Longtime Consumerist readers might remember that we aren’t huge fans of the advertising or sales tactics that shopping club DirectBuy uses. But if someone does spend thousands of dollars to join, then they should be treated fairly by the company, right? Not when the nearest showroom closes down, and the company doesn’t understand why their new members can’t make an easy two-hour trip to the nearest one that remains open.
That’s what happened to a California couple who were in the middle of building their dream home. They decided that discounts through DirectBuy worked for them, and paid $5,351.78 for a two-year membership. They were happy with that arrangement…until their local showroom abruptly closed.
“Just when we’re ready to buy a bunch of stuff from them, they’re no longer there,” one member of the couple told CBS Sacramento consumer reporter Kurtis Ming. They weren’t interested in shopping online or through the company’s catalog: they wanted to browse in person at a showroom. CBS Sacramento consulted a consumer attorney, who said that closing down the local showroom is “a pretty clear breach of contract.”
DirectBuy counters that the couple only had four months left on their two-year membership, and hadn’t made a purchase to date when their local showroom closed. They wouldn’t tell reporters how many other members used that Sacramento-area showroom, but did offer the couple a $1,000 refund. That’s roughly the pro-rated amount based on the time left on their contract.
The customers don’t think that’s enough, and plan to pursue arbitration. Not because they love arbitration, but because that’s the only recourse that the DirectBuy contract gives them.
Call Kurtis: My Direct Buy Showroom Closed. Should I Get a Refund? [CBS Sacramento]