• Report: #314258

Complaint Review: Direct Buy Aka UCC Total Home

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  • Submitted: Mon, March 03, 2008
  • Updated: Sat, November 22, 2008

  • Reported By:Hyde Park New York
Direct Buy Aka UCC Total Home
167 Myers Corners Road, Suite 102 Wappingers Falls, New York United States of America

Direct Buy Direct Buy is a Waste of Time Wappingers Falls New York

*Consumer Comment: UCC Total home member since 1986!

*Consumer Comment: Direct Buy Is A Good Deal, But Only For Those Who Plan To Purchase Several Large Items

*Consumer Comment: Direct Buy Total Joke!

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After watching a TV infomercial about Direct Buy I decided to contact them via their website and request more information.

Approximately 2 days later I received a call from a Direct Buy sales representative and given the opportunity to attend an "Open House." I was informed on the phone that my wife must also attend and that no children are allowed.

Upon our arrival to the Direct Buy "Showroom" we were pleasantly greeted by the receptionist and shortly after were introduced to a nice girl who was our tour guide.

Upon entering the "showroom" (if you can call it that) we noticed a few people browsing around, looking through catalogs, staff smiling and assisting the "members" and even a small child playing in the childrens play area. ("Members" can bring children into the showroom.) However, it all appeared too perfect and I just couldn't help but feel that all of this was staged and everyone there was actually an employee.

After briefly walking around with our tour guide, we were sat at a table and asked various questions such as place of employment, years there, job titles, # children, own or rent, etc. Just a bunch of small talk in an attempt by the tour guide to form a relationship and see if we meet the "standards."

Our tour guide then presented us with a binder containing approximately 10 issues of Direct Buys member magazine "Directions." We flipped through the pages and I immediately noticed that the prices in the magazine were not anything lower than I could buy the same product for anywhere else additionally their prices did not include shipping, tax and the 8% fee that gets tacked on to the entire purchase.

We were then ushered into another room with other couples attending the "Open House" and introduced to yet another employee who gave us a 45 minute verbal and video presentation about how much money we could save by joining Direct Buy.

At the conclusion of his presentation, we were informed that it would cost $4800 to join for 36 months and then $190 per year for years 4-10. We both just laughed knowing that this would negate any savings we might get by joining. The real kicker here is that we are told that we must sign the contract today before we leave or we can't join later!

We were then led out of the room with the other couples and I noticed all of the "Tour Guides" surrounding us from the back rather than coming up to us from the front. Gave me a very uncomfortable feeling. Also in front of us was a person in a room with the "Kitchen Remodeling Consultant" with their kitchen design on a huge projection on the wall so we could all see it (small child was still playing in the childrens area too!) Again, I just couldn't help but feel that this is all being staged!

Our Tour Guide then escorted us over to a table and began asking us what we thought about Direct Buy, etc. We both just looked and said no thank you.

We were then immediately escorted out of the building so there was no chance on any interaction between us and anyone either waiting to attend the presentation or those that have already attended the presentation. I'm not even sure how many of those other couples were actually there for the presentation or were they in actuality staged employees!

The real issues with Direct Buy are:

1. There are very few people I know that have $4800 to give away when they attend an "Open House." That's why Direct Buy also offers a payment plan that tacks on a huge interest rate in addition to the $4800.

2. Once signed, the Direct Buy contract can't be broken (according to Direct Buy.) A person is not given the opportunity to review the contract at home nor are they given an opportunity to have the contract reviewed by a lawyer if they desire. It must be signed there or you must leave! Keep in mind their contract is for "Membership Dues" rather than goods or services making it almost impossible to get out of once it is signed!

3. If Direct Buy truly stood behind their promises of saving people so much money they would encourage all attending an "Open House" to make a list of any big ticket items they plan on purchasing prior to attending along with the best prices they could find locally and then compare the Direct Buy price (including shipping, tax and 8% fee) to the best price the person found for the same items. Rather, Direct Buy uses the excuse that this will anger the retail stores.

Lastly, it is just bad business to try and pressure anyone into signing a contract without allowing someone to read it in their home or have it reviewed.

Aaron Hyde Park, New York
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/03/2008 01:00 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Direct-Buy-Aka-UCC-Total-Home/Wappingers-Falls-New-York-12590/Direct-Buy-Direct-Buy-is-a-Waste-of-Time-Wappingers-Falls-New-York-314258. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

UCC Total home member since 1986!

AUTHOR: Rick - (U.S.A.)

I've been a steady UCC member for more than 20 years. I have no relationship to anybody that works there. I have moved several times during that period, and have had as my "home" club 2 Michigan locations, one Mass. location, and one NJ club.
At the time I joined, I felt pressured and concerned, but chose to join as I had just bought my first house.
I have never felt cheated, and have purchased hundreds of items and spent 10's of thousands of dollars over the years. Clearly, there are areas where savings can be great and areas where they are zilch. Electronics, and large appliances: don't bother. The big box stores win in volume -- but many of them charge for delivery, too. Custom furniture, countertops, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, -- I've always found UCC/TH to be a great savings.

It's not for everyone, but time spent with catalogs can really make a difference.

I find it interesting about all the complaining about high pressure up front to sign a contract (yes, it's lousy, for sure every time I've seen it) -- but, once a member , the pressure to buy is the opposite. Did you ever not feel pressured, for example, in an appliance or carpet store? At UCC/TH, I can sit for hours with the catalogs, if I want, withouth anyone pushing me to make a choice -- no extended warranty contract pushing, either.

The 'no return" policy is, for sure, a cause for pause before I make a buy....but, frankly, e bay helps out when I've made a choice that's not great.

By the way, I joined BEFORE the internet helped us with this stuff..but, if I was about to rehab another house, I'd join again in a hearbeat. (Have never let the membereship lapse, by the way.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Direct Buy Is A Good Deal, But Only For Those Who Plan To Purchase Several Large Items

AUTHOR: Jeremy - (U.S.A.)

I have read your report regarding your experiences with Direct Buy and would like to comment as I have been a Direct Buy member for nearly three years. I joined Direct Buy in July of 2005 because I thought it might save me some money on a home remodeling project. So, like everyone else, I called the number that they advertise in their infomercials. I visited the "showroom" in Chantilly, Virginia on a Saturday morning about a week later. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I figured that it was worth possibly wasting a Saturday morning if I could end up saving a lot of money in the end.

During the presentation and tour, I saw what amounted to a more detailed rendition of the half-hour infomercial that just about everyone has probably seen by now. Binders were passed around that showed the potential savings within categories such as jewelry, electronics, furniture, and flooring. After the presentation, I was introduced to a sales associate who sat down with me to explain the intricacies of becoming a member. I was completely shocked to learn that the membership fee to join was $4,000.00 (apparently it has gone up since then). I had figured that it might cost a few hundred dollars, but I had no idea that it would be so expensive.

So given that it was going to cost so much, I readily assumed that this would not be a decision that I could make right there and then. I would need to go home and ponder whether or not it would be worth the expense and if I would ever be able to recoup this expense through the savings that Direct Buy promises. After all, what is the point of saving money here and there on a few items that I order if the cost of joining exceeds my total savings. When I stated to the sales associate my need to think things over, she responded by claiming that people are only able to come to a Direct Buy presentation once and that I would need to make a decision that day. She gave reasons like the limited number of presentation slots available for the general public. She also mentioned concern over allowing people into the showroom too many times as Direct Buy doesn't want to allow nonmembers to blab the wholesale prices of products to the whole world, thereby jeopardizing its relationship with product manufacturers.

A huge red flag went up in my mind when she told me these things. I could partially understand the reasons that she provided, but I thought them to be weak excuses for forcing someone to commit to spending $4,000.00 with little time to think it over. So I asked her to give me some time to myself so that I could calculate whether or not it would be worth the expense. I had already browsed a few of their catalogs to see what degree of savings that I could really get and the savings off of MSRP for most products seemed to be quite good. Of course very few retailers sell products for the full MSRP, but I still felt that the savings would be significantly more than what I could save on items that were on sale at retail stores.

So the question then would be is it worth paying $4,000.00 to join a club whose sole purpose is to save you money. I calculated the monthly cost of membership over a period of 10 years and also over a period of 20 years. Obviously, this would be a long-term investment if I decided to make it. I ensured that my membership would last for many years by confirming that Direct Buy had been around since 1971 (though under a different name) and that they had a good distribution of showrooms throughout the nation. I didn't want my $4,000.00 investment to be voided by the company going out of business or by me deciding to move to a different area of the country. I was told by the sales representative that the $4,000.00 investment provided a two-year membership and that membership dues after the initial term were $149.00 annually. She also said that the membership dues are not likely to go up much, though they might increase over time. As of July 2007, when I paid my first renewal fee, the fee was still $149.00. So after calculating the costs of membership, I determined that it would cost me $43.27 per month over 10 years [(($4,000.00) + ($149.00 x 8))/10] and $27.84 per month over 20 years [(($4,000.00) + ($149.00 x 18))/20]. Of course, this assumes that the annual dues do not increase over time, and they probably will.

After performing my calculations, I had determined that it would probably be worth it to join, but the pressure of having to make a decision that day didn't sit very well with me. Nevertheless, I went ahead and decided to take the plunge. I figured that the worst case scenario would be me eventually breaking even with no savings, and the possibility still existed that I might actually be able to save a lot of money.

Let me be the first to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with Direct Buy's insistence that new members decide to join immediately without having the opportunity to put some thought into it. I didn't necessarily feel that the sales representative with whom I met was high pressure. I have been to timeshare presentations, so I know what high pressure is all about. It was more of a Direct Buy policy issue than anything. However, I do see Direct Buy's point of view on the matter. If people had the opportunity to go home and ponder over the several thousands of dollars that it costs to join, they might quickly forget all of the potential benefits of membership. It makes perfect business sense to institute this high pressure policy, even if they end up offending a few people or even everyone (I was a little offended myself). It doesn't make it right, but it does explain why the policy exists.

But just because one aspect of something appears offensive, it does not mean that the entire concept is without merit. Although I felt somewhat pressured into making a decision to spend $4,000.00 without having much time to think it over, I am still glad that I made the decision. I have ended up saving a fair amount of money in the nearly three years that I have had the membership. I would estimate that, by now, I have broken even when comparing my savings to date with the cost of my membership. Now that does not really benefit me in any way, but now I have a membership that will continue to only cost me $149.00 per year (or possibly slightly more) to renew. Over the next few years, I anticipate saving quite a lot of money.

So let me address the primary concern that you posted.

As you stated in your commentary, "there are very few people I know that have $4800 to give away when they attend an 'Open House.'" I would agree with this statement. However, I didn't experience a high interest rate with their payment plan. I was allowed to put the purchase on my credit card and I was charged four monthly installments of $1,000.00 each. I'm sure I ended up paying some interest from the purchase on my card, but the interest rate is very reasonable, and I factored that into my final decision to join. My personal opinion is that Direct Buy is beneficial only to those with substantial incomes, perhaps exclusively to households with incomes that exceed $100,000.00 annually. I fall into this category and can't imagine saving any money if I made much less. After all, you only save money on products when you spend it (savings being the difference between what you actually paid and what others typically pay).

Obviously, Direct Buy wants everyone to buy a membership, even if they can't afford it. But this is no different than any other company. BMW wants everyone on earth to buy a BMW, and Sony would prefer all of its customers to buy items on which it profits the most (usually high ticket items). The key with Direct Buy is to realize that it caters its relationships with product manufacturers that generally sell high end items. For those people that purchase their furniture from Wal-Mart, Target, or Ikea, they should keep shopping there. Direct Buy is not going to save you any money on inexpensive, relatively low quality (though not necessarily junky) items that you will find at large retailers. Rather, Direct Buy mainly benefits those that are looking to buy very high-end merchandise and not pay the ridiculous markups that you will find at high end retailers. These retailers figure that the customers that will be purchasing these high end items have enough money to blow, so why not increase the price a little more so that the retailers can line their pockets. While it might deter some that are interested in purchasing the high end items, there are plenty of wealthy people out there that will pay an exorbitant amount of money for something just because they have plenty of money to go around.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Direct Buy Total Joke!

AUTHOR: David - (U.S.A.)

I signed up for Direct Buy last year and canceled immediatly. The cost to join was about $5k. The first thing I noticed was that the prices wheren't that much cheaper and, the Shipping charges were egregiously high especially since the delivery would take from 4-8 weeks! Not to mention thier 8% handling fee!

After calulating the price of product, 8% handling fee, and way over priced Shipping fees, You would be paying almost the same or even more than retail!

Obviously not worth forking over $5k for. Much better off shopping at the good ol' retail stores. Don't waste your time or money with this highway robbery scam.

One last note, The products in the catolouge seemed like kind of stuff noboby wanted to buy at the retail stores the previous few years. When I went back to cancel and get a refund there where other people complaining about the service and demanding a refund.
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