Bissell Insults My Moma. Brand Suicide.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on February 18, 2008

I was down in Florida over the weekend and bought a vacuum cleaner for my Mom. She wanted a brand name at a reasonable price so we got a Bissell. She was comfortable with the brand—she knew it from way back. It assembled very easily and looked good, although it was a little hard for an 88 year-old to push. But, bottom line, she liked it.

Then we filled out the Registration card for the warranty. They’re designed to get as much personal data out of you as possible, right? But that effort, with Bissell, really went awry. One set of questions was modeled Strongly Agree, Strongly Disagree.

And one question asked my mother to comment on this—“When my house is not clean, I feel out of control.” Out of control? My Mom was furious. “What business is it of their’s how I feel?” “Who the hell do they think they are insulting me that way?” “Do you keep YOUR house clean mister? (figuring only a male idiot would ask such a question).

It was amazing to see a consumer go from brand loyalty before purchase because of reputation and legacy to hating the brand immediately after buying it because of intrusive, moronic questioning in quest of data.

Reader Comments

anon

February 19, 2008 4:05 AM

Irony of ironies, Bissell gave your mom back control...to reject intrusiveness.

Ben

February 19, 2008 6:33 PM

I don't see what is so intrusive about that specific question.

Environment has a large impact on people and a feeling of powerlessness is quite common to those who let their living area's go.

Also, because it gave the option of either agreeing OR disagreeing, it was not an insult at all.

Your mother needs to lighten up.

Lee

February 19, 2008 7:34 PM

Just because Bissell (or any company) asks a stupid question, you don't have to answer it. I just skip all the questions when registering a product. My age, income, lifestyle is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

I doubt you, or your mother, will buy a Bissell next time.

JimmyF

February 20, 2008 4:56 AM

Oh right, Ben (above). Make it your business to tell an 88 year old woman to "lighten up." You wouldn't happen to work at Bissell, would you? Or be a teenager?

unonumero

February 20, 2008 2:01 PM

what is the big deal about the question asked? I can understand that a 88 year old can become furious apparently for no reason, but Bruce Nussbaum? What merit he saw in writing this piece of no value? What amazez me is that even he thinks that the question is intrusive and moronic!!! Give me a break.

pjw

February 20, 2008 3:56 PM

Regardless of one's ability to merely skip the question, Bissel must balance the acquisition of data with the intrusiveness felt (legitimately or illegitimately) by its customers. I suspect when the marketing department wrote this document, no one asked, "How might this question make our customers feel?"

I recently donated to a well respected charity on-line. In the course of taking my money, the charity had so many invasive and unnecessary questions with the "required" asterisk denoted, that I almost didn't pony up the cash for fear of losing that much more of my privacy.

The question rarely asked by brand managers is, if information is valuable, is it so valuable that we are willing to chase our customers away for it? In some cases yes, but I suspect no one is even asking the question. - pjw

Anon

February 20, 2008 6:38 PM

You know, speaking to customers like people, showing them respect in your choice of words and phrasing, goes a long way to letting customers know you care about them and want to learn from them. The phrasing “When my house is not clean, I feel out of control" signals that the marketer views you as a demograhic and is searching for the right words to use to try to trigger your next purchase.

Or maybe I'm just feeling out of control.

BISSELL Homecare Inc.

February 21, 2008 2:38 PM

BISSELL values two way conversations with consumers and we appreciate the honest feedback you shared about the survey experience your mother had upon purchasing one of our products. We are sorry that our questionnaire offended her, as that was not our intention.

The question from the survey mentioned in your blog was developed following consumer research which revealed to us that consumers experience a variety of emotions when it comes to maintaining a clean home. In our quest to create life inspired cleaning innovations, obtaining opinions and attitudes from consumers about cleaning (the products they use, how they use them, how they feel about cleaning, etc.) helps us make products that better fit their needs and lifestyles.

Every product we create is fundamentally rooted in real life consumer insights. We purposely maintain open communications with our consumers on-line and via our customer service phone lines. And the questions we ask are designed to help us understand consumers and their cleaning product needs in a deeper, more meaningful way.

As with all customer complaints and opinions, we will evaluate the survey questionnaire further and take your comments into consideration.

Michael

February 22, 2008 2:42 PM

To me this question is very peculiar. Why from many possible variant "out of control" was chosen? What does that mean anyways? That I start breaking stuff and yelling at people around me for no reason?

I can understand why your mom was hurt by this one, but cannot understand why anybody wants to ask something like this.

Barbie Bailey-Waley

February 25, 2008 4:11 PM

I have used Bissell products for many many years and had been happy. Since my Vacuum had finally worn out I naturally replaced it with another bissell product. I also purchased a carpet cleaner for $380.00 and used it once. It was great. THEN I WENT TO USE IT AGAIN AN KAPUT NOTHING JUST CRAP, AND AS FOR THE VACUUM I COULD SUCK HARDER THAN THAT!!!!!! I am a disabled widow living on a very limited income! To make matters worse I am alergic to dust. I am turning this in to the BBB and I am telling everyone see or meet to avoid BISSELL BRAND they have gone down hill.. I borrowed a shampooer from a neighbor yesterday and OMG IT WAS A BISSEL JUST LIKE MINE AND IT IS CRAP TO. SO I KNOW IT IS NOT JUST MINE.. BISSELL SHOULD HAVE AN 800 NUMBER TO TALK TO SOMEONE!!!!!! EVERYONE BEWARE OVE BISSELL PRODUCTS!!!!! BARBIE

anon

February 26, 2008 6:48 AM

Why doesn't Bruce get his mother a house cleaner? She deserves that at age 88! ;)

Dealing with a warranty card in this day and age is futile anyway.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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