More DirectBuy Complaints (before they hired Dozier Internet Law)

For those joining late: DirectBuy is a “home improvement” company with a mixed track record. There’s a number of mixed reviews of their services, available from both blogs and mainstream media outlets. More recently, after a blogger at Infomercial Scams complained about Direct Buy’s infomercial scam, DirectBuy’s lawyer, Dozier Internet Law, sent him an incompetently written “cease-and-desist” letter that was copyrighted! This “strategic lawsuit against public participation” would be more threatening if it was filed by such “chuckleheads.”

Then blogs stand up. Public Citizen exposed the DirectBuy/Dozier threat, I Hate Linux asked to be sued too, and I posted the plain text of the demand letter.

Unfortunately, DirectBuy generates so many spam websites that it is hard to find out opinions about the company. Therefore, this post contains mainstream media and blogosphere reviews of Direct Buy that did not make it into my previous posts

From the Mainstream Media:

From the Internet:

Over at Mafe Maria, a long complaint against DirectBuy’s deceptive hard sell includes includes this paragraph:

The poor woman doesn’t know that both Joey and I are fricking MBAs and have spent a ridiculous amount of our lives making a living out of understanding concepts like the present value of money and financial risk… Who can guarantee us that they’ll still be around in 2-3 years?… That manufacturers won’t get off that business model in 2-5 years, when we may be ready to buy, finally taking advantage of our extremely expensive upfront investment? Why would we put down $4,500 now, when we’re not ready to redecorate yet, so the savings are uncertain, and most likely far ahead in the future?


Rate That Company has detailed consumer complaints against Direct Buy.

Complaints.com has a detailed posts which reveals that another name for DirectBuy is UCC Total Home. My 3 Cents likewise complains posts a “UCC / DirectBuy Complaint.”

Deaf Biz wonders if DirectBuy is inhospitable to the hearing impaired.

Bringing up memories of the JL Kirk saga, DirectBuy’s hard sell requires you to bring your spouse.

Larry over at The Squeaky Wheel is angry enough at DirectBuy to type ENTIRELY IN CAPS. Pangloff is disappointed enough to write everything about DirectBuy in one loooooong paragraph.

DirectBuy in Buffalo has some problems with the Better Business Bureau. Ditto DirectBuy of Westchester and Direct Buy of Nassau County. What’s going wrong with the DirectBuys in New York?

Servo Magazine has a page full of criticisms against Direct Buy. So does the Yahoo! Answer to ‘How much does a membership in Direct buy cost???‘ But that’s nothing compared to the Edumacation wiki on DirectBuy ComplaintStationComments! And that’s not even the index page of DirectBuy problems!

17 thoughts on “More DirectBuy Complaints (before they hired Dozier Internet Law)”

  1. I think people are to judgemental. Just because they cant understand something it has to be bad. There is nothing wrong with DirectBuy it is a good investment for those who can afford it. As for the supposed high pressure tactics thats crap they tell you straight put either you want to do it or you dont so whats the problem. I think people complain to much just cuse they cant afford it. Bo hoo get over it they are a great company and realy do save people money. Hell just ask there members,

  2. Here’s what the Consumer Watchdog in Hartford, CT found:

    “If you don’t like the product, tough. You are stuck with it. DirectBuy unlike retail stores has a no-return policy and provides no warranties.

    Sales books are not always up to date, and not every item is always available.

    More disturbing to me is that DirectBuy attempts to hide the fact that not all savings it sees from manufacturers are passed on directly to members.

    By reviewing the 260-plus page agreement with its franchise owners, I learned that DirectBuy reserves the right to keep rebates, discounts and other payments from manufacturers and suppliers.

    It also keeps early-pay discounts, and all DirectBuy purchases are paid by the member at the time of ordering.”

    http://www.courant.com/business/hc-watchdog0511.artmay11,0,3450527.column

    Somehow when a buyer’s club keeps discounts and rebates it’s a good deal for the consumer?

    You guessed it: It’s a scam!

  3. 2 years ago my husband and I picked up a DirectBuy membership, despite my reservations. Granted we did save money when we renovated our kitchen, but the 3 month reno ended up taking over 8 months due to DirectBuy’s incompetance. Their so-called ‘kitchen expert’ (the wife of the owner of that location) barely understood the program she was using to map out our kitchen, and half of our cabinets were misordered and/or mismeasured. It was such an incredible hassle to deal with them, and even though they covered some of the expenses from mistakes (up to the value of our membership fee) – after that it was like pulling teeth to get them to fix the rest of their mistakes.

    At the end of it all, we were still out of pocket at least $400 just with DirectBuy alone, plus we had to spend another $350+ at Home Depot and Ikea to finish our kitchen (plus our time, plus another $800 in contractor fees to install parts of our kitchen that came in drastically late, etc).

    We’ve dealt with at least 2 DirectBuy locations in the Toronto area, and very little convinces me that DirectBuy is not only drastically incompetant, but a huge scam as well.

  4. DirectBuy Sued!

    A federal lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford against the national high-end DirectBuy franchise operation, accusing it of falsely telling prospective clients that they are getting furniture, appliances and other household products at manufacturer prices. In a lawsuit filed by attorney Seth R. Klein of Hartford, DirectBuy is accused of hiding the fact that DirectBuy receives rebates from manufacturers which are not directly passed on to their members, who pay as much as $7,000 to join for two or three years. The lawsuit, which seeks to be certified as a class action representing thousands of present and former members of the more than 100 franchises, was filed earlier this month. It follows a column on DirectBuy that disclosed the rebates, which are kept secret from its members and from those it entices to join through high pressure sales techniques. DirectBuy officials had no comment on the suit but had said earlier that it uses the millions of dollars it received in rebates to the benefit of its members. We will see what a jury has to say about that.

  5. I worked at Directbuy in California for 6 months, if you want the absolute truth here it is. DirectBuy is the worst company on earth to be employed by, associated with, or have a membership with!

    Directbuy is a corporation that is franchised, which means that someone owns each center, so they are all run differently. The one I worked for was Directbuy of Burbank California owned by Greg and Gail Ruetz. They are absolute blood suckers! They promised each employee a 401k when the center opened in 2007, not one employee has seen a 401k, any type of retirement plan, or even a christmas bonus!!!! All they care about is YOUR MONEY. They know nothing, not one thing about the products they sell, but you can be assured one of them will greet you with a fake smile as soon as you walk in the door.

    From the moment you walk in the door, you will be preyed upon. Its costs $6500 to join this garbage corp for 2 years. They say they dont mark anything up, but there is a 8% handling charge on everything, isnt that a markup? None of the employees are actually trained, I was thrown onto the floor and forced to learn about 800 manufacturers on my own. Then, two weeks later, 75% of our staff was laid off. Wow. All the owners want is more money and more members! To give you an example of the service you will get, our center has 1500 members and 3, yes 3 people that work in the service department!! Unbelievable.

    When you walk in the door, everything is set up. From the way the greasy salesman shakes your hand to the “hows your day going so far” questions, its all script. Then you hear the stupid story about Directbuy and they act like your friend with small talk. Then, you watch 3 horrific movies about DB in a presentation that is much like a timeshare presentation. After the ordeal, where they lie to you about many many things, then you are sent off to a high pressure salesman who will tell you to join or never comeback. If you are not smart enough to smell scam at this point, you are simply weak.

    Once they have your money, they couldnt care less about you or what you need. The fake smiles go away, and the truth comes out. You will wait from 4 weeks to 16 weeks for your merchandise, and if it comes in damaged, you will wait that long again. Shipping is expensive and in most cases will bring the cost of the merchandise well above what you could have gotten it in the store for.

    You will not save money at Directbuy unless you are remodeling a kitchen with $100,000 budget, and even then its not worth the hassle, problems, and the wait!!

    I despise this company. They are immoral, they treat their employees like garbage, and they lie about everything.

    Bottom line, run away from Directbuy! Thank god I no longer work there. Now I can sleep at night.

  6. Directbuy Employee ,

    Thank you.

    I have been the victim of strategic action against public participation, as have many others.

    It is harder for those who twist the law in this way when many are willing to speak up.

  7. My husband and I purchased a Direct Buy membership. The payments for the moderately expensive plan were coming out directly from our checking account. An oversight of our account caused a payment to bounce which my husband reached out to Direct Buy immediately. However, we were told our account had went into collections. To be sure that we would indeed be able to utilize the services of Direct Buy my husband refused to settle the account though he was told he only needed to “bring the account current” to use the services, he paid the full amount of the Direct Buy service which was over $4,200. After paying off the account completely, he called to get all the information so that we could begin purchasing items from the San Antonio, Texas Direct Buy office. To our surprise they wanted us to pay an additional $1,598.21 to begin using the Direct Buy service. We called the collection agency and Beta Financial they both agreed that our bill was totally cleared. However, the San Antonio Direct Buy owner told us that we had to cover a cost of the 37.5% fee ($1,598.21) that the collection agency charged him to collect the money. Long story short our middle class family is out of all of this money and we didn’t even get to use the service. We sacrificed and kept our end of the bargain being told that upon paying out our balance we would be able to use the Direct Buy service that we purchased. That was not true they simply came up with another lie to try to get us to give them even more money! This is a scam! Please do not purchase this!

  8. Ridiculous high pressure and bait and switch sales pitch. You must decide right now or be denied forever from this great opportunity. They can’t give you time to think about it (manufacturer’s rules—right!) or you might start to smell something putrid…

  9. Levy Family & Bruce,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Here is a review of DirectBuy, from Brad’s Blog [1]

    1) It cost $5,000 to join? too much money for what you get.
    2) Must go to a ?store?, find what I like, get the product numbers, then spend another day going to Direct Buy, looking thru the catalogs to search for the item I?m interested in, then place the order, pay upfront and wait 2-8 weeks. Are you kidding?
    3) Orders must be placed at the store, which is not open on Friday?s.
    4) Can?t order most items on-line.
    5) Must click on the item and/or ?View Price? to see the price? takes too long to do any kind of searching/shopping.
    6) Would like to ?View? all items on the website, not by manufacturer, because many times I really don?t care or know who makes it.
    7) On many items, I must wait 6-8 weeks for delivery? but pay up front? that?s too long. I can find most items at a cheaper price, by shopping for an off-brand.
    9) The cost for shipping is crazy. I realize that it is based on the location of the manufacturer, but if I wanted a specific item and then paid shipping, it would be about the same as if I went to the store to buy it.
    10) Appliances aren?t any cheaper than if I bought them from Lowe?s ?on sale?.

    I have never used the service, so I do not have any first-hand experience with them.

    [1] http://www.bradsblog.net/beware-directbuy.htm

  10. Someone or some organization seems to be going from one consumer complaint site to another writing positive posts. But, all the gushing and praise from these consumers are the exact things I am complaining about. And what is this about Direct Buy not using a hard sell tactic?! Ten minutes after we entered, they started with their spiel. We said we wanted time to think abut it and the salesperson exclaims: “Don’t you want to save money?” And when we wanted to leave, they locked the doors! We threatened to call the police right then and there. Because of their actions, my wife and I make the effort to let others know what happened to us.

  11. Peter,

    And when we wanted to leave, they locked the doors! We threatened to call the police right then and there. Because of their actions, my wife and I make the effort to let others know what happened to us.

    If this is true, I hope you called the fire marshal!

    This sounds like very disturbing behavior!

  12. They hire disturbed telemarketers. I’ve been harassed now two times by the Lancaster, PA Direct Buy Center. When I’ve questioned them in depth as to how they got my cell phone number, they claim I got in touch with them. Ha! When I kept questioning that, they finally hung up on me. They called me again today, and I hung up on them. They kept calling. I finally had to turn my cellphone off.

    Next time they call, I’ll report them to the BBB and to the PA Attorney General’s office.

    Run from these people. I don’t know if they’re a scam or not, because I’ve never been interested in joining at 5k a pop? Get real, people.

    But just dealing with them as telemarketers, convinces me they are truly a scary outfit, and their sales tactics need to be looked at by each State’s Attorney General.

  13. We were warned by friends that they were cheated out of about $5,000 for
    a DirectBuy membership fee. They forked over all that money because
    DirectBuy told them that they would be able to buy things for their new
    home at the manufacturers’ price — at a 50% to 60% discount. Little
    did they know, after DirectBuy tacked on hefty shipping and handling
    fees, they were able to find most of the items for sale through
    DirectBuy at the same prices, if not lower prices, at retail stores like
    Lowes and Best Buy!!

    If you were scammed by DirectBuy, like my friends, you should contact
    the law firm Craig T. Matthews & Associates at cmatthews@ctmlaw.com or
    937.434.9393. That law firm has sued DirectBuy before in both Ohio and
    Indiana (where DirectBuy’s are located), and it’s conducting an
    investigation about DirectBuy’s misleading promises. If you want your
    membership fee refunded, you should contact Craig Matthews to pursue a
    class action case against DirectBuy. No matter what state you’re from,
    his firm should be able to help you. Be warned!!

  14. Approximately a year and a half ago, I ‘purchased’ a co-membership with an ex. I cannot afford to pay it alone anymore and not live at my parents house. Neither of us has ever used it. I only signed up for my ex, he’s the home improvement buff and, at the time, we had plans of buying a fixer-upper. Now he’s gone and I don’t think he’d be able to handle the payments (he can barely come up with half and is homeless), so I’m stuck with a bill that I have absolutely no use for or desire to have.

    I called the manager of the showroom I signed up at, which I only visited once since joining (at my ex’s request) to browse. We weren’t pricing anything, had no specific intent to buy.

    The manager there probably doesn’t remember me or wasn’t even working there when I signed up. I talked with him very politely about my situation and how I felt since the membership has never been used that I would like to cancel it and that they can have whatever I’ve paid them and I relinquish membership or possibility for future membership. I compared it to a pair of shoes you purchase and later return to the store afterward because after bringing them home, you realize they don’t match your dress. He said he couldn’t help me because Direct Buy has already been paid by the ‘finance company’, Beta Finance.

    I found out online that they own Beta Finance. That night, I was surprised they had approved financing in our names. I can’t even get a credit card.

    I remember that night like it was yesterday. The fact that the presentation took place at night should have eluded me to something shifty goin’ down. You know? It was raining and I went outside to have a cigarette (trying to quit at the present). I told him I felt it was a bad idea and bit my lip as I said aloud “I know I’m going to regret this.” But the pressure was on.

    I don’t remember them saying we’d have to wait ‘7 years’ before being eligible for a membership again, as I’ve seen on blogs and such while researching my situation. I specifically remember them saying that if we refuse their offer, we would be “permanently” unable to become members. So it was now or never, it felt like, that night.

    I knew the person I was with at the time with had good work ethics. I made it known to him that if we purchase this thing, he will continue to pay half, even if things ‘didn’t work out’ (He continues to do so, which doesn’t help with his current living conditions, needless to say.)

    When we parted ways, I called the number on my bill and I tried to have the bill split right down the middle; so that I’ll only be responsible for my half and he’d be responsible for his. That way if he didn’t pay his half, my credit would not suffer. This seemed logical to me. They said they couldn’t do that.

    Can anyone help? Any advice?

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