'Direct Buy' for building supplies

deanbrentJune 27, 2007

Has anyone signed on and used "Direct Buy" for supplies used in building a house. Such as flooring, lights, fans, cabinets, doors, windows, appliances, tv's, etc? Direct Buy claim that you can save by buying through them who buy "direct" from the factory. (www.directbuy.com)

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I have never used Direct Buy, but I researched it a little before we started our house. Google "Direct Buy" and, aside from Direct Buy's own website, you will find an overwhelming number of negative comments. From what I understand, you pay thousands of dollars to join, so you have to buy MUCHO stuff to come out ahead, and the savings aren't always that great. Also, the customer service, reliability of deliveries, etc., is reputed to be horrible.
Again, this is all heresay. I'm sure someone will weigh in with personal experience.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 3:03PM
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Our neighbor belongs to Direct Buy and ordered his Peachtree windows through a DB supplier. Supplier was in financial trouble, didn't order the windows as he said he did, neighbor had to go elsewhere and ended up behind 5 or 6 weeks. That would be enough for me. Personally, I think I got a better price for my windows and doors through a local Andersen dealer, and better service.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Our friends used Direct Buy for furniture and for some plumbing items. They really wanted us to do it, but it seemed a lot of time wasted to me. My friend would have to go to retail stores, look at what she was interested in, get item numbers and then go back to Direct Buy to find that same thing in a catalog. She was so disappointed in her living room furniture--it had looked good in the catalog, but she had never sat on it or felt the fabric. I'm way too much of a "hands on" person to not be able to see it for real before I buy. I realize there are Direct Buy showrooms, but much of it has to be ordered through a catalog. Plus, I felt like I would have to buy so much to ever recover my investment. JMO

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:38PM
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Well, DH and I have the opposite view from other posters so far. You do have to pay a big fee to start. We've recouped that, however, and much more. We only bought things from DB after much researching elsewhere. Everything (cabs, tile, carpet, appliances, etc.) that we bought was in fine shape and delivered on time; the staff has been very friendly and helpful. No problems at all for us. I think you tend to do better if you're buying high-end items, which we weren't, except for marble tile and granite countertops. I'm a professional researcher, so did a pretty good job, I think, in making sure we got the best prices. I'd suggest you go in for a sales pitch (and that's what it is, pretty hard sell) and decide for yourself. Ask questions. Before you go, check prices on some things you know you're going to buy, and ask to see their prices on the exact same items. Try it with appliances, for example, so you can get exact matches. They have a policy that you have to sign up on your first trip; we didn't test that, but you might want to. You could go to a local tile store and see what the staff thinks of DB prices.

Good luck. This is one of about 14,000 decisions I believe you'll make before you get your house built!

Susanka (not the book-about-houses author)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:44PM
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I would also do a search on the Kitchens site for Direct Buy. There were several posts (mostly negative) about DB experiences. I was enthusiastic until I did my research and learned how much the membership fee was and of others' experiences.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 9:35PM
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It's a really terrible scam. The only people who save $ with Direct Buy are people who always pay full retail price for everything and never shop around. They're usually also the people who tell everyone they know how much everything they own cost them. "I got my new Chev 2500 for $67000 with zero down!" and "My house cost me $595000 but if I sold it today I'd profit $300000.)
I doubt you're one of those people.
Shop around. There's a great ebay company we've used twice who ships beautiful cabinets for great prices. My husband is a home builder (small scale - one house at a time, 3 per year) and we get our building materials at 4 different suppliers. It pays to shop around.
Good luck! And congratulations for asking the question "Does this seem too good to be true?" You just saved yourself a $5000 initiation fee! Go spend that money on a nice fridge or a beautiful built-in armoire!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 9:41PM
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One of our neighbors used direct buy and several of their appliances were missing parts that took an act of god to get, plus the fancy metal and glass double front door had only a keyed lock at the top not the latch (I have no idea what it is called but the piece that goes in and out when you turn the knob or handle) so their front door does not stay closed unless you lock it with a key even to get the mail. It was protected with plastic and nobody checked until it was hung. It also came with zero weather stripping so you can see light all around it(I can just see dollar signs, as in air conditioned and heated air, flowing out around that door everytime I look at it)! Also the tile they picked from daltile was less than 10 cents a sq. ft. different. I was warned off big time. I know someone else who joined and did not order things way in advance so nothing they picked out was available when they needed it so had to go elsewhere,of course they should have checked but still wasted a ton of money.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 10:07PM
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There hae been threads on many of the forums here, and altho some people think they did okay, most people were warned off big time.

I'd run the other way. And I've heard of contractors who refused to work with them because there is no control over delivery, etc. and problems with dealing with quality control, etc.

Don't do it.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:24PM
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I made an inquiry with DB and they called me back to set up an appt. The gentleman or I should say young man on the phone said "you and your husband need to come in together..." I said it will just be me coming in for the initial visit. He responded, "Oh no, you have to both come in." When I tried to explain to him that my husband would be working and I would be the only one coming in he again insisted that we both "had" to come in. I found that awfully pushy of him and decided then I wanted nothing to do with them. They didn't call back for a long time and then just yesterday they called and I immediately said "I'm not interested and hung up."

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:56PM
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We joined Direct Buy. I almost didn't because of what I've read here and other places. You do need to plan out what you're buying and have plenty of time. Windows, for instance. I ordered red aluminum clad windows. DB in our area has Hurd (and Milgard). I had to wait for my quote and then it came with 6'8" doors instead of 8 foot doors. By the time they got back to me, I already ordered doors through a local company. I ended up ordering Jeldwen windows and French doors,but if I had ordered the Hurd, I would have saved several thousand dollars. I have priced out other things like tubs, toilets and apples for apples, the cost was less. I am a shopper and I just ordered my 48" range from EBay. I've priced out their granite counters and the savings is considerable. Other things, like tankless water heaters, not so much. You can save with cabinets too. Although I may order my cabinets from an online company because there is no sales tax or delivery fee and that can make the difference. DB has a fee they charge for "handling." That fee can make the difference. The very same bedroom furniture I priced out ended up being almost half price. Wood blinds: huge savings. So far, everyone at our local DB is very nice and helpful. No problems at all yet.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 1:57AM
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Simply Google "Direct Buy Sucks". The THOUSANDS of negative posts about it will convince you they are not worth any potential savings. They use bait and switch tactics along with scare tactics to get you to pay a huge membership fee.

Any intelligent person would not give their money to this company after doing simple research.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 8:12AM
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I stand by my post. Also, I'm intelligent, and a thorough researcher. It may not work for most people; it did work for us.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 8:17AM
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I'm with Susanka. I'm a very careful researcher and I'm only a dimwit on Fridays. I did weigh and evaluate my decision to join DB carefully after reading all the negative reviews here and elsewhere. I had personal rave reviews from people in my area who also built a house. I compared apples to apples on pricing during the sales(and I DO NOT like their hard sell approach) appointment.
It would be nice if people could simply state their constructive opinions here and refrain from comments that appear personal.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 9:58AM
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We joined Direct Buy after reading all of the posts aganist it and for it online. We were aware of the hard sell when we went in. We decided that we could NOT afford to NOT join.
Our experiences so far have been okay.
You have to do all of your leg work and research before ordering from them on your own at other places. I usually go in there and write down all of the suppliers that they deal with for a specific product (like plumbing) and the pricing structure. Then I go out and shop/Research.
Some suppliers have 8% handling fee added to their DB cost which can eroded all of the savings you would have through DB. Other supplies like Kohler do not have a handling charge and only charge $45 to ship your entire order (tubs, faucets, sink, etc.)We have been able to source plumbing items (Toto toilets & Kohler sinks) through DB cheaper than my plumber can at his cost (he is a friend so we know what his cost is.)
You do not save on everything, appliances have very little markup so we are not ordering them through DB. If we are going to pay the same price through DB them I will order from a Retail establishment.

We never pay retail-never. We even have a contractors licensce and lots of friends and family in the construction trade. DB allows us to buy items that we do not have conections with like furniture. I know that if I buy something from DB that I am getting a fair price. I often use their prices to check my bids from other subcontractors. As a member you are not 'allowed' to reveal the pricing of items at DB-you even sign a contract.
Lastly when you products come in at the DB wharehouse, you go there, inspect your items and pick them up. I have rejected a few faucets, 1 toilet, 1 sink so far because of small scratches. The have been very helpful with my rejections and have ordered replacement for all of it. I have opened branded new boxes from the supplier and have found small scratches straight from the factory. You have to do the quality control yourself. The wharehouse guys at DB know that I am very picky and will reject anything that has a scratch on it for me before I go in to pick up my stuff. It is not DB's fault if the item is damaged, things happen in shipping. If you order from a store they will usually have multiples of the same item and you would just pick another from the shelp without the scrath. That has been our experience so far.

We are currently working on our list of interioir/exterior lights to order through DB. I have found that the markup on these items is HUGE and ours will defiently come through DB.

I hope this long post helps anyone considering the decision to join. The membership is not for everyone. You have to do all of the legwork yourself and find installers to put in your items. It is working for us.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 11:19AM
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I agree with krislrob and nadienc. The DB hard sell is a total turnoff; other than that, it's all been fine.

If you're a dimwit on Fridays, krislrob, I'll take Thursday. Hey, that's today! A great day for it, our house is just getting finished, I'm worn out!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 12:25PM
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To support a business that has treated SO many customers poorly just because you get a good deal on some material possessions seems like a poor choice, that's all I'm saying.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 1:12PM
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I don't "support" it. I've posted my honest reaction to it for others to judge for themselves, as have others posting here, without name-calling or unenlightening personal slams.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 1:25PM
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i wouldn't walk into neiman's and PAY to shop. that's absurd.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 7:33PM
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From what I can tell, much of the dissatisfaction comes from how the individual Direct Buy stores are operated. A few are run well, most are not. They probably make most of their money on your sign up fee and don't care a wit if you actaully order anything. If you are truly interested, see if you can talk to others in your area who have signed up.

Now I'll be waiting for the obligatory Direct Buy glowing "testimonial" from someone who posts on the same day they sign up on the GardenWeb!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 7:35AM
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deee, you may be right. The store we buy through is in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and there the staff is as helpful as you would find in a top-flight retailer. I forgot to say above (and I think someone else mentioned it obliquely at least) there is a service/handling fee on many items that you have to factor into your calculations. We bought our appliances at a time when there was no freight charge, that's something to watch for and take advantage of.

kateskouros, if neiman's was giving you half off on a number of large purchases that totaled double or triple what your initial payment to them was, it would be absurd of you not to pay to shop there, wouldn't it?

Guess I better stop taking this personally; some of you seem so very judgmental of people who make a different decision than you.

One more time:

(1) DB has a very unappealiing hard sell that I object to, and I've told them so; if you can't get past this, it's best to stay away.

(2) If you're starting a very large project such as building a home you might do very well with DB; I wouldn't pay their sign-up fee unless I was buying tile, granite, carpet, etc; all that goes into building a home.

(3) You will need to do research, online and on foot or telephone, to make sure you're getting advantageous prices. If you're not this kind of a shopper, DB is not a good deal.

(4) I have no interest in DB other than as a shopper.

Good luck to all, either way!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 7:57AM
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Do you shop at Wal-Mart? They even treat their employees poorly. That's an intersting angle against DB though.

Me and my husband tried to attend a seminar but although the invitation said it started at a certain time, it had actually started 5 minutes earlier so they wouldn't let us in because we had already "missed too much." We went understanding the system and big fee and sign tonight pitch. Something about all the negatives seemed like a challenge to me to prove that it does work. Unfortunately we didn't make it in and I have gotten lazy and am not interested anymore. But I do believe that if you are the right kind of shopper which apparently a few are, it can work.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 11:29AM
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kateskouros, laughing at myself. My degree is NOT in mathematics (or even arithmetic). If you bought double the sign-up fee and they took half of it off, of course you'd be no better off. We probably spent $50,000 at DB and figure we saved at least $25,000.

One more thing: Ignore the MSRPs they show; they're ridiculous. You have to compare the DB price on what you're buying to what you could get it for at the best possible price somewhere else.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 12:29PM
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How much is the up-front fee?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 12:55PM
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I've seen reports of $5000. And there is a time limit on it, and must be renewed, tho I am not sure what the annual maintenance fee on the membership is.

Note again, that this is franchise operation, and fees and service will indeed vary by location.

Also keep in mind that DB (or the old name that was sued out of existence, UCC) only has one product. They sell "memberships". They do not sell or service any products. You are allowed to buy product through them. But the only product that DB has is a membership.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 1:25PM
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We signed an agreement, which I can't find right now. I know we agreed not to disclose prices; I don't think we agreed not to disclose the sign-up fee, but I'm not sure, so I don't want to say, just in case. If you're interested, I guess you'll have to suffer through their hard sell and find out. They'll tell you at the end of the sell. It was less than 5000 for us, but not by a tremendous amount. This covers three years, and the renewal fee after 3 years is negligible (at least this is the case in the branch we joined at).

Please note we bought almost everything for a new custom house there; you would save less if you bought less, and if you are buying lower-end things you won't save as much if you buy high-end. We were not buying high-end though, in most cases.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:42PM
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Another great flaw... you cannot "tell" the brands or prices. DOes that give you a big red flag or what? Let's keep a secret. Honestly, any real business wants happy customers and the best advertising is by happy customers' word of mouth. But no, we have to sign an agreement with this company NOT to talk?

And they do not carry any of the high-end price-protected pro-style appliances at any prices less than what you can already find, last time someone reported. (Probably at the risk of some horrible penalty.)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 5:59PM
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fairegold -- Yes, you're told you cannot tell prices, but I'm not sure there's an agreement not to tell the sign-up price, as I said. Of course it's a huge red flag, and there are others. The hard sell, as I have also said, is a complete turnoff. But IF you do your investigation about prices and IF you realize hard sell or soft sell, we're always being sold something, you can save money on purchases if you are building a house.

'Nuff said from me on this subject. No more from me. I've been trying to give an honest appraisal of our experience but it just seems to inflame people. Fine. Don't buy from DB. The spirit of these forums is to try to help each other with decisions that have to be made, and that's what I hope we can all continue on doing.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 6:20PM
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I went through the presentation. Sign up fee was $3800, I believe. If you do decide to go through the presentation, have some items priced your best price for comparison, because they won't give you their prices unless you have prices to give them. For example, I priced doors, their doors were exactly the same price. Same thing with Mirage flooring (and they wouldn't give me their price unless I gave them mine first). When I priced kitchen appliances, they were going to save me $500 on my entire kitchen. And my price was delivered and installed. Their price did not include delivery nor installation - so actually, it would probably cost more. If you are buying a lot of furniture, I think they might save you a lot of money, because furniture has a high markup, but I'm not sure it would be $3800 worth, and I think it would be a lot more trouble, to pick up large items and do your own installation and/or assembly. They practically threw us out (i.e., "we're getting ready for our next presentation") because they could see that we had done some homework and they could see that a sale wasn't likely because we weren't saving money on anything we priced. And, we were told that if we didn't join that day we were banned forever from DirectBuy. I've been thrown out of better places. :) Okay, I'm over it now.

Oh, but I forgot my favorite part. They planted a guy in the group presentation to say "Wow, that's incredible!" every so often. And they were talking about the unbelievable buy they offered on some type of golf shirts (I'm not a golfer, so I don't remember the brand), and promoting them as Christmas gifts, etc., and I asked the "incredibly" stupid question - but what if they don't fit? I was told that that had never happened before. I am so sure that no one has ever asked to return an item because it didn't fit.

Anyway, my DH and I left starved (after 3 hours - but in their defense, they offered us Krispy Creme's and coffee) and we were bouncing off the walls with the sugar and caffeine, glad we had gone survived the presentation, because we really had been hoping it would work for us, and glad we didn't join.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:48AM
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I'm in SoCal and the fee to join was more than what is mentioned above. I just bought bedroom furniture and it is amazing the markup on furniture. I had priced it out at two other establishments previously to joining and it ended up saving me half after all was said and done. Granite counters are a very good value depending on what you buy. The kitchen that I have currently and just put granite in last summer would be about $3k less than what I spent with another granite guy who was the least expensive of the quotes I received. Same granite, same edge. Apples to apples.
If I had've bought my windows and French Doors through DB, I would have saved several thousand dollars, but I couldn't wait for their bid.
The other things that are amazingly marked up that we'll save on are toilets, bathtubs, lighting fixtures.
Our DB doesn't carry the appliances I was looking for and the savings on those are marginal, which they tell you about at the get go. The customer service at my DB has been great, the people are helpful and they're friendly.
It's not for everyone and you have to shop it out ~~ just like anything you purchase.
I think we have to pay a nominal fee per year after the joining fee.
I can't stand their sales tactics for joining. I had the experience of not being allowed to come without my DH. I held back the eye rolling at their meeting. Cornball stuff. I just wanted to get the answers to make a decision. Not knowing what brands they carry makes it hard to make a apples to apples decision at the time, but we were able to compare a few things I did have the prices on. Since we joined, despite our initial cynicism, it has been fine......

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 2:07AM
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I keep hearing people claim that they can save money on furniture purchases. The Direct Buy price is definitely lower than what you can get the same item for shopping retail, but then you have to factor in the shipping charge (8-9%) and then the ridiculous Direct Buy handling fee (8% for them to open the box and inspect the item). Now you've tacked on almost 18% onto the Direct Buy price and you still have to arrange to pick the furniture up yourself.

In case some people aren't aware of this, most furniture stores will allow you to negotiate the sales price. Walk into a store you like and tell them you'd be willing to make multiple purchases from them if they'll knock a certain percentage off of the sales price. I did this last year and the sales person told me that he'd not only give me the price I wanted on a kitchen table (knocking over $400 off the price they had on table/chairs to beat the price that Costco had) but that he'd give me 20% off of all future purchases as well. Now I can walk into the store, ask for sales person X and save. Furniture mark-up is crazy.... sometimes as much as 50-60%.

My father in law is a wizard when it comes to talking to salespeople. He never pays retail prices, even in retail stores. He's made so many contacts and saved thousands of dollars on purchases. Stereo equipment, furniture, tools, salon products, even rental cars.... he never pays the listed price.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 2:16AM
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If you disclose the prices, what happens? Does DB put you in jail? I'm so glad the kid was rude to me in the beginning and I realized this company was not professional and were only interested in how many suckers they could pull in.

I didn't realize what a hassle it is to buy through them. You actually have to pick up your furniture from them? That's crazy. Not worth it to me.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 2:38AM
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DirectBuy can be a good thing for some people and the wrong thing for others. In short, if you have a Wal-Mart budget and Macy's taste, DB may be a good value for you, especially if you have to fix-up and furnish your whole house. For all other folks, you need DirctBuy about as much as you need a case of anthrax. That said, below in detail are some observations from my experience in dealing with DB.

Before you even contact DB, do your homework as follows, and I'm going to lay this out in a step-by-step fashion...

1 - Do your research on the web and via the telephone to figure out just what appliances, cabinetry, floors/flooring, counter tops, faucets, sinks, small appliances, furniture, fixtures, appointments and so on that you want to get. Be sure to have model numbers, brand names and manufacturer names (which may not be the same as the brand name in some cases) and prices. Also collect this information for your second and third choice options because if you are like me, at the right price, even the third choice option will be just fine. (If you are buying cabinets, be sure to really know the construction methods that are used and what your desired cabinets will and won't have in that regard -- materials -- what's the thickness of the wood/stone/metal, what wood is used, is it solid or veneer, assembly methods, reinforcing techniques, etc.)

2 - Determine your cost for delivery, installation and whatever else it'll take to get the stuff installed and operating.

3 - Call DirectBuy and make an appointment for the earliest session they offer on any given day. You'll want this early slot so you'll have time to perform step 5 below.

4 - Go to the session and sit through the dog-and-pony show. Take your notes and figures with you. Hopefully you have this stuff arranged in a printed spreadsheet.

5 - After the "spiel," go to the catalogs there and compare the prices they offer with those you found. Write it down on your spreadsheet, add it all up and see what you will save.

6 - Add in the cost of DirectBuy's handling fee and any other fees and surcharges they may have. (8% on most items but not on major appliances)

7 - Join if you'll save more than you'll pay. Don't join if you won't. For those who don't know, the membership at DirectBuy is currently $6,200 (June 2007 in Washington, DC area).

I did this to check whether I'd save anything on my kitchen appliances, counters, and cabinets. In my case, I found that Blue Star is not available through Direct Buy. Wolf, Gaggenau, Thermador and several other nice brands are available through them and the pricing is shown in the catalog, but you have to ask for the catalog that covers the high-end appliances. Because I'm doing upper end cabinets, however, DirectBuy was not a good deal for me in the end. That is in large part because I want cabinets, flooring, and appliances and accessories that all are what might be called high-end. At DirectBuy, I could only get the appliances (not including the range) and the accessories that I wanted. (I'd have gone with Wolf rather than Blue Star were I to have joined DirectBuy.)

The cabinet lines they offered don't have the construction features I wanted and they weren't quite as high style (SieMatic/Poggenpohl) as I prefer, but were the construction quality there, I could have modified my choices a bit and even done something Mission or Shaker styled if necessary, those styles being my alternative choices IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT ENOUGH. (If I could find all wood cabinetry with high quality construction in a say Shaker style for half the price of the SieMatics, I'd have gone that way.)

Notwithstanding that most of stuff they have is geared toward the lower end to mid-range, they nonetheless have very decent prices on some desirable stuff: GE Monogram, Kohler and Franke, their own line of granite countertops (I didn't check the thickness of the granite as by that point I was fairly certain I wasn't going to join) and some others. Also, I found that were I to have bought the applicances through DirectBuy, I'd have definitely saved a meaningful sum ($1,500 for range, faucets and sinks and $20 per sq. ft for counters) by doing so, but the appliances alone won't justify the membership fee unless you have a lot of kitchens and baths to outfit.

I helped a friend do the research for his kitchen and when he went, it turned out that even after paying the membership fee and the handling fees and the sales taxes, he was still saving over $12,000. Then again, he'd dropped the bulk of his funds into buying the home (a fixer upper in a very chic location), so he was just looking for functional stuff to replace the barely working crap that came with the house rather than top of the line stuff. Also, he has to redo floors, ceilings, walls, light fixtures, just about everything...the only thing good about the building really was the actual structure itself.

Broadly speaking, if you are already able to afford, and already do buy high-end stuff, you probably won't want to bother with DirectBuy as the variety of things they have that you want (unless you just really shop a hell of a lot for more basic things) is somewhat limited once you start looking at flooring and cabinetry options. Since that's where the majority of a remodel's cost sits, there's little point.

I live in D.C. and when I went to DirectBuy, they spiel they gave used a sample family having a household income of $80,000. I assume therefore that that is about the income of their target customers in my area. Well, let me tell you, any family living in the D.C. area and having kids is just getting buy on and $80,000 household income. They aren't starving and have enough to begin some home improvement projects, but they aren't in any position to be lavish. I just offer this to provide a gauge of who may have some potential benefit from this approach to saving on their projects were they to go with DirectBuy.

I've seen some folks complain about some of the sales methods at DB, such as both spouses having to be in attendance. Well, there is a reason for that. Given the household income of DB's target customers, no single spouse is likely going to commit to spending $6,200 for the privilege of buying things. So DB is just trying to eliminate the "I have to discuss it with my spouse" as an issue that can prevent them from closing the sale. And truthfully, I can't say I blame them for doing what they can to improve their chances of making the sale...it's their business after all and they are trying. I don't fault them for trying. We buyers mustn't forget that it's our responsibility to assess the merits of an offering.

DirectBuy also states a policy of not allowing you to return to join at a later date. I'd guess the reason for that is because everyone would, after attending the first sales session, come back a second time fully armed with prices and specs for the stuff they want and be able to make an informed decision about whether to join. When I was there, I noticed that I was the only person who came with a pad and detailed specifications and notes about the things I wanted. The other attendees seemed to be there and checked just one or two things' prices. I spent 90 minutes checking everything on every item I wanted, in one case even, finding and pointing out to the DB folks that their catalog was out of date as the model number had changed on one item.

After I checked for the stuff I was planning to buy in the next few weeks, I then checked for stuff I'd already bought and knew about. So though I wasn't in the market for furniture when I went there, I did look for some furniture brands I'd bought in the past couple years: Baker, Henredon and Bernhardt. I could not find any of those three lines in their catalogs, and as I have mostly Baker furniture in my home, I certainly wasn't interested in Pennsylvania House, which they did have. I looked for Rolex and Audemar's watches as those are the brands I and my family members have and didn't find them either. I didn't find any Patek Phillipe, Cartier or Breitling either. I looked for clothing lines I was familiar with and found none of the ones I like to buy. I looked too for Frette bed linens with no luck again.

When I kept coming up empty on so many things, I asked about it. It was then that they confided to me that they really don't carry high-end stuff because, they claim, there isn't much markup on such items. I think that's not really the case outside the appliances and electronics industries. I think it's more a factor that folks buying that sort of stuff aren't going to put up with driving to some inconvenient location to sift through catalogs in order to save $200 (after the handling and delivery charges are added back in). say, on an $800 bed sheet. Indeed, when I spoke with the DB representative on the phone, I told her I wasn't keen on travelling to the other side of town to go to their showroom as I hadn't a single other reason to go to that area aside from the fact that it's on the way to my beach house. That said, were I able to save $3,000 or $4,000 on a new armoire and a similar proportion on sofas, end tables, and other furnishings, I'd consider it a good value and probably go there periodically. The fact that one must go to the DB facility to take delivery of most things isn't that big a problem -- call a local moving company (ideally a couple college kids trying to make some cash for the summer) and have them meet you there pick it up.

One thing I did find odd is DB's policy regarding how you place orders through them. It made me wonder whether the order is actually placed in your name as a "partner" in DB. If that is the case, and I don't know that it is or isn't, you should be able to contact the manufacturer and arrange for delivery to your own location. Moreover, if that is the case, the sales tax that DirectBuy claims to charge you is in fact just profit in their pockets. If anyone here has actually joined DB, could you please share what names appear on your bill of lading and invoice? Are you permitted to see the purchase order issued to the supplier and if so, who is shown as the buyer? I wonder too whether the agreement one signs with DB states your status in the organization: member, partner, etc.

If you use the approach I outlined above before going there, you won't need both spouses because you will have an objective basis for determining whether the value proposition is there for you. When I went there, they saw a wedding band on my finger and asked me if I'm married. I just told them no.

Anyone should recognize that selling methodologies that prohibit disclosure of the selling price at the point of initial contact/inquiry several things:
- The target audience for the product is low to middle income families
- The primary products offered will appeal to the target audience, but there may be some, but far fewer, things that other market segments will appreciate
- The price is "high" for the target audience
- You are going to encounter the typical "strong-arm" closing tactics/questions, which DB plainly writes on a piece of paper for you.
- You should not enter into the sales arena with the seller without empirical measures that will allow you to assess the relative merit of the seller's offering(s)

Other products that use exactly the same marketing methodology as DB: products sold door-to-door such as encyclopedias and vacuums, automobiles, houses marketed to first time buyers.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 6:12AM
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tony20009... that's the best non-member expose of DB that I have ever read. Well done!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 2:27PM
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Very interesting, Tony20009. I am hoping a DB member responds about the purchase order as a partner and the parties identified on the bill of lading and invoice. You raise such a good point about one should be able to get delivery to your own home.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 10:47PM
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I have never ordered from Direct Buy so I can't address Tony's question specifically. By the time we factored in shipping and the Direct Buy handling fee the items we were looking at weren't worth the effort. My belief is that DB is making a decent profit off of their 8% handling fee (DB charges you 8% of the total cost to unwrap and inspect the item). I'd be willing to bet that most of the time DB does just enough to make it look like they've opened the box to inspect your item.

I have a huge problem with how DB handles their shipping. DB charges 8% (or a minimum of $90) to have your items shipped to their warehouse. We were told that our shipping charge could ultimately be less than the $90 minimum and they'd refund the difference. They also told us that they won't know how much it's going to cost us until the item arrived. They also said that for certain items we're going to have to pay more than 8%, but once again.... they can't give us an exact quote until the item arrives. How can they do business this way? We're required to pay for shipping but we won't be given an exact quote on how much it's going to cost until the item arrives? What if the cost of shipping is so outrageous that it's not worth purchasing the item in the fist place? What if I want to purchase a $200 suitcase.... they're requiring me to pay $90 to have it shipped to their warehouse and I may or may not recoup some of that cost? Uh, uh.... that's just wrong.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:29AM
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And no I don't shop at Walmart for similar reasons.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 11:25AM
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Actually I have never been there but few of my friends went there and they said all the things like flooring, lights, fans, cabinets, doors, windows, appliances, tv's, electric ovens, toaster etc. are very cheap. So, I think if they are satisfied then anyone canbe. I'm going to join them soon.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 4:03AM
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i don't see how anyone has a chance to consider their options carefully when you have to slap down $3800 (differs by location) on the spot or be told they are not allowed back in.

and my husband doesn't make the purchasing decisions, i do. he's out working for the man... (or woman as the case may be.) imho, money is best spent elsewhere. it doesn't please me when little worms fresh out of high school try to back me into a corner. ...i don't think so.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 3:15PM
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This is for teresam_at ...I am currently researching Kitchen Cabinets and would love to know your ebay source. Can you please provide it to me? THANKS!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 12:32PM
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I have to weigh in on the cabinet source. ALS Home Solutions gave us a great quote on Haas Cabinetry. I don't want to post the entire quote for confidentiality in pricing but we're getting 31,000.00 of cabinetry for 10,000.00. There will be installation costs but we'll be much better off then had we hired a custom cabinet maker in town. As a rule I'd beware of buying cabinetry online. If it's not a name that's respected I would order small to start. Some of the RTA stuff out there is real junk.

Here is a link that might be useful: Haas Cabinetry

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 10:11PM
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I don't have any experience with Direct Buy but from reading the posts I feel like they still fit the definition of middle man. If you're into convenience and the "one-stop-shop" it could be the way to go but why not at least make an attempt to really buy direct by going to the wholesaler. Below is a list of various links to vendors I've found to have very competitive prices. You have to weed through the junk for some of it but as a rule pricing is about as competitive as I've found.

Hardwood Flooring (yes prefinished), Slate for back patio (and possibly foyer) and possibly stone surround for fireplace

Interior Doors




Sift Through....may be something you need

Florida Tile Supplier




Mouldings (better price locally?)

Exterior Doors

PreFab Fireplaces


    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 10:50PM
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Anything they advertise on the Cable chanels over & over again to the point of ad-nauseum .Always ends up being a SCAM I don't care inf its male enhancement, or satellite Internet,repetitive ads during on the TV tell me they are looking for MORE & MORE customers to REPLACE the ones that got hip & left them. Wish they would make the Cable companies & Satellite TV companies have more TRUTH in their advertising policies.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 11:32AM
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My friends joined DB for about $5000, they then had to drive all over the city to look at everything then go back to each place to pick all the stuff up, even carpet and pay the DB handling charge. It took them weeks. they never recouped their initial down payment. So they priced everything for us, we got all of our kohler products cheaper from our local plumber, carpet and flooring were also cheaper just buy price shopping. They also did not carry any of the appliances we picked. And for the furniture, it was cheaper to fly to North Carolina, and have it shipped then at direct buy.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 5:10PM
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DB doesn't take kindly to criticism. Keep posting negative reviews on Direct Buy and you'll get a lawyer's letter.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 9:36PM
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My wife and I went to the DB sales pitch and fell for it.
We signed up that night and were going to bring back a check for $5000 in two days. When we got home, we read the contract and couldn't believe what was in it. More specifically, what they left out of the sales pitch. They
neve told us aout the 8% handling fee on everything.
They also left out the part about not being able to return
anything. And the best part, they didn't tell us that
after you order something, the price could change up to
like 10% and you'll be billed the extra amount when you
pick it up. That was a deal breaker for me. How could
you be charged more after you're given a price and pay
for something? I couldn't believe it.
We found one of the many DB bashing sites on the web
and starting reading what other people had to say about
the extra charges and no refunds. Apparently, we weren't
the only people who felt how we did. We went in the next
day and cancelled our contract. We had three days to back
out but we didn't want to take any chances. As far as I'm
concerned it the best decision we ever made. I'm especially glad that we didn't give the guy a post-dated check like he wanted. After I said no to the post-dated
check he said how a $100 down? Talk about high pressure.
I think I can understand how people get sucked into bad
timeshares. I was so excited about joining after the sales
pitch. I'm glad we home and actually read the entire
contract. My advice, buyer beware.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 12:24PM
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I was interested in joining DB. But trying to get a time where both husband and I could attend was not working. They called 4 times to set up an appt. The first time I was on the phone I told the woman that I couldn't make it at all the following week due to traveling out of town. She kept suggested an appt for that very same week and I finally snapped at her reminding her that I had told her I couldn't make it that week. Whenever they called to try to schedule an appt, I would ask if I could call them back with a time that was good for both husband and me but I was always told that they did not have a contact number for me to get in touch with them....there went my interest. I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 7:08AM
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Ron Natalie

I had the hard sell by Direct Buy's predecessor in our area UCC. Frankly the "Pay the outrageous fee or go away forever" tactic won't work on me. I walked. I did dig through their "books" and the few items I knew what the REAL deep discount prices outside of UCC were were not priced at any great bargain (even before you add all the UCC additional gouge).

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:23AM
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Even their commercial is a joke. A bathroom remodel that would come in at 10,000.00 costing 3000.00. Seems to me they forgot to include th 4500.00 fee bringing the total up to 7500.00.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Ron Natalie

To add to kemptoncourt's list, faucet.com typically does 40% off retail (which is really like 20% off Home Depot price) on most of the plumbing stuff.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:04PM
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I have worked for a Direct Buy, and here is what i have learned:
-Unless you are going to buy A LOT, and i mean A LOT, of items, it will not be worth your time.
-By the time you pay shipping, handling, etc..., you will have not saved any money.
-Customer service is very poor due to lack of training. Many time i have seen them sit someone at a desk and say "get to work"
-I have been cussed at many times because customer have found items for the same or less on the internet. You just have to research it.
-INSPECT EVERYTHING, many times, with furniture, when it arrives damaged, they will just fix it themselves rather than making the mnfg send a new one.

So please becareful and look for the prices online, print it, and compare!!!!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 4:19PM
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You will find the best prices on anything by simply Googling the manufacturer and model #. Look at all the hits- one will have the best price. I try to make all major purchases online, after doing the research and determining the exact product I want. Sales tax is not charged on most interstate internet orders. Some internet vendors charge too much for shipping and handling, but others throw it in free. I bet you I can find anything cheaper than Direct Buy- oh wait their prices are secret so I would have to be a member to find out!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 5:41PM
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We have yet to re-coup our membership fee with Direct Buy Cincinnati! In building our house I have e-mailed DB quotes to electric, plumbing, appliances etc.. DB has yet to be the best prices!!! They have handling fees that end up making it not competitive! They even get their appliances thru the local distributor that most builders use, but SEARS beat them on Kitchenaid prices by thousands of $$$$s. Don't waste your money like we did, what a stupid mistake we admit that we made!!!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:53PM
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We have a "Direct Plus" here in Indianapolis. Membership was free, and annual fees of $75 after this. Same discounts as direct buy but they place a 15% surchage on the order. We were able to get our lights for 5% cheaper than builder pricing, counter tops much cheaper. furniture is about 15% cheaper in the end than best price in the stores. It's the join fees that kill you, and then the surcharges. If you can find a retail club other than direct buy, go for it!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 2:18AM
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Hmm....shopping with Direct Buy means one has to pay an exorbitant fee to shop, have zero info on product cost unless I supply one, be bamboozled into signing up on site, precluding any research beforehand, and if I join, spend tons of time doing research to make sure I'm not getting ripped off, pay to pick up what I bought..and possibly pay extra to rent a truck to do so...be limited to what brands and models I can purchase...have no idea if they will be available when I want them...have no idea of true price or delivery cost until item arrives...

And people actually do this???? Amazing.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:45AM
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Yep, people do that.

People also start building without knowing what they want (or will get) for flooring, carpeting, wall finishes, insulation, appliances, HVAC, kitchen cabinetry/counters, bathroom fixtures, etc. I find that equally amazing.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 1:52PM
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I just found this wonderful thread after signing our contract with DirectBuy today. My cancellation will be submitted tomorrow in person.

1. It was not clear in the presentation that the handling fee was a profit margin for DB nor did I scour enough to find how many mfrs had that fee.
2. I don't recall any mention in the presentation that orders cannot be canceled even if not shipped. You can request it though. I wouldn't need this anyway.
3. the kicker: THE ORDER PRICE IS NOT FINAL UNTIL RECEIVED (or after?) but there's no going back if it's different.

As we are not contractually obligated to any kind of secrecy. The Denver area DB franchisee wants $4990 to join for three years which includes a $30 fee to extend membership out to a total 10 years at $199/yr.

IF I had just bought a house and needed to fix it up, I might consider this option. More succinctly, presuming a 25% savings _in general_, you would have to spend $20,000 during the membership to just meet the cost of membership before savings actually begin!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 11:28PM
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Has anyone else suspected a 'shill' in your DB presentation? There was one couple in our group who got into raving what a good deal the program was, engaging everyone in conversation about how much money they were going to save building their new house. I really wanted to call the couple on it but my wife made me leave it alone....

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 4:14AM
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I own and operate a kitchen cabinet dealership. My business parnter's cousin purchased a DB membership because they were building a new home. After pricing out her layouts, she was shocked that our builder pricing was less than DB. We discount 5% for builders. She ended up buying from us. She did buy a few vanities from DB...but they were pretty junky.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 10:03AM
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Direct Buy definitely isn't for everybody.
If you're shopping only for cheapest price & aren't concerned about brands or quality, it's not for you.
If you only buy a few very specific brandnames and DB doesn't carry them, it's not for you.

I read a lot of the negative comments about it online & most of them just confirmed that it would be a good deal for us.
Since we're owner/builders and have to source a lot of things ourselves the membership fee wasn't a big deal - we made it back in the savings on our windows alone. (bought very high-end windows that wouldn't have been able to afford to look at otherwise).
We have a very tight budget but expensive tastes so I don't know if we've saved tons of money with DB but we have been able to get much better quality than we could afford elsewhere.

Keep in mind that they are franchises so the customer service & sales tactics can vary a lot between locations depending on the owner.

Another thing that varies is the local merchants who are associated with DB. We're lucky enough to have lots of good ones at our location so have been able to take advantage of the design services at big lighting, plumbing & tile stores & a high-end local cabinet manufacturer while getting great discounts.
We haven't bought everything through DB, it's just one more resource for us. I'm always on the look-out & have found some great deals at store close-out & moving sales.

Another thing to consider is that if they carry manufacturers you like, you have each company's entire line to pick from, not just the best-selling items that the stores carry. That's important for us because our tastes don't always coincide with what's most popular in our local stores.

It doesn't make sense for everyone, and it depends on what your local showroom is like, but I have no regrets about joining.

After reading some of the responses, I don't know why people get so worked up about a company they have chosen not to deal with. If it makes sense for you to join, that's great; if not, don't join but why get so incensed about those who do?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:23PM
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It's not about being angry at DirectBuy, it's about truth in advertising. They say they save you 50% off retail, and that's just not true. They save 50% of MSRP, the List Price Book they show you... but that's not retail. Retail for HD and Lowe's is actually close to 40% of MSRP.

Specifically, our friend works for American Standard, we have their MSRP book, and she let us know what HD and Lowe's buys them for and what they sell items at for retail. And DirectBuy was more expensive than those box stores. Furthermore, if you Google the item numbers, you can find prices from small distributors that beat the box stores.

Maybe you got a deal on your windows, maybe you got a better price on cabinets and tile than you expected, but we just finished our OB project, and DirectBuy couldn't save me a dime over the internet and local shops.

If you do your homework before you go to their "open house", you'll find that their prices can be found elsewhere, or beat altogether.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 8:30AM
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I have a philosophy and think anything is a scam if you have to pay money up front to save money. That in itself doesn't make logical sense.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:07AM
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Here is my db experience.
At first very frustrated with the process of finding item and pricing.
Someone who was a member finally help us understand how to best use db. We have been members now for six years with great success.
Here are some examples of the savings we experienced.
Our membership was 5k.
The best price I could get on exactly the same cabinets from the same company that db used , was 15k, rounded to a hundred dollars, direct buy price 7800.00 handling included , add 450.00 for shipping to my residents , as I am three hours from db. So 6750.00 savings. Membership paid.
After that appliances for same home build, stove , laundry, fridge, dishwasher, all priced in comparison to the major discount retailers, total savings 3200.00. Recent purchase was a large wall unit , Internet priced at 6400, bought at direct buy for 2300, all in.
We have over the years bought beds, blinds, electronics, furniture, plumbing supplies , carpet, and decorative wall art. All was at a significant savings, so I fail to see all the negative about db. Having said that I have found some electronics cheaper else where, but why would I spend time running around or surfing the net endlessly, when a simple price check from a few places to confirm the savings.
The thing I had to remember tho with db is they are not sales and service people, you are now the wholesaler, and need to be prepared to handle challenges yourself.
Their website is helpful for shopping but could be much better, all in time.
But still very happy we stayed in our membership

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 9:37PM
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hanejo, we joined 6 months ago in preparation for a gut remodel and so far I'm very frustrated. I'd love to hear more tips from you on how to use db. Like you we are 3 hours away from our store so everything needs to be done online. And I agree, while their website could really use an overhaul it's not unusable.

I do know the one Toto toilet I've purchase so far I did save almost $200. But that the only thing so far I've been able to find savings on. I've thought several times that maybe I just don't know how to utilize db to it's potential. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We went to db before we started to build and decided the $5k up front was ridiculous and it would take a lot to save that much in all our purchases, esp since we still had to do all the legwork and they would make absolutely no guarantee of minimum savings or any savings at all. They would not even guarantee you wholesale prices or anything else. There were no quantity discounts through any attempt to combine purchases from their customers or anything else.

I figured that I could save $5k right off the top by not using them and using the information available on the internet to price shop and get good deals. After all, ebay is free.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 7:41PM
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