Scare tactics used to sell vacuums?

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PHOENIX -- 3 On Your Side has a revealing look at scare tactics being used by vacuum salesmen.

Viewers have complained to 3 On Your Side that salesmen use nothing more than scare tactics and high pressure sales pitches to close a deal so Gary Harper and 3 On Your Side decided to go undercover.

Sam Martin says he works for a company called World Class Solutions, a Kirby authorized dealer in Tempe.

But what Martin doesn't know is that 3 On Your Side has installed hidden cameras throughout a house to capture what some claim are "scare tactics" and a high-pressure sales pitch by salesmen.

"Well, it's about 10 times dirtier inside the house than it is outside the house," Martin said.

And it was just that kind of germy information that convinced 81-year-old Doris Collier to purchase a Kirby vacuum.

"It was going to get rid of all these germs that were in my bed and it was going to clean all this stuff, mites and terrible things that were in my carpet," she said.

And that worried Collier.

"Well, I kind of thought that I had something in there that's going to make me sick, that would cause me to be ill, and I just want to get rid of them," she said.

Collier said it worried her so much that she shelled out $2,400 for a Kirby vacuum a few years ago, a purchase she still regrets to this day.

Collier said she went through with it all because she felt pressured.

But just what kind of pressure are we talking about? Well, remember Sam Martin?

In less than a minute of walking into the home, he wanted to know how we'd be paying. He then dove into an hour-long presentation.

"It's the lightest vacuum cleaner on the market," he said.

Really? Try telling that to Collier. She says her vacuum is so heavy she can barely push it.

"I think its made for a muscleman because it's so hard you almost feel like if you push it very long you're going to have a hernia," Collier said.

And after doing some more vacuuming, Martin gives us the price.

"The total Kirby's $2,161. The shampooer's $352," he said.

And with tax the total price is around $2,600!

"Yeah, sometimes people get a little sticker shock," Martin said.

After 3 On Your Side's undercover producer balks at the price, Martin says he'll call his office to see what he can do -- a common sales ploy known in the industry as the "price drop."

"This is Sam, I need to speak to someone important, the most important one there," Martin says on the phone.

Now, we're really not sure who could be more important on the other end of the phone because according to paperwork filed with the state of Arizona, Martin is actually the president and CEO of World Class Solutions, a local distributor for Kirby.

Regardless, after his phone call, he gives us what he calls good news -- "$1,900 out the door."

Wow, quite a price drop, but our producer says she wants to think about it.

"If you want it as a demo model, it'll save you another two, three hundred bucks," Martin said.

OK, that $2,600 price is now down even lower. Now, it's around $1,700 and when we hesitate again, well, the price is dropped even more.

"If I could get it under $1,000 would you buy it?" Martin asked.

A $2,600 purchase just dropped to less than a thousand bucks.

It's time to find out what's going on here.

Martin said he never pressures anyone into buying a vacuum and told us all that talk about removing stuff like dust mite feces is legitimate.

"I'm not allowed to talk to anyone about my company so that's it!" Martin said.

The man owns the company, but he says he can't talk.

By the way, 3 On Your Side contacted Kirby headquarters in Ohio. They told us they do not tolerate inappropriate sales tactics by individual distributors and they expect all distributors to act ethically and legally.

As for Martin, he e-mailed 3 On Your Side a statement saying he has sold vacuum cleaners to thousands of satisfied customers here in the Valley.