect from accident/abuse?

        …This is where we get all “CSI” on your vacuum!!

Simply put, the forensic evidence speaks for itself. Remember, we fix things for a living and we see it all. Little details speak volumes especially when compared to the bigger picture. Ever look carefully at a broken piece of plastic or metal? Excessive bending and wear make distinctive stress marks near the break. A defect in the tempering of the metal will result in a break that looks totally different. Similarly, we can tell exactly what caused a vacuum’s belt to break just by looking at it: Brushroller bearings seizing, something got stuck in brushroller, vs crooked installation.

 

How did WE get in the middle of this?

Manufacturers make things, but most of them can’t fix a sandwich. They need authorized third parties repair facilities like us (nearby their customers) to perform the repair work when something goes wrong. We maintain warranty contracts with nearly every major vacuum manufacturer (Hoover, Dyson, Dirt Devil, Bissell, Miele, etc.) So if you call Dyson because your DC50 upright won’t stand up, they’ll send you to us!

 

We are the manufacturer’s eyes and ears, but we follow their rules of warranty eligibility. We are bound by a strict contract! They send us customers in need of help. If the vacuum’s age is still within the period of time offered in the warranty (usually at least 1 year) we must then perform a lengthy, multi-point inspection and submit our findings in a paper or digital claim. We must order/buy genuine repair parts in advance, repair the vacuum in good faith, and submit for reimbursement (at a rate lower than I care to discuss.) It’s quite a process. For the customer it is all done for free, but it (understandably) takes a bit longer than a regular service repair.

Don’t shoot the messenger! 

We sometimes encounter problems that the manufacturer does not cover nor pay us for. The customer must pay if these are to be remedied by our staff. But we always call with an estimate and thorough explanation before anything is done or charged! Folks can still get pretty miffed about this, but trust is the “glue” in this whole process. We are here to be a fair, expert, impartial party between the both of you! Read your owner’s manual and understand the warranty. Take good, careful care of your machine and that will make it easy for us to decipher any genuine defects that may arise over time. That makes processing warranty a snap, saving us all time, money and frustration!

>> CLICK HERE for a detailed yet concise printable form explaining warranty!  WARRANTY HANDOUT (printable PDF)

Vacuums Suck and Cars Don’t!

(PART TWO of a short series using cars to understand vacuums)

We hope you enjoyed last week’s article “If cars were built like vacuums – we’d probably be dead.” If you missed it or didn’t finish reading it CLICK HERE to catch up!

So far, we learned that cars have significantly improved in critical areas like comfort, safety and fuel efficiency over the years. However, the mass majority of popular vacuum cleaners have suffered a serious decline in quality and performance to consumer demand for low prices and weight!

Now that you’re warmed up to my train of thought – using something familiar like cars to better understand your vacuumlet’s explore another commonly misunderstood factor: PERFORMANCE QUALITY. Following are 3 key factors to consider….
Every machine is designed to do a certain job, or set of jobs. To share the same classification, machines must obviously share specific performance criteria: Calculators have to calculate; Toasters must toast; Cars need to move, steer and stop; Vacuums cleaners have to suck and hold dirt in side. If a machine doesn’t perform the expected tasks, we either consider it broken, or we just have to find a new name for it!

Yet within those categories of machine, we often see numerous variants, brands and types. Sure, shapes and colors may vary, but most often a machine will be separated from others of its kind because of a claim to perform somewhat differently. It’s important to look carefully at these differences in claims, as it may drastically affect the machine’s ability to perform the tasks we expect.

The first part of what makes up a machine’s quality of performance depends on how well it is tailored to the task at hand. Do you have the right “tool” for the job? You can’t roast a small chicken in a regular, sliced-bread toaster. I don’t expect you’d buy a Toyota Prius to go off-roading in the mountains. And I would hope you’d know better than to buy an upright vacuum with a non-stopping brushroller if you have only hardwood floors.

The second factor falls in the realm of finer details. Two widgets may claim to do the exact same task, but have very different prices. Why? Quality is usually the one of the main reasons, yet this can be cocktail of several factors. “Better” quality usually indicates a products ease of use during the performance of its given task. Also, the better product can usually be expected to last longer or break less, providing a greater value for your dollar over time. Perhaps this product also does the particular task “better” than the other: Computes faster; Toasts more evenly; Is safer in a crash; Allows less dust escapes into the air, etc. Esthetics often plays a role too. Ultimately you need to decide how much those subtle factors affect the completion of your task, whether you feel they are worth the price, or which is just a better fit for your personal preferences. So if the next vacuum you buy is only $50, that’s fine – It may be just right for your situation. What I hope is that you will NOT BE FOOLED by the commercials and colorful packaging into believing that it will last very long or is “great for allergy sufferers!”

This brings me to the third aspect of discussion: How to maintain your equipment’s level of performance. Everything has an “Achilles Heel.” You wouldn’t dream of buying a car, whether a Hyundai or a Hummer, and never change the oil or brakes…You’d either blow up the motor or get killed in an accident! Similarly, you can’t buy a vacuum and not replace the bag or filter for 6 months without risking blowing up its motor, or you at least suffering a serious allergy attack! Just remember the KEY WORD: MAINTENANCE. All machines, especially those with moving parts, need it now and then! Otherwise, your car, vacuum, etc., cannot be expected to perform as well as it is intended to. You’ll need to understand what it takes to keep it going, and whether or not you’re willing and able to keep up with it!

At Queen Vacuum, we play “matchmaker” all day! It’s our job to listen and match each customer up with the right vacuum for their specific needs. Sometimes it’s a $69 Dirt Devil, sometimes it’s a $699 Miele. When you know a lot about a given type of product it’s easy to spot the differences between seemingly similar items. You can discern the main criteria: WHAT it does, HOW WELL it does it, and HOW LONG will it last. Most importantly, you can translate those differences into the potential benefits or detriments in your experience with that product. When you don’t know much about something you’re looking to buy, please do your research. But if you just can’t wrap your mind around the differences in the products you want – have an expert explain it. Or try the old trick of relating it to something you already understand well like food, electronics or (our favorite) cars!