Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Challenge of ONN Vacuum Cleaners

Well, this may appear to be a bizarre issue to concern myself with for the new year but it is something that has caused frustration and if I alert you to it, it may stop you falling into the same trap as I did, especially given that this is the time of year when people buy electrical goods. I had owned a small 1100 watt, 1.5 litre vacuum cleaner since 2001 when I lived in a two-bedroomed flat. When I moved into a larger house but lived alone this was sufficient. When I moved to the five-bedroomed place with more residents, the housekeeper had an identical one (though hers was grey and mine was yellow) so one was kept for upstairs and one for downstairs which seemed sufficient. However, in the course of 2007 both of these machines being at least six years old wore out. I decided to replace them with a larger single vacuum cleaner. I was hesitant to spend too much, as having seen just how many Dyson vacuum cleaners end up at my local dump thought that something a little larger than the 1100 watt one that I had bought from Tescos would suffice. I bought a 1400 watt, 4.5 litre ONN vacuum cleaner from Asda last summer.

ONN is the name for the own brand electrical goods produced by Asda. Having Asda stores in my vicinity I have gradually bought a range of things in their range including a (very noisy) electric kettle, a decent television and two DVD players, all of which have functioned well. Now, the problem with the ONN vacuum cleaner is not that it does not work, it does its job fine, it is just that it has no designation. Dyson has its DC17, DC19 and DC20 which are 1400 watt, Bissell has its 5200 FLIP IT, Vax its VZL -118AT and its VZL6012 and even its V-123 WET & DRY in this size too, Dirt Devil has the DD2430, Electrolux Z 4170A and Hoover, the 100 watts more powerful, TAV 1620 Xarion and there are many more besides, but each has a clear designation. In the ONN range you have the 'small one', 'the slightly larger one' and so on. This may be to make them sleek and mysterious but it causes an immense problem when you come to find replacement bags. I had used up the three that came with the machine and so had to hunt down replacements.

Buying vacuum cleaner bags is comparatively simple these days, there are online suppliers who deliver in twenty-four hours (if their website is working, I had to complain to one that it did not let me pay for anything in my shopping basket, I had no response and went and shopped at one of their rivals). However, if you have an ONN machine you have to guess, by looking at the pictures. Given that mine is the second size up, I guessed (wrongly) that the ONN size designated '002' by bag suppliers no doubt also frustrated by ONN's unwillingness to designate their machines. I was wrong. I went back to Asda assuming that I could get the correct bag to match my machine, but again I was wrong.

It is not an issue of not being able to get 4.5 litre bags. With no designation for my machine I have been searching by capacity and by wattage. I have bags that fit my machine perfectly, but for one thing, the piece of thick cardboard which sits at the front and holds the bag in place so that the suction can work, is of a different shape (a long vertical rectangle rather than a horizontal rectangle) to every vacuum cleaner bag I have been able to buy. I have a drawer of useless bags and have been tempted to ship my ONN to join all the Dysons (predominantly the upright ones, they bring greater colour to the dump) to the recycling yard. What I was compelled to to do was cut the thick cardboard to fit my ONN machine. It is not as easy as it appears as it is three layered thick cardboard and keeping a straight line is difficult as you strain to get your scissors to cut. Cut off too little and it will not fit in. Cut too much and the seal is not good enough and it will not suck well or simply distribute the dirt into the interior of the machine. Cut unequally from each side of the cardboard and the hole in the centre will not line up properly with the hole in the machine again reducing suction and meaning dirt does not get into the bag.

I do have a vacuum cleaner that works but it seems incredibly inefficient that I have to line up and carefully cut up bits of cardboard whenever I want to put in a new bag. Part of the problem stems for ONN not having any designations for their vacuum cleaners and part of the problem is their non-standard cardboard piece. So, if out shopping for a vacuum cleaner think about whether you, like me, about six months from now will be struggling to get a replacement bag in so that the vacuum cleaning can be done.

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