The Vacuum Imbroglio

I have a vacuum cleaner. It’s pretty sweet. It’s a “Hoover Widepath Ultracharge Mechatron 9000 with Extra Sass.”

Anyway, my vacuum and I have a pretty good relationship. I purchased it back in 2003 from our local Sears. It’s a bagless, which I’m all about, and it’s a pretty easy keeper. Sure, the stupid cleaner attachments for the wand keep falling off the back because they’re not really secured, but it does suck. In a good way, of course. Especially when all the filters are shiny and clean, my vacuum is nothing short of formidable. Formidable, I tell you. Cats have been known to be sucked across the carpet with its force.

About every three to six months, I break my vacuum down and service it. I take the whole thing apart, remove random clogs of cat hair, wash the filters, and so forth. Every six months I replace the belt, and every year or so I try to replace the paper filter in the dirt cup. All of these parts are readily obtainable through the Hoover site, so it’s not a big deal, and it keeps my vacuum superfantastic.

So I was peacefully vacuuming on Wednesday, and my belt broke. Just…broke. It was very upsetting. Being a savvy girl, I headed to the Hoover website to order a replacement. But…my model number isn’t listed on their website anymore, and the part number I have returned no results.

So I had to call Hoover.

And then Hoover told me to call some subsidiary in San Leandro. So I called them, but they left me on hold for a really long time, so I hung up on them and called another Hoover subsidiary in San Francisco. The person who answered the phone didn’t sound too bright, but I figured we’d get our scene together.

I told him my vacuum model number, and I said that I needed a belt and a fresh filter. I also said that I needed to order these parts, as I live in Fort Bragg, not San Francisco.

“Uhhhh…” he said.

After rummaging around for awhile on their computer system, he said that they did, indeed, have the belt that I wanted. Oddly enough, the part number I gave them actually worked, although it didn’t work on the Hoover website. Fascinating.

Onto the filter. Now, for some reason, although my owner’s manual lists the part numbers for the belt, two filters, replacement headlamp, replacement light lens, replacement dirt cup, replacement primary filter, replacement brusher array, replacement wand function, and replacement handle…it doesn’t list the part number for the filter I needed to replace.

“It’s the paper filter,” I said. “The one that looks like an accordion. In the dirt cup.”

“Uhhhh…” he said. “The HEPA?”

“No,” I said, “the secondary filter. In the dirt cup.”

“Ok, ok, we have that,” he said.

“Great,” I said. “So, can I, uh, order those?”

“Yeah, we have them.”

“Er…can you ship them to me?”

“Oh! Yeah, yeah.”

After about twenty minutes of having my address repeated back to me, he assured me that the parts would be shipped.

“So, er, do you want a credit card number?”

“No, no, it’s cool man,” he said. “We’ll bill you.”

“Oh, ok. Well. Thanks.”

About twenty minutes later, he called back.

“Yeah, uh, my manager says I need, uhm, a street address? And, like, your credit card number?”

“Sure,” I say.

Amazingly, the parts arrived yesterday. I was fully expecting them to ship via the slowest possible method, so I was shocked when my father called and said there was “some box from Hoover” at his house. (I don’t get packages at the hobbit house. Don’t ask me why. It’s complicated.)

So, he brought the box over and offered helpful fatherly advice while I rapidly stripped the vacuum cleaner down to install the belt and new filter.

“Er, you’ll want to unscrew that, there,” he said, as I positioned the screwdriver over the bottom of the vacuum.

“Hey,” he said, when I took the bottom off, “there’s no belt! That’s your problem!”

“Yes, yes,” I muttered, fitting the new belt on.

Yet, when I turned to the box with the filter in it…it was very obviously the wrong size. It was also, very obviously, the wrong filter. It was a filter for a “Hoover Windtunnel Ultraplus Bootlicker 6000 with Extra Nazi Filtration.” Very much not the part I had ordered.


So I called them back again, and got a totally different man who was very nice and helpful and actually looked up my model number and said “ah, yes” when I mentioned the thing about paper accordions. He claimed to be shipping out the new filter “that very instant,” and said I could put the wrong one back in the mail “at my leisure.”

We shall see, my friends, we shall see. I suspect that my vacuum’s clever plot isn’t over yet.