I, for one, welcome our new DirectBuy overlords

By now I’m sure most of you have seen or heard all of the recent ads for DirectBuy – well, those of you who don’t fast forward every commercial with your fancy-schmancy DVRs and whatnot. Since The Woman and I would like to renovate/remodel our kitchen (and possibly a bathroom) next year and prefer to not spend lots of money, it seemed like a good place to check out. So I hit the website and, unfortunately, found out that everything was locked behind a membership. But a trip to one of their “open houses” couldn’t hurt and we signed up for one today. At the very least, I can claim that we didn’t lose anything but some time.

Let me start out by stressing that there really wasn’t a “hard sell” involved. When we made our final decision, there was no fight or argument to get the hell out of there. But I still didn’t leave with a great impression of them for one particular reason. You see, we had to sit through a fairly long presentation. It wasn’t bad, but it was certainly redundant. After awhile I just wanted to ask if I could go through the non-dumbed down sales pitch. I get it, retail stores mark up what they sell us. You want us to pay you money so that we don’t have to pay that mark-up. It’s not that complicated, just tell us what we can expect to save and how much it’s going to cost us and we can make the decision.

But they insist on giving lots of examples of how much you can save while only alluding to the dues and assuring you that you’re already paying “retail dues” anyway. It’s getting annoying but not a big deal, let’s just get to the end. Halfway through, however, they start dishing on the rules. Most of them make sense – you’re not supposed to reveal the prices to other people… can’t use them to negotiate with retailers… don’t use regular services when you intend on using DirectBuy anyway… All of it seemed reasonable in order to protect themselves and the manufacturers they use. And then they slip this one in that if you decline the membership, you can’t join later…

Wait… what… huh… That’s right, if you don’t sign up that day, you are BANISHED from DirectBuy for SEVEN FRICKIN’ YEARS! Who the hell operates like that? For the rest of the presentation I’m trying to figure out if they seriously mean that I can’t leave without making the decision. The Woman will let you know: I am king of “We have to sleep on it”. I do not like being put on the spot to make purchasing decisions. And this ain’t exactly a Costco membership. After spending an hour telling us all about how we’ve already been paying these dues to retailers for years, they finally give us the price: $4590 for the first 3 years! And you want me to make that decision immediately?!?!

Once again, I want to be fair here. That’s not an outrageous fee. If you’re making big purchases – especially cabinets, fixtures, etc. – you can easily be saving that amount of money right away. Then again, there’s no guarantee. But that’s something you have to decide for yourself. What really gets me, though, is that they didn’t bother pointing out any of this before hand. Oh, there’s a little line about it at the very end of the brochure they send you, but it wasn’t mentioned once in the 5 or 6 phone calls we received shortly after signing up on the website. When it comes down to it, I was in no position to make that decision today – had they been forthcoming with this tidbit, I never would have signed up for the open house at this time. Next year would be a completely different matter.

We had a long talk about it on the way home, but neither of us was that upset with the decision to walk away. When it comes down to it, that’s a lot of money to be spending to basically lock yourself into spending more money. All I could think of was what if things change in the next few months – then we’re screwed. No matter how much I might get aggravated by overpaying for some of our renovations down the line, nothing would compare to how I’d feel if we didn’t get our $4500 worth of savings out of this membership. And now that we’ve made it home and I’ve done some research I feel a lot better about walking away – just Google DirectBuy and take a look at the links that aren’t theirs.

Like I said, I’m sure it can save you money, but there’s no guarantee. And for that much money, I need a guarantee.