5 On Your Side

Vacuum sucks up dirt, leaves damaged mattress behind

Posted May 1, 2013

— Raleigh resident Byron Lanier said a demonstration by a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman last October left a row of holes and ripped seams in his mattress.

“He's going back and forth and back and forth with the mattress, and at some point we begin to see some tearing and so forth,” Lanier recalled. “By the time he recognized that it was actually tearing the mattress and ripping holes in the mattress, it was too late.”

Lanier contacted the company, MJD Distributing in Cary. After multiple back-and-forth emails and phone calls, MJD had Lanier email photos and a purchase receipt for the mattress.

“She says, 'I have forwarded the emailed pictures to Kirby Company and the process to get this resolved has been started,” Lanier said, reading one of the messages from MJD.

In November, Lanier got an email from MJD asking more questions, supposedly on behalf of Kirby.

“I'm thinking she's having conversation, so this is good,” he said. “Maybe the process is rolling and it's just taking a little longer than expected, but at least it's still rolling.”

Then, Lanier says, MJD stopped responding.

Raleigh man gets runaround after vaccuum demonstration damages mattress Raleigh man gets runaround after vaccuum damages mattress

In February, he called The Kirby Co. headquarters and was told the company knew nothing of his complaint. A couple of weeks later, Kirby sent a letter saying the “damage is the responsibility of the independent distributor,” and that as of that month MJD was no longer a distributor.

The next part dumbfounded Lanier.

"Since so much time had elapsed,” the letter stated, “Kirby is unable to pursue your claim."

“I just don't understand,” Lanier said. “We've been in communication. We have phone records to show where we've been talking back and forth. I just couldn't believe that they would say that we can't resolve this matter due to the lapse in time.”

Fed up, Lanier called 5 On Your Side. We contacted Kirby representative Halle Sminchak, who emailed us a "gentle reminder" that sellers are "independently owned and operated" businesses.

But after more emails, photos, conversations and negotiation, Sminchak sent Lanier a check for $825.

He's relieved but frustrated it took so much to get Kirby to fix the mattress mess ultimately caused by one of their products.

“They did not come in and find the mattress this way, and I don't expect the mattress to be this way at the end of the day,” Lanier said.

Kirby calls the resolution a "gesture of goodwill.”

Lanier checked with the retailer and mattress manufacturer to see if the mattress could be repaired, and he was told it could not.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • superman May 6, 2013

    Must have been a pretty old mattress for it to come apart. He was lucky to get $800. As usual all the facts were not reported. How old was the mattress. Any time something is damaged you do not get the replacment cost. You are entitled to the value of the item at the time of the loss. He is now better off than he was before since he has a new mattress. Kirby is a good vacuum cleaner but it certainly is not capable of doing that much damage to a matress in good condition. Sounds like a scam for a new matress. Five On Your Side sometimes leaves out important facts and detail to make their story. They were wrong in this case. You are never entitled to new for an old item. If your car is in an accident you certainly dont get a new one. You get the Blue Book value. He probably took the money and didnt even replace it.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun May 3, 2013

    Kirby needs to "suck it up" .

  • C6-YA May 2, 2013

    "No Solicitors" sign on my front door works well.

  • Scubagirl May 2, 2013

    It's really too bad when a company will NOT do the right thing until a news group etc gets involved. Guessing this has cost Kirby some future business.

  • sendusmessage May 2, 2013

    Tsk, tsk... Kirby would have been very foolish to try to hide between this useless distributor, who was their agent at the time... Kind of like a car-maker saying they have nothing to do with the dealer who has their name on it.

  • Whatdaheck May 2, 2013

    I've bought 2 reconditioned Kirby's from Great Vacs (online) for a fraction of new. They'll outlast me and they work great. I respect Kelly's sentiment but I for one will never buy another disposable vacuum again. But that's just me. I also will never let a Kirby rep in to do a demo again either. Its a lot like Amway: great products; inconsistent sales service.

    Dealing with independent distributors and dealers always has it's ups and downs (mostly downs IMO). Manufacturers like Kirby sell to distributors at huge discounts and thus really aren't responsible for their actions.

  • kellypratz May 2, 2013

    why would you let a salesman vacuum your mattress? I had a salesman from Kirby come to my door several years ago, well to be nice I let him show me all the features of this vacuum while my 2 young children were running around. I was floored when he told me how much they cost, after that I told him "goodbye". I will stick with my Eureka vacuum from Walmart for $159 :)

  • slayerhil May 1, 2013

    You damage someone's property, you pay to repair or replace it. It isn't rocket science, Kirby. Not a 'gesture of goodwill'. What a load...

  • momofmen May 1, 2013

    I refuse to ever allow Kirby sales people in my home again! The time I allowed them to give their demonstration we said from the start we only had about 45 minutes because of a party about to start at our home. They assured us the would be finished. After an hour we basically had to throw them out. They stood at the side of the street for almost 2 more hours waiting for their van of dealers to return from other neighborhoods! They have tried several times since and I have stopped them before they even get out of their vehicle!