Basically what the title and sub-title say. I've been seeing the commercials lately for vacuum cleaners. They look pretty nice, but I have no way to judge whether what they are saying is true or not. Now this basically applies to vacuum cleaners but I think it would work for most small appliances (blenders,
air purifiers, there are others I can't think of now).
The main selling points for most products are durability and performance. It it doesn't work right, or only works for a few days it's a waste of money. I believe there should be either a business or a branch of each manufacturing company that provides what is basically a rental service with an eye towards you buying their product. If I want to try out Vacuum X I would call and pay a fee (I'll give more details on this later) and they would send me the vacuum cleaner. I can use it in my home, spill things and clean them at my leisure, basically test out all the features of the machine in my home, under my home's conditions (my dog's fur, my kids' messes, my messy hobbies).
Near the end of whatever amount of time I had paid for, the company gives me a call informing me that I have 2 or 3 days to get the vacuum cleaner shipped back to them, or else they will not be refunding my money to me.
If I have enjoyed the experience with my vacuum cleaner I ask them to send me order forms so that I can buy the vacuum, if I haven't I just send it back and ask for a different vacuum and so on until I find a machine that meets my needs.
The fees vary depending on different specifics. The newer the thing you are testing is, the cheaper (older ones that still work great would be a great selling point) to rent; the longer you want to keep something, the more it costs; if you break it, you pay for a new one or repairs (whether or not this in included from the outset varies by company).
Companies that only repair the machine when it is truly broken, and for superficial damage are in higher demand, as you can be assured that their vacuums are treated like a regular home vacuum, and are not repaired every time they are returned.
I am not sure where the company earns their money. It would most likely be mainly from the rental fees or if you scratch the finish (some would not repair these as they are evidence of the age and use of the product) or whatever. Their expenses are more obvious (buying the product in the quantity demanded, advertising).
This would probably work best/be most cost effective for smaller appliances, but I guess it might work with bigger ones. I just don't see many commercials about refridgerators or washer/dryers and how great they are. Not to mention what a hassle it would be to install these for the trial period.