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Tales From the Motherhood: Vacuum issues and brand confusion

I gotta come clean about something else. You know that fabulous new Bissell vacuum I raved about in this space a few months ago? Yeah, not so great after all. (But a revelation about that particular vacuum at the end of this column.)

I had to replace the vacuum last week after I vacuumed half the family room before realizing that everything I picked up was simply being spit back out. I didn’t give up on it right away, though, because Holly had, had fun choosing and purchasing it. And besides, it’d been a really great vacuum! You know, except for the spitting-everything-out part.  

So I tightened the hoses, fiddled with the buttons and generally gave the Bissell a thorough once over with my untrained eye. Nothing seemed awry, so I turned it back on and made another pass around the family room. But the same crumbs shot back out, this time, defiantly hitting my shin like tiny pieces of shrapnel. Yikes.

It was time to find the owner’s manual. Holly took the Bissell for a spin, hoping to coax it into compliance while I searched. Determined to find some clue as to its malfunction, Noah took it apart, right down to the wires. When he put it back together he heard something rattle in a hose and discovered it was packed full of dog hair and other “stuff.” Yeah, yuck.

But yeah! “Hallelujah!” I said. “We have a winner!” Surely, clearing the clog would do the trick, I thought, but it didn’t‚ and so into my car it went, bound for the Bissell returns bin. I needed another vacuum, though, and fast, as Holly’s Harry Potter party was set to begin in a mere three hours. Gah!

But I’d misplaced my receipt (I figured it was probably off chillaxing in some drawer with the owner’s manual), and the store’s website oddly yielded no information about our online purchase. Nor did my email account, which was strange, because online purchases typically produce emailed receipts. Huh. I even typed “Bissell” into the search bar on my email account. Nothing. So I headed to the store, in hopes that someone there could locate the receipt for the Bissell and process my return. No such luck.

“I can’t find your phone number in our system, ma’am,” said the woman manning the customer service desk, as she moved toward my cart with her portable scan-thingy to scan the vacuum for numbers. 

“I can’t find your vacuum in our system, either,” she said apologetically. She was awfully nice, but what the heck?

“Okey dokey,” I said, punch-drunk-tired and perplexed, as I hauled my Bissell back into the cold, back to my car. What to do? Buy another vacuum, of course.

A few days later, Holly’s party on the books, and our new Shark vacuum navigating the Big Red Dog’s fur like a rock star (seriously, it seems to drive itself), I opened a kitchen drawer looking for who-knows-what. Guess what I found? An owner’s manual! For a vacuum! A HOOVER vacuum! Which, you know it, is stamped right on the darned thing.

Mystery solved, I typed “Hoover” into my email account’s search bar and discovered I’d tried to return the darned thing to a store besides the one from which Holly purchased it online. Oy vey! I suppose I should be embarrassed, but no-can-do, I’m having too much fun laughing.

Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at

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