You know BSP is always interested in helping you save money. With that, we will tell you we are members of Direct Buy. I’ve looked in places like Consumer Reports and they don’t even do a review of Direct Buy. They say they don’t have enough information, which I find odd.
In case you haven’t heard their infomercials, Direct Buy claims they are able to save you lots of money by purchasing directly from vendors, instead of having retail markup.
Direct Buy bars their members from discussing their pricing with the “outside” world. So we’re not going to do that because the membership is now useful. We will make a few recommendations, based on our experience of who may be interested in joining Direct Buy. I’ll say this, I’ve found there are a lot of people–former members–who don’t like Direct Buy and wouldn’t recommend it under any circumstances.
1) If you are building a home or doing a lot of remodeling, Direct Buy may be for you. Direct Buy can save you a lot of money, a lot of the time. You do have to spend, and buy a lot of items to recoup your membership fees. Did you just hear that? A LOT of items, costing a LOT of money. The catalogs Direct Buy is filled with is also a bit deceptive. Direct Buy does not carry some of my favorite manufacturers who sell stuff I really do want. Then again, the catalogs do not have everything Direct Buy can get you, so you have to ask!
2) If you like doing research and you have time to do your research, Direct Buy may be for you. You have to know what you want, because their showroom is minimal and there’s a wide selection out of the catalogs. Direct Buy told us to go find what you want in stores throughout your community. Unfortunately, we’ve found it difficult to find some of the stuff we want in our community … which just happens to be in the top 10 largest cities in the country. If we can’t find it here, it isn’t going to be found.
3) If you need items right now, you probably want to pass on Direct Buy. The times for shipping are sometimes lengthy; however, they’ve been known to surprise us with items that just show up. We bought some smaller items and we were about to leave when a guy drove up in a FedEx truck with them. We didn’t even know they were on their way. They had told us up to four weeks; it showed up in three days. One thing we started doing was anticipating failures. For example, I have a 10-year old refrigerator. We had noticed the compressor was getting a little louder and the warranty had expired. We found a great replacement for a great price on Direct Buy, researched it and purchased it. My 10-year old refrigerator is now in the garage, in a perfect location to grab a cold drink when doing yard work or working on the auto. If it fails, we’ll just roll it out to the curb OR fix it, based upon price.
4) Almost all the prices, even the ones called “marginal savings” are excellent. However, Direct Buy shipping and handling costs are not excellent, and often exorbitant. No kidding, I wanted to go to a distribution point with a U-Haul and just pick it up myself. The manufacturer may also charge a fee for direct purchasing, or have spending requirements. One of my favorite manufacturers had a spending minimum; it was sad because we would have had to buy stuff we didn’t want or need.
5) If you purchase through Direct Buy, you will almost always get serviced through the manufacturer’s warranty. That is, if you get a lemon, you have to work with the manufacturer. Direct Buy is the purchasing agent, that’s all. A lot of retailers will help you get an item fixed or returned if its defective; Direct Buy will not. A lot of times, you will pick up your items at the Direct Buy warehouse. You have to inspect everything very carefully for defects or you will be stuck with them.
If I knew back then what I know now about Direct Buy, I probably wouldn’t be a member. Generally speaking, I don’t have time to go to five or six other showrooms to find what I like. Also, what I said in 1) is correct. You have to buy a lot of items to make membership work. Until recently, I had not purchased a lot of items, and I had considered cutting my losses. There’s a mental break-even point, and I think Direct Buy knows there are psychological factors involved in trying to reach that break-even point. You keep the membership, even though there’s no way you’ll buy enough stuff, and you’ll end up paying their ANNUAL membership fees. You believe the thousands you spent in becoming a member, you just threw away. I don’t believe there’s any discussion of annual membership fees when you initially join. It keeps you as a member.
A business that uses a high pressure tactic — “This is the only time you’ll be invited for membership and you need to decide now” — to get customers to buy memberships is not a good business for consumers. I’m not telling the price of membership because it varies, but its in the thousands. When I was buying my truck and negotiating the sale, the guy says “you need to buy it tonight; that one may be gone tomorrow.” I told him “your dealership is going to run out of trucks tonight?” I knew better. Unfortunately, we didn’t take that approach with Direct Buy.
In the Direct Buy case, I had my significant other with me at membership time. Direct Buy membership led to a lot of tension between my significant other and I. It’s why I call her my significant other. She wanted to become members because she’s an impulse buyer. Purchasing a Direct Buy membership goes against every fiber in my being, because I do not impulse/quick buy, ever. The interesting thing is, purchasing stuff from Direct Buy works in my favor because I do a lot of research before I purchase. Meanwhile, she won’t even go to the Direct Buy website without being ordered to do so.