The Garry Ultra Light is an upright vacuum that's advertised as having 40 percent more suction power than much more expensive vacs (see our report on vacuum cleaners and stick vacuums for better options). Other advantages, compared with other lightweight uprights, include built-in lights and onboard tools for vacuuming upholstery, plus a lifetime warranty and free replacement bags for life. However, we discovered plenty of reasons to pass on this vacuum cleaner.
Video ads show the Garry Ultra Light vacuuming up all kinds of dirt and debris sprinkled onto carpet, including cereal, candy, grass, garden soil and pet hair. Third-party tests, however, show that performance is poor when vacuuming dirt that's been ground in -- more typical of actual cleaning situations. The suction through the accessories is also very poor.
More deceptively, the 9-pound advertised weight turns out not to include the hose, onboard tools, or even the cord when wrapped around the handle. The total actual weight is over 11.5 pounds.
Reviews also note that the "free" bags entail a shipping charge and an automatic subscription, so they aren't exactly free. Even so, the total cost is still reasonable (as long as the company stays in business). The unlimited repair warranty is more problematic; products must be sent back to the manufacturer, requiring owners to pay high shipping costs. Owners report other customer service problems as well; for example, some had difficulty obtaining replacement bags.
In performance tests, the Garry does vacuum pet hair well, and the hypoallergenic bags minimize emissions. The main drawback, in addition to poor performance on carpet, is the apparent fragility of the motor. We found many complaints on HSN.com, Amazon.com and other sites of early breakdowns. The bottom line? If you need to vacuum bare floors, consider a lightweight and less expensive stick vacuum. And for carpets, there are definitely better choices in this price range.
We found the best comparison tests of the Garry Ultra Light vacuum cleaner at ConsumerReports.org. The full report, available only to subscribers, ranks this vacuum in relation to other upright vacuum cleaners. ConsumerReports.org's blog -- available to nonsubscribers -- summarizes test results of the Garry vacuum, and a video clip shows how it was tested. The Carpet and Rug Institute also tests the Garry vacuum, but only on carpet. We found the most owner-written reviews and ratings at AsSeenOnTVChallenge.com and at HSN.com, plus a handful at Amazon.com and a long discussion at AbbysGuide.com.
This blog post reports on objective tests of the Garry ultra light vacuum. Editors are impressed with the vacuum's low emissions and ability to pick up pet hair and clean bare floors. The article also analyzes the long-term economics of the company's offer of free bags and repairs vs. shipping costs, which they deem reasonable. The Gary Ultra Light is compared with over 50 other upright vacuum cleaners in a report available only to subscribers.
Review: The Garry Upright Vacuum is a Lightweight . . . in More Ways than One, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Sept. 15, 2009
In this video clip, editors check the Garry Ultra Light vacuum's weight, finding that to bring it from 11.63 pounds down to the advertised 9 pounds requires removing the tools, hose, and unwrapping the cord.
Review: Garry Vacuum Claim Check, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 7, 2009
3. KFSN-TV (Fresno)
This TV clip shows how ConsumerReports.org tests upright vacuum cleaners by not only sprinkling a carpet with talcum powder and sand, but also grinding it in before using the vacuum. Consumer Reports editor John Galeotafiore ranks the Garry in relation to about four dozen other light upright vacs, and says, "The Garry Ultralight actually was the worst at carpet cleaning."
Review: ABC Action News: The Quest to Find the Hardest Working and Lightest Vacuum, Christine Park, Oct. 4, 2009
4. Carpet and Rug Institute
Based on tests of cleaning ability on carpet, the Carpet and Rug Institute gives the Garry Ultra Light vacuum its Silver award for residential use. This means that it doesn't harm carpet texture, and removes 50 percent to 54 percent of the soil, and emits less than 100 ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air) of dust particles.
Review: Garry Ultralight Vacuum, Editors of Carpet and Rug Institute
The 10-minute commercial shown on this site looks convincing, but of the approximately 20 people reviewing the Garry Ultra Light vacuum here, all but one criticize it as a poor performer or a scam due to the high return shipping costs.
Review: The Garry Vacuum is the Latest Vacuum to Enter the Crowded 'As Seen On TV' Vacuum Market, Contributors to AsSeenonTVChallenge.com
More than two dozen owners review the Garry Ultra Light Vacuum that comes with a steam mop, giving it very mixed ratings. Satisfied users praise its light weight, easy maneuverability and good suction. Complaints include noise, breakdowns, rug damage, difficulty in buying bags and poor customer service. None of the owners seem happy with the steam mop.
Review: Garry Ultra Light Vacuum with Steam Mop, Contributors to HSN.com
Amazon.com no longer sells the Garry Ultra Light vacuum, and only three owners review it. All three give it the lowest possible rating, complaining about noise, fragility, poor performance on carpet, and the cost of shipping it back for repair.
Review: Garry Ultralight Vacuum, Contributors to Amazon.com
This long discussion of the Garry Ultra Light vacuum includes nearly 100 mostly skeptical comments. Many contributors agree that ultralight vacuums use such small motors that it's unrealistic to expect good suction through accessories. Only one comment appears to be from an actual owner, who complains about both poor results and poor customer service.
Review: Garry Ultra Light Upright Vacuum, Contributors to Abbys Guide.com