Blogs & Comment

The dreaded central-vacuum decision

My wife and I have been thinking about getting a central vacuum for our house (which has the rough-in for it). The canister we use at present is showing its age and, as my wife says, she would start doing some vacuuming if she didnt have to lug around the canister. Where do I sign? was my initial reaction.
But being an economist (at least by training many moons ago), Im aware of sales practices known as tied sales. The prime example is those razors with replaceable cartridges. The razor itself is cheap but the blades are rather pricy and the cost adds up over time. And — I dont know if Im imagining this — but it seems the blades loose their edge faster these days.
Another example of a tied sale is PC printers and their ink cartridges. I dont even use the printer I have any more. The ink cartridges are nearly as expensive as the printer and they run out of ink pretty damn quick. The last time I replaced them, I thought I would get around this problem by using it sparingly but then the ink dried out and I ended getting only about 25 pages printed.
Central vacuums seem like tied sales par excellence to me. Just look at all those parts that will need replacement at some stage either through loss or breakage — the hose, the nozzles, various other attachments, the bags, bins, muffler and so on. The supplier knows its a lot of time and expense for you to tear out their machine to switch to another brand, so they will likely be asking some pretty prices for their options and parts. Or maybe I’m missing something?
Anyway, Icurrently feel more comfortable about buying a canister vacuum. They are easier to replace, so the manufacturer shouldnt have as much leverage over the customer.Besides, Ive gotten accustomed to doing the vacuuming myself (although my wife complains its not enough).
I suspect my wife willeventually prevail and we will end up with the central vac. Im just going to make sure we check out the quality of the parts and their replacement prices before buying (and maybe the availablity of cheaper knock-offs).At least, we should make a decision based on the expected lifetime cost of the unit. And maybe, just maybe, if my wife sees how much it could cost over time, she might change her mind and let me get the canister.