Yes, David Oreck, founder of the Oreck company, will be remembered as one of the finest salesman of our times, there is no question about it. You see this guy everywhere!
Through his superior sales skills, and an extraordinary marketing team, the Oreck vacuum, specifically the Oreck XL, became a household name across the United States. Many people fondly remember the lightweight vacuum picking up the bowling ball in his TV commercials. The Oreck XL became one of the most popular machines on the market. The machine itself, however, has left a lot to be desired in terms of its ability to actually do what vacuums are supposed to do: clean.
The Oreck XL sells for nearly $500. Especially with way things are going in the economy, $500 is a lot of money to be spending. What you need to be sure of when making a decision to buy a high quality vacuum, however, is the machine’s quality. The old adage that “Quantity does not mean quality” makes sense in this case. One would suspect that a $500 vacuum would be quality.
What most customer’s don’t realize, however, is that the $500 spent on an Oreck XL isn’t going towards the quality of the machine but instead the quality of the machine’s advertisements. And the advertisements are good, we admit that. What lacks is truth in advertising, i.e. a good vacuum. Through the power of advertising, David Oreck has taken what should be $150 vacuum, and turned it into a $500 vacuum. Oreck isn’t alone in the industry, we find the same to be true about Dyson vacuums. Case studies will be written in business schools across the world about Dyson and Oreck and their genius in advertising, but unfortunately customers, not the CEOs, will be left with the hefty price tag.
Most other residential upright vacuums have a 12 AMP motor in them, it’s almost standard in the industry now. Whereas Amps don’t necessarily explain how much suction a vacuum has, you can usually get get a good estimate of suction from this measure. Oreck XL uprights have a 4 amp motor in them. Better yet, the top of the line Oreck XL21, the $700 Oreck, has a 3.5 amp motor in it!
We find that a lot of customers come in asking for this machine simply because it is light. But, honestly, a machine that’s 8lbs will be somewhat limited in its cleaning ability. So unless you are over 65, or physically unable to push a full size machine around, consider a full size upright or canister. They can do a better job, and many are still comparatively lightweight. You don’t need a 100lb vacuum to do a thorough cleaning.
If light weight is still the way you want to go, the Riccar RSL-4 (also 8lbs) was tested against the Oreck by a leading consumer magazine, and the Riccar Supra-lite, had 40% better suction then Oreck, and it sells for about 1/2 the price.
The Oreck XL vacuum was created for hotels, as evidence by their slogan “The Hotel Vacuum for your Home”. I think the idea being that a hotel vacuum must be strong and versatile so it would do well in your home. But the slogan is a bit misleading. Carpets in hotels are usually a low pile commercial grade which don’t require a lot of suction to get most dirt and debris out, hence the use of a low suction vacuum like the Oreck. But deeper carpets in your home, for example, require more suction and a much more aggressive vacuum to properly clean your carpets and rid them of the dirt, dust mites, pet dander, and allergens that infest your carpets.
One funny thing about the Oreck is that they created a place for an extra belt to be stored on the machine. While this is a very handy feature for when your belt breaks, it makes me nervous that a company is so unsure of its own product that they build in a replacement mechanism into the machine. It’s like buying a new bicycle with a extra compartment to place a replacement chain.
Overall, my impression of the Oreck XL’s performance is low. If I were to spend that kind of money on a vacuum (which I have, I own a Miele), I’d make sure that it could do more in my house than just pick up a bowling ball.
- Chris Jones