Recently, a deal spotter attended a DirectBuy membership pitch and answered the question, "What does it cost to join DirectBuy, the wholesale buying club?
It’s been five years since I last wrote about the buying club with franchises in Bloomington and White Bear Lake. Since then the membership fee has increased to $5,490 plus a $199 annual fee that begins in the third year. (Memberships are for ten years but after you pay the $5,490 you can quit and avoid the $199 annual fees.)
For such an investment, you pay less when you buy directly from nearly 700 manufacturers for kitchen cabinets, furniture, flooring, appliances, lawn and garden, sporting equipment, electronics and jewelry. Some popular brands, such as Apple, are not offered. How much less you pay depends on how good of a comparison shopper you are.
The presentation is high-pressure; once you walk out the door you won’t be allowed to join again for several years, they say. But it might be a good deal for a person who needs to furnish an entire house. To get an idea of how much you can save before you commit, make a list of 10 major purchases, including the manufacturer and model number, and take it to your appointment. Keep in mind that DirectBuy adds an 8 percent handling fee on larger items, plus freight fees and sales tax on all items. Items cannot be returned without a restocking fee unless they’re defective.
As with any major purchase, there can be some flexibility in the membership price. One deal spotter said that during a recent visit the $5,490 price was lowered by $500 after his resistance and a limited, Internet-only option for $1,990 was also offered.
I was unable to confirm if the White Bear Lake location charges the same fees.
If you buy a membership, you have three days to cancel but after that, cancellation is very difficult, even for those with an inability to pay, according to complaints at the Minnesota Better Business Bureau.
Any DirectBuy members who want to share their experience?