I’ve written about DirectBuy before and concluded that unlike discount stores such as Costco, it was far too shady and restrictive to be a good choice. A recent conversation with someone who found my article while searching for information on DirectBuy has confirmed my assessment.

The woman wrote:

I want to cancel my DirectBuy membership, but they won’t let me. I paid more than $500 [she may have meant $5000, which Consumer Reports says is around the usual membership fee to start the membership, but I was never able to order or buy anything. Now they won’t let me cancel and expect me to keep paying. What can I do??

DirectBuy not only doesn’t refund the money (we can dispute refund policies, though I think that since she’s never used the service she should get at least most of her money refunded) but won’t allow her to cancel until her contract runs out. According to the Consumer Reports article (on the Consumerist) cited above that’s at least $190/year for 9 years (they’re a little unclear on one point, it may be more). And there’s more:

The fine print in the DirectBuy contract says you cannot return items, cancel orders, or terminate your membership.

Huge warning sign there. Read contracts. Don’t join things that will continue to bill you even if you decide not to use their services and want out. Not being able to return items and cancel orders is also bad, but not being able to end your membership (without any refund, just ending) is almost criminal.

I told her that I couldn’t give any professional advice, but encouraged her to talk to the DirectBuy people in person, keep it up, and keep looking for others who’ve gotten out of their contracts. After a couple weeks, she wrote back:

Well, I have tried to cancel and get this off my credit but they are difficult. Now they have sent my account to a collections agency and they call me three to five times a day, although I have told them that I would not be paying them they continue to harrass me…what else should I do?

I sent her links with info about collections agencies and getting them to stop calling.

It’s true that the woman shouldn’t have entered into a DirectBuy membership in the first place. But frankly, from everything I’ve read and heard, I think DirectBuy shoulders almost all of the blame. Their contracts seem impossible to get out of and their business practices are (in my opinion) ridiculous and criminal.

DirectBuy sucks. It sucks hard. It sucks because they hardsell you into buying a membership (you get one chance to join) and don’t give you a chance to compare prices before joining. It sucks because (according to many testimonials) they often don’t deliver the savings advertised. And most of all, it sucks because once you’ve joined you’re in a 10-year contract and they’ll turn you over to a collections agency if you don’t continue to pay them–damaging your credit and subjecting you to harassment.

As others have said, DirectBuy is like the lottery–if no one ever won, it’d be out of business. Some people (say they) make out just fine.

However, before you join, ask yourself whether you’re sure you’ll save over $6000 with the membership. You won’t be able to compare prices beforehand. Ask yourself if you’ll be willing to pay for the next 10 years without being able to cancel even if you never use them. Ask yourself whether you’re willing to be turned over to a collections agency if you lose your job and are unable to pay. Ask yourself whether you want to be in a relationship with a company that practices secrecy and hardsells memberships–why can’t they have things in the open like other club stores?

(Note, the entire article is my opinion on DirectBuy’s business practices and contracts. Just my opinion based on conversations and the many complaints I’ve run into about them.)


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

fern August 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

well that just sounds ridiculous. I am quite sure that any contract that states that you cannot actually CANCEL the contract is not legally binding.

forget telling her to talk to Direct buy, go to a higher authority, like her state attorney general.

Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth August 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Yeah, I remeber a few years back all the talk radio hosts were plugging DirectBuy pretty hard. I haven’t heard any plugs recently. Thanks for bringing these shady practices to light.
.-= Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth´s last blog ..Crock Pot Bread – $0.65 =-.

K. August 28, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Try the BBB too. Good luck!
.-= K.´s last blog ..More Facebook status update fails =-.

MrsMicah's Mom August 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I’ve run into contracts that didn’t refund money or pro-rate and return money if you wanted to cancel or let you cancel before the appointed date, but all of them were small outfits with short term contracts, a semester or so long, who couldn’t handle the accounting problems. Nine years is just too long for any contract but a mortgage, and most of those allow early pay-off and cancellation, though some do, or used to, require interest for the full term of the contract even if you paid it off early. I recall checking to make sure that our mortgage allowed early pay off.

Congratulations to all the people who resisted DirectBuy’s hard sell.

Mr. Not the Jet Set August 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm

I remember when a DirectBuy came into our city, and the local TV stations were filled with their ads and infomercials.

5 minutes on google gave me all the horror stories I needed to see to know to steer clear of them. God bless the internet.
.-= Mr. Not the Jet Set´s last blog ..Seasonal Recipe: Peaches =-.

Darwin's Finance August 30, 2009 at 7:26 am

Directbuy got my buddy (and he’s an attorney!). He doesn’t complain about it but I’m not sure if it’s because he actually thinks he’s getting value out of it or he’s too proud/embarrassed over grting into it. I was mortified when I heard about what it was all about though. So here was his experience:

They hear the commercial and go in and the rep tells them they have to sign up NOW or they aren’t allowed back in a store for like 10 years or something. WHAT???? What kind of outfit is this? In negotiations terms, this is referred to as an exploding offer. This is a sure sign of weakness. Basically, if said consumer is allowed to research further, compare the prices there with what they can do elsewhere etc, they walk. But the hard sell tactics and ultimatum coerces some to sign up.

Now I don’t k ow if this is everyone’s experience but when I heard this itsounded horrific to me.

Next, they offered toorder something for us if we wanted so we could take advantage of their ‘low’ prices. Well, for the things we could easily compare (since furniture is tough to find a perfectmatch online when they use niche names and dealers) like electronics, when you consider the high shipping costs it wasn’t a deal at all. I don’t recall specifics but if Amazon could ship something for like $40 or even free during black Friday or something, theircharge was like $225. It seemed to me like a cower hidden meant to more than offset any discount saved by the purported Directbuy experience.

Well, that’s what I know about it. Anyone out there actually like it?
.-= Darwin’s Finance´s last blog ..Weekend Reading – Market Just Won’t Stop Edition =-.

Katrina September 1, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Just for a different point of view – my parents have been members of directbuy for about 2 years now. They decided to join because they needed to purchase all appliances for a house (washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc etc etc) as well as a number of appliances for a rental property they own. They researched all of the appliances they wanted, then took those numbers to DB to compare them. Unlike everyone else’s experiences, they were allowed to compare some things before signing up for a membership.

They’ve been happy with their experience, but they also bought a TON of stuff from DB over the 2 year period. By that, I mean a fridge, 2 freezers, washer, dryer, flat screen TV, some furniture, tiling & some flooring/carpets – I know there’s more. My mom’s been doing comparisons of prices this whole time, and she’s very adamant that the only way to save money with them is to do a lot of research before you go in AND you’re starting from scratch on a house. If you don’t qualify under both categories, it’s not worth the time or the money to join.

knowledgable person October 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm

DirectBuy should be put out of business. They used to charge $1290 for a membership that now costs $6K to join. The corporate office receives a fraction of this fee, the rest goes to the said owner of the franchise. There have been many times that people would come in and compare the pricing and maybe save $200 on something, but then when you add the handling fees that they charge, they save nothing… in fact, they ultimately pay more for the items. Dont join DirectBuy unless you think nothing of flushing your money down the toilet. These franchises are scams and one day they will be brought up on criminal charges. A good bulk of the people that know about DirectBuy will rejoice when they are shut down permanently. DirectBuy is a criminally operated company.. and that is not just my opinion… it’s the opinion of many.

Dont waste your time with DirectBuy – when they call you for an open house and refuse to tell you what the dues are.. just tell them that you know it’s $6K to join and slam the phone down hard. One such franchise owner has instructed the employees to not disclose the name of the owner.. why ? because this person doesnt want any complaints and does not want to deal with the members problems.. and, well, there’s always problems. DirectBuy sucks, you’re correct… and if anyone could start a class action lawsuit, maybe they’d get their business license yanked but good!

Inside info October 23, 2009 at 1:22 am

I was a member. There used to be A LOT MORE stores in California. They are closing them down. Stores closed: San Marcos, El Segundo, Costa Mesa, San Bernadino, Las Vegas, Pennsylvani, Miami, Austin Tx, Memphis Tenn, Boise ID, 2 or 3 in Illinois and some in Michigan. Things don’t look good and the service SUCKS really BAD. Some time a few extra dollars is worth the added service….

Diana November 20, 2009 at 2:48 am

I worked for Direct Buy and let me tell you this…it is an awful place
filled with pushy sales people and crazy ideas
serisously you think its ok to ask for a 6k memebership the first time you enter the store?
and you HAVE to come with your husband/wife…otherwise they will shun you
i remeber an old couple traveled a long way only to be turned down because of their age (they were retired)
they didnt even get to see their little presentation
working there was the worst experience of my life (i was in the call centre)
I do not recoment it
DIRECT BUY SUCKS

erica December 6, 2009 at 8:08 pm

im in a contract and im unable to work like i use to because im pregnant so we dont have the money anymore.i think the accounts under my husbands name but im still on the paperwork and i was wondering if it would affect my credit if we didnt pay.we started ours in april 09 and we havent bought anything.

Inside info April 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I was a member. There used to be A LOT MORE stores in California. They are closing them down. Stores closed: San Marcos, El Segundo, Costa Mesa, San Bernadino, Las Vegas, Pennsylvani, Miami, Austin Tx, Memphis Tenn, Boise ID, 2 or 3 in Illinois and some in Michigan. Things don’t look good and the service SUCKS really BAD. Some time a few extra dollars is worth the added service….

They just closed two more:

Savannah GA.
Atlanta GA

miz Crease April 25, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I am extremly dissappointed in DIRECT BUY yes it was high pressure sales that was bad of course, but even worse when you order a item it could take up to 2 months before you receive it, this happened to me. Then after waiting ,I’m told it’s no longer in stock. This was a birthday gift to a friend , when I called to inquire about the order I got a very abrassive manager that just totally ruined that perfect Direct Buy image you see on Tv with the friendly happy service your suppose to receive. The old saying “You get what you pay for” certainly doesn’t apply here. Please let’s get together and get our money back it’s not right

Jennifer Waschenbecker September 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

I am an unfortunate member of the Springfield, MO Direct Buy for a couple of months now. I am looking for MO members to join with and remedy this situation. We have options. But we will have more success if there is a group of us. There is a 3-Day cooling off period in MO. But since you can’t even get into the web site during that time it doesn’t do you any good. I called ten minutes after getting into the site the first time. Once I saw it, I wanted out. I was flatly refused. So we decided to try to make the membership work. We ordered some things. The most important by far was our appliances. They were never delivered. We waited weeks just to receive an estimated shipping date and that date was subsequently changed four times. Two of these changes were made the day before the order was set to ship. I ended up buying appliances at Lowe’s. Please contact me:
Jennie Waschenbecker
114 North Street
Houston, MO 65483
417-967-5092
jennie@mndreamhome.com

Mike August 31, 2012 at 11:06 am

I worked at the location in Akron-Canton and must say this may have well been the worst job in my life. Micro-management, rediculous scripts that dont work and let people go as soon as their “numbers dip”. Also they expect you to take your work home at this hourly job, which in many states is illegal.

Michael C Compton October 27, 2015 at 6:27 pm

same story here , One chance to get in , One lie after another , they will beat every other price, and you have to decide before you leave the building if you are in or out , on this once in a lifetime bargain. Then once you are in , the only prices they can beat are the very top end product prices available . We ev en asked if they could beat Lowe’s or Menards prices , and they said yes , we will beat all .. None of it true. 5 year payment plan to pay the $5,000 and we owe less than $1700 and would let anyone take over payments to let us out of this contract , and Direct Buy wont let us out . WE HAVE NEVER USED it yet , yet we have remodeled our kitchen, at $20,000. If we had used Direct Buy , it would have been over $30,000. complete rip off

Michael C Compton October 27, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Oh , we did get a free tablet with the membership, ………….. but , it didn’t work . We have tried to get out of the membership for three years now . No luck

William May 26, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Im in the same boat as everyone here, worst decision i think I’ve ever made in joining direct buy, the rep hardsold me along with my own wife, a year later and i haven’t bought anything because i just haven’t seen any cost worthy savings on anything im interested in, and plus all of the showrooms have closed in my area, i just want out, the question that I’ve been searching for and still haven’t found is, has anyone ever gotten out of a direct buy contract?

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