Company accused of “hostage-taking” door-to-door sales has “F” rating

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A Quad City-area company that sells Kirby vacuum cleaners door-to-door is being accused of "hostage-taking" like practices and has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Midwest Elite in Davenport was given the "F" rating by the Better Business Bureau over its sales practices, customer service, billing issues and refund policies.

"It has an 'F' rating. That's the worst. The Better Business Bureau has received about 20 complaints over the past three years with this company, seven of them have been over the past 12 months," said Jamie McKenzie with the BBB in Bettendorf.

East Moline Police were called Thursday, April 17, 2014 by the family of an 87-year-old woman who says three strange men selling the vacuums stayed uninvited in her home for at least three hours. She says she told them at least twice to pack up and leave, but they stayed until a van picked them up.

She said at one point, one of the men left to go into her bedroom and started vacuuming her mattress.

"It's like she's being held hostage. She wanted them to leave and they don't leave.  I'm furious," said Chris Baker, the elderly woman's daughter.

The BBB says Midwest Elite has operated under several different names, including Hawkeye QCK; QCK, Inc. and River City Associates.

"In total, we're looking at six names.It kind of sends up red flags," said McKenzie.

Several WQAD viewers and online customers posted similar experiences after being approached by Midwest Elite sales crews.

Manager Dustin DelPivo says he can't speak about the way the company sells door-to-door.  Company owner Nate Ramker said he would answer questions at a later date in written form.


  • Ann Martin

    I had that problem with the same people. I even had dogs in my house . I told them no and they kept pushing there way in. So when they went to the truck for something I shut my door and locked it. And they kept on knockingfor 2-3 minutes. It’s not right for these people to do this….

  • Tim Fillmer

    We had the same thing happen in our neighborhood last year. They were very rude, and barged their way inside, and would not take no for an answer. One technique they used was using an innocent looking female teen to get you to answer the door, then they would welcome them selves right in. They also would not leave when asked, and kept on trying to work out some kind of payment plan. They were asking her questions about her income, and bills, and even looking at her mail on her TV stand.
    They prey on all, but really try to take advantage of the elderly. If it wasn’t for my wife, my elderly neighbor would have felt like she had no choice but to buy. I’m glad she was looking out for her, and happened to be home when she saw them. Their techniques are very hostile. My wife wanted to go their office, and give someone an earful, but i talked her out of it. Feel free to contact me Chris Minor for an interview.

  • TF

    @Tim Fillmer Chris won’t, they don’t read these comments.

    What throws me off about this article is that they stayed for three hours. Did the elderly woman not have a phone? Did the men hold the phone hostage? It makes me pity people who say they had these similar experiences and couldn’t get the people to leave. If it ever happens to me, I have the perfect ways of getting them to leave. I’ll give them three options: 1) Leave voluntarily. 2) I’ll get my gun. 3) I’ll call the police.

    Do people not know how to get rid of unwanted guests anymore? Just threaten to (AND DO IT) call the police.

  • Jeremy

    LoL Tim Fillmer…..people will do anything to get on the news. Anyway I worked for m&m dist. out of moline for about a day selling kirby vacuum cleaners. we were told by our boss to push the product as much as possible…we were required to do some 100 pads or so. which is placing a round cloth pad inside the vacuum head then running the vacuum for 30 seconds and taking the pad out to show the “customer” how much it picked up. I quit after I was left alone in a customers home for 5 hours and they wouldn’t even give me a ride back to my car so I had to call someone to come get me. The customer WAS a really nice elderly gentleman in his 70’s with a 40 year old wife lol. He was one cool dude and understood that it wasn’t my fault I was left there for 5 hours. My point is not everyone that’s trying to sell those vacuums are bad people, they are doing what they are told by the owners and crew managers so if you want to get mad at someone get mad at the greedy owners and managers that only pay you if you successfully sell a vacuum. I never even got paid for my 12 hour day spent in 2 different houses. You meet at the shop then everyone rides around together in a big ol cargo van so when you get dropped off somewhere you can’t be picked up till the van shows up

    • Bob

      Jeremy – we are not talking bot all salesman ….. We are talking bout this ONE company that has been ripping people off for years . This was ,y grandmother and she was terrified!! If it was yours you be pissed to !! Learn the facts Jack – you do business with them —- good luck

      • Rachel Richards

        I can completely understand her being terrified! They introduced themselves as a new to the area cleaning service looking for clients. I let them in just to clean my 20 yr old couch, they of course did the whole spiel, cleaning my bed which I told them not to do repeatedly, and even had the audacity to offer the cleaning solution to my dog to drink! If they hadn’t been packing up to leave then, they would have been thrown out! I don’t care if they say it’s “safe”, my dog is not drinking cleaning solutions!

  • Tim Fillmer

    I don’t know why it throws you off? They did the same thing at my neighbors house. She is elderly, and they wouldn’t leave. She is very nice, and religious, and she didn’t want to get the police involved. She is not like that. It happens. Not everyone is going to do what you would have done.

  • Tim Fillmer

    LOL. I don’t care about getting on the NEWS. I think it is sickening that the managers, and owners do this. That is why I’m saying something about this situation. Wether it gets heard or not I’ve said my peace.

  • Me

    The owner’s response sounds just as shady as the “sales” tactics described in this news report. Personally, I blame the owner and manager for fostering this climate and allowing this to go on. What a scummy, sleazy group of people.

  • TIM

    woman did that to me too.. Had a good looking girl come to the door begging to let her shampoo my carpet or else she would get fired. Her boss was sitting in the van in the driveway. Kept telling her no and she pretended like she was crying and saying she was going to lose her job if I didn’t let them in. I told her I was a broke college kid with no money to buy anyting anyway. She gave up after that.

  • chirs

    they tried my place last week. my wife already had a kirby. they wanted to vacum my floors. told them i have hardwood floors though out my house, which i do. their reply “so do you have any carpets that need cleaned?”. at that point i said no and let my doberman loose. they left pretty quick after that.

  • Craig

    I had one guy show up. He said I was the last call of the day, and he was starting his own carpet cleaning business. Wanting to help get him started, I let him in. Same story as others. Had a hard time getting rid of him when I found out the truth. He wanted to talk about my finances and payment plans. Even had the nerve to ask for people on our court to call on. I gave him the name of the meanest people I could think of. Called company to complain. They said they would have a talk with him. Now I see the truth. Good reporting by Chris Minor.

  • Red74

    Why are they only talking about this one particular Independent Dealer? I realize that these three salespeople may have been from this particular business, but the Moline business uses the same exact tactics. “All” of the Independent Kirby Dealers that sell Kirby vacuums use these same exact sales tactics across the board. Dig deeper. This has been going on for YEARS. They need to put an end to this type of “don’t take no for an answer” training and “hostage-taking” like sales tactics. They also need to stop calling people out of the phone book and lying to them by telling people that if they schedule and appointment to allow someone from their office to come shampoo a room in their house that their name will be entered into a “non-existent” drawing to win “non-existent” prizes! The core issue here is “Kirby”. Period. Take a look at what they “promise” to their Independent Dealers: ~These promises of wealth and luxury are the only reason why some people become so greedy and will do and say whatever it takes to sell a $300 vacuuming system for $1,000 – $2,000!!! Even if that means preying on the elderly. Something has to be done about this.

  • Wanda Buckallew Deahl

    I live in davenport and the came to my house and pushed their way into my living room and kept demonstrate their vacuum I told them I wasn’t interested but they just kept going final I went to the garage and got my husband he ask them to leave and they just kept on finally he said I am calling the police and the guy called his supervisor and they final left if you see them in your neighborhood don’t answer the door I learned the hard way

  • Jason

    These people are scum. If you have an open building don’t rent to them. They don’t pay their rent either. Somebody needs to put these losers out of business.

  • RP

    I actually fell victim to their help-wanted ads. I went and trained for 3 days, but that 3rd day I was really suspicious but I don’t like quitting things just because they seem hard. That first day “out in the field” during training I watched them walk into people’s homes and stay for hours upon hours.

    They pay “under the table” and you have to claim your own taxes on your pay. They boast about all these vacations you get to take with the company and all the promotion opportunities.

    They crammed everyone into vans at 8:30am and I wasn’t dropped off until after 1am.

    I was furious, on the drive back my phone died and I could tell a few of the members were smoking – I’m pretty sure it was marijuana. They went under the name Hawkeye QCK at the time.

    The sad part is that the help wanted ad boasted “Customer Service Specialist” and all during the training they told us we were just “going to preset appointments and showing the customers how to use their systems.” Nowhere did they mention at the same time we were supposed to use scare tactics to get them to buy.

    This place is disgusting.

  • denny

    I find the news funny I noticed any positive comments about kirby removed lol no one trains, encourages, or allows any shady sales tactics reported in this article. Funny thing is news company’s are no better getting and covering their stories but hey its a paycheck lol. There’s bad salesman no doubt but for every complaint there is there’s a crooked cop, fire starting fireman, a McDonald’s cook spitting in food life is full of them but I know that any person that knocks a strangers door with by the way is 100 percent constitutional right we have doesn’t do it with intentions of passing you off just making honest living and hears the best question why was there no police interaction oh cause there was no crime just some miserable people who probably throw there shoe at TV when a commercial comes on

  • Gordon

    This story is just the tip of the iceberg these people do the same thing to hundreds of people per week. They have been violating city laws in every city within a hundred miles for years intimidating and preying on the elderly. Why do they change their name all the time? Answer is to stay ahead of all their bad publicity. I’ve dealt with the Kirby company on avenue of the cities in Moline for over 30 years, same location great people. I’m sure if you checked with the BBB they don’t have a fistful of complaints. These people who prey upon elderly people to make their living and overcharge them and pressure them should be prosecuted.

  • grace

    The more money you make more problems you’ll have if your that old you can’t defend yourself against a salesman shame on your family not sticking you in assisted living quit picking on a successful 100 year old company

  • grace

    Where’s the undercover story on McDonald’s you know they charge 50 cents for a extra slice of cheese not just to old people but minors too there’s a place In he’ll for those cos

  • grace

    One slice of cheese you people botching about this are hilarious I’ll bet keep the neighborhoods children’s ball when it’s kicked in your yard miserable wrinkly whiners take your mess and go watch matlock

  • Drewbster

    Forget about Kirby Vaccuum Cleaners, deport them to Nigeria and let them do the ‘cash my check’ scam.

  • kate

    I know the boss there Dustin I’ve worked for him 2 years ago he’s a great salesman and I know from working with him he does not breed what this story says he might teach them what to say or when to say it but that’s any sales company’s trainer would I agree with grace it’s just a mad daughter her mom had a sales person in her home if she is that old either have her move in with you or assisted living Dustin and Nate are great bosses and I would still be there if it wasn’t for me going to college

  • yolo

    This sounds like wolf of wallstreet sales tatics now all the salesman will be working there now for this guy trained my friend hes a good saleman i bet there snorting blow poping ludes in there office lol

  • silly lily

    I dont like kirbys but id buy anything he was selling the sexy man came to my house I wouldnt let him leave

  • ryan

    this guy tried hiring me to sell that i hate sales this guy is just a saleman selling his bs i didnt fall for it

  • joker

    This sales company is ruthless they teach sales classes everyday that’s how the sell millions of dollars worth of vacuums each year I bet they take that money and sell drugs to kids I hate merica

  • chelsie

    Iv worked at midwest this year Mr delpivo hired me he never said I would be a sales rep I was hired as customer service and 3 days later I was selling vacuums he’s good at what he does but he never taught us to lie just to help customers make intelligent choices Larry the other boss is very nice to I wish people knew the truth not what a news anchor says and the people saying they knocked your door so what life’s not over sorry you can’t have your 1 minute back I wish this company the best and if I still lived In davenport I would work there again

  • Rachel Richards

    They just came to my door today. A lady introduced them as a cleaning service who was new to the area. She offered to clean our couch for free, so of course I said yes. I had no idea they were selling a Kirby until she brought someone else in to do the work. The person wanted to talk the whole time & told stories that just made him look like an idiot & very rude. He was very disrespectful in how he talked of elderly people. He took about 2 hrs to “clean” my couch, my entry mat, & then he even cleaned my bed. I told him no repeatedly, but he just walked around like he owned the place. The the guy asked if he’d held me hostage & then told me about this report & said it’s not true.

  • Lucky

    16 years ago, I agree to the free carpet cleaning. A young man came and shampooed the carpets and then and older man came in and started the hard sell. This went on for quite awhile. I’m a single girl and was starting to get very annoyed with the questions about my finances. After saying no about 15 times, they finally got mad and took their stuff and stormed out. Seriously. They left a wet soapy film on my carpets. I’m older now and a lot more confident, it won’t happen again.

  • Randy

    I just had these guys come to my door today, actually. They said they were a new company to the area and wanted to clean my carpet for free. Of course if strangers come to my house, asking to do something free, I know they want to sell me something.. Any normal adult would know that.. I let them in because I heard about the Kirby guys being pushy and aggressive and I wanted to give them a piece of my mind when I saw it. The “Manager” brought in this kid and dropped him off at my house and left. I sat and listened to his presentation, and this kid was super excited about a trip he was working for. He showed me all of the attachments and asked to clean my mattress. I told him no, and he asked for a pillow instead. I let him clean my wife’s pillow, and after what I saw, I made him clean MY pillow and my mattress! But the real kicker is when he started getting dirt out of my carpets. They use these little disk things to show you how dirty your house really is. I bought my wife a Dyson Animal Ball that she uses almost twice a day with our kids.. Mind you i got it 3 months ago.. This is our third one… To be honest with you, they didn’t have to use any tactics on me. I wouldn’t consider myself a germiphobe or a super clean person, but I take pride in having a clean home. I spent a lot of money to make it a good place to raise my family, and if I gotta spend a little more to protect it, so be it. The people showing kirbys might not all be the sharpest tools in the shed, the tactics might not be all honorable, but the product they sell is worth my last penny.

    • Bob

      Thera are legit Kiby salesman out there !! Y’all need to understand the focus is on this one company- Midwest Elite in Davenprt !!!

  • Ashley p

    I had a interview with that manger he gave me his card to call him if I was intrested in a job I just wanted him lol not intrested in selling vacuums company seemed legit

  • delta

    He doesn’t look like a honest man just cause he’s good looking do sent mean to trust him he’s in sales they know how to manipulate

  • Kim larkin

    I don’t understand everyone’s problem they are a sales company hostage taker I doubt they push a great product to everyone when they came to my mom’s house I watched them without no doubt prove she needed one people have nothing bett r to complain about and that manager does look cute I’d buy one from him

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