Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Kirby is a vacuum cleaner company in the multi-level marketing industry. In addition to vacuum cleaners, the company also offers a comprehensive line of biodegradable carpet shampoos and stain removal products. According to its corporate website, Kirby is committed to producing a high-quality home cleaning system that meets rigorous standards in safety, durability, and overall performance. Kirby generates between $1 and $2 billion in global revenue each year.
- Vacuum cleaner model
- No upfront costs
- DSA member
Vacuum Cleaner Model
Kirby only produces one vacuum cleaner model at a time. The current model is called the Kirby Avalir and converts into several different units from the same power base. The complete home care system is made primarily from aluminum and converts into a canister vacuum, an upright vacuum, a floor buffer, a carpet shampoo system, tile cleaner, sander, and an air pump.
No Upfront Costs
Kirby products are exclusively sold door-to-door by independent distributors.The company does not charge any upfront fees to become an independent distributor. Additionally, distributors set their own retail prices and can recruit other independent sales associates to sell products door-to-door as well.
Consumers who purchase a Kirby home care system receive a limited three-year manufacturer's warranty, a fire protection plan, and access to the company's Lifetime Rebuild program. The manufacturer's warranty protects against material or workmanship defects and is honored by all independent distributors and authorized service centers. With the Lifetime Rebuild program, customers are given the option to have their purchased cleaning system serviced to an "as new" condition.
If a customer would like their vacuum cleaner completely refurbished, they can return the unit to the factory for a fee, which varies by model. Having a model refurbished or replaced introduces a new one-year manufacturer's warranty.
Kirby is an upstanding member of the Direct Selling Association and abides fully by its strict code of ethics.
- Questionable sales practices
- Expensive products
Questionable Sales Practices
The sales and marketing practices employed by Kirby have been publicly criticized in the past. Additionally, the company has been investigated by many consumer protection agencies. These agencies have received numerous complaints regarding the sales practices used by distributors. Many complaints came from older consumers who had difficulty standing up for themselves when distributors came knocking on their doors. The Wall Street Journal listed examples of these scenarios: one couple tried to remove three Kirby salesmen from their home for over five hours and a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease was found to have been sold two Kirby vacuum cleaners, one of which she paid $1,700 for.
Kirby's home cleaning systems can be incredibly expensive. Additionally, prices vary from distributor to distributor.
A federal class-action lawsuit is currently pending against Kirby under the civil action provisions in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Kirby is allegedly being charged with selling used vacuum cleaners as new ones. The complaint further alleges that the company was fully aware of the practice because it was selling duplicate or replacement "Original Purchaser's Registration Cards."
The Bottom Line
Kirby is a vacuum cleaner company that has over 100 years of experience. The company is a DSA member and does not charge anything to join as an independent distributor. However, Kirby's products are relatively expensive and its distributors have been known to use questionable sales practices. Additionally, the company is currently facing a lawsuit.