a boring tale: me and innovative appliance designs

There are a great many inventors living on this lovely planet of ours. They think up all sorts of cool things to make life easier for their fellow (wo)man. I admire and respect that, because I’m not prone to innovative bright sparks.

I really like innovations because I really, actively, dislike housework! If I should make a list of how to spend my time away from work, I promise you that housecleaning will be at the very bottom. That being said, you’ll understand why I listen to all those nice marketing people on the tele when they announce this or that new apparatus to use in the house.

Of course, most of the time the new products being advertised are not exactly on the cheap side, so one has to listen carefully to the sales pitch. If you’ve had a few experiences with new products that are just THAT good, and it turns out the other way, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Anyway, there I was, frustrated with using a vacuum cleaner (a previous invention that doesn’t use a dust bag), which picks up a lot of dirt, but also has the nice ability to displace dust and pet hair before it gets sucked up. As a result everything looks good during the cleaning process, but when I look two minutes later the floor is dusty again!

That’s when I saw this ad. It showcased a vacuum cleaner that filters the dirt through water, meaning no icky dust bag. [Going once!] It can also be used as a wet/dry vacuum without having to change anything but a fitting at the end of the pipe. [Going twice!] It was on special (of course!) and a third of the price of a bigger unit which has more of the same functionality. [SOLD!]

Decision made, I went to a store that stocks this new wonder. Even on “special” this thing wasn’t cheap so I convinced myself, while I’m buying it, that I really do need it. With a big dent in my wallet and a little less excitement I set off for home. Usually I can’t wait to open up a new “toy”, but I decided to make some coffee first. Which, as it turned out, was a good thing.

You may want to grab a coffee yourself and get comfy, this can take a while to tell. . .

You know how they show you on the side of the box what to expect inside when you unpack it? Okay, I had a general idea of what should be included and was a bit surprised when about half the fittings seemed to be missing. Seeing as I paid a lot of money for this I was starting to get a little upset, suddenly suspicious that I was sold a second-hand unit. I took a deep breath, told myself to calm down, take the little booklet thing that shipped with the vacuum cleaner and double checked. Yep! The fittings should be there.

Nothing was left in the box it came in, so the only other place they could have packed it would be inside the body of the cleaner, right? Humph! There you go! When I squinted through the tinted plastic belly of my new beast I could see some things, and when I shook it, it rattled. What a relief! Murmuring a few pardons for the wrongful thoughts I had, I started to look for ways of reaching those fittings.

I like to pretend that I’m a reasonably intelligent person, so I applied the hard-learned lesson of “Don’t assume you know how it works – Read the instructions”. Well, it turns out that the booklet thingy which came with my new toy was written by someone who assumed that I’ll be an experienced appliance-user and only need to know the basics, like:

  1. The names of the different parts that makes up the unit (with pictures)
  2. How much water to use for the filter system
  3. Use fresh water if it gets too dirty
  4. Don’t let it stand with dirty water after use, it will smell

Apparently, they didn’t think it is necessary that one knows HOW to get the water inside. Or how you are supposed to get the fittings out, which the beast seemed to have swallowed. The opening where the pipe nozzle must fit is not big enough, so they could not have fed the fittings to it that way. Logically there are only two possible ways to open the thing, the top should either twist/turn off, or clip off. The design makes it look like either is possible (see my picture). With this being a new unit, and the parts fitting so well together – seamlessly – I wasted a lot of time trying to find the answer on the Internet.  Yeah, go figure!  Even Internet didn’t have the answers.

Long story, short: I finally decided to try the clip-method, but was really scared that I would break something as it was made of the same plastic material as the rest of the body. Boy, was I glad when it worked! It’s silly when I think back on it now, it was so simple to do after all.

It left me wondering though – should I blame myself or can I blame the inventor/designer or the instruction-writer, for almost being bested by the vacuum cleaner?

24/08/10

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6 thoughts on “a boring tale: me and innovative appliance designs

  1. Oh, Clouded, what a story! That must’ve been a huge sense of relief when the bits-and-bobs were indeed inside the munch-monster! Definitely blame the instruction-writer… mind you, usually those things are mis-translated from Chinese, Japanese or Korean, so it wouldn’t surprise me that it didn’t make sense.

    • Yeah, it was a BIG relief when I didn’t break the thing-a-magic! I was threatening it with brute force at one stage 😉

      Isn’t it funny how a computer and its parts don’t faze me, but something like a vacuum cleaner can make me feel so totally dumb?! And then there is the tri-pod incident. My dad is still laughing about that one!

  2. I think you can blame the instruction writers. If they are going to store parts inside the unit when it is shipped, they need to a) tell you they did that and b) tell you how to get them out.

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