DirectBuy - Gurnee, IL / Product and service quality problems
We joined DirectBuy almost 2 years ago planning to purchase items for a major home improvement project which included cabinets. We had priced Omega cabinets at a couple of locations prior to going into DirectBuy and they did a preliminary quote which indicated that we would save about $20,000. When all was said and done, we probably only saved about $5,000 on the cabinets but what we found is that DirectBuy offers absolutely no assistance in product selection and service with their vendors, especially when it came to the Omega cabinet line. (When we were done, the warehouse guy told me I should have ordered Brookline)
The Omega cabinets had many quality problems and DirectBuy initially refused to assist us. When we went direct to Omega, they refused to deal with us claiming that DirectBuy, as the dealer was to provide that service. Our project was delayed several months because of the runaround we got. We would have received absolutely no cooperation from DirectBuy had it not been for the fact that we backed out the entire charge with Visa until the issue was resolved and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
We made many other purchases through DirectBuy for the remodeling project and found that once DirectBuy added on the handling and shipping charges, my savings was 10% at best. Many items were in fact cheaper and faster for me to order through other sources. Of course, I was disappointed many times when DirectBuy did not carry the brand I wanted so I ended up purchasing the item elsewhere.
I never did purchase appliances through DirectBuy because I was concerned about after-sale service. The owners suggested a contact with ABT in Chicago for discount pricing for DirectBuy members. I discovered accidentally that I was better off going into ABT as a regular consumer - pricing was better. This is very suspicious to say the least.
There have been times, when I wanted to purchase something and the color-match information, etc. was not available at the store. This is frustrating when you spend time driving there, going through all of the books looking for what you need, then to find out you don't have what you need to order. Again, there is no assistance so if you expect help and service, this is not for you. Also, if you are a savvy Internet shopper and live in a large metropolitan area, you will likely do better without this membership.
Remember, DirectBuy will say they don't have a markup but in fact, most everything is marked up at least 8% for handling, then you also pay shipping and tax. I think when people say they saved a lot of money at DirectBuy they are comparing to retail but I rarely pay retail anyway. I always wait for the sales and deals so if you are that kind of consumer and expect some service, then DirectBuy membership is not for you.
DirectBuy is proud of their web site but I think it is cumbersome to use from the standpoint of searching and comparing products. It is a waste of time unless you know exactly what you want and then, not everything is on the web site so you really can't shop from home.
I believe what I experienced at DirectBuy is a reflection of their business model. They make their money up front with the big membership fee so they don't need to service their members afterward. DirectBuy is a marketing organization, not a service organization. I suspect their renewals at 2 years are extremely low. My membership renewal is due this November and I don't think it is worth it for me to renew for $200.
Long Grove, IL
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