I believe I have the record for the shortest career as a Kirby "dealer". Ain't I glad of that! Y'see, Trujillo Enterprises, a local dealer for the Kirby Company, ran an ad stating that they were looking for people to shampoo rugs for a minimum of $2,000 a month. They made no mention of Kirby until they got me in their office to talk to them.
Once there, they said they used Kirbys and I'd be demonstrating them in homes, and that no sales were required of me. "We handle all that for you," said Susan Lucero, who does recruiting. I made it abundantly clear that I was not a salesman, and that I had no intentions of selling. Time and again I was told someone else, a "canvasser", would cover the neighborhoods and set up appointments for me. Idiot that I am, I believed her.
Guess what happens the following Monday? After three days of "training", which consists of learning how to pack, set up, operate, and repack the vacuum and rug shampoo kits, we were deemed worthy of being "junior dealers", eligible for commissions of up to $386 per unit sold. Here, too, we catch the kicker. To get the minimum of $2,000 a month, you have to perform ten demonstrations a week. And there is no canvasser to set up your appointments. Guess what that means? That's right, boys and girls. YOU are now responsible for going out and knocking on doors--exactly as you were told you would not be doing--and making your own appointments. No demonstrations, no $2,000.
Of course, I was angry about that, but having made a commitment, I decided to follow through. Then I tripped on another little item. When we sell a Kirby, the customer is supposed to get a new one. We're not advertising used units, but leading them to believe they're new. Wrong answer there! We demonstrate one unit, and if the customer doesn't bite, we clean it up and take it to another house. Right again, kids. That brand-new Kirby we're forcing on your grandma has seen maybe four or five homes before she got it. Not only is she getting a used unit for the price of a new one, we've also brought in the dirt, dander, and other allergens for a visit! (Susan says that wiping the units down with paper towels and Windex solves that problem.)
Then again, the hours are completely unacceptable, too. Usually you start around ten in the morning, and at Trujillo, they all sing Kirby songs! Different versions of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", "On Top of Old Smokey", and "The Caissons Go Rolling Along" being just three of the chart-topping, intelligence-insulting tunes available...one could feel the brain cells evaporating. Since we don't often get out before noon, we're obligated to dink around covering neighborhoods on our own, catching whatever appointments we made (blowing them off if we don't feel like rushing). Guess when we get home? Ten at night.
Actually, only my crew got back that early. We had to get back early because our crew leader was still wearing a tracking bracelet on his ankle because he'd been out of the state prison for only four months! He spent five years in there for God-knows-what, and STILL "passed" a background check! Susan said we all had to have one to make sure no thugs or perverts got into anybody's home. So what did this guy do that warranted five years, but still makes him safe to get inside the house? I dunno. I don't wanna know.
Above, I referenced "clinchers", the end-of-demo words designed to "nudge" you toward buying a Kirby. These are best described as insults ("Don't you want the dirt out of your house?" "Have we established that the Kirby works?" and the like) that are generally delivered from fairly close range and without allowing a lot of time to respond. If a Kirby salesperson is growing desperate enough, they'll start to bargain, but not after they've tried making you feel uncomfortable about the filth in your home and hinting obliquely that you're somehow wrong for hesitating in making a purchase. David Trujillo, the owner of the dealership in question, specializes in turning words around and deflecting your questions, changing the topic to something unrelated and shifting the focus back to you. You are expected, and often trained, to use this verbal jujitsu to keep the customer on the defensive. Answer no questions about Kirby unless you absolutely have to, but make the sale. So go the unwritten instructions.
Dave also treats his workers like that, or any who dare question him. When my crew leader reported that I and another sucker were quite disappointed, Dave accosted us and swore up and down it would all work out if we gave it a month. If that month didn't work, just let it take another month to work. Then try another month. (I don't know about you, but three months with non-existent paychecks won't cut it for me.) I attempted no less than four times to explain that I was angry about being lied to and each time, he interrupted me and came up with a different topic.
I could also tell you about the time I was waiting for a crew member to finish her presentation in a house in Florence, Colorado, where the resident's 95-year-old father was lying in a hospital bed (he was dying), and our crew leader still came in and tried to push for a sale.
Well, all in all, I'm not going to argue that the Kirby isn't a good vacuum. It is. The methods used in selling it, and the people who work for the company, are the true problem. If anyone's got a class-action suit against them going, I'd like to know. I have some stories to tell.
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