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.
N/A -- This company is truly a fraud!!! They live off the terms and conditions that states that they will not honor "preexisting" conditions but in no way have no true way of confirming whether or not a condition is/was preexisting-despite the complaints found online and on several sites, (always listen to your inner voice) I purchased a warranty from them anyway. My car is 6 years old and only has 71777 miles on it which is in line with the allotted annual miles.
I have kept my car in pristine condition since it was purchased in 2010 and always had "on time" check ups that are documented from the dealership, plus the car was still under factory warranty when I purchased the car because of the low miles. My car was 210 miles passed its next oil change when I noticed that it was leaking antifreeze. I scheduled an oil change & tire rotation and asked that the dealership check the leak. Found out that the leak was needing a water pump and some other (covered under warranty) maintenance that added up to about 1200.00. The dealership called DirectBuy and "surprise" they said it was a "pre-existing" condition.
The same line they seem to give every customer when they don't want to honor a warranty. I asked did they request any documentation from the dealership to come to that perception from a non-tech call center representative and of course they did not because it didn't matter! They also stated that it was only 6 days or so that my warranty was active, which is irrelevant when you have deemed yourselves as honorable! I find that this company is a scam and I am not surprise that they are not even sometimes correct the BBB. I caution anyone wanting to purchase a extended warranty outside of the dealership.
I have gladly paid the dealership 1200.00 plus to fix my car and would gladly pay any repair amount than pay a company not worthy of anyone's business!!! I immediately cancelled my contract and they can keep the 330.00 plus dollars I paid toward the deposit and prorated 1st month, apparently that is how they make their money is by your deposits!!!
In addition, if the contract or insurance tells you that they decline any pre-existing conditions "do not purchase" unless they send someone to check out your car or even your health. They will deny you when they think you need them. But surprise to them I don't need you! I am better than bless!
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE -- Went to a showroom knowing full well the scam- for giggles one afternoon with a friend, just to experience the fun firsthand. We had to pretend to be a couple to get in- that should be a tipoff to anyone right there who is questioning the legitimacy of DirectBuy. Why do they make you bring your spouse, and refuse to allow kids? Simple, they want to eliminate any excuse you may have for leaving the presentation without dropping 6k- you can't say "we have to leave, little ** here is tired" or "I have to run this by my husband"- brilliant actually, in its scumminess.
I'm surprised they allow people to bring cell phones to the presentation, as you could be texting someone while the con is being laid out. Even timeshares and new car sellers, the previous kings of scumminess, allow you to come in alone, or with kids, or to think about it overnight, but not here. Costco and Sam's Club are a similar type clubs, but why don't they have the same hard sell? Easy, they are legit, DirectBuy is not.
The first tipoff to the scam were the obvious plants in the presentation who were clearly there to make us think it was legit, which was laughable. Obvious store employees or friends milling about, looking enthused at the "savings". The other two couples eagerly wrote their checks in front of us, I guess to put the "everyone else is doing it, so should I" thought in your head- whatever.
The showroom was also a joke- it looked like props from a cable access cooking show. The catalogs were few and showed no prices. The con that you have to become a member on the spot or risk seven years of banishment "to protect their sellers" is also a joke - who would go to a retail store, with middlemen, and demand prices from an alleged wholesaler, without middlemen? Doesn't make sense, apples and oranges. But that's just the cover to keep you from going home and coming to your senses.
Sat through the standard high pressure sell that I had heard so much about, and yes they can apply the pressure. Told them I had to think about it, got the seven year spiel and said OK and left. I would bet my life if I show up tomorrow with 6k in hand and beg them to lift the seven year ban that they would not turn down my $$.
No mention was made of the 8-10% handling fee, no mention made that you have to pick up items at DirectBuy, no mention that you would have to be planning a six figure remodel to come out even or slightly ahead. A fun afternoon for someone with odd tastes in fun like myself, but also infuriating when you think of all the people who don't know any better and fall for the ruse, especially in these trying times.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA -- I've noted a large number of complaints against DirectBuy, as well as a few people claiming they benefited. I recently attended the same Mountain View, CA DirectBuy that another person wrote about in another section. We did not have the problems they had as far as rudeness, or lack of freedom to move about. Maybe the owner got the word from that person's complaints? Regardless, my wife and I came away with a certain amount of leeriness.
The pressure tactics they use are distasteful, to say the least. Any reputable company will not bar you from joining at a later time. Their excuses were, to say the least, thin and flimsy. This is what threw both my wife and I off. I did manage to get some information regarding 3 items that I did have exact model numbers for. One a refrigerator/freezer.
Priced at $1,048 at Lowe's, with free delivery and setup. Same identical model at DirectBuy was $968, delivered to your doorstep. No unpacking or setup. So, for my $6,990, I can save a whopping $80 and no place to turn to if I have any problems or complaints later. Lowe's will back their merchandise, as should any reputable merchant.
I checked on sample flooring. Had a model and brand name. $4.86 per sq ft at Home Depot. Direct Buy was $4.80 per sq ft. Not much of a savings (8 cents per sq ft? Give me a break) Then, finally, a China hutch at Costco was $929. The same identical one at DirectBuy was $949. Higher cost AND no satisfaction if you have a problem. At least with Costco, if I have a problem with anything I buy, I can just return it and receive a full refund...even up to several months later. Again, Costco is another company that knows how to treat their customers.
So, for the couple that joined DirectBuy, got scared and then backed out. Then you comment that you hope you didn't make a mistake. I can only say you did NOT make a mistake. There is more to a transaction than saving money. The whole customer satisfaction, which Home Depot, Lowe's, and Costco subscribe to, is way more important than saving a few dollars.
DirectBuy's whole high pressure push of 'join now or forever lose out', is just WRONG! Plus, DirectBuy doesn't have access to all manufacturers. There were a few items that I was interested in but was informed by DirectBuy that they didn't carry that manufacturer. Makes you wonder, since they were very high quality manufacturers. We did not join, nor do we regret it.
PENNSYLVANIA -- I contacted DirectBuy for more information. What a mistake. They repeatedly called me worse than a credit card collection dept. Big sales pitch but no usable information. I took the bait and scheduled an appointment to find out more. They subject you to a grueling 90 minute sales presentation and force you to watch a video. They refuse to answer any questions until they complete their sales pitch. These people make a used car salesman look good. Here's the bottom line. It's not pretty.
Membership fee is $5000 to $6000 good for 3 years depending on the franchise. An additional $190 fee for the next 7 years. They will be happy to finance this for you at 18% interest. You must make a decision NOW or you can't apply again for the next 7 years. Pressure tactic. They charge a 6% fee when you order. Plus shipping, handling, freight and taxes. Merchandise may NOT be returned. The club disclaims all warranties regarding the merchandise.
Only the supplier has the right to cancel an order. Repairs & Service is the members responsibility.
Do the math. You would have to spend $20,000 just to break even with the membership and fees. Above that there is a possible cost saving with restrictions. Do you really want to take a chance with all of this fine print? I don't. Here's a better way. Do a Google search for what you want to buy. Shop and compare. It's time consuming but you're not paying the huge fees that DirectBuy wants to charge you. These people are a ripoff and want your money. Be smart, do your homework on pricing and you will come out ahead.
Follow-Up: 1/18/10. I received a sales call from DirectBuy inviting me to one of their showrooms for a membership. I repeated to the agent what you have just read. The high membership fee, the sales pitch where you are not allowed to ask questions while forced to watch a video. The additional fees and requirements. The caller was stunned with my product knowledge. He kept asking me "How do you know this?" I explained that I went to a sales presentation and wasn't buying his slick **. He was speechless and hung up on me. BUYER BEWARE. They want uninformed people who they can rip off.
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.
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!!!!!!
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.
AUSTIN, TX -- I placed and paid for a $1485 order in March. In April, I was notified that delivery had been postponed until May 19. It is now July, I have not received my order, nor have I had any further communication from DirectBuy. DirectBuy does not respond to my email or phone inquiries. You cannot reach a real person by phone, but their phone system indicates that they check messages everyday. Maybe so, but they don't return calls! This is not the first difficulty I have had with Direct Buy. I tried to order a sofa in one of their catalogs. They never got the leather samples from the company that I needed to see.
They would not respond to my inquiries about that, and I made repeated 140 mile trips trying to get that taken care of. I finally gave up and bought elsewhere. It is hard to get help in the store because the employees are usually too busy trying to recruit new customers or visiting among themselves. You might be able to save some money on some items in the store, but it is like looking for a needle in a haystack and way too much trouble for the amount you can save. When I see potential new members in the store getting the sales pitch, it turns my stomach. I want to scream, "grab your money and run!"
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.