Saturday, 9 April 2011

A Tale of Two Vacuum Cleaners

Sometimes you think of a blog title and then struggle to justify it! Well, we do now have a replacement.

A few years ago we needed a new vacuum as the insulation tape holding the pipes together on the old one was becoming tacky again, the belt kept smelling and it was getting a problem. So we chose a new one. The new one was a Hoover PurePower 1800! We were still shunning Vortex at the time as they were still overpriced and experience showed they were not yet as good as the old vacuums. This was only three or four years ago. We expect a vacuum to last about 10 years or so and it works out to be about ten pounds a year or twenty pence per week (plus bags, filters belts etc).

Wifey wasn't enamoured by it from the off and I think it knew. It didn't pick up as well as the old one did and wouldn't tilt easily and fell over when using the tools. I think it wasn't enamoured with it's new owners. The start of a love/hate relationship I wonder?

At about two years old the machine refused to power on. I took it to pieces and put a meter on all the relevant bits and determined the 'quick start' board had failed so I wired around it and hey presto it worked again! AND it behaved no differently to how it always behaved.

A few months later... the machine refused to power on. I took it to pieces and put a meter on all the relevant bits and determined the cable had gone open circuit. So through trial and error and cutting out about a meter of cable I found the break and got it working again.

A few months later... it refused to switch off! So unplugging it became necessary to stop it. Can live with that I suppose.

A few weeks later... The belt stopped working. So I replaced it - I like to keep one in. Now the switch started working again - looking good? I also ordered new belts on the web as that one was my last.

A few days later... The belt fell off again and on looking at it I found that part of the body work had broken. Plans built themselves inside my had to fashion a fix and resolve the broken body part.

Next day... The machine refused to power on! But this time the switch was broken.

I could come up with fixes to both parts but one thing is clear - this machine is determined to die and I am only being cruel in perpetuating it's existence. It became clear that it was time for ANOTHER new one.

We started to look at the highly complex and dynamic market that is 'Vacuum Cleaners'. These modern devices like digital cameras, mobile phones, TVs etc must be very simple because you enter a shop and you can easily get mobbed by all knowledgeable individuals who can show the nuances of how much better the most expensive ones are - but enter the vacuum cleaner part of the shop and you have entered a desert of knowledge - this underlines how complex this market must be! I went out into the 'digital' world and dragged back, kicking and screaming, a sales assistant and a chocolate fire guard came to mind. Pushing him to look for answers - because he didn't know about anything that wasn't digital - he did finally come up with some answers.

So what's so difficult about vacuum cleaners? Well 'what maintenance is needed to the filters?', 'You do stock the filters? No? But you can get them?', 'What is the price of the filters?' And I was horrified that on some the filters need to be replaced annually and cost 30% of the cost of the machine! Ok I am mean, but I only want clean floors!

We waded through the models available and found hoses that wouldn't enable you to clean the stairs, machines that wouldn't lie down enough to get under furniture, machines that were just too heavy and many other problems. Finally we chose one - one I didn't want to go for at the off but really felt it was the only practical machine. So why didn't I want it...? Well it's the same model as the one that failed! Obviously uprated a bit but the same model. So we came away without one. Why? Because the same shopping group offered the same model 17% cheaper on the web! (It pays to be aware before you go out!).

So while I agreed 100% with the choice I still find it rubs salt into the wound that Wifey thinks this one is really good. Perhaps the old one was a Friday afternoon model because she NEVER felt that about the old one.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A birthday dinner

'Twas Wifey's birthday and eldest daughter - about to start her new job - had come and taken her shopping while I waited in for the delivery of a new cleaner. Youngest daughter was at school and so Wifey had not yet opened her parcels as there wasn't time before school. It was an early finish for school and just before she got home the vacuum FINALLY arrived. It was within the terms (just) but having been without one for 4 days it seemed like forever. The story of the vacuum is a tale in it's own right and brings a smile to my lips when it's not a tear to my eye!

Parcels were opened and we piled in the car for a quick trip to Carsington Water where we intended taking in the shops so we left Dylan to guard the house - barking his assurance that he would do the job well - or just barking not sure which.

It was 'bracing' at Carsington so the shops is what we did except we played on the water exhibits - well you are only young once aren't you.

We then returned so I could take Dylan a walk before we went out again for dinner at the chosen location of Nando's. Dylan seemed to know he was going to have to stay home again on his own as he found every tiny thing to smell and take his time over.

Walk done we piled back in the car and went to The Westfield Centre in Derby where Nando's is located and had been  recommended by both daughters. Eldest goes there quite often with her partner and friends and has taken her sister who adored the place - mainly for the crushed ice machine but she liked the food a great deal too.

We were quickly seated and perused the menu. We chose and myself and eldest went to order. The queue was quite long and we waited a while to place our orders. Both Wifey and I had chosen the Mediterranean Salad while youngest chose a medium double wrap. Bad news - no Mediterranean Salad or Caesar Salad - so we held the queue up while the eldest went back and checked with the birthday girl what she would like as an alternative. Seconds choices made we returned to our seats and waited about twenty minutes for our food. OK they were busy although we didn't expect it on a Monday evening. The food was quite good and I was happy that I had chosen 'hot' but youngest regretted the choice of medium and kept the ice machine in business for a while!

We chose cakes and I went to place the orders. The queue was lengthy again and very slow and they opened a second till. I was now last in queue and seemingly second as well. The second till finished the order it was taking - AND CLOSED!! The girl who was placing the order in front of me - and chatting up the assistant - finished and her friend started placing her order! I had now queued about 15 minutes for the second time and the effect of dinner's satisfaction was wearing thin. I placed the order for the cakes and returned to the table and the cakes arrived quite quickly. I must say those that 'caked' (I am low fat and the bottomless yoghurt did not appeal at all) were more than happy with their portions and enthused a bit over them.

Coming away I tried to get to the bottom of why people like Nando's but just couldn't fathom it. Our conclusion was that if we found ourselves wanting a meal in Derby then we may go there again but if we were going out for a meal then Nando's is not a place we would head for because of the feeling we came away with.