Replacement filter: $89.99 - $129.99
Filter Queen Defender Air Purifier is manufactured and distributed by Health-Mor, a subsidiary of HMI Industries Inc.
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, HMI Industries Inc. is a global direct seller of pricey vacuum cleaners.
The current marketing focus is a package deal for both HMI Industries products: Majestic 360 surface cleaner and Defender room air purifier.
Filterqueen was recognized as a quality vacuum long before the Defender air cleaner was introduced.
I have one, a Filter Queen Model 31X.
My mother bought it from a very persistent in-home salesman in 1983.
This machine was built before the move to Ohio, inside it says "Health Mor, Chicago."
Mom had a maid who came twice a week for over 20 years to vacuum the 1400 square foot 3-bedroom house my folks retired in, and the 3 rooms they moved to at the nursing home.
So I am now the second owner of a heavily and consistently used 25 year old vacuum cleaner.
Despite having 1950's technology, it runs like new, quietly picking up dirt my cheaper machines miss.
Before World War Two, these premium built vacs were sold primarily to the upper classes.
In the late forties, the middle class began to buy vacuums and a boom ensued - mass produced machines began to flood the market.
In the strongly competitive environment that ensued, the classic vac makers had to struggle for survival.
A deterioration of sales tactics was inevitable, and not confined to Filter Queen.
HMI Inc itself has less than 200 employees.
Using direct, in-home sales, Health Mor's 8,000-member sales force solicits leads and brings the products, Majestic and Defender, to the customer.
Tactics used to secure appointments for Defender/Majestic demonstrations are questionable, but prove the old adage about new fools being born every night.
Telemarketer spin off lists are common.
Anyone who stays on the line for a few seconds will be asked to participate in a "survey."
Those with time on their hands to respond are told they have won a "prize."
To receive the prize, they must view a Defender demonstration in their home.
Infomercials, sweepstakes forms on-line and off line, direct mail solicitations, and contest boxes, offer prizes contingent on an in-home demonstration of the Defender/Majestic air purifier and "surface cleaner" combination.
During in-home demonstrations, the buyer feels obligated to treat the salesman as a guest.
David Oreck, who succeeded selling both air purifiers and vacuum cleaners, once said successful door-to-door salesmen never take no for an answer.
Good luck getting rid of one of these guys once they get a foot, and their air cleaner, in the door.
Health Mor is careful to distance itself from distributors, and publishes an extensive Code of Ethics.
This code seems completely ineffectual, because distributors are reported to employ a wide variety of questionable sales tactics to move these overpriced vacuums and companion Defender air cleaners.
The worst abuse is saved for salesperson wannabes, recruited with newspaper and internet ads promising thousands in compensation which rarely materializes.
It's the old "new salesman gag," the sucker is promised high commissions and a quick path to a stable of underlings who will make him rich.
High turnover, after selling to friends and family and providing every name they can produce as leads, is the usual result.
To me the interesting angle is the incredible mark-up on these air and floor cleaners.
The sales calls can drag on for hours, with objections by stubborn buyers resulting in surprising markdowns as the deal progresses.
Often there is wraparound financing for the $1000-plus Defender and Companion Majestic, with interest up to $2k added.
"Products with HEPA Filtration reduce 99.97% of pollutants down to 0.3 micron. The filters used in the FILTERQUEEN Majestic and Defender reduce 99.98% of pollutants down to 0.1 micron"
This ad gimmick relies on the common misconception that HEPA filters capture particles " down to .3 microns," and stop there.
.3 micron is the hardest particle size to trap, so the HEPA filter specification calls for 99.97% retention of .3 micron particles.
Most true-HEPA filters, when installed in tightly gasketed and sealed quality air purifiers, will capture particles as small as .1 micron.
Premium air purifiers routinely outperform the HEPA specification.
IQAir HEPA air purifiers are tested and certified to filter down to 0.003 microns with a guaranteed minimum efficiency of over 99.5%.
Defenders have a single-layer, non-woven, wet laid fiberglass pleated HEPA filter media, providing 43.9 sq. ft. of surface area.
This is no "special" filter, it's an 8" high cylinder very similar to those used in air purifiers costing hundreds less.
A blanket-style activated charcoal filter, fastened with Velcro strips, is also garden variety.
This lightweight charcoal filter will adsorb very little airborne volatile chemical or odor pollution.
Neither filter is washable or renewable.
Numerous users report a different smell in the air when Defender is working.
There is no ionizer or other ozone producing mechanism on the Filter Queen air cleaner.
Numerous users have neglected to reset the filter reminder after a filter change, wondering why the red light is still on.
Once the light is on, it's time for buyers to discover the Defender filter dilemma.
The Queen's filters run around $100 for HEPA and the $26 for charcoal blanket filters.
The warranty-required filtration maintenance would be around $155 per year.
Many owners resort to buying after-market filters on eBay.
Defender offers "3-Speed Programmable Operation," but the only thing programmable is the timer.
There are no air quality sensors or automatic operations.
Ads boast of a 193 cubic foot per minute (CFM) "Clean Air Delivery Rate" (CADR).
This is more hooey.
Clean air delivery rate is a certification program.
Around 40 air purification manufacturers participated, earning the right to display the AHAM seal and advertise their certified Clean Air Delivery Rate.
Health-Mor/Filter Queen are not among them.
At 193 cfm, the air cleaner is modestly powered.
The filter Queen air purifier has 3 manually selectable speed settings, the first is reported almost silent, the second a little noisy.
Filterqueen offers no scientific noise measurements, but user reviews are unanimous: high speed is extremely loud.
Air is output through 360 degrees, so clearance of at least three feet from walls or furniture is recommended.
Defender weighs 15 pounds and can easily be moved from room to room.
"The original purchaser of the Defender® room air cleaner may extend this warranty for successive additional one year periods by purchasing and using during each year the Medi-Filter® Cartridge."
After a year without ordering filters from Filterqueen and the warranty will be voided.
Keep buying Filter Queen filters and the warranty lasts forever.
I never buy anything on the basis of an unsolicited sales call.
I immediately trash flyers in the mail, hang up on telemarketers, close my eyes while deleting spam e-mail ads, and shut the door on door-to-door salesmen.
Still think a vacuum and air purifier are worth $3000?
Search eBay, where Defender air purifiers routinely fetch $100.
My favorite advice on how to get rid of a salesman comes from www.getrichslowly.org: "Get a big dog."