Vacuum cleaner maker The Kirby Company is under fire for its allegedly high-pressure door-to-door sales tactics.
Add to that an Oregon-based Kirby trainee blogging about what she described as a 21-step Kirby sales pitch — including a protracted rug-shampooing session intended to “buy us time to get them to buy it.”
Now, state officials in Connecticut have announced that, at least in their state, Kirby dealers will have to take those tactics down several notches. The company must also pay Connecticut a $25,000 fine.
“The great number of complaints from consumers led our agency to conduct an intensive investigation into the business practices of Kirby and its distributors,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “With this agreement, consumers are protected from improper sales tactics. Importantly, the agreement requires Kirby to provide meaningful disclosures to consumers and to strictly honor time limits on in-home sales demonstrations.”
Under the terms of a compliance agreement with the state’s Department of Consumer Protection, Kirby promises to instruct its salespeople not to use “high pressure” methods when selling its devices door to door.
Kirby sellers will now be required to obtain a potential customer’s signed permission before performing in-home demonstrations, and those sessions are not to last more than 90 minutes.
Additionally, customers are to be given all the details of any financing available (the vacuums can cost thousands of dollars), and salespeople must make explicit the company’s three-day cancellation policy on new purchases.
“I am hopeful these agreements will ensure that the type of complaints consumers made to my office about Kirby’s distributor’s practices are a thing of the past,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said. “We will remain vigilant to make sure that consumers are protected from high pressure tactics, and given necessary and accurate information by these companies.”