The Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co., which wanted to further evaluate Hoover’s new vacuum-performance standard before passing judgment, is now taking a decisive stand against it. Hoover recently introduced a vacuum performance rating system based on cleaning effectiveness per amp. Intial competitive reaction was sour, except for Eureka, which previously had stated that it wanted to evaluate the standard before making a decision. Now, after further evaluation, the company has decided that “Hoover has overstepped its bounds,” and, in a letter sent to major retailers, has labeled the new standard as being misleading for consumers, said Gilbert Dorsey, president of Eureka.
“I am in near disbelief over Hoover’s actions regarding ‘standard setting,'” Dorsey said. “It is almost unbeleivable to me that a single company would be so bold as to think it can set the standard for the industry in order to meet its own needs.” “Hoover is in total disagreement with Eureka’s position,” said Hoover Company officials in a prepared statement. “The points raised in the letter are totally misleading, and Hoover will take appropriate action.” Retailers appeared to be torn between the two companies. “Eureka’s decision to hold back on judging the new standard until they could evaluate it was very intelligent,” said one retailer. “It lends even more credibility to their decision. They obviously wanted to see how product was shipped before they made a determination on the new standard.” Other retailers echoed that response, acknowledging Hoover for their part in trying to develop an effective rating system, but praising Eureka for its approach to what is now the hottest topic in the electric floor-care industry.
Dorsey asserted Hoover has “over-stepped its bounds in order to gain an advantage and has done so by attempting to confuse the customer. Perhaps confusion is the intent. It is important that we protect the most important player of all–the customer.” While taking “the strongest possible exception to Hoover’s actions,” Dorsey made it clear the objection was not based on a concern about competing using the Hoover equation. “We have $59 retail products that would have higher ratings than Hoover’s more expensive models,” he said. “Competing on this basis would not be a problem for Eureka…if the standard made any sense.” He said the Eureka model 1432 which retails at $59.99 has a Hoover rating of 19.5 compared with Hoover’s upscale PowerMax self-propelled upright ($299 retail) that rates at 18.5. “We readily admit that the inexpensive Eureka 1432 does not clean as much as the costlier PowerMax. Yet the Eureka 1432 has a higher rating using Hoover’s equation. Does that confuse you?”
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Dorsey said the Hoover standard is wrong for four reasons:
* Standards should be set by the industry and not just one company. There is a standards organization in place, the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). Hoover has used a small portion of that standard and made up the rest to meet its needs.
* Industry members have already agreed on how to measure cleanability and have already published standards through the ASTM.
* Hoover’s standard implies great energy savings for the consumer, when, in fact, an 8-amp cleaner uses less than $3 of electricity per year. Savings therefore are in pennies, not dollars–giving far too much merit to low power, lower performing vacuums.
* The Hoover standard is completely unfair to canister-principle (clean air) uprights. Eureka does not make such models, so it would be easy to join Hoover, but it is just not fair.
Dorsey added that there is a very strong possibility that the consumer will confuse Hoover’s equation number with amperage.