DirectBuy Refunds Membership After Customer Obtains Levy, Plans To Sell Store Contents

A customer has gone to battle against pushy members-only shopping club DirectBuy, and won. How did they do it? The Pennsylvania couple enlisted the help of the legal system, a local consumer reporter, and the police. When the company wouldn’t pay the judgment filed against it in court, they showed up with cops and a levy against the company, so they could start hauling off office furniture and anything else in the stoe if they so desired. Instead, they found that the local DirectBuy outpost had moved, and a new store opened with different management. A coincidence, surely.

How’d they do it? Similar to the homeowner who “foreclosed” on Wells Fargo when they owed him money, the couple went to court and obtained a levy against the company that entitled them to show up at the doorstep and hold a public sale of whatever they found lying around. They showed up to find an empty store.

The husband visited the new location, and was told to come back the next day for a $2,600 refund of his membership fee. He did, bringing along a camera crew from the local news station he turned to for help.

Picking up and moving after being notified of a levy is a crime, and authorities are investigating.

Couple gets money back after 9-month legal battle [WGAL] (Thanks, Sherri!)

Direct Buy: Pay $5,000 To Save?DirectBuy Pressured Me Into Membership But Won’t Let Me Buy Anything I Want
DirectBuy Won’t Let Me In Their Showroom Without My Husband

This Is How I “Foreclosed” On Wells Fargo


Edit Your Comment

  1. kevinroyalty says:

    so, what was the original dispute they had with DirectBuy?

  2. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Link broken?

  3. KyBash says:

    Through a strange circumstance, I had only a few days to completely furnish my new house. I like the idea of membership dues paying the overhead and buying stuff at near cost, so I checked them out.

    When they wouldn’t tell me the prices until I paid for a membership, I walked.

    I don’t like to pass judgement on how other people choose merchants, but in my not-so-humble opinion, you’d have to be an idiot to do business with them.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Fortunately for DB, it’s a target-rich environment.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Direct buy is nothing but a scam. the prices are no better than you can find in big box stores, and often higher.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      DirectBuy takes you on a tour of their showroom then gives you a hard sell – like timeshare salesman. You have to buy their $xxxx membership on the spot – it’s a one time offer. You cannot get the tour without your spouse – no going home to talk it over.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        That’s really sleazy.

        • Crackpot says:

          Yes! Effective sales tactics often are, and believe me, these are effective tactics. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. The other half involves going to court suing, levying, and tracking down.

  4. ZenListener says:

    Did they drive their Chevy to the levy?

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I don’t know, but the levy was definitely dry!

      • alexwade says:

        My my, this here Anakin guy.
        Maybe Vader someday later,
        Now he’s just a small fry.

        Oh wait … that was the Weird Al’s parody.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          But he left his home, and kissed his mommy goodbye,
          singing, “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi…. soon I’m gonna be a Jedi!”

      • Difdi says:

        Or at least empty. We don’t know if the floor of the empty store location was wet or not.

  5. scoosdad says:

    What does a membership cost to one of these if their dispute was for $2600?

    I can’t imagine paying more than I would to a Costco or Sams Club for membership into one of these places.

    • Misha says:

      One of the Consumerist articles linked at the bottom of this article repeatedly mentions a $5000 membership fee.

    • longdvsn says:
      • ReverendLoki says:

        Furthermore, it’s a hard sell. Sat through this once – get the tour, watch a video, get a sales spiel, watch another video, then get told about the cost of membership, and are explicitly told this is a one time offer – our names and addresses are on file, and if we walk out without signing, we’ll never be offered membership again, even if we came back begging on our knees.

        We walked.

      • scoosdad says:

        Wow, you gotta be direct-buying a crapload of kitchen cabinets to make that kind of membership fee pay off.

        But to have to pay that upfront before even finding out what their member prices are, forget it.

        • Buckus says:

          But then you’d be able to price-shop. And then you’d find out if their prices are really worth it. But if you pay the membership up front, then you’ll fall into the “Sunk Cost” fallacy and believe that since you already paid for membership, you should buy from them, even if you know you can get better pricing elsewhere.

          Honestly, I don’t know how they even get people to sign up.

          • The Beer Baron says:

            I believe the inestimable Phineas Taylor Barnum said it best when he said “There’s an easily gulled chap born almost every moment of every day in perpetuity.”

            At least, I believe that is the quote.

            • Robert Nagel says:

              H.L. Mencken stated that “No one ever lost a dime underestimating the intelligence of the American public”. And he was being optimistic.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      The justify the $2600+ because the discounted prices will work out (they say) to savings of over $xx,xxx

  6. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I wanted to read the article, but got an error. Found article here:

    Still not clear as to why there was a dispute over the membership fee.

  7. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Misleading title. According to the story, they haven’t gotten anything yet but a runaround and an empty store.

    • ahecht says:

      A new Direct Buy store later opened in Manheim Township under different management.

      When Rankin went to that store on Tuesday, he was told to return the next day to get his check. He returned with News 8’s camera rolling picked it up.

      “Well, nobody wants to have their business on TV, negative impact on their company. So, I believe that’s what really helped,” Rankin said.

    • tkmluv says:

      On page 2 it says that when they went to the new store with the camera crew, they got a check for the money that was owed to them.

    • Vox Republica says:

      There’s a second page to the story which shows that they were cut a check for the amount awarded them.

    • scoosdad says:

      Huh? Did you click that little button at the bottom of the first page of the story that said, “Page 1 of 2, Next Page”?

      It goes on to say:

      A new Direct Buy store later opened in Manheim Township under different management. When Rankin went to that store on Tuesday, he was told to return the next day to get his check. He returned with News 8’s camera rolling [and] picked it up.

      • scoosdad says:

        Sorry everyone above me, maybe another new Consumerist commenting bug. None of those other replies were there in my browser when I posted mine over an hour after Vox’s. Going back into my hole now.

  8. CalicoGal says:
  9. deathbecomesme says:

    So does the owner of the levy get to decide what they are going to sell the property at? If so I could just sell each piece of furniture for $5 till I got to the target amount.

    • Costner says:

      Typically items are secured by the local Sheriff and are sold at auction. So the price collected is whatever the bidding community wishes to pay. In many cases for things like office furniture it works out to be pennies on the dollar. Used office furniture just isn’t all that valuable.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        Also worth noting is that these are almost always no-reserve auctions.

        • nugatory says:

          now to figure out where an when these auctions occur.

          • Rhinoguy says:

            Type “auction (your town)” into Google. Be prepared to become an auction addict. I have bought seven used cars. Two for friends who still consider them great deals and are now auction addicts.

      • spartan says:

        There is also merchandise in the show room. That may have been auctioned off also.

  10. SirWired says:

    I seriously doubt that they moved the whole business just to avoid a couple thousand $$$ judgement.

    That said, a Sheriff’s sale is nothing if not amusing. I have heard a legend that somebody once got a judgement against American Airlines that they ignored. The guy got the tail number of an incoming long-haul international flight (giving him plenty of time to get a seizure order, which must specify specific property in that state) and then showed up at the airport with the Sheriff, impounding the aircraft. The local station scraped up the appropriate cash in a hurry.

    • RandomLetters says:

      I’ve read that story as well some where.

      • I look at both sides of the story says:

        Sadly, these types of great stories never have a citation.

        Some spectacular story was floating around on the Internet that occurred, I think, in some city Ohio. I searched the on-line newspaper and couldn’t find any reference to that item.

        I then called the newspaper’s newsroom and asked a reporter about this whopper. He never heard of it either.

        • I look at both sides of the story says:

          Stupid keyboard.

          Not “some city Ohio”, but “some city in Ohio”.

          Some City, Ohio is very dull; don’t use up your vacation day there.

        • Rhinoguy says:

          I just went to Google and entered “Aircraft seized to settle judgement”. You should try it! Many fun stories of aircraft landing overseas and being seized. None involve American Airlines but a good story gets manipulated easily, and these stories are good. Before yelling “Citation needed!” try using Google or Snopes yourself. It’s fun!

    • Buckus says:

      That’s a good one. That’ll be the best way to get attention…try to sell off their airplane!

  11. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    I’m not saying DB managers are the sharpest tools in the shed, but it costs pretty big money for a business to pick up and move to another town. They might still be on the hook for the old lease, it’ll be a nightmare at tax time, and they’ll lose business while trying to get the word out about their new location. Did they really do that just to save $2900?

    • tanyaandkarl says:

      Not to save 3 grand, but maybe to avoid setting precedent.
      Hard sell is all about intimidation.
      Complain that DB is doing wrong, and the marks will say say oh but there’s nothing I can do.
      Show them that when DB gets busted they have to give the money back, and suddenly their strongarm tactics don’t work quite so well.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        And then others want their membership fee back too, I can see what you mean. Of course now they will learn what the Streisand Effect is!

  12. Nobby says:

    “…and anything else in the stoe…”

    I know one thang fo sho, these mofos wanted moe than what was in the stoe.

  13. daemonaquila says:

    Ah, more civil sanctions and criminal penalties. Couldn’t happen to a better company. I think Direct Buy doesn’t win Worst Company only because we all expect it’ll be a self-correcting problem when it goes down in flames… hopefully soon.

  14. km9v says:

    Anybody who pays money to DirectBuy is a fool.