Direct Buy- is it a scam?

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It used to be UCC Total Home. sounds like a scam. I am renovating a bathroom and 2 kitchens, so a good discount would be great. But my research suggests this is not worth it. Any good or bad experiences? Thanks DoctorJ
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My mother has an account there and she lets my wife and I order on it. I just got my bedroom set, and my son's bedroom set up with fairly nice furniture. We saved a bundle over retail. All I can say is that you need to buy more than two rooms worth of furniture to make it pay. Also, don't get it for the electronics or tool purchases. Their selection on that stinks. The faucet selection seemed nice, but they don't carry a wide range of quality vs. price. Most things are higher-end.
Interesting concept, tho'. I really hate furniture stores, their 300% markup, and their "Going out of business for the 37th time this year" sales. I love having the alternative available. When you take the presentation tour, do they let you browse the catalog library? If so, take some notes and price it against the Internet and HD. See where your savings fall.
As far as it being a scam, no. It's definitly not a scam, but I can see why you might think that way.
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Thats great you got a discount on someone elses dime. Mention thee fact that you MIL paid about 4500.00 for the membership. SO if your only doing a small reno. I don't think its worth the membership price. But if your a contractor or a landlord with many properties then maybe it wou;ld be.
Searcher
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I don't recall the membership being anywhere near $4,500. We joined to renovate a kitchen. The savings on high end cabinets more than paid for the membership. For a slight upcharge. the cabinet wholesaler sent a designer to the house. We also went to the showroom in NJ to sit down with them. My wife ordered what I thought were wierd colors after falling in love with a display, but it came out realy nice. The downside to our membership is, when working on the house, we tend to make decisions at the last minute and it takes a month or so to get things there. If we were more organized, we would get even more out of them.
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What they do where I live is have a prolonged GOB sale, close the doors for a couple weeks, and re-open under a different name with a "grand opening" sale. The markups aren't seriously 300%, but I would say they're at least %150 percent without a sale. %100 with a sale. I know this because I shop at Direct Buy. I shouldn't try sarcasm with writing.
As for "someone else's dime," yes, I didn't have to pay for the membership. My savings were immediate. That was why I mentioned that you would want to furnish at least two rooms fully to see a savings. My point was that you need to make up for the initial investment with some minimum purchases, not that everyone gets to know someone with a membership. I was just relaying a real-world case.
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Thats very cynical. Really, when a furniture store (or any other retail) closes the same type of store will often open with new owners in the same location. Thats what we did, and when the bridal store next to us closed a completely different person opened a bridal store in the same spot. Its free advertising.
Secondly, what costs are you including (or excluding) when calculating a markup? Furniture can't be shipped UPS. The cost to ship a piece of furniture to a warehouse are typically 15-20%. Most stores don't charge even close to what it costs to do an in-home delivery. If a store charges $50 to deliver you a sofa, you can bet it probably costs closer to 100-125. Even the Directbuy website states the average retail markup on furniture is only 43%! You're pulling numbers out of a hat.
Even if they sell at true wholesale, you'll still have to pay all the transportation charges, so that eats away at your savings. And you're stuck with what they offer. I don't care how much they offer, its not everything.

Its nice you can buy on someone else's membership. I'm surprised they allow that, since the membership is supposedly how they make money. Or, maybe there really is a markup. Did you get to see the "confidential" wholesale price lists? Did they charge you actual freight costs? Was it a flat fee or a calculated amount? Did you get a bill from the shipper, or was it just a line item on their invoice?
I'd think that before buying a membership you'd have to do some shopping and find out what things really sell for, and have that information handy before buying a membership. Also, it seems they'll bargain with you on the membership price. Like buying a car when you start heading for the door the price goes down.
S
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My numbers are not factual -- they derive from my personal experience. I firmly believe that the $2,700 I paid for a bedroom set through Direct Buy would have cost at least $6,000 elsewhere. I don't know this for sure, because not all stores carry the exact line and manufacturer. I do know what others have paid for their sets. Many pay upwards of $1,000 for the bed alone. I got a bed, marble-topped dresser, chest-of-drawers, and a beveled mirror. The maker is Hooker, and the line is Verona.
When you buy a membership at Direct Buy, you are informed that you can bring guests into the store. The member has to be the one who places the order, but you can ship it to any Direct Buy location. This is a perk of the membership, thus we stayed within the store's policy and did nothing unethical. My intention in my original post was to vouch for Direct Buy as one who ordered from them in the past.
Yes, we paid freight. The cost of freight was around 5% of the total. We also paid delivery. $60 bought three strong men and a moving truck for one hour who took great care not to scratch the furniture or walls while carrying up my stairs. It's a complicated delivery; as I have a landing in the middle, and a 180 degree turn at the top. They also took off the packaging and hauled the boxes and packing materials away for me. I tipped them 20 bucks each making my total $120.
I am cynical. When I walk into a warehouse-sized store in prime real estate and see four or five people hanging out in suits waiting to follow me around for their commission, I get a little edgy about handing over my money. I'm not the kind of person who is easily swayed by halogen accent lights, and mood music. I know people who have driven to North Carolina, rented a truck, and drove their furniture back to circumvent the markups.
Recently, a large chain in my area, Philadelphia, went out of business. Every busy intersection for miles around had those stick signs planted in the ground, and light poles were plastered with banners. They actually hired people to drive their cars all around the high traffic areas with large taxi bill-board style signs advertising the sale. It seemed like this went on for months, although it may well have only been 90 days.
Once the place finally went out of business, a new store immediately took its place. Not just one store, but every store. The entire chain had a "grand opening" sale that also seemed to go on forever. Maybe it was more than a simple name change, but my hunch is that if you follow the money, it will lead to the same people at the end.
Here's another real-world story. I renovated my bathroom and needed a new vanity. I plumbed in two sets of hookups for a double-vanity and either needed one large double, or two small singles. I really wanted something made out of solid wood with a nice finish, good accents, and at least a fake stone top. I shopped a *lot* of furniture stores, and the best I could do was something tiny for around $1,200 each.
I was ready to just settle and put in some Ikea knockdowns when I happened to be in Costco. They had a beautiful large double vanity with a natural granite top. It even included the sink basins. The total price was $800. Here's a picture:
http://www.costco.com/Images/Content/Product/583600L.jpg
(Note: the price on the one in the picture is $1,229 because shipping and handling are included.)
It is because of this and other experiences that I never ever step foot in a furniture store anymore. I just think they have terrible business models. Everything in this post and my previous posts are my opinion. My opinion and a $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee, so take it with a grain of salt. I don't claim to have inside industry knowledge, just industry experience as a consumer who pays attention. I will not continue to reply to this topic, as it was not my intention to start a debate. I apologize if I have offended.
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responses inline

I think some locations are franchised, so that may or may not apply to all locations.

My bad. Freight costs will vary greatly depending on how far the furniture has to be shipped. 5% can be the norm if you're close enough.

I don't blame you. Years of well honed research has proven it sells furniture at retail. Getting people to ignore the price tag is science unto itself.

The GOB sale is often preceded by heavy advertising. But the signs in the ground, etc, was probably only for 90 days.

When a car dealer closes, another car dealer usually takes its place. When a restaurant goes out of business, another usually takes its place. Ditto for many others. In reality, when a furniture operator goes under and wants to reopen, its never in the same location.

Well, I'm in the furniture business and you didn't offend me. DB will work for some people and not for others. You are right that furniture is a terrible business model. Most people keep a sofa longer than they keep a home! It takes a lot of expensive real estate, halogen lights and soft music to convince people otherwise :-)
S
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Furniture stores don't sell at a 300% markup. Ever wonder why your stockbroker NEVER recommends furniture stores?
GOB sales are regulated by state laws and if a store is reported to be stretching the rules (usually 90 days limit) the state AG will investigate and press charges if they don't start complying with applicable laws.
They are not a scam, but, IIRC you pay upfront for the membership, then go shopping through catalogs with very little actual product on display. A different way to shop, but here in Chicago we have free alternatives as well.
S
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mrsgator88 writes:

So you've heard.
Fact is, this type of thing goes on interminably with no prosecution.
One store near me has been in its final days for years.
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Just curious, where are you located? That wouldn't happen here. I think the fines alone are such good revenue that the AG almost couldn't avoid going after a GOB abuser.
S
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mrsgator88 writes:

Palm Beach County, Florida USA.
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That surprises me. Stores in Florida aren't even allowed to advertise "Sale off of MSRP".
S
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mrsgator88 writes:

Eh? Like fair trade laws? I though those were abolished federally in the 60s. Retailers set their own prices unless they're under (illegal) manufacturer restraint-of-trade practices or local licensing cartels (like much of the retail HVAC biz).
So much of human activity seems to have become a felony in Florida. Proportionality and reasonable-doubt have given way to plea-bargain style justice.
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Two separate things. If a store in Florida (and a couple of other states) advertises a sofa or stove, etc, On Sale for $699, Reg. or Orig or MSRP $999, that's illegal unless they can prove that selling activity took place at the $999 price. And no, they're not allowed to put something new on the floor for two weeks marked at $999 and then run the sale for a month. Read the Sunday papers and look closely at the prices. Usually there's no percentage off or original comparison price unless its a closeout.
Fair trade laws are another matter. Ever wonder why certain name brand items cost the same at EVERY store? The manufacturer can't tell you what to sell it for, but, can tell you the lowest advertised price you can display. Or, can choose to stop doing business with you if you get ratted out for selling at the wrong prices.
S
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mrsgator88 writes:

Yeah, phony percent-off advertising vs retail price maintenance. Both illegal but also done all the time here. With regard to the former, I observe "intermediate markdowns may have been taken" fine print all the time.
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snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

Scam IMO - My elderly parents were convinced that their $6,000 (YES, $6,000) would return them significant savings. They had just a bath and kitchen remodel in mind. The sales person was very high pressure (From what I heard from the 'rents). The direct buy has a no guest policy around here. There is even a physical line on the floor that you cannot cross unless you are a member. There are very long lead times (6-8 weeks for stuff). No ETA available, just a "we will call you when its in". Limited selection of items. Cant see most stuff, you are just shopping out of a catalog on online. yes, the prices seem good but then you pay shipping, handling and sales tax. In my state that adds up to about 16%. Shipping is based upon the cost of the item, not the weight. So, a $900 faucet costs a lot more to ship than a $200 faucet even though in reality the would cost direct buy the same $$ to ship. Oh - And if the item is over weight they charge you a surcharge to ship! Oh - and its extra for delivery to your house. The base shipping is only to their warehouse! You have to pay about 10% plus tax for them to just get it into the warehouse!
All in all - The items bought so far have saved them about $10 on several thousands in purchases and have the added frustration of not knowing when the items would arrive.
Unfortunately they have been so frustrating to deal with that the remainder of the projects items will be purchased through normal channels and the $6K written off as a learning experience.
Avoid them!
Inviato da X-Privat.Org - Registrazione gratuita http://www.x-privat.org/join.php
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Direct ripoff

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Direct buy -- good or bad?
I guess it depends on what you plan on doing. I sat with the sales person, compared in hand prices, the best I could find locally for appliances. Just on the kitchen appliances alone, I saved over $1500.
I've heard many say that they haven't seen the savings etc on comparison items...that was not my case, I had a whole mess of prices and hands down I saved using DB.
Alternatively, depending on how you view things, you can spend $X on locally available items...and for the most part be satisfied. Or you can spend $X and step up in quality. I'm spending the same amount of money, I'm just leveraging purchasing power, still staying with in budget.
I guess it's all in how you look at it.
DC
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VERY bad. I had a friend who signed on when they built a new home. In EVERY case where he could find a distributor for an item other than Direct Buy they would meet or beat the Direct Buy price. Not only that Direct Buy has SPECIAL delivery/installation prices that run double or triple everyone else's delivery charge. And warranty service is a fucking nightmare.
Direct Buy will not save you money.
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