If you want to experience one of the most painful, hard sales pitches in the universe, then accept an invitation to an open house at a Direct Buy showroom. If you have ever suffered through a lengthy sales pitch for a time share or remember your absolutely worst experience in a car dealership, then you have a hint of how awful the Direct Buy sales pitch is. From reading many comments from people all over the US who have also been suckered into a Direct Buy showroom there is a highly structured sales pitch given everywhere.
The process consists of three time-wasting stages: first spend time with small talk with a smiling sales person, then get herded into a room with other couples attending the open house to hear a much more detailed sales presentation, including several videos and lots of clever question and answer sessions with the audience. Following that you are taken back for another private conversation with the first sales person who is clearly the closer; that is when you really get the high pressure treatment designed to get you to sign up that day and pluck down about $7,000 for a ten year membership (though the price seems to vary with location). If you don’t sign up that day you are told that it will cost another $1,000 at a later time.
With the original invitation to the open house you are told that you will get a 30 day free membership. But that membership is very limited. What really angered me was that there was no piece of literature that we were given to look at with details about membership rights and costs that we could take with us. Talk about a high pressure sales pitch!
After my bad experience I discovered that there is a national class action lawsuit against Direct Buy for fraudulent marketing. Here is what the suit claims: The company misleads customers by promoting a $5,000 membership fee which entitles members to purchase a wide array of goods at wholesale prices with no markup, and that it makes no profits other than from the membership fees. In reality, it makes a substantial profit from product markups, exorbitant shipping and handling fees, and tens of millions in annual rebates from manufacturers that it conceals from customers.
The whole logic of Direct Buy is that you will be able to pay wholesale prices from manufacturers and avoid all the markups of retailers. But you would have to spend a small fortune to justify the huge membership fee. Plus, there are several charges added to the base manufacturer’s price that cut down on the savings you might obtain. Further, the whole premise is basically that you are a stupid shopper and cannot really tell whether you are getting a genuinely low price for stuff on sale at ordinary retailers. And hardly anything that you might buy can be seen at the Direct Buy location, because virtually everything that is purchased requires considerable work looking though catalogs.
If the Direct Buy sales pitch really told the whole truthful story, then logic says there would be many millions of people who bought everything there rather than through ordinary retail channels, including the Internet. In fact, if Direct Buy was such a great buy, then the whole huge world of retail would have screamed to their wholesalers to stop selling stuff through Direct Buy. But obviously there are not millions of Direct Buy members. From reading many complaints about this company on some websites, especially consumeraffairs.com, it becomes clear that my experience has been shared by many others. I wasted two hours of my weekend because I fell for the email marketing notification I received, which now I realize should have been classified as just more spam.
Finally, as I rode home after my wasted time at Direct Buy, I mused about the logical contradiction that was embedded several times in the intense sales pitch. They boast that because you save so much you will be able to buy higher quality products, but that just tells me that if you behave this way you will end up spending as much money as you would have spent as a nonmember shopping at ordinary retailers. Especially when you factor in the thousands of dollars for membership, and not lifetime membership at that!
My advice: If you get an invitation to attend an open house at a Direct Buy outlet, toss it. Don’t waste your valuable time. And certainly don’t bet that you will definitely save enough money to justify the high upfront cost of membership.
I know lots of Direct Buy members will surely write in that they are very happy and satisfied, but considering a large fraction of the public are not very intelligent or terrific shoppers I am not impressed with such opinions. No matter what the business or corporate scam there are always people who will not complain about it. Scammers, rip-off artists and thieves like Bernie Madoff are so successful because such a large fraction of people are dimwits. And once someone pays more than $5,000 upfront for a membership they are psychologically programmed to conclude that they have made a smart choice.
Here is my bottom line: The very nature of the sales pitch used by Direct Buy says something very, very negative about the company and what it is selling. The way I was treated was not appreciated and I do not want to patronize a company that uses such tactics.