Many of the complaints involve "older customers who lack the will to stand up to grueling sales pitches." The Wall Street Journal records examples where an elderly couple was unable to remove three Kirby salesmen from their home for over five hours; in another example, a disabled woman who had been living alone in a mobile home on $1000/month in Social Security payments and suffering from Alzheimer's disease was discovered to own two Kirby vacuum cleaners, having paid $1,700 for the second one.In 2002, the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner obtained $13,000 in refunds for 13 senior citizens.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the device "costs more than four times what other top-of-the-line vacuum cleaners do." Kirby compares the price difference to that between luxury and economy cars, yet "luxury-car dealers don't make house calls in trailer parks. But Kirby dealers do." The Kirby vacuum cleaner is "marketed exclusively door-to-door — often to people who can ill afford a $1,500 gadget, but succumb to the sales pitch nonetheless."
In 2001, the West Virginia Attorney General obtained more than $26,000 in refunds and credits for dissatisfied Kirby buyers. In 2002, ABC's Primetime conducted a hidden-camera investigation in response to more than a thousand complaints regarding Kirby's salespeople. In June 2004, the Arizona Attorney General filed suit against Kirby distributors for violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, seeking an injunction against any other home sales. Public authorities flooded with complaints about Kirby vacuum cleaners is not a recent phenomenon; even in the 1960s and 1970s, Kirby had been "cited by various agencies a number of times" and the Detroit Better Business Bureau had received so many complaints that it decided to turn the matter over to the Wayne County prosecutor.
Kirby attempts to disclaim liability for its sales force, whom it holds out as independent contractors. Its "Distributor Code of Ethics" enumerates 12 principles, including "observe the highest standards of character, honesty and integrity in dealings with my customers, fellow Distributors and other members of the Kirby profession." Kirby also teaches its distributors direct-sales laws, and requires them to resolve complaints within 24 hours under threat of termination.
Between 1998 and 2001, in Alabama alone, more than 100 lawsuits were filed against Kirby and its affiliates and subsidiaries, resulting in nearly $2 million in judgements and settlements.
Twelve distributors of Kirby vacuums in Massachusetts were cited for violations of the Commonwealth's wage and hour laws by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office in July 2010. The 12 distributors were cited for a variety of different wage and hour violations including nonpayment of wage, nonpayment of minimum wage, misclassification, child labor, retaliation and record-keeping violations. The distributors were fined a total of $199,300 for the violations and also ordered to pay restitution.
The Supreme Court of Texas held Kirby liable for a rape committed by one of its door-to-door salesmen, finding that the manufacturer maintained control of its distributors and their salespeople, by requiring its distributors to make sales via in-home visits, and that the risk was foreseeable. In that case, the court found that — had the employee's references been checked — Kirby would have discovered complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior at his previous employer and an arrest and deferred adjudication for indecency with a child.
The North Dakota Supreme Court also held Kirby liable in a similar rape incident, where the salesman was hired after being convicted of assault and with charges of criminal sexual misconduct in the third degree pending against him.
Fraud and RICOEdit
A federal class-action lawsuit is pending against Kirby under the civil action provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), for allegedly selling used vacuums as new; the complaint alleges that "Not only is Kirby aware of this practice, it 'participates in the scheme by, among other things, selling to its distributors duplicate or replacement "Original Purchaser's Registration" cards to be given to secondhand purchasers.'" The complaint also alleges that "Kirby commonly sells distributors new empty boxes and packaging material for the obvious purpose of repackaging units that the distributor previously sold to a prior customer." Kirby'smotion to dismiss was rejected. After Kirby refused discovery requests for its sales contracts and other documents, Judge Clay D. Land compelled Kirby to disclose the requested documents.
A class-action lawsuit was also filed against Kirby in Bullock County Court in Alabama over its sales practices, specifically its use of credit cards issued expressly to fund Kirby purchases, under Truth in Lending laws. Kirby succeeded in persuading a trial judge to recuse himself.
Filter Queen was just as bad. I never sold them but took the training. Best prospects were the elderly and people on welfare because of the payment plans. Easiest people to get to buy were from Alabama.
Legend is a wonderful company ,however I felt jaded that no one offered me a cup of coffee as I watched the video,,,on a second note.. my first job was selling Kirby door to door and the boss who I thought was the best taught me a ton about sales and business, and I was a sponge, he said he couldn't hire me because I was only 14 but I never gave up..he said kid if the rest of my guys had that desire id be mega rich,,,,, the presentation was everything and if you came to work and didn't look good smell good and know your product...your ass was not going on the van we at no time pulled the scumbag trip.....Mr Charles was honest and if there was a problem he fixed it...... a lady ill never forget came in the motor went down he said mark grab this lady a new machine he took care of the rest no bs. no paper work....now I know there are dishonest sales reps in every profession... and if all Kirby reps were like Mr. Charles...well you get the picture not only was he a great mentor for a young kid ,he really was that guy who could sell gold to a Leprechaun and never lie and no high pressure bs. was permitted he would mesmerize you with his presentation,he belived in the product intensely and that's how we sold them there is way more to the story.....but that man taught me how with a smile superior product knowledge a great product and a strong presentation, raising your level of awarness....to make an awesome amount of cash. I was making more than my mother at 15 and she was a rep for kittles furniture.....those were great times and I owe a lot to Mr. Charles,thats the stuff they never teach in school, thought I would share that.....I cant put a dollar value on what that man taught me !! and it makes me sick at the tactics some of these guys use !!