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★★★☆☆

“Beware of the Pitfalls”

Written on: 29/05/2013

NOISE. Don't believe that the LauraStar systems are any quieter than any of the others you may have heard about that are noisy. On the company's website there is a press release with a claim that they are very quiet. The demo video is misleading - you only hear the steam (which you experience with any other steam station too), but not the pump pushing the water or the fan that pushes the air blowing up the ironing board or pulling your clothes down to the board. You cannot hope to watch TV or listen to the radio at normal volume while ironing. Earphones might help. If you're sensitive you may get a headache from the steady noise level. The on-again-off-again motor noises were so bad, we immediately returned the system, and took the hit of the "restocking fee" of 15% plus more than $150 for the privilege of shipping and insuring it at our cost, to avoid a claim on the other end that it arrived damaged. The website of LauraStar's US distributor says customers have two weeks to return systems without charge, but we ordered by phone after having trouble with the dealer network (see below).

HEIGHT. The ironing board is so compact, that it doesn't lower closer than 32 inches to the floor. For someone who is around 5'2" in height or less, the height of the board makes ironing very tiresome for the arms. You can't alter anything on the system to make it go lower.

US DEALER NETWORK. On the LauraStar-USA website, there is a map of the US with dealers marked all over it, giving the impression that there is wide support throughout the country. We called five of them on the east coast - we were willing to drive 100+ miles to see the machine in action and order one. None of the five had any goods in stock. One listed store in North Carolina got on the dealer list after the owner had ordered a machine for her private use. A shop in New Jersey claimed it had stock - but when we arrived after a long drive from Virginia, there was just one older model on the floor (which wasn't the one we asked about on the phone). While we were in the store, the proprietor made us a good offer for the one we came to see, which we accepted. He then telephoned what he said was a warehouse nearby where stock was kept. We thought we could stay overnight nearby and collect the machine we wanted the next day. That failed - it appeared to us that the distributor was closed on Saturday. So we then bought into the idea of letting the dealer call on Monday, when the local warehouse would be open, from where the shop owner said he would have the system shipped and pay half of the freight cost. We found out later, when we called to get a freight tracking number, that the call was actually being made to the national distributor in Oregon. There would have been no way we could have had a machine during our stay over the weekend. Eventually, the dealer cancelled our order with no notice or explanation, which is how we wound up calling the US distributor in Oregon on our own.

The advantage of this system is continuous ironing since there is no time lost for the cooling off and/or reheating. You just refill the water tank as often as needed.

All in all, the experience was poor, the concept is good, but the product needs improvements.