In 2015, a $100 vacuum cleaner with an optical filter that broke off when it was being used as a dishwasher caused an uproar.
After several years of being sold at a discount online, it was returned to the manufacturer, and a $150 warranty was offered.
In the meantime, the consumer complaint site Fixit.com went live.
It had a page for consumers who wanted a replacement, and the service team was happy to assist.
As you might imagine, a lot of people complained.
When it became clear that the company was going to need more help, Fixit started reaching out to more people who owned vacuum cleaners, and started offering free replacements.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, so Fixit turned to the government.
“It was a good opportunity to reach out to other people,” says Fixit’s president, Scott Miller.
The government offered up to $1 million to fix the vacuum cleaner, which was then sold to an unsuspecting customer.
But the vacuum was a “very bad investment,” Miller says.
Fixit had to do the work itself.
After the government offered its help, Miller set out to get a similar appliance repaired by someone who knew what they were doing.
He found a local shop that was willing to work with him.
He called in an engineer, who called in a plumber.
They both brought their vacuum cleaners back in for inspection.
The engineer found the problem with the vacuum, and had it fixed.
Then, he contacted the plumber, who told him the vacuum would need to be replaced.
Miller says he felt like he was in heaven.
The contractor was happy that the repair was complete.
Then he called in the plumbers partner and told them what had gone wrong.
They got the job done, and now Miller had a vacuum cleaner for his family.
It was all in his head, says Miller.
“I thought it was a really great investment.”
After Fixit repaired the vacuum to its best condition, the government agreed to cover the cost.
“We thought it would be a good investment to give the company a chance to go through the proper process,” says Miller, adding that the government has now agreed to reimburse the company.
He also wants to see more businesses help people who buy a used vacuum cleaner.
“If it’s a vacuum you’ve had for five years and it’s broken, you might not realize it,” he says.
“And if you buy a new vacuum and it breaks, it’s very difficult to fix it.”