Here is a copy of the letter we sent to DB. Please read it. We are not angry people trying to prevent others from saving money. Nor are we uneducated or ignorant as many of these people who claim to save money acuse others of being.
QUite contrary, we do our research. Actually I have done dozens of hours of research and price comparison on Direct Buy and have found nothing but dissapointment. I think that there must be a way to expose DB nationally or for all of the consumers who have been riped-off to file class-action.. anyhow, here is a copy of my letter.. if anyone has any advice please email me (see below link), we will see what they have to say...
On August 20, 2004 my fianc and I attended your presentation at the 6325 N. Avondale Av. Chicago, IL. We listened to the presentation provided by Mark Magnani. Because we are a young couple buying a new home we thought that Direct Buy would provide with excellent saving potential.
Although initially shocked when Mark disclosed the joining price; $4200 for three years of membership, being intelligent consumers we calculated the potential savings portrayed by the presentation. Clearly the price tag for this exclusive membership made us skeptical, however we decided to proceed with discussing the opportunities.
The perception portrayed to us was that with a membership at Direct Buy we would have exclusive and insider pricing unparalleled by any retailers. When we questioned Mark on how it was possible for Direct Buy to offer such highly marked Discounts he simply explained to us that it was due to Direct Buy's buying power.
That because of the thousands of members Direct Buy has its customers are able to come together and therefore receive wholesale prices identical to those of retailers. Mark even went as far as to say that those who did not wish to join Direct Buy that we are unintelligent consumers. How ironic.
We were in the process of building in a house in Phoenix and explained to our representative, Janice Ducksworth, that the items we would be most interested would be furniture, large electronics and gift items such as Movado watches.. She was excited telling us that furniture is the best opportunity to save money.
We told her that we do a lot of shopping online and asked if Direct Buy could compete with online retailers as well as online discount sellers. Being that we were not allowed to compare pricing before we joined as members, we would have to rely upon the word of our sales rep.
Knowing that purchasing online from companies out of state, we would be able to explore several retailers' pricing all over the country as well as to benefit from not having to pay the state sales tax we clearly posed the question would the discount still be as great as you claim to make up for the 6% add on fee as well as 8.5% sales tax? Most online companies even have low shipping and quick turnaround on their items as well as the convenience of quick shipping, financing and return policies.
In order for it to be worthwhile for us to sacrifice these conviniences we explained to Janice that the Discount would have to be sufficient to cover all additional expenses incurred by shopping with Direct Buy i.e. handling fee and sales tax and beat them by at least 20%. Janice reassured us with much fervor that Direct Buy could indeed beat those prices and although additional fees would apply the benefit of savings would still much outweigh them. She also explained that many items such as Rugs and Movado watches could be shipped UPS thereby avoiding payment of sales tax.
She was so very insistent that we would save thousands of dollars on our first year that she offered to make an estimated calculation of our savings. We explained to her the furniture items we would have to buy. A living room couch and two chairs, a leather sectional, an entertainment center, outdoor patio furniture, and outdoor grill, large screen t.v. and bedroom furniture.
After listing these items Janice insisted that through Direct Buy we would be able to save at least $10,000-$15,000 on those items alone. This was just the beginning of the Direct Buy deception and fraudulence.
Janice also very conveniently forgot to go over the back side of the agreement, we never even knew existed. The one with the Direct Buy pledge and the 3-day cancellation policy we were completely unaware off, the slots for customer initials are still quite empty.
One of the first disappointments we encountered early while shopping for rugs was that the sales tax information on UPSable items was false. Sales tax would still apply. Although it seems a minor incurrence, after shopping around for Karastan rugs on which we had planned to spend over $3000 we found that the sales tax would have added an additional $255 and along with Direct Buy's extremely high shipping costs (another deception) and the 6% handling fee of $180 made the price with Direct Buy not only 20% lower as we had been so amicably promised but it was actually higher. We are paying a $5000 membership and the cost was more than the online Retailers.
When we confronted the owner on our issue he clearly pointed out that verbal promises would not be honored. He was kind to tell us that bit was in our contract.
Since joining we have researched dozens of items from Movado watches, leather furniture, upholstered furniture, outdoor furniture, large screen TVs, faucets, sinks, laminate flooring, etc. We attempted to find anything to come close to at least making up for the money we lost.
We paid close attention to compare prices with identical model numbers and sizes and found that the pricing to be the same or even lower from other companies including high-end gold label items that Direct Buy claimed we would save 50-75% on. After adding on the delivery charges, handling fees and taxes, not only was Direct Buy a bargain but also it was to our shock and dismay, considerably more expensive.
Here is one example which led me to the final conclusion that Direct Buy is a massive multi-million dollar scam. While looking for bedroom and dining furniture on which we were hoping to save at least a thousand dollars by going through DB we found some American Drew sets which we really liked. We wanted to purchase the Montebello dining room set and the Tansu bedroom set. We researched the DB pricing as well as some online dealers and were completely amazed to find that the price offered to us by (see link below) was nearly IDENTICAL to the price quoted through DB.
In fact the upholstered chairs for the dining room table were $205/ea through both DB and (another company). When we added on DB's handling fee along with the sales tax the prices for the bedroom set and dining room set came out to hundreds of dollars more with DB. This leads me to wonder how DB with its insider prices and amazingly high membership costs can offer me the HIGHER prices than an online retailer who does not charge membership and does not charge any additional fees.
Unfortunately we have found this phenomenon to apply to most of the other items we researched. I was dismayed to find that DB offered 50% off on Movado, but I could go online and find the same exact watches at 40-60% off. The leather sectional from Elite I had planned on buying from DB believing it did in fact cost $8000 from retailers and I was getting quite the deal from DB at $4500 I found for a lower overall price from (see link below).
These online retailers are not manufacturers, they are not private clubs, and they do not claim to offer anything more than what they can yet they can match and often beat Direct Buy's Exclusive Insider Pricing.
Although I am sure that there are certain specific items Direct Buy may be able to offer some discounted prices on, the deceptive and misrepresentative manner that membership is presented in does not provide the consumer any real benefit for paying the $4390.00 membership fee, not to mention the obscenely high financing percentage.
After calculating all of the items we wished to purchase, even including laminate flooring we have found that there is not a single item on which we are able to save over 10% with careful, meticulous and smart shopping.
The fact of the manner is that Direct Buy advertises Insider Pricing which gives us and the average consumer the impression that by joining, we are entitled to prices that only Direct Buy customers can receive. This is not the case. Millions of people have access to the internet and thus they too have the opportunity to buy at prices equal to or even less than those of Direct Buy without having to pay the membership fee.
Aside from our own personal research and experience, we have found other members who have also had the same negative experience from Direct Buy. Hundreds of people have expressed their displeasure with the pricing that Direct Buy portrays as Insider Pricing. Since joining we have also found out that Direct Buy has changed its name multiple times since inception. Reputable, honest and credible companies do not change their names.
In fact a true company, which is proud of the services, it offers stands by its name and protects it from any negativity. Apparently Direct Buy, UCC-total home, etc. has not had positive experiences with consumers and have therefore changed their name to escape their negative, but well deserved reputation.
I am at this time asking that you cancel our membership and refund the money that we have paid so far. We have to this date not purchased A SINGLE item from Direct Buy. I would appreciate a response to this letter within 10 days. If we do not receive a refund and cancellation by that time, we will file a formal complaint with Illinois Attorney General, Consumer Fraud Bureau and file suit in small claims court for deceptive business practices. We are also reporting your company to the BBB. In addition at this time we are in contact with other Direct Buy members who feel the same way as we do and are interested in exposing Direct Buy nationally.
Although our agreement states, no oral promises or statements shall bind or obligate the club it is illegal to knowingly provide consumers with deceptive information in order to gain their business. In fact we do not even have to prove that Direct Buy intended to be deceptive simply that they are. In the Frey v. Vin Devers, Inc. case No, 14-96-45 the judge ruled that a consumer is not required to demonstrate that a supplier intended to be unfair or deceptive It is how the consumer views the act or statement, which determines whether it is unfair or deceptive.
In another case of Thompson v. Jim Dixon Linclon Mercury, Inc. the judge stated that the basic test is one of fairness; the act need not rise to the level of fraud, negligence, or breech of contract Direct Buy however is a fraudulent company, which clearly relies on the no refund no cancellation policy to steal consumer's hard earned money. These practices are not only unethical they are illegal.
Additionally after consulting with a lawyer who attended an open house and viewed the direct-buy advertisement on television we were advised that such advertisement is in breech of state and federal law as it provides misleading information that Direct Buy offers insider prices implying that the consumer will be able to save large sums of money.
The vision and mission statement of Enter a world where you pay what the stores pay. It's like nothing you've ever seen and everything you've ever dreamed. Is also misleading. As clearly Direct Buy members are not paying what the stores pay or consumers such as myself would be unable to find lower prices from other retailers. This is for the very reason Mark provided, that retailers must have a mark up to stay in business. If they were indeed paying the same prices as Direct Buy pays they would not only not make a profit, but they would lose money on each transaction.
Currently under both federal and state law, an ad is unlawful if it tends to mislead or deceive, even if it doesn't actually fool anyone. If your ad is deceptive, you'll face legal problems whether you intended to mislead the customer or not. The video shown at the open house is also a form of advertisement and one, which is of even greater deceptive intensity than the commercial.
In the event this case is brought to court that video may be used as evidence against Direct Buy's unethical practices. We were also advised that the statement regarding the fact that DB may terminate its relationship with the consumer but the consumer would be still be liable for the joining fee is a way of threatening consumers in order to prevent them from filing suits or requesting refunds once they recognize their losses.
Nonetheless, without going on with further citations, the fact of the matter, beyond everything else, is that the sales rep failed to throughly complete our contract. The contract specifically says not to sign it if it contains blank spaces but there are blank spaces. Our sales rep failed to review the member's pledge and notice of cancellation and did not even make us aware of the reverse-side of the contract.
Being so overwhelmed with the extensive presenation and hours of convincing which took place we did not even realize we missed an entire page of the contract. For this and many other reasons we will ask the court to rule our contract null and void
U.S.A. CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report. sorry, allowing you to give a competitors name would instigate others to just file against their competition, to only come back later to suggest their company your comments on this policy are welcome! CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.