It’s been an expensive day for me.
Our vacuum cleaner finally decided to go to the great Carpet in the Sky. It was an Electrolux Mondo and a good, inexpensive workhorse. It wasn’t brilliant at getting the cat hairs out of the carpet, but for that I have a steam cleaner. It didn’t have a powerful suction capability, but it gobbled up the Yesterday’s News cat litter pellets without grumbling. However, after more than 10 years of being dragged around, the wire where the cord entered the vacuum cleaner must have frayed and it kept starting and stopping at the wrong moments. Hubby and I being non-DIY people tried to repair it, but we gave up in the end. It worked if you managed to get the angle of the wire just right, but have you ever tried vacuuming while jigging the cord of the cleaner in all directions? It was worse than trying to pat your head while rubbing your tummy.
(Of course I’d known the Mondo was going to break down. About a month back I’d bought two packets of 5 replacement vacuum cleaner dirt bags in Asda which does vacuum cleaner bags cheaper than anywhere else. That’s 10 bags in total. Now, as everyone knows, if you buy 10 cans of a cat food that a cat likes, it’s almost guaranteed that the cat will suddenly develop an aversion to that particular brand. And remember the post in which I bought multiple packs of AA batteries, and collar magnets for the cat flap only to have the cat flap not work? It figures that now that I’ve got 8 vacuum cleaner bags left, the vacuum cleaner should break down. I’m calling it the Law of Murphy’s Multiples, and remember, you read it here first!)
The choice was between getting the vacuum cleaner repaired, or getting a new one. Ironically, getting it repaired wasn’t such a cheap option. And in the past week of dithering the house keeping suffered.
So on Friday I visited John Lewis and was given a lecture by their expert on vacuum cleaners. I’d already done a bit of research by reading reviews on dooyoo and ciao.co.uk. I’d started out dead keen on a Dyson, but reviews called into question its reliability. The vacuum cleaner I thought would do was a Numatic Henry – small, round-shaped, with a smiley face on it. Every review I read about the Numatic Henry raved about how efficient it was for such a small machine and how it offered good value-for-money, being half the price of a Dyson. I checked out the Miele Cat and Dog, but again, the reviews for the Henry were so much better.
John Lewis stocks Numatic Henry, but as soon as the salesman found out that I had cats, he pointed me in the direction of the Sebo K1 Pet.
What sold it to me was how robust it was – the salesman stood on it, then picked it up by the hose. Sebo is a German brand, and apparently their uprights are used in the White House. It comes with a 5-year guarantee for parts and 2-year guarantee for labour – it seemed to me that a manufacturer had to have faith in its product to offer such a guarantee, or go bankrupt (either that or it has a good small print exclusion clause in its Terms and Conditions).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I bought one today. It comes with two turbo brushes with rotating bristles that pick up pet hair. These brushes work. However, whenever there was anything too large, it tended to get stuck at the hole to the hose. With the Mondo, everything got sucked up greedily. The replacement bags for the Sebo are also horrendously expensive – and no, it won’t take Mondo bags, I tried.
(I did point out the Numatic Henry to hubby, but he balked when he saw the smiley face on the cylinder. He said it looked childish, like Thomas the Tank Engine, and refused to have anything like that in the house. “I’d prefer something with Cyclone … Turbo on it,” he said pointing to a Boy’s Own Dyson.)
I’ll know whether I made the right choice when the next litter of kittens get litter-trained and the Sebo is faced with endless dunes of cat litter.
One thing’s for sure … I’m not buying more than 5 replacement bags at a time, to make sure it doesn’t conk out before its time.
Further comments on the new vacuum cleaner. The Sebo is very compact – it’s smaller than the Miele Cat and Dog, and lighter too. It’s only 5.5 kg. It really does take up less space and is easier to carry up the stairs.
The turbo brushes are great, but I’m finding that the revolving brush bit gets in the way of larger pieces of debris from being sucked up. With the Mondo there was no revolving turbo brush, just direct access to a whacking big suction pipe so everything went in. I’m beginning to wonder if I should have bought the K1 Komfort model which comes with just one turbo brush (the larger one), plus one brush without the turbo wizz-bang stuff. The turbo brush doesn’t do edges very well either – I have to handpick anything at the back (or side) of each step of the stairs, for example. I’ve looked in the catalogue and there is a brush without any turbo bits, so maybe I’ll buy that instead to use on the wooden floor. It’s now getting a bit complicated – who’s got time to keep changing brushes? (and who’s got the spare cash to keep buying brushes?)
The K1 Komfort was cheaper as well. My recommendation to any pet owner is buy the K1 Komfort and then buy the extra stair/upholstery (smaller) turbo brush if you really need it – chances are, no – I’ve managed with the larger turbo brush even on the stairs (except that the larger brush doesn’t quite get the stuff at the edges). And you can get Sebo vacuum cleaners cheaper from an online shop, e.g. Barmey.co.uk. In fact, e-bay had some on auction and I nearly died when I saw how cheaply they were selling for – ex-demo models going for a third of what I paid at John Lewis. I think though, that Sebo may only recognise its manufacturer’s guarantee if you buy from an authorised seller. But that’s something that needs checking.
(the other thing about price, which hubby pointed out, was that there were other vacuum cleaners at half the price of a Sebo, so in theory, if you bought the cheaper one and it conked out you could always buy another and not feel the pinch)
Plus the K1 Pet comes with carpet cleaning powder (Dupo). You sprinkle it, work it in and then vacuum it out. Personally I’m very wary of carpet cleaners. There’s nothing on the packet to say exactly what the ingredients are (what are anionic surfectants, anyone? or polymers?), or whether they are non-toxic to pets. Just some blurb about how six months after application of the carpet cleaner, the areas remain dust-mite free. Dust mites are the least of my worries – with pets you’re never free of them, and so far I’ve co-existed happily with them. When Ananda gets back from stud, there’s no way I’m going to risk any chemicals affecting her pregnancy. I think Sebo have a lot of questions to answer. If you’re going to sell carpet cleaning powder with a vacuum cleaner designed for people with pets, you should ensure that the cleaner is non-toxic to pets and not leave it ambiguous.
Update 7 April 2007: I sent an e-mail to Sebo earlier this week, outlining my concerns about the Dupo carpet cleaner, and the fact that the turbo brush doesn’t really work with large pieces of debris, and suggested that they re-package the K1 Pet with a brush with a larger intake hole. I haven’t had a reply from them yet. I think it’s important that a company should take the time to reply to queries. If it doesn’t then that exposes flaws in their after-sales-service. I’ll give it until next week then try again. The one good thing I’ve heard about Dyson is that they have superb after sales-service – let’s see if Sebo’s lives up to their hype.
Update 4 May 2007. Sorry this is taking so long but this is the final update, I hope:
Well, I sent another e-mail to Sebo, and my telephone number was inadvertently attached to it so I got a phone call from them. The Sebo customer services person did say that a number of customers had said that the turbo brush tended to kick bigger pieces of dirt round a bit. However, the only solution she could offer me was: “buy a brush without the turbo function”. I asked her which brush had the largest inlet funnel and she was unable to tell me as she didn’t have a photo of the underside of the brush. I asked her if I could return the whole cleaner, and she said it was up to John Lewis.
OK – so I called John Lewis Brent Cross and explained the situation to them, to cut a long story (and about 10 e-mails) short, I got a refund and bought the K1 Komfort.
So … why did I stick with Sebo? Well, I walked up and down the display of vacuum cleaners in John Lewis, and their weights ranged from 9kg (Henry Numatic) to the Miele (6.5 kg). I like the fact that the Sebo is only 5.5 kg. It makes a difference if you’re lugging it up and down the stairs. It’s also more compact that most other brands, so I can prop it up in the hallway and it doesn’t look too obtrusive. There’s something about German engineering too – the Sebo’s hosepipe telescopes smoothly, and each attachment clicks into place with the solid “clunk” you get when you close the door of a BMW.
The bag capacity is smaller at 3.5 kg vs 4.5 kg for the Miele. I like the Airbelt system whereby exhaust air is filtered through a belt which runs round the cleaner, and you don’t get the blast you would get with a normal vacuum cleaner. And the turbo brush does pick up cat hairs from a carpet. The K1 Komfort also comes with a non-turbo brush parquet brush with a large inlet funnel which means it will suck up large pieces of grit. Plus, the Sebo K1 Komfort is relatively quiet.
I have never used a Miele, so I can’t say it’s better than that. I think the Miele comes with more brushes. I kind of miss the brush I had with the Electrolux Mondo which was totally flat and which formed a better seal against the floor which in turn gave it better suction and allowed me to clean up to the edges of the floor – that’s something that Sebo hasn’t got.
Lessons to be learnt?
1. Before you buy a vacuum cleaner, look at the surfaces in your house – if you have hardwood floors, a turbo brush may not be good enough. But a turbo brush can help to pick up cat hairs from a carpet.
2. What size of dirt do you normally have to deal with? Check the inlet funnel of the brush – if it’s small and narrow it won’t deal with cat litter pellets.
3. How much are the replacement dust bags?
4. Remember to keep all the packaging for the vacuum cleaner and don’t tear the box in case you have to return it.