KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE -- Our personal experience with a DirectBuy Open House in Knoxville, TN. My wife and I went to a DirectBuy warehouse tonight after being invited to attend an open house. The center manager was a really friendly and personable guy from Missouri (the show-me state). We both signed in, received a name badge and were introduced to our "host" who was the center manager's son-in-law. He interviewed us and we shared with him that we were remodeling and would be purchasing carpet, tile, windows, kitchen and bath appliances. He said DirectBuy would be able to save us money and seated us in a room with a TV monitor.
There were two other couples in the room and the meeting started out with a seven minute informercial on what DirectBuy does - in short, they claim to save money by bypassing the local retailer and purchasing direct from manufacturer - the proposition sounds cool (emphasis on the word "sounds").
The center manager speaks for a while, shows us another video and then walks over to a wall of consumer product print-outs covered with post-it notes. Each product has two post-it notes with a suggested retail price shown and the DirectBuy price underneath. They showed us furniture, washing machines, pots and pans, vacuums, mattresses etc. The DirectBuy price offered averaged 20-50% less according to the center manager.
BUT, I wrote down a few prices and the magic ended when I researched the first item when I got home, a 46" Sony Bravia - the manufacturer's retail price matched DirectBuy's example - MRP $2799 but the actual DirectBuy price of $2251 was still more than my local Circuit City's price, $2099. The second item was a 21.8 cu. ft. refrigerator - the manufacturer's retail price matched DirectBuy's example - MRP $2299 but the DirectBuy claimed price of $1419 was lower than the $1900 retail price shown on the internet.
The third item was a Jacuzzi - we were particularly interested in that one since we had priced them two days ago at all the local retailers. DirectBuy's price of $1131 was blown away by Lowe's price of $974. [Note that we didn't know the prices on the TV and refrigerator at the time we were at DirectBuy's office but when we we did know the price of the Jacuzzi] Needless to say, the Jacuzzi sowed some seeds of doubt in the process. And it got worse from there...
After the price game, the TV was switched on again and we were treated with a list of DirectBuy member rules (if we were to join). "Be nice to retailers, don't leverage DirectBuy prices against retailers, blah blah blah and then we got to rule #6. Rule #6 is a slick sales tactic that says, "You can only decide to join DirectBuy right now. If you said no today, then it was no forever." DirectBuy said it was to protect their retailers... you decide. Not good. But not the end of the world. Maybe they are committed to making me happy.
So I asked, about their written Customer Satisfaction Policy - "What happens if I am unhappy with my DirectBuy membership". The answer was that they don't have a satisfaction policy as to your membership. However, they will replace a defective product (well, so will Sam's Club). In my mind, I am thinking - they want me to decide RIGHT NOW and they won't guarantee my happiness. Bummer, could it get any worse? The answer is yes because they finally revealed their membership fee - $4500 for two years. And guess what, they want the $4500 today. In DirectBuy's defense, they did offer 10% down and they would finance the rest with no satisfaction guarantee.
Additional fees revealed by DirectBuy in their example was a $110 delivery fee (based on $70-90 per hour delivery rates) and a "handling fee" which worked out to a little under 9% in their example. The concept of buying at cost is a compelling one - I really would like to buy at cost, but I also don't want to be taken advantage of. So, I figured out a win-win for this bad situation which I offered up to the DirectBuy sales team (the center manager and the son-in-law) I would generate a list of what I wanted to buy with dimensions, stock numbers etc. and they could give me an aggregate price (so they would not have to disclose confidential manufacturer prices).
If their aggregate price justified the membership fee, I would join. Not only did they turn me down, but they started getting smartass and asked where I had priced out my Jacuzzi - I told them Lowe's and Home Depot and the son-in-law said, "that explains it - we can't compete against the big box home improvement retailer". Well that's my experience - The handshake was good as was the soft drink (did I mention they had free soft drinks). And they started out by being very nice. I would recommend checking them out for yourself ... maybe you will have as much fun as I did.
TUCSON, ARIZONA -- I was curious about DirectBuy ads I had seen. I had been a member of "Consumers Plus" which went out of business in 2006. That club charged about $1500 to join (in the 90s), their yearly dues were $45, and their handling fee was 5%. I saved a lot of money furnishing a new home using their services. I have no complaints about them whatsoever, except that they went out of business. The only problem was that anything I ordered through them could not be returned.
Before I attended the DirectBuy presentation on 12/30/2006, I was first disturbed by the lack of ANY information they were willing to give about their business prior to my "Free Pass by Invitation Only" visit. At the "Invitation Only" visit the visitors were told not to ask questions until the end of their presentation; that is how they had determined that the presentation worked the best (they did not say it worked the best to their benefit). Then before we had a change to utter a single question we were escort out of the meeting room, each visitor having a private sales person to talk to. Therefore, visitors were unable to gain additional knowledge from other visitors questions.
I asked about their prices for about a dozen items which I was in the market to purchase. They were able to only provide a price for one item. They are either extremely disorganized due to incompetence or due to intentionally making sure no prices are available to potential members.
I happened to have a big end of year bonus and thought I could save money with my upcoming purchases so I signed up. The sales person never explained to me that my son would not qualify as a member on my account. He only asked if my son was present and I said he was not. According to the contract a dependent child has to be under 23 and a full time student to be allowed member benefits at the club. The verbal commitment to add my son at a later date was meaningless since the contract voided all verbal promises. So they lied to my about my son being able to have the membership after I passed away was never going to happen.
Since I'm almost 60, I wanted my son to be a member. He is 25, so the huge member fee - about $4600 for 3 years, would not go to waste if I should die in the next few years. But DirectBuy would not work that way. I had also made to believe during the presentation that this company had been around for some 30 years. Yes, maybe, but under various names. Also only the local franchise was responsible for providing any member benefits. Nothing like Costco, where you can travel the country and use your $50/year Costco membership to buy items on the shelf.
For DirectBuy it is specifically stated that if you order an item you have to pay everything up front the cost of the time, taxes, their 8% handling fee and the cost of shipping with is often 15% of the cost of the item. They never counted actual shipping fees but I was able to figure out the rough cost for freight. Then as a final insult if I ordered something, they could change the price afterwards at any time and I would have to pay the additional fees within 7 days. There was no one to lend support at DirectBuy if anything went wrong with the item. The buyer would have to deal with the problem alone.
The membership cost in no way guarantees any savings to the club member. No 110 % price guarantee. Nothing. You pay $4600 just for the right to order items using them as the middle man (no DIRECT BUY here - DirectBuy is an oxymoron), paying them $4600 for the right to place orders there during the first 6 months, then $200/year for the next 7 years. After that you could continue at the then current yearly fee which has been increased at each possible turn. The bottom line is that this is a lucrative business to the owner - very similar to timeshares.
A consumer has to take into account the risk that they never save any money, that the DBA company goes out of business, and that the $4600 invested wisely would provide a substantial income to offset the cost of buying items at retail. Due to all retail stores having sales 40-70% off and the internet becoming a better low cost supplier for all goods there really is no need to join this scam operation to make a few people line their pockets with your money and to get his and her Mercedes Benz as a yearly bonus. I had a feeling this was a sleazy organization due to their red flag tactics but I still wanted to see for myself.
Now that I cancelled my contract it will take them 15 business days to refund me my money!! How true to their business model. It also looks like they are trying to withhold $25 and not refund me the entire cost of the membership which I paid for. They never explained the contract and never pointed to the important information I should read on the back page. I can only blame myself for not reading that. But regardless, I enjoy writing a letter of complaint about this company and its deceiving practices to the BBB and the Camber of Commerce. There is a whole lot more wrong with what they did but I think you get the idea.
GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND -- High end chairs with IMO transportation nicks I wouldn't accept. Brought in "expert" who said same. DB wrote email to mfg saying customer won't accept. Are the nicks defects or characteristic of wood as if mfg wouldn't get paid unless it was characteristic.
Meanwhile I never claimed mfg did anything wrong. Mfg says characteristic while Company says it doesn't sell chairs with these nicks. DB won't put in a transportation damage claim. With the extra fees, small discount and what appears to be intentional dishonesty (I was told this is always the mfg response to these nicks) DB is not worth the annual fee much less the membership fee. I should have purchased chairs directly from Co.
Do your homework. DirectBuy is not the answer. In the late 90's the dues to belong were about 2200.. today, however, they are upwards of $6,000 to join. And yes, then you tack on the 8% handling fee that the franchise owner also pockets.. and you soon realize that this is not anywhere near the savings indicated during the 2 hour presentation.
DirectBuy franchise owners are making oodles of money by getting you to fork over this kind of cash. If you aren't able to pay, you are not allowed to join for 7 years... I do not know how it will ever be possible to have this company banned in all states but someone needs to do this. Put these franchises out of business and make them go look for work. The only thing obtained by joining a DirectBuy franchise is that you would be feeding the greed of the franchise owners. Don't.. you can find better deals for the things you want and/or need elsewhere.
We were warned by friends that they were cheated out of about $5,000 for a DirectBuy membership fee. They forked over all that money because DirectBuy told them that they would be able to buy things for their new home at the manufacturers' price -- at a 50% to 60% discount. Little did they know, after DirectBuy tacked on hefty shipping and handling fees, they were able to find most of the items for sale through DirectBuy at the same prices, if not lower prices, at retail stores like Lowe's and Best Buy!!
I have read several negative reviews about DirectBuy. All of those reviews have the same thing in common. It appears that the reviewers did not pay attention to the information presented when they purchased their memberships and they also didn't ask pertinent questions before purchasing membership. I am a DirectBuy member. However, I did not become a member when I first learned of this company. Why? Because I don't shop retail, so there was no savings involved in becoming a member. I also did not want to wait several weeks for my items to come in. That was before my home flooded and had to be gutted.
Once that happened, I joined Direct Buy because it was the smartest move I could make to save money on my extensive renovations. The Customer Service at DirectBuy is very poor. The ordering system is inconvenient and time consuming. Being forced to drive 30 minutes to the location to check prices and order items is beyond ridiculously inconvenient. However, I saved over $20,000, so it was worth it to me.
Of course, I spent many thousands to get that savings. If you aren't going to buy high ticket items that are substantially reduced through DirectBuy, then you probably don't want to join this club. Or if you want to receive items quickly. Or if you don't want the hassle of having to go to one location to check pricing. DirectBuy is very, very good for specific types of purchasing.
Pay attention at the presentation. Do the research before you buy a membership. Ask plenty of questions. By being a good consumer you'll be happy with your DirectBuy membership purchase and you won't be one of the many who write complaints about DirectBuy and wish they could get your money back.
FLORIDA -- I know an employee that currently works in the Tampa location. She has given me inside scoop on this company. The $50,000.00 giveaway doesn't exist, if anything they will make sure that one of their family members or close friends pretend as though they won but actually didn't. The owners of the company are very rude and unprofessional. She also stated that they have no respect for their employees. I think any company that does not respect customers enough to give them the option to go home and think about a $5,000.00 purchase has no respect for their customers.
Being pressured to make a same day decision for that type of investment is very low class and sounds like a scam to me. The worst part of it is, if you don't decide that day to pay the $5,000.00 membership fee, you are told not to come back for at least 7 years. This company does not want to give you an opportunity to go home, research the organization and find out all the terrible ratings they have, negative commits/complaints from different customers experiences, rude and unprofessional treatment that they are practicing. So people do your homework before you get scammed.
I feel our experience at DirectBuy was different than the ones posted on some of the reviews. We went to the open house, were treated with utmost courtesy by everyone that was employed by the Anaheim California DirectBuy facility. We knew going into this that there was going to be a membership fee, but we didn't know how much. We were not pressured in any way, shape or form.
They asked us what type of purchases we were planning to make. We are updating our kitchen, buying new appliances, wood floors, window coverings, etc. (some major purchases). They allowed us to look at as many books as we wanted, they explained how to read the books, etc. Because we went in without any prior shopping at other places (Home Depot, Lowe's, etc)
We didn't really know how much of a savings there would be from DirectBuy. Knowing we had 3 days to cancel the contract (it plainly states in big letters on the back of contract) we signed up and paid for the membership in full ($5800.00) We left there immediately and went to the local appliance store & Home Depot and got prices on the appliances we wanted. We looked at hardwood and priced it. We returned to DirectBuy the next morning and got their prices on the same floor and appliances. There was an $800.00 savings on the appliances, $3000.00 savings on the wood floors.
The even told us about a $300.00 rebate from GE that we could get. Last night we looked on the internet and saw how so many people (those who didn't join) were so quick to decide that DirectBuy is a scam, we got scared and went over to DirectBuy today and cancelled our contract. We told them we wanted to cancel, NO ONE gave us any problem, they were so kind and nice. We just told them that we didn't think it would benefit us in the long run. Our credit card was immediately refunded the money. The gal said that is their policy for those that cancel within 3 business days.
Sooooowe hope we haven't made a mistake in canceling our contract. We just got back from Home Depot and the cabinets we want are double the price of DirectBuy, for THE SAME CABINETS!!!!!!