A year on and consumers are just as confused over EU rules governing the labelling and power of vacuum cleaners as they were when the requirements were introduced. Nothing has changed, except that manufacturers are attempting to sue either each other or the EU; and consumers are buying vacuum cleaners that they may be ultimately unhappy with.
Often consumers are finding that vacuum cleaners, particularly cylinders, are harder to use than before. This is due to the fact that, to meet the EU requirements and achieve the pick up of dirt that is specified, manufacturers are making machines where the floorhead sticks to the floor. In reviews, where vacuum cleaners have been tested in ‘real world’ situations, this is a common problem.
Anecdotally, retailers have seen an increase in returns on some manufacturer’s models because customers are finding the machines difficult to use and not performing as expected. Indeed, the level of customer dissatisfaction has led some retailers to stop stocking certain models.
When it comes to the labels themselves, it seems likely that the majority of consumers are taking little notice of them and, where they do, are probably left confused. They will almost certainly have scant grasp of what the data shown really means or how little the tests used to gather it relate to the actual everyday use of a vacuum cleaner.
Ironically, it is now often the case that the better the vacuum cleaner performs, the worse the rating on the label. Our key objections to the legislation surrounding the energy label have always concerned the testing procedures, particularly the tests for pick up.
Both the hard floor and carpet pick up tests require that a special type of sand be used. This is not something that is normally collected by vacuum cleaners: generally 80% of what is picked up is fluff, hair and fibre. The hard floor test also involves removing dirt from a 10mm deep by 3mm wide crevice. It does not take into account the need to clean the surface of the floor! The noise and filtration tests are equally farcical and in no way make for a more efficient and better-designed vacuum cleaner. ‘Ease of use’ is not part of the tests.
There is little transparency for the consumer. In light of the Volkswagen scandal, it seems astonishing that the energy labels are self-certified and are open to abuse. Indeed, some of the ratings given by manufacturers are questionable to say the least. No wonder a generation of ‘tick box’ vacuum cleaners is being developed that are poor at picking up what needs to be picked up, good at picking up what does not need to be picked up, and frustratingly difficult to use.
This is only the start. Currently, 1600w is the maximum wattage for vacuum cleaners but this figure drops to 900w in 2017. While quality brands will hopefully always offer superior performance, in future it may take a lot longer to clean a floor!
“Buyer beware” and “too good to be true” are the phrases that come to mind when one considers the way consumers are manipulated by certain vacuum cleaner manufacturers who regularly use the lure of ‘sale’ prices.
Everyone likes a bargain and there is no reason why manufacturers and retailers should not use a sale to sell goods that are genuinely reduced from their normal price. The problem comes when the bargains that consumers think they are getting are not actual bargains but the result of fabricated price structuring.
Strict government guidelines exist relating to sale pricing that attempt to protect consumers by ensuring price reductions are genuine. The most important point to note is that, broadly speaking, before prices can be reduced in a sale, an item must have been sold at the higher price for at least 28 consecutive days before the sale. In addition, the item must not be offered at the sale price for any longer than it was sold at the higher price.
While adhering to the basic principles that these guidelines set out, some vacuum cleaner manufacturers do not embrace the underlying spirit. They instead employ a policy of ‘high-low pricing’ where they purposefully set an item at a high price to give customers the impression that this is the correct price for a product and then, 28 days later, significantly drop the cost and present it as a deal that is too good to miss.
These tactics are not confined to vacuum cleaner manufacturers but they are rife within our industry amongst certain brands. For those involved, there is a very real danger that, after a while, this contrived means of attracting sales will taint the brand because consumers become savvy to the yo-yo pricing and simply wait for the next sale reduction.
More worryingly, there are trust issues with retailers who become upset that they have bought at one price and are potentially having to sell at a price lower than they paid for the product. Retailers also have to deal with disgruntled consumers, unwittingly caught out by these fake bargains, who have bought at the higher price only to see exactly the same product being sold for significantly less than they paid.
As has been seen with Black Friday, the benefits for retailers of large price reductions are often short lived. The idea being established in consumers' minds that, if they wait, there will always be another better and bigger bargain creates unsustainable peaks and troughs in the market and undermines acceptable margin levels.
In the longer term, the manufacturers who consistently offer high quality products and attempt to sell at a fair price at all times are likely to be the real winners, along with the consumers who realise that a bargain is not necessarily what it appears and quality, ease of use and reliability are worth paying for.
For more information on the SEBO range, please call 01494 465533 or visit www.sebo.co.uk.
New Year! And so, the annual ‘clean up after Christmas’ begins; bits of tinsel, crumpled wrapping paper and needles from the tree linger perhaps longer than the relatives! A SEBO is a great start to your resolution list! Must get a good vacuum cleaner for 2016!
The SEBO E1 cylinder vacuum cleaner is ideal for all sorts of homes, floors and debris…and there are lots more to choose from at www.sebo.co.uk.
Powerful, effective and extremely quiet to use, the SEBO E1 boasts a host of impressive features, including a retractable cable that winds in at the touch of a button, an airbelt bumper to protect your walls and furniture, plus an intelligent motor that senses overheating and turns the motor down accordingly.
The durable stainless steel tube can be easily adjusted to make cleaning more comfortable, not just for you but for anyone in your household. This sleek machine doesn’t just get the job done in a swift effective manner; it also fits into the décor of your home perfectly with its stylish red colour.
A study of 2,000 people, conducted on behalf of a professional domestic cleaning service, shows that Brits will spend, on average, 10 years on household tasks over the course of a lifetime.* With so many hours spent making your home immaculate, it’s vital to make them as comfortable as possible!
From upright to cylinder designs, there is a SEBO machine to suit everyone. User-friendly features such as long cables and ergonomic handles help make the whole process that little bit easier.
All SEBO vacuum cleaners are made in Germany using the very best materials. SEBO vacuum cleaners offer powerful performance and unbeatable ease of use to make vacuuming your home a breeze. Designed to stand the test of time, a SEBO machine will deliver consistently high standards year after year.
SEBO offers a free five-year parts and labour guarantee on all domestic machines.
EU labelling requirements for vacuum cleaners have already been much debated but, in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, it is worth nothing that vacuum cleaner manufacturers self-test and self-validate so it is all too easy for results to be fudged and skewed to present products in an advantageous light. Added to this, the tests themselves are unrepresentative of real world cleaning scenarios so magnify the confusion in the market place. Quite simply, the whole process is somewhat unbelievable and pointless.
Although the conditions are supposed to be the same in every manufacturer’s testing station, there are inevitable variations. Pick up can differ between carpet samples by up to 10%. There are also margins of error that a manufacturer can factor in so a plus or minus of 3% is quite feasible. If the manufacturer always opts to add this percentage of error in their favour, they can potentially lift their product up a band in terms of percentage pick up. So far, despite many companies claiming results that cannot be true, no one has been prosecuted.
There ought to be an officially sanctioned laboratory that does all the tests but, before thinking about this scenario, it is the tests themselves that should be examined. In particular, the tests for pick up are flawed as they do not represent the ‘real world' situations found either in homes or commercial premises.
Both the hard floor and carpet pick up tests require that a special type of sand be used. This is not something that is normally collected by vacuum cleaners. Generally, 80% of what is picked up is fluff, hair and fibre.
Equally unrepresentative is the so called ‘crevice’ test used for hard floors. This results in the vacuum cleaner head being designed to ‘seal’ down against the floor and does not take account of the need to clean the floor’s surface. Consequently, dirt is simply pushed along in front of the head without being sucked up. Users also end up being frustrated because the machine is hard to use since the head ‘sticks’ to the floor.
Ironically, the EU label was introduced to inform consumers on the energy consumption, performance, noise, dust re-emission and other essential characteristics of their vacuum cleaners. Instead, it has driven manufacturers to make vacuum cleaners that do not meet the needs of users in terms of ease of use or performance while, at the same time, the data provided fails to tell consumers how the machine is going to perform in practice.
At the very least, there should be some form of independent testing of manufacturers’ claims. Where these claims cannot be substantiated, there must be rigorous enforcement and prosecution of companies that are providing inaccurate or misleading data.
Small, compact and handy to use, cordless vacuum cleaners are great; but they are definitely not a replacement for the traditional corded machine. They are both fantastic, but at different jobs!
Cordless vacuum cleaners use rechargeable batteries to power them. These batteries lack the ability to supply the power needed to match a corded, mains operated machine when it comes to sucking up dust and dirt. More frustratingly, the need to recharge batteries means the cleaner is not always available. When the battery dies, there is no alternative but to stop cleaning, plug in and wait: full charging times can vary from two to a lengthy sixteen hours. Running times for cordless machines vary considerably depending on the model: the shortest is quoted at around six minutes and the longest at up to an hour. Using motorised tool accessories reduces these running times.
What cordless products do offer though is convenience. They are easy to carry around because they are light and can be used virtually anywhere. There is no need for a power socket and no trip hazard from a trailing cable or tangling around furniture, people or pets. They are great for cleaning cars and for spot cleaning crumbs and cobwebs. Due to their compact size, cordless vacuum cleaners may even be the answer for very small flats where storage space is at a premium.
Conversely, corded, mains-operated vacuum cleaners score highly because of their power and their ability to make light work of the tough challenges of everyday cleaning. Both upright and cylinder machines are available; they offer excellent reliability day after day without ever needing to be recharged. With many models, their light weight and ergonomic design means that they are easy to use for long periods. They are versatile, often come with a wide range of accessories and are able quickly to clean large areas and thoroughly brush the pile of carpet while sucking away ingrained dirt.
The EU ruling limiting electricity consumed by your vacuum cleaner to 1,600 watts doesn’t have to make a difference to your cleaning routine. By selecting an efficient, well-designed SEBO machine, you can expect just the same cleaning power with no extra work.*
With an efficient 1,200 watt motor, SEBO’s E1 PLUS cylinder vacuum cleaner harnesses the performance you need while using limited electricity. For an even bigger saving that the planet will thank you for, the SEBO Felix Vogue ECO uses just 700 watts without compromising on suction power.
SEBO machines are made in Germany with the best quality materials and are built to stand the test of time, performing to a consistently high standard year after year.
SEBO offers a free five-year parts and labour guarantee on all domestic machines.
As we head into the new year and new season, the fashion forecast is full of bright, optimistic tones such as a soft peach tone.* This warm, glowing orange shade is reminiscent of new spring flowers and is the colour to be seen in this spring/summer season.
There’s no reason why this gorgeous shade has to stay outdoors, either. SEBO’s Automatic X4 EXTRA ECO vacuum brings a glimmer of sunshine indoors so you can keep your home on trend and spotless whatever the weather.
This high-performance upright machine uses a computer control system and efficient air flow design along with advanced S-Class filtration for exceptional cleaning results every time.
From strawberry to pomegranate, this Autumn/Winter season will be awash with bright, daring reds.*
So if you like to keep your home right on-trend all year round, adding a fiery splash of red to the décor could be just the ticket. For an effortless injection of this season’s colour, SEBO’s Felix Rosso ECO machine comes in a bold, vibrant red, adding a little glamour to your weekly routine.
The Felix Rosso ECO vacuum cleaner costs around £259.95 and is available nationwide.
Flooring manufacturers promise wildly different lifespans for their products but, as a rule, many of us change our carpet or laminate floor roughly once a decade. By taking good care of your floorcoverings, you can extend their life and save money. Using a good quality, high-performance vacuum cleaner regularly is one way of doing this. SEBO’s upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners are designed to be easy, comfortable and convenient to use and will keep your floors in tip-top condition. SEBO’s Felix Rosso ECO vacuum cleaner, pictured, boasts a flexible flat-to-floor cleaning head which makes it easy to clean under and around furniture. The machine also boasts an adjustable telescopic handle and integrated hose and you can select variable power settings.