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By Chris in scottsdale, AZ on 3/24/2008


Hi all, we  in the very beginning phase of designing a home which we would like to build ourselves as owner-builders. We are starting to compare prices etc and was curious if anyone has had any experience with the organization called DirectBuy? They claim to offer huge discounts on name brand home furnishing direct from the manufacturer. Has anyone used them? Did they live up to their advertisements? What did it cost for the service? Any other info would also be appreciated. Thanks...

Chris in AZ


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By David in Linville, VA on 3/24/2008


Chris, 

I've talked to a couple of folks who've found good savings in kitchen cabinets, some lighting and flooring. We joined and will use the in-store kitchen design service. Also we're building a list of building supplies such as fasteners, wiring, conduit, etc. so we can order them if we see a savings over local hardware or big box stores. As far as cost to join, you'll need to discuss with DB. The local employees are helpful and eager to assist in selecting and ordering items. Good luck. 

Dave


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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 3/24/2008


Chris,

Search these forums for Direct Buy and Google them as well.

We went to the Direct Buy location in Scottsdale. It was a high-pressure, sign up tonight or you can't join for seven year kind of thing. A few years back our cost to join was $3,700 or so but now in some areas it is upwards of $5K. We did join, but canceled our membership within the 24 or 48-hour time frame shortly thereafter.

Our reasons for canceling were this: the prices they give compared to retail may well be accurate but my wife and I rarely buy things at retail especially when considering a large ticket item. We shop online, Craigslist, eBay or whatever we can to find the best deal. Sometimes it is a retailer like Home Depot with a good sale. So comparing how we buy to the Direct Buy (DB) prices there wasn't much of a difference. DB has a showroom, but most of the items are in catalogs so there often isn't a chance of seeing and touching the items before buying. Also the ordering, lead time, waiting, etc. It seemed like a different hassle than the method we now use to save some money but we have to pay several thousand to go through their hassle.

I know many have found it helpful but I am totally turned off by high-pressure sales tactics. Being an O-B there are many avenues to find great deals on materials that will often beat what DB can do without paying their upfront fee.

If you are looking to build a high-end home with a lot of expensive finishes then maybe DB would be a better fit for you because there is more room for savings to make up for the upfront cost.

If you are interested go to their presentation but get ready for high-pressure and "if you don't sign up today then you can never join" type of talk. If you do go, do a little shopping yourself. Find a few items you may use in your home (flooring, doors, windows, furnishings, etc.). and find a suitable retail price for what you like then find a good deal through a clearance, return, secondhand, overstock, etc. Take the savings to the presentation to compare.

Just my two cents . . .


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/24/2008


I second Justin's cautionary note. 

Many years ago (15-18), I joined DirectBuy. Back then, it was only $1,500 or so to join. I was in the middle of a job change and relocation, so I had a lot on my mind. Foolishly, I made the flippant decision to give them a try. (In my defense, the Internet wasn't around back then. So, it was a lot harder to research these things. Even so, I was stupid.) I needed virtually everything for my new place. I thought that, at the very least, I should be able to save enough to get most of my money back.

For six months or so, I dropped by their showroom and shopped for one thing or another. I never bought one single thing! The price was rarely competitive, the shipping was often a killer, and the expected delivery times were awful. I see all these commercials about saving thousands of dollars and LAUGH. Surely, those are savings compared to full retail prices. 

Think about the buying power of DirectBuy, compared to Home Depot. Which one of them do you think pays more for the products they sell? Look at the overhead at HD... a big steel box with bare concrete floors, simple warehouse shelves, and minimum-wage teenagers as staff. The overhead costs there can't be much more than the suppliers' warehouses. How can DB possibly undersell HD? 

And then there's that membership fee! DB would have to undercut HD by 10% on $50,000 worth of materials for you just to break even! Maybe that happens, but I can't imagine how.

If you're curious, check them out. But be skeptical. Make them prove that they aren't a scam.


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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 3/24/2008


I would never pay a significant advance fee to visit a store, where products are sold. No matter how good the deals at the store are or seem to be. I buy the things I need when I need them, not before. In the meantime, the money is more useful in my bank than in somebody else's bank.

Discounts and wholesale prices are easy to get. Just ask. If they say no, just go to the next vendor and ask again.

If there is a Blue Big Box and an Orange Big Box in your market, get 10% off coupons from each. You can get them by filing a change of address; or if you have to buy them on eBay for a couple of bucks. Take the coupons from the Blue Big Box to the Orange Big Box and the Orange Big Box coupons to Blue Box and ask for a competitive discount. They seem to be less concerned about the terms, conditions and restrictions on their competitors coupons than on their own. For example the Blue Box's web coupon only allows one redemption at their store. So print it out a few times and redeem it once at their store, then ask the smiling face at the competitor's pro desk or commercial sales desk, whether he can take the coupon. You won't be disappointed.

I hope this post is worth a membership showroom sign-up fee to someone. I think I know of only two other products that use the same sales techniques that membership showroom uses. They are pre-owned automobiles and timeshares. Every time you are offered a once in a lifetime deal... RUN! FAST!


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By Sharon in Pittsfield, NH on 3/31/2008


Chris,

I joined DirectBuy last year and found price comparisons to be very favorable on high-end items. If you are looking for low-budget items, then you may do better at a local store.

I found  the savings on the kitchen items alone will pay for the membership at least three times. 

Sharon


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By RogerC in Phoenix, AZ on 4/25/2008


Justin,

I had the same experience you did when I went to the DB sales pitch at their new showroom in Tempe. I didn't sign up with them mainly because I was turned off by the classic high-pressure sales tactics. The experience was like a page right out of the 'What Not to Do in Modern Day Sales' handbook.  

The other reason I chose not to join was, even though I'm now starting the process of building my own home so I'll be looking at a lot of fairly big-ticket purchases, I really don't think the discounts they pitched are all that great. I had recently purchased a 58" plasma TV just two weeks before I went in for their presentation. After the presentation I looked up the same TV in their catalog and found that I paid $80 more than what I could have purchased it for from them. That's an $80 savings on a $3,600 item. I figured, if that was typical, it would take too many large purchases to ever make up the fees.  

Just my experience...


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By Ronald in Grand Ledge, MI on 4/25/2008


I agree with Roger. The sales pitch was just "too much" and they wouldn't allow us to think about it. It was either "do it now, or leave" so we left.

I agree there are probably some good deals - kitchen cabinets seems to be a big one. But, I think you can do almost as well by being a good shopper and not have to be held hostage by a store like this. Too much of a turn off for us.

Ronald


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By Ric in North Bend, WA on 10/10/2008


DirectBuy is a highly controversial subject. We ended up swallowing hard, and joining. So far we've had a good experience with them. We're seeing savings in the places we expected to: cabinets, lighting, and via contracted merchants, we've found good savings on flooring (carpet and tile). The savings on the cabinets have paid for the membership. The cabinets are of high quality, and we couldn't have touched them any other way. So we're happy there.

But if you're going in looking to make a killing on a new home theater, you're probably shopping the wrong place. With most of the everyday items, we've been able to meet or beat their prices. So you have to keep your head with them, and stay aggressive on your shopping. Don't go in thinking you'll save big on everything, because you won't. But there are some good savings in a few key areas. Certainly enough to justify the membership costs in our case.


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By Kerry in Northvale, NJ on 10/15/2008


I had a similar experience where they wouldn't even let me hear their spiel because I had a baby with me and they want your COMPLETE attention. It actually worked to my advantage because when I got home and started researching, I found mostly bad commentaries on DB. We actually wound up going to Direct Depot for our kitchen and were told that they used to be DirectBuy's kitchen "people" before they started doing it themselves. They cut ties with Direct Buy because of the way their customer service treated the members after they have grabbed your $5,000. 

Anyway, the commercial shows "I saved $40,000 on my cabinets alone." Well, like someone here said, that is off the MSRP! My kitchen order came to $65,000 MSRP and I am paying $21,000. And I paid $44/sq. ft for my level-two granite! That was huge for me, as we have 78 sq. ft.! So you can get those savings without paying the fee. Direct Depot doesn't charge the 8% service charge DB does and you can do the whole thing on the phone and through your computer with them. Better yet, anyone with DB membership still gets the DB discount through Direct Depot. (I'll stop now that I sound like a commercial for Direct Depot, LOL!) 

 


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