This is a question that begs an answer. For many years now the industry has trained the con¬sumer to expect the unexpected. Stainmaster ads had people believing that if they dropped or spilled any food stuff or substance on their new carpet it would jump back off. Since this was a physical impossibility and defied reality, consumers complained vehemently about their carpets “staining.” In reality what was happening, in most cases, was the creation of dark spots from spills attracting soil; these were dirt spots, not stains. On top of that consumers were told to clean the spills with Wisk. The sales of Wisk, I’m sure, were boosted by these cleaning instruc-tions but a lot of consumers were sadly disillusioned because they made matters worse by load-ing their carpets up with a soapy agent that did more damage than good.
Next we went to the soil retardant applications and dirt resistant carpets.
Since a carpet, or any floor covering for that matter, is on the floor, it is impossible to keep dirt from getting on it. Common sense and logic should dictate that dirt will still fall from above the flooring surface and walking on carpet will cause it to soil. This didn’t matter to the marketers of carpet selling dirt resistant products. Complaints again, increased.
Another catastrophe was the hype surrounding trackless or footprint free carpets. This subject came up again a couple of weeks ago from a dealer who had sold 300 yards of a two tone col-ored, 60 ounce, textured saxony carpet. After having installed the carpet he got a call from the disappointed consumer the next day because she saw footprints. He went to look at the carpet and suggested that all cut pile carpets will show some foot prints and tracking. This was abso-lutely true because any vertically oriented textile product will show some signs of compression by merely walking on it. Some carpets will show more and some less, depending on the con-struction, density, resiliency of the yarn and the backing or pad the carpet has beneath it. When the dealer suggested to the consumer that this was normal and that to avoid this she should have purchased a loop pile product, she became enraged. She said this is not what she wanted, she wanted a carpet that would show no traffic or footprints in this style and she wanted the carpet removed. The dealers question to me was the title of this column, are consumers expecting too much?
In this case the consumer should have had the common sense to understand that cut pile carpets will show some footprints. Just like cut pile upholstery fabric will show some matting and shade change when you sit on it even the first time or a velvet skirt will compress when worn and sat in for the first time. These are cut pile, vertically oriented construction and styles that when compressed will respond by visibly exhibiting matting and crushing to varying degrees. To eliminate or minimize this condition, a denser, more resilient construction and material has to be used. The denser the fabric the more resilient it will be and the less it will show normal compression. This you have to remember when selling any carpet especially if the consumer
asks for no traffic to show. However, they can’t completely eliminate a traffic pattern on any carpet in a concentrated, unalterable or pivotal location, some response to use will always show. A loop pile carpet will take much longer for this to occur as opposed to a cut pile carpet which will show the traffic sooner. This is and should be common sense and logical to both you and the consumer. If the consumer doesn’t bring up the subject of matting and crushing or foot traf¬fic showing, or any concern, should you? If you qualify the consumer, and do it properly, this should be one of the questions that comes up but if you don’t it won’t and you’ll never know if this was an issue to them until they complain. All you have to do is ask them what they expect from the carpet relative to performance and appearance retention and then guide them to the correct product. This will keep you from having a problem.
In our subject case the carpet is certainly not
defective, it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Cut pile, textured saxonys do not show a great deal of footprints anyway and the consumer is, in my opinion, being overly unreasonable and hostile. There’s most likely something else going on here that we are not aware of and it could very well be she just doesn’t like the carpet after having it in her home. There’s going to be a stand off over this and the dealer will be the loser no matter what happens.
The consumer does expect too much from us as an industry because we’ve trained them with our marketing. The industry creates most of it’s own problems. Also, make sure you read the labels and warranties to learn what they really say about the product. Make sure you qualify the consumer, during the sale, to prevent complaints later and eliminate what this poor dealer is ex-periencing.