Direct Buy

April 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you're remodeling your home, you may be tempted by ads for Directbuy.The nationwide buying club promises to let you buy directly from some 700 manufacturers and save on retail markups.

Directbuy's commercial is full of testimonials from people who say they've been able to save a bundle.

Consumer Reports' Chris Fichera checked out Directbuy and says the sales pitch is intense. He visited two franchises near Consumer Reports' New York headquarters.

"After you sit through an hour and a half pitch, you find out at the end that you have to sign up for a three-year contract, which costs $5,000. And if you don't sign up immediately, you can never come back," says Fichera.

Rob Dotson joined Directbuy three years ago, paying $4,000 to the franchise in his area. He was building his dream home in Utah at the time.

"We felt it would probably most likely give us an option to save lots of money."

But as it turned out, everything Dotson checked out at Directbuy, he says he found cheaper elsewhere. "We ended up with cabinets that were three or four thousand less."

He says the same was true of all the appliances he researched, as well as the lighting and the flooring.

"So we purchased absolutely nothing."

While Consumer Reports did find some people who say they've saved with Directbuy, as Dotson found you can't compare prices before you pay the membership. So it's impossible to tell if it would be a good deal for you.

Consumer Reports says there are other downsides with Directbuy. Its contract says you cannot terminate your membership, and you may not be able to cancel orders or return items.

Also be aware that goods are typically shipped to a Directbuy center, where you have to pick them up or you could face extra charges for delivery.

Directbuy has told Consumer Reports it is displeased with this report and has sent a "cease and desist" letter. Consumer Reports says it stands by its report as accurate, fair, and responsible.

And late Thursday, Troy Seavers, the owner of the Fresno Directbuy store issued this statement: "Myself and our company are deeply disappointed with this story because it presents the perspective of only one of our hundreds of thousands of members. We have countless members who can share stories of tremendous savings and how we assisted them in making their dreams for their home come true --- and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity for ABC 30 to visit my showroom and speak with my members and my staff regarding the savings and services we offer."


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