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DirectBuy - Gurnee, IL / Product and service quality problems

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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.

Wendy Parr
Long Grove, IL


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A  29th of Apr, 2010 by 
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I wish I would have read the above post before purchasing our Direct Buy membership. We too planned a major remodeling and had hoped to save money on many of the items we planned to purchase. I recall distinctly being told during the dales pitch that everyhting a manufacturer carries is available, but that is not the case. For instance @ DB you cannit cannot purchase GE Monogram Applainces.
The sales pitch also focuses on "no markup" but they certainly do not make it clear that you pay 8% "handling" on everthing - even things that come shipped directly to you such as cabinetry. Essentially on items for which they have "hands-off".
We have found that with not all but with many manufacturers that DB purchases are last priority. We found products on line that would ship immediatley for the sum total of $5 more - no tax and free shipping. The alternative is to save a pittance and wait for purchases can be weeks, even months and we have found that you need to constantly call to find out that items are either back ordered or out of stock. After waiting for one light fixture for 18 weeks, we cancelled it. Another did arrive within 3 weeks. Now we have been waiting 6 weeks for three more (expecting to wait 4 weeks) only to find that it is going to me another 6-8 weeks until they ship.
My advice is to do your homework a lot more dutifully than we did before you go, which is difficult given teh high pressure sales tactics used (sign up now or you wont be able to ever again). At this rate I calculated that it will take us about 12 years to break even given teh membership cost, and then we will strt saving a little money.

Chicago, Il
N  25th of Feb, 2011 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Wow...happened upon this and so much more about Direct Buy...!

I joined over 20 years ago...when the membership was about 2, 000. And then $99 per year. I'd NEVER pay the current rates. We haven't bought a whole lot there... I figured as long as I'm getting SOMETHING each year that saves me more than 100 it's worth it... right?

The last MAJOR purchase for us was about 5 years ago. A set of ASHLEY leather furniture...2 couches, a chair and an ottoman... as well as a dining table with two leather chairs, two benches and a corner stool (the countertop height kind). Direct Buy's policy is that you have to inspect everything WHEN YOU PICK IT UP or you forgo any "issues" that you might have with your merchandise. REALLY???? I'm going to unwrap 10 pieces of furniture in your warehouse dock...then re-pack them, and load them into my car??? No way. I made the mistake of TRUSTING that the merchandise I purchased would be in good condition. MY BAD!

When we opened up the couches a couples weeks later (as we were remodeling and didn't want dust all over the furniture) I found the back corner of the frame on one of the couches is completely bent back. Also, a few nail pops that are PUSHING into the leather...not good. THEN we find out that the two dining benches BOTH sag because they have dry rot in the wooden frames and much of the wood needs to be replaced... cha-ching. So much for my savings!

I know I'm stuck with it. It's been a few years... but I'm astounded at the lack of the quality that I received from "reputable" companies. I'm wondering if they push their SECONDS (damaged) furniture off on wholesale clubs like this??? There's NO WAY my furniture would have passed inspection with a reputable company!

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