First off, yes, this vacuum is expensive, but oh how I love it! I have two fuzzy, long-haired cats, and after 4 years, this vac is still cleaning my carpets like it did the first day I got it! Emptying the canister is a breeze, and not having to mess around with using a bag is really convenient. The only maintenance this ever needs is an occasional cleaning of the spinning brush at the base which will collect hairs to the point where it is no longer effective. I must admit, however, that I'm a little dissatisfied with the attachments-- while it's relatively easy to switch over from vacuuming to using attachments, I find them to be stiff and restricting. For $500, I feel that a good set of attachments should be a no-brainer, but these sadly fall a bit short.
Overall, I would highly reccommend this product to anyone in need of a powerful, reliable vacuum. However, I'm fairly certain that a comparable system can be found at a much less choke-worthy price tag