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Direct Buy Canada can save you a lot of money when you're building a new home, or doing extensive renovations.

I went searching for a couch this past summer and vowed not to spend more than I had to.  After all, as a personal finance blogger just by buying furniture that isn’t used or stolen from the garbage dump, I’m basically committing a sin in some of my peers’ eyes.  I’m pretty frugal in day-to-day life.  I don’t eat out very often, I buy maybe six coffees a year from Timmy Ho-Hos, and my entertainment budget is smaller than most people’s phone bills.  That being said, I like the odd video game and sweet HBO series (we’ll just say I get those very cheap and leave it at that).  I also tend to do a lot of reading.  All that to say, I will likely spend a fair amount of time (like most North Americans) sitting on my couch, and I don’t spend a lot of money frivolously.  With that in mind, I set out to get the most comfy, and most durable sectional or couch set that I could get my hands on for a reasonable price.

“Buy Straight From the Source”

My search led me to this distributor known as DirectBuy.  They market themselves as having over 150 franchises in the USA and Canada.  The main concept behind DirectBuy is that they are an “insider’s club” where members can purchase brand-name goods directly from manufacturers’ warehouses and by doing so avoid the large retail markups that we see on most products.  The main catch is that membership is certainly not free.  It is impossible to say what a membership will cost anyone specifically because each DirectBuy franchise is independently owned and operated and sets their own price.  Most media sources I looked into reported the probable membership fee at $3,000 to $7,000.  Needless to say, that pretty much ruled out my interest, but I was kind of curious about this consumer model and if their prices really could beat those in a cut-throat retail world by enough to justify that hefty membership.

Good… and Bad?

What I found when I looked into DirectBuy in various online hangouts was a ton of complaints and a lot of praise as well.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen less consensus about a consumer business online before.  DirectBuy was roundly criticized for its pressure-based sales pitches that routinely stated, “You must buy your membership now or we will never give you the opportunity again.”  Yet, but the same token the company boasts a fairly impressive rate of membership retention.  DB defends itself on this account by saying, “This policy is in place out of respect for our members, manufacturers and the retail industry. It prevents consumers from asking traditional retailers to match DirectBuy prices.”  Some people claim the service and support they received as a member of DB was great, while others reported it was terrible.  It could be as simple as the fact that different franchises operated within a large spectrum and some were just better than others.

Price Comparison

When it got down to the nitty gritty of comparing numbers, it appears that DirectBuy’s prices did live up to the claims they make in most cases.  This was especially true in the more “high-end” items that would obviously have the most mark up.  DB claims that if you can find the product somewhere else for a cheaper price, they will immediately contact the manufacturer to resolve this issue.  While I admire the principle behind this, doesn’t the idea of comparison shopping promises sort of put you right back at the level of retailer?  If the promises of buying direct from the source are true, shouldn’t there be no logistical way that a retailer should be able to drop their price below yours?

From what I could tell from multiple consumer websites and forums, it seems that Direct Buy was able to offer a 20-25% average discount to most customers.  This means that one would have to be purchasing around $20,000 worth of home furnishings to make it worth the memberships.  I should note that DB management claims that members should count on savings numbers close to 40%, but that number seems pretty dubious.

Is It Worth It For You?

I think that at the end of the day a Direct Buy Membership could be worth the substantial fee if you are furnishing a house from scratch and prefer higher-end brand names.  If you take the plunge be prepared for some weird sales techniques and having to wait a couple of months for your orders to come in.  Finally, online orders aren’t allowed – all DM orders must be placed through a showroom.  From what I can tell, it is best to check with someone you know is a member of a specific franchise to see what the practices are in that area.  As for me and my couch, I decided to take a quick run to the USA and picked up a great reclining sectional for $1,700.  Is it a little more than I could have got something for on Kijiji? Sure, but it’s a luxury I can only justify by saying I enjoy it every day!

Article comments

Cody says:

DB it’s definitely not worth it I purchased kitchen craft cabinets from them and then called the manufacturer who then offered me $1500 less on an order without haggling on the price. You definitely have to watch what you’re buying and do your homework.

Gail Anderson says:

I have been a Canadian Member for 20 years – I would not recommend it for anyone looking to join now! Back when I joined we had the showrooms and F2F contact options, today it is all done by email and phone. We joined as we always intended to build our own house, which is what we are doing now. Although I cant fault that most of the furniture and house items are cheaper – you do have to do your research. What lets them down is the delivery, the times I ordered items and weeks would go by and I would think everything was on track only to find out when I contact them about said items they apologize and tell me the manufacturer no longer has that item do I want to cancel and pick something else or there is a huge delay in the original deliver date. I had 2 fireplaces on order with them – both were discontinued after the order was placed. When you are building you don’t have time to wait to get another replacement in, we ended up buying from the builder (no savings there). Even household furniture like dining tables, chairs etc,. were delayed. I would not recommend this company if you are building your own house, it is stressful enough without having items that you think are coming on time don’t turn up at all! The one off item if you prepare yourself for delays is fine and everything we ordered was cheaper than we could buy off the shelf. COVID didn’t help the situation but as it is all run down in the US it really felt like they didn’t really care about Canadian members. Anything ordered in Canada I didn’t have a problem with but if it was coming from the US then who knows what, when or if I was going to get the item purchased. DON’T JOIN!!

T.Cherise Upstate NY says:

Been a member for 25 years. My membership is $400. There is zero sales pressure, there are few showrooms left. You just have to know your furniture and product brands. Savings around 20-30% depending on what your buying.

RS says:

I have been a DirectBuy member for 2 years and live in Ottawa, Canada. I also share the sentiments of the other Ottawa resident who said they have had an excellent Direct Buy experience and the local Ottawa staff are friendly, well informed and very helpful. I paid less than $1,000 for my membership and received a few hundred dollars in merchandise credit with it. I saved the cost of my membership fee with the first light fixture I purchased (a dining room chandelier). I have without exaggeration saved over $60,000 in the past two years in my home renovation as a Direct Buy Member. All of my light fixtures, bathroom and kitchen faucets, door handles outdoor kitchen, quartz countertops, bar stools, sectional, coffee table, tvs, tiles… I can go on and on. The local vendor discounts provide exceptional savings. I purchased over $30,000 in tiles for my house at a local vendor affiliated with direct buy and would have paid 30%-50% more if I walked in off the street without a DB membership. The brands carried by DB are varied at every price point. Most of my purchases I do online, others require some assistance as I know the brand is supported by DB but the actual product doesn’t show up in the online catalogue. So, a Concierge member will look it up for me and will email me the price. Simple. Anyone who wants to pay full price, go right ahead. Direct Buy is the definition of thrifty. I buy what I need, I’m not frivolous, but I don’t want to pay more than I have to. Period. Direct Buy is fantastic and it has saved me a fortune.

P&A says:

DB isn’t a scam. My parents have been DB members in Ottawa since about 1999 when there was 1 location in the west-end (Bells Corners) and 1 in east-end. It may have been known as Total Home-Direct Buy at the time. My wife and I have been members since 2018 and became such primarily due to renovations for a home purchase. Our first year membership fee with tax was less than 4 figures Cdn and included a 3 figure merchandise credit. The initial membership fee is significantly less than the 4 figure amount from previous decades. The renewal fee is about a third the cost of the first year membership fee. The purchase of dishwasher alone saved us the cost of the first year membership. We saved 58% on our cabinets when considering items like handling fees, taxes, delivery, shipping (if they even applied at all), about 50% on appliances, 60% on headboard & rails, 50% on lighting, 40% on most bathroom and hardware related items, 40% on tile, 30% on countertops, 40% on dining room table/chairs, 40% on barstool chairs, 80% on air conditioner & furnace, 50% on TV….the list goes on. Where we didn’t see value was in hardwood flooring (discounted but not for us to justify the wait). Its unfortunate that DB has received poor online reviews because our experience and that of my parents, the longtime neighbour that referred them, and other acquaintances has been nothing but great…even when a franchisee went bankrupt (corporate took over almost immediately). The staff have been just excellent…..Sharon, Tanya (who really knows her products), Kevin (kitchen design centre), and Rob in the warehouse despite being a Leafs fan. Our only knock on DB is that it can get busy on the weekend at the design centre and thus it can sometimes take awhile to ask a question or submit an order….but an online and telephone presence exists with concierge that can help you and appears to be routed through their HQ in the U.S…always top notch customer service.

Sharon Tomlinson says:

We have been member for 20 yrs, we have built 2 homes and used especially for appliances,
I also use them in the US for blinds for 2 homes there it is a great saving and the service on the hunter Douglas blinds is great. We are moving to a new home that has yet to built moving 2 yrs and will use DB for appliances, furniture and blinds.

William Mallard says:

I cannot login and my email addresses changed so, I am assuming the forgot email address doesn’t work?

carol neumann says:

we are in calgary alberta and I’ve been a member for 14 years. It’s been an outstandingly good experience with many, many thousands of dollars saved. I order almost everything online now, and the staff in Calgary are excellent. Best customer service a client could ever expect, right down to the warehouse staff. We do a lot of renovating to several properties and have bought a lot of furniture, so I’ve made extremely good use of this membership. Cabinet and appliance prices can’t – can NEVER – be beat, and I’ve never seen furniture prices as low as direct buy either, apples to apples. It’s worth it if you spend money on home improvements.

paul says:

I have been a member for over 25 years and i have saved way more than my membership fees and annual fees 40-60% is quite common. Delivery is always said to be 4-6 weeks its more like 2-4 as for having to go to the showroom to order you should get your facts straight I do it on the computer all the time because Im not near a showroom

Stacy says:

Hi, I am currently a Direct Buy member since 2016 and my membership did not cost me thousands of dollars. However, it has saved me thousands. It is not a scam and they are still in business (These tends to be a big questions with those unfamiliar with DB). They sell many different products at wholesale (Furniture, lighting, plumbing fixtures, decor items, outdoor items, kitchen accessories, appliances, small appliances, jewelry, etc). You can purchase items online through their website or via their concierge service. Certain items such as Blinds/Drapes, Cabinets and Windows/Doors are best to go into a club to see a specialist for custom pricing. They have a merchants members lists with access to contractors and services for more detailed things like kitchen counter top fabricators and installers who understand the Direct Buy model. These merchant members will offer their services at a Discounted rate for Direct Buy members. Also, a smart consumer will need to read between the lines. There are handling fees associated with their products so you will need to factor that into costs.

Darcy says:

DB is totally worth it. You’ll commonly save at least 40% on most big items. Reno a kitchen with cabinets alone and you will save more than 10G. Don’t let your membership lapse, you’ll never be done building. I’ve also had products show up damaged or recalled and the manufacturer has always stepped up and sent replacement parts or repairmen. Retail won’t touch what DB can offer.

But it’s true about base model products. The Bosch dishwashers for example. DB sells Bosch models made in the US for a reasonable price, but they aren’t the true high end model made in Germany. DB won’t offer those.

Overall, if you swap out your kitchen cabinets just once, you’ll offset your start up fee and yearly membership fee for 10 years. It’s simple math.

Laurent says:

if you’re not a builder/contractor or modeling/furnishing a whole house then it doesn’t worth it, after huge membership fees, saving are not that huge, you constantly have to go to their warehouse, and too often merchandise is damaged, so if you’re not careful enough they will try to hide the damage, but as soon you sign the paper they wash their hand with that (even for non-visible defects) very bad customer service

Nichole Staffen says:

I was a member a few years ago when we built our dream home. You have to remember they don’t only sell home furnishings. We bought all our windows (45) , kitchen cabinetry, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures. We saved our membership fee in cabinetry alone. They also do have an online platform, where I ordered all of my stuff (except cabinets) as the closest showroom we got our membership from was 5 hours away. Once we were done building our home and our renewal came around we declined to renew. Means we are banned for 2? 4? Years from getting a membership again. But its been 6 years and i plan on renewing as we are building a new home on some land we purchased to sell later. I can get the high end finishes that will bring me top dollar while only spending as much as builder spec. Win win for me really.

John Jarvis says:

Geez! that’s funny, I haven’t paid my annual fees in years! and they keep hounding me with specials all the time, to get me to come back, my latest as of yesterday was a reduced trip to the Dominican Republic for one week all in at $299.

Joyce says:

My 4 appliances were only 500.00 cheaper then buying locally…..but 500.00 is 500.00 right? NOPE.
I noticed a scratch on my glass stovetop. Reported to direct buy in 26 hours. NOTHING has been done yet…..its been 9 days and we are only 1 week to Christmas. I have not plugged in my stove…..have not been able to cook for my family and needless to say there will be no bsking this year.
Direct buy is very quick to take your order and your money…..if u have an issue they are quick to apologize…..quick to say they will help you…..they understand ur frusteration….. but they DO NOTHING to help you. All very friendly staff via phone…..and you get passed around and around and around…..
I have all emails…..dates of calls made….. i called the stove manufacturer 30 min ago…..they have not heard anything from direct buy at all.
Im not impressed.

Gary Elderman says:

Was a DB member for 10 years. Any thing like furniture and windows strangely enough were very good. Every small(ish) appliance we got was total junk. My Whirlpool all fridge lasted just 18months. The big lie is that manufacturers would offer anything they make to DB members. When in reality, there were often just a few models available that we referred to as “Direct Buy Specials”.Also the DB format is a great place for manufacturers to unload older models. There’s no way the consumer will know until it’s too late. The Mrs. and I let our membership lapse with no desires to go back.Our nickname for these scam artists at the end of it all was “Direct LIE”. At least when you buy retail and ther’s a problem you’ve got someone to blame. Don’t do it. Hamilton niagara must have closed for a reason.

Mike says:

It’s not that bad of a membership because some people spend 25000 just on a table and 12000 on an oven so if u are buying expensive stuff then it’s worth it the last house I did cost 220,000 in appliancesand a couple sofas and tvs

Sean says:

My wife and I are both teachers. We are fairly easy going and rarely have bad experiences as consumers, but we both agree that the Direct Buy experience has been the worst we’ve ever had. We actually did recover our membership fee but we had to work like dogs to do so. Our biggest complaint however was the way we were treated by the people there. We had a kitchen designed and the woman we dealt with had us extremely low on her priority list. It was an example of a system where once they get your money, there is no longer any need to impress you. We are so embarrassed that we were suckered into this!

Kyle says:

This is what I can’t get over Sean. The huge disparity in experiences.

Murray McIntyre says:

Are they bank rupt?

Kyle says:

Not to the best of my knowledge Murray.

Ray Lesiw says:

Thought I would get my 2 cents worth after reading many of the comments. I purchased my Direct Buy membership in 2007 for $3500 because our family was helping out my younger son build a home ( He was a fledgling contractor at the time ). Our approach was to shop retail and get serial numbers from products or as great amount of detail as possible. We have done that with our own and family member purchases also.The greatest savings were with appliances and hardwood flooring. Two examples here. We are about to purchase a well known manufacturer’s combination wall oven and microwave that retails at $6200 Can. We will buy it at DB for $3380. Both come before the ridiculous taxes that we then have to pay. Eight years ago we purchased some extreme high end flooring ( Brazilian Hardwood ) that went for just under $10 per square foot. We paid $4.20 for the product. Over the years we have saved thousands. Enough said about that. My only concern is a new CEO has “cheated?” all of the franchisees out of their franchises and they are becoming an online shopping business model now. I’m not sure how that is going to work. So I have some concerns.

Kyle says:

Thanks for chiming in Ray. I appreciate everyone coming forward so we can get a broad cross sample of experiences.

Scott says:

We have been DirectBuy members for 5 years now and yes the savings is there especially if you are renovating or building a new home. Without question, we saved the membership cost on our counter tops alone and finishing the construction on our new home we’ve saved in excess of $50k. Sure not all brands are available, but those that are, are more than sufficient.

Marcella says:

For those of you doubters, I am a member. Obviously every person commenting isnt. Or you would know the savings. I have compared over and over again. There has been in the last 15 years 1 item that is about 100.00 more at direct buy than the discount place that was clearing out inventory.
we save anywhere from 40 to 70% on almost everything.
They have some issues, but the pros defiantly outweigh the cons. And it takes less time than the 2 months someone said in the comment columns. I have gotten things in less than 2 weeks.
very worth the 5,000 it costs.
It’s amazing how many years go by and the things you end up buying. It would amaze people at the kind of things you can buy. It cost us 1,900 for our membership in 2000

Ted says:

Direct Buy Hmmm
The wife and I went in for their sales pitch and she was convinced with in the first 30 min to get a membership. Myself, I believe everybody is full of BS and guilty until proven otherwise. I was going to prove to her she was all wrong,$4500 membership and $199 a year after the third year until the tenth year. I know this was going to be an expensive lesson but I was going to do it !
Well, now ten years with Direct buy and no regret
We restored the family farm house bought all new appliances, tankless water heater, water softener, washer, dryer, granite counters and windowsills, new custom made kitchen cabinets , tiled the kitchen and washrooms, glass enclosed shower, taps, bikes, stereo equipment, pool solar blanket, cleaner, and the list goes on. We did all the work our selves except installing the cabinets
This membership is not for the shy or Squamish, you have to do a lot of work from the time you walk in the door at the club. Looking at different books, measurements and what the code is in your area, calculating the savings, shipping and or exchange. Sure we had our issues but I can look at it all and say YEA ! this is what we did from nuts to bolts to ordering to research etc. We saved a ton of cash including all the tax rebates, hydro rebates, government reno kickbacks.
Our membership was paid for with-in the first year with the money we saved at Direct buy
NOW last I checked memberships have changed with different entre fees at different costs allowing different access to certain items.
Yearly memberships have gone up from$199 to $337.87. Don’t think I will renew cause my work is done.

So don’t go in blind

Kyle says:

Thanks for the input Ted!

Gaetan says:

Reading the multiple reviews I felt I had to comment.
I joined Direct Buy in 2011 while I was building a new house. I did my research prior going in, talking to friend who were members, and reading reviews. I went in, joined without listening to the sale pitch presentation. (I was told this was very unusual as everyone has to listen to it – I’m glade I didn’t listen to it because if I did I would probably not have joined).
My experience has been excellent. On building a new house, I saved about $50k from the suggested retail price and about $35k from actual retail price.
Why would retail sometimes have bigger discounts? Retailers buy in bulk and get a discount price, often to bring people in their store for sales and how they can beat DB prices. Like others mentioned, DB will beat that price if you bring it up to their attention.
You have to shop and spend time… By the time I was done, I new more about the products than actual employees. You need to know the manufacturers that charge less handling/shipping fees, and try to buy from Canadian manufacturer to avoid custom fees. Depending on products, I saved between 15% to 62% from MSRP. Finished products like appliances, fossets, sinks, tubs, toilets, fireplaces, california shutters are the big savers. ( I didn’t buy furniture). Hardwood floors, tiles, etc, you can get same deals from local shops.
Electronic markup is already very low therefore don’t expect any savings from DB. (Note: speakers, accessories usually have a higher markup and you will save on those).
Online shopping: I do it all the time.
Selection: both online or in store – If they don’t have it in their catalog but you know it exist from the manufacturer, ask for it. They will contact the manufacturer and get you a price on it. Just like any retail stores, they can’t have everything, but they can get it.
Transfer: yes these are individual franchises and all run in their own way. Moving from one city to another was easy, but I have noticed the difference in rules and policies.
If you want to walk in, grab something and walk out, this is not for you. It requires work and you will save tons. It’s not as simple as they tell you in the sale pitch presentation. Do your research. I just moved to a new city and will be renovating a new house and will need transfer my membership again. The only thing I have noticed about that is the yearly fee (went from 183, to 240, or something like that), will probably vary again at this new club.
And here is a piece of advice: Be nice to people working there and they will help you. They will make that phone call to find your product you’re looking for. Ask for a service, don’t demand it or expect a certain level. Cheers…

Kyle says:

Awesome review Gaetan! Thank you very much for sharing the positive experience. $35K isn’t chump change by any means!

Mary Lynn says:

We joined Direct Buy in December and each club is different and has different levels of assistance based on who they hire within. If you are making a major purchase of a high end product, or want a specific brand and then think the upgraded version would be nice, you can certainly afford the upgraded version within Direct Buy. You will not make extra money by joining Direct Buy unless you plan on doing a lot of purchases over a three year period. If you are looking to buy only your kitchen appliances, you would probably break even. If you are completely renovating the kitchen, you will certainly see a saving of close to 40% or even more. It gives you the opportunity to spend on mid range but buy high end. There are also many untold deals that they offer and you don’t see those until you have joined. I get emails every couple of days with a really unbelievable deal. If you are renovating any part of your house it is a great deal. I will probably save close to $30,000 over the course of the purchases I am making, but we are building a new home, so that is an exception. You will definitely save some money by renovating and make your membership fee back. Then over the years, you will continue to save. I think if you are doing any major renovations or building a new home, it is certainly worth every penny. When you go in – go in with the product and price of an item or items that you are looking to buy and you will be able to see just how much you will save on those items. From roofing, to tiles, to flooring, kitchens, patio stones, decking – it is worth it. Do your math first.

vonzeppelin@hotmail.com says:

Ordered washer and dryer on Feb 5th. They slid through a few ETAs. They now say it will ship to DB Barrie ‘tomorrow’. Given it’s good Friday, I figure they are just making things to continue to pacify me. At this point they aren’t even putting effort in to being dishonest. If I get them next week it will be 8 weeks and I still have to go pick them up. I have spent most of the money saved on the purchase in coin laundry. Price is good but service is terrible. All of the major retailers have these units in stock so it’s not like I’ve ordered a rare model. Had I bought at Lowes or Leon’s I would have had them for the last 2 months, delivered to my door, and not been inconvenienced by weekly trips to the laundromat. All for the same net price. Thanks Direct Buy Barrie, you sure know how to treat your customers. At least I’ve saved on hydro and gas because DB has left me with no appliances to waste my money operating. To Eileen, I hope you get your dishwasher in a timely fashion, I fear my washer/dryer will be obsolete before I get them.
Thanks again Direct Buy Barrie, I will be sure to recommend you to my enemies.

Kyle says:

It appears from the string of comments here that each DB franchise is definitely its own animal. Thanks for the insight!

Eileen says:

We became members of Directbuy in1999, when membership fee was $2000. We had our house just built then. We furnished our the whole house with 95% from directbuy. Our furnitures are highend which we would not have afforded if bought from regular store. We saved about $10000 just furnishing our formal dining and living room. After 10 years we stopped. In 2014, we got an offer as previous members to join again for $279 for 2 years and grabbed it. We’ve gotten the money back and more with just 2 purchases. Now we are lifetime members and bumped up our membership with directbuy travel. We are glad we joined when it was still being introduced. The membership was done at the right time when we needed it the most. Although with anything else, we still need to do our homework when it comes to pricing. Just now, I put in my order for a new Bosch dishwasher and already saving $500.

Kyle says:

Thanks for the review Eileen!

Nancy says:

We have been members of Direct Buy for about 8 years. Initially, we were hesitant to join based on the sales tactics, but once we heard a couple of real experiences from people, we decided to try. Since then, we have finished the basement in one house for a cost of about $100K. We bought everything at DB including all the electrical lighting (not just lights, but pot light systems, outlets, stereo,etc, all the plumbing components, gas fireplace,etc. The light fixtures averaged around 30% savings, the plumbing 40% and our hardwood, which is very high end (in 2010 it retailed for $12 per sq ft and the DB price was $6.50/sq ft). Since then we have built a new house and again bought as much as our builder would allow. The trades don’t always like it because they like to mark things up before they install (plumbers are bad for this), but where we could work it out with the builder, we bought what we could. If you are more of a do-it-yourself person and have access to independent trades, you can buy everything (flooring, siding, windows, paint, etc). In addition, we have bought lots of furniture and accents over the years. Most recently I priced a very high-end sectional at a retail store in my city for over $12,000. I purchased the same sectional from DB for $5500. Our club doesn’t generally deliver, so that can be an issue for some. We have never regretted buying the membership and now when we see something we like the first question we ask is “can I get it at DB?” If you are going to be spending any significant amount on home-related goods, I would recommend it. Hope this helps…

Kyle says:

Great review – thanks Nancy!

Steve Neziroski says:

I was a Direct Buy member since 2003 an was told the membership will only last 10 years. I paid $3100 for the initial membership for the first 3 years after which I was charged $195 a year to keep my membership going for the remaining 7 years. At my 10th year, I was not called by anyone regarding a renewal which was very disappointing and left me feeling like an unwanted customer. I call my location and was told the yearly renewal would be $350 but I would have to pay for 3 years up front. I was so dismayed with rhe lack of interest in customer retention that I gladly gave up my membership. I have sincw received mailings about renewal requests at a lower price with mention of a minimum 3 year deposit but my clubs tactics and lack of business acumen had already lost me. I did purchase a number of goods over the years for myself and family. My overall experience was OK including some returns handled well but the policy for immediate pick up was frustrating. An in house delivery service for a reasonable fee would have made more sense and made the shopping experience less stressful. Over the years, I saw their associated manufacturers list drop dramatically limiting the number of products. I recently took a trial membership to see if would be a worthwhile reconsideration and was not overly impressed with the selection. The trials and tribulations and of dealing with a lesser product was not an enticing option so I chose to pass. Although there may be some good deals to be had, I do not think the overall costs and processes to buy catalogue or online items is worth it. Best of luck to their continued members for ongoing savings an a good shopping experience. Cheers

Bel says:

I have been a direct buy member for about 6 years now. I felt pressured by my husband to join as his previous experience with his parents was positive. We paid for the Silver membership because we are also renters. I liked that they were flexible in that regard. We did not really use the membership until we moved from a 500 sq ft apartment to an over 2400 sq ft 4 bedroom house. We had the room for a large table and we started looking. The table package we ended up liking @ direct buy came with the 110″ table (2x leaves), 6 armless chairs and 2 large chairs with arms. It was Ashley and I wanted to look at it before we invested the money so they gave me the address of the Ashley place they had a deal with and warned me not to take up too much of the sales person’s time and self identify as Direct Buy members. When I went to the store, the table and just 6 chairs had a sticker price of over double what we paid at direct buy (so I guess 50% off at direct buy). I bought back my membership fee in just that one purchase. We went on to furnish our whole house through Direct Buy.

I buy items from Direct Buy online all the time and they have recently re-done their website.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that not all Direct Buys are the same. Each store is owned locally so the service model can be wide ranging (for instance, our first store accepted credit cards but our new local store does not… online shopping FTW). Both of the locations we have dealt with did not have a time limit on the amount of time a purchase sits in the warehouse before they automatically sent it back so that may be unique to that location as well.

When our table came in, there was a chip in it… I called direct buy and they sent out someone who fixed it perfectly… and quickly.

I would say if you are a fan of Ikea quality furniture and prices this is not the place for you… they only really stock high end stuff. I still buy my cube bookshelves at Ikea for instance. But for high end theatre seating and leather living room sets Direct Buy cannot be beat.

Kyle says:

Great review Bel. Thanks for sharing. I think the more people we can get to chime in on this, the better resource it will be going forward.

Shawna says:

You can definitely order online through DirectBuy, I do it all the time. Not every product is available online, but a good percentage of it is.

We’ve saved anywhere from 20% to 50% over retail, it really depends on the manufacturer. But it isn’t really worth the membership cost unless you are doing something major like a reno or a new build, or even just buying new high end appliances – we saved more than our membership fee on just a high end fridge!

The renewal fees once your initial contract are up are very reasonable and so we have hung on to our membership.

Best areas for saving in my experience are appliances, window coverings and light fixtures. Things like electronics, especially TV’s are a wash, as most retailers will have sales or bundles where you’ll pay a similar amount but get them sooner.

Kyle says:

Thanks for the input Shawna!

Lolita says:

I am a member of direct buy, 10 years ago I paid $3000 for 10 years membership. ($360 a year for yearly subscription or renew again for $5000 for 10 years).

There are pros and cons with direct buy. If you “only” buy the high-end you will save lot of money from the “regular” retail price. (pay attention to retail price, DB retail price is bit higher).

But no one buys or pay the regular price, we always bargain, so saving with direct buy isn’t as they claim. I say in average 15%-35% from the regular retail price.

For example, a furniture that cost $1100 will cost you $500 at DB price, then there are all stupid additional fees.
– Handling fee
– Vendor fee
– Duty
– Shipping
– Brokerage fee
Most items there are non Vendor fees but handling fee is outrageous. The cost is $500 but by the time you check out it will almost $800+ (Here I say + because they don’t deliver to your place, it’s the shipping to their warehouse). You pay additional $$$ for the shipping to your house or rent a truck by yourself, or you can use their delivery service, about $100-$150 per load)

Note that Direct Buy apply tax on top of (Handling, Vendor fee, duty, brokerage and shipping fees). This is outrageous !!

2nd issue is that, when your item arrive at their warehouse you have to pickup within 3 business days, there are exception, you can call the manager and ask for an extension. So make sure you don’t plan to go on vacation while your order still in pending.

3rd issue is that I believe that they still make money out of any item you purchase. I know this because friend of mine work and she told me that the manufacture price or price to retail store is lot cheaper than what Direct Buy price is. So again you are not saving a lot.

4th issue is that most items you cannot buy from DirectBuy online website, you have to go their office and wait for the line (if any) then purchase with the sale agent. This is very annoying as I need to leave office before 2pm. Direct Buy closes 4:30pm on weekdays.

5th issue is that again most items you see on DB member website do not have the price information, if they do they don’t have price for each different finishes, types, different model etc. You really have to phone or write an email (usually they are good, 1-2 days before they get back to you).

To conclude, if you are the new married couple and want to purchase the high end stuff I recommend DB, you will save money if you purchase $30K of merchandise.

For the average household it’s not worth it. And don’t even think about you will save money with remodeling your house with purchases from DB. It’s a nightmare.

James says:

Thanks Lolita for sharing your experience. The information you provided is very helpful to someone like me thinking of becoming a DB member.

Edward Byrne says:

I worked at a big box retail home improvement store where Direct buy customers could get a discount with thier membership. It was always hillarious to deal with a DB customer because they always seemed to think they were getting some “insider deal” that no one else knew about.

In reality the DB discount was just the regular contractor discount (10-15%). Which is free to sign up for and literally anyone can get. All DB did was sign up for a contractor discount (again a free program any person can sign up for) and then charge their members for the right to use it.

Think about that when you are paying thousands a year for a membership.

Kyle says:

Can ANYone really just sign up for a contractor account though Edward? How does one go about doing that? I think that could be a post all on it’s own!

Edward Byrne says:

Yep. Its just a matter of asking and filling out a sheet in the store.

Its called a “contractor program” because thats who it is aimed at (repeat sales and such) but there is no stipulations for signing up.

The only rule is that you have to spend at least $5000 a year to keep your discount active. If you do that they dont care who you are. If you dont they will just turn it off at years end. But having said that they are extremly leniant
With that rule. And Even if they do turn it off people just had to come in and ask and we would get it reactivated (the ease of this probably varies by store).

Kyle says:

Hmm… that is really interesting! It would basically benefit anyone doing renovations or outfitting a new house to call themselves a contractor for at least a year then. Good to know.

Brian says:

Directbuy is not a scam. I have been a member for approximately 10 years. I have built 3 houses and saved easily $30k-40k. But it is more than the savings. I enjoy not having to work over a sales guy or feel like I’m getting ripped off by someone. You know the wholesale cost and pay it. There are products that do not have a ton of margin and sometimes you can find lower cost products than DB, however, they now guarantee the lowest cost and will beat anything by at least 10 percent. I think their sales tactics are a little slimy, however, it is a good investment if you are looking to buy more than a TV and couch. I would say over my 10 year membership the experience continues to improve. Is it perfect? No. Is is a good deal? For some yes, for some no. Is it a scam? Definitely not.

Kyle says:

Thanks for sharing your experience Brian. The 10% guarantee is pretty cool. If you are furnishing houses in bulk (say three in 10 years) I think you would likely get peak value out of the membership hey?

Bob says:

My wife and I joined about 12 yrs ago.
Must admit we had some buyers remorse right off the bat,but over the years we have saved a ton of cash.
We paid $2300 for our membership and on our first major purchase of a dining set we saved about $4000. We checked out the set we wanted at the local dealer and best on sale price was $10500. We got it for $6500 including all freight and delivery charges etc, through D.B.
Yes there are some headaches to put up with but the saving can be tremendous.
We have bought stuff for our kids homes too.
We furnished his whole condo for $3100 (albeit a small 700 sq ft unit). Retail on sale the furniture was priced at $10000.
No question from our point of view it has been well worth the initial expense.
Yearly fee is now $299. Believe me you won’t have to buy much to cover that.

Kyle says:

Thanks for giving an update Bob. It seems like it is a good business model, just some weird quirks in the distribution channels right now. I can see if you had kids that would be moving out soon it would really be worth it!

Mckenie says:

I have been a member of Direct Buy for nearly 10 years. Great company, great savings, worth the money. Don’t listen to retail stores tell you there is no such markup….save and get your OWN furniture for the price that Retail stores pay. Save on the mark up. Its not a scam. I could not have bought what I did had I had to buy from the retail store. Check it out for yourself, go to the presentation, if its not for you, leave, its not for everyone.

max says:

I joined as a Directbuy member because I was doing a massive home reno project. My experience is that dB has way over advertised the savings. And their selection is extremeEly limited. I often find online pricing within 10% of dB pricing after shipping and handling fee and other potential manufacturer fees you are pretty much not saving anything. Plus most items are only shipped to the warehouse so for big items you will need to figure a way to get it to your house. If purchased from a store you can usually get them to delivery to your house free of charge. I definitely would not recommend anyone to join dB to save money because it would be extremely difficult and time consuming in order to recuperate the $6000 members fee.

jim says:

If you are considering getting a direct buy membership, you should read this article. It may be a little one sided, but it does show the negative side. Also they claim that 400,000 people are members, but just look at how many people are scammed with the nigerian 419 scams.


Shiv says:

DirectBuy pricing is competitive. I’ve been a member since 2004 and we’ve saved more on our purchases than we’ve spent on our membership. Since we joined a long time ago, the membership fees weren’t steep so we really have benefited and really like the club we belong to. There are two customer service people we especially like 🙂 For new members, I personally do feel that the membership is a bit steep if you’re not going to be buying a lot of items or doing some major renovations in the house. What you get from DirectBuy in my opinion is quality brands for the same price you would pay for average brands in a retail environment. In the end, I don’t think it is the “frugal” way to live, but if you like higher end brands and don’t want to pay retail prices, you’ll end up saving in the end.

A couple of points to take note of:
* I have not been impressed with the extra handling fees that have been tacked on to the prices of goods over the years that we’ve been members. This effectively increases your final price by 4-8%. I think this is the franchises way to earn some steady income apart from new membership fees and renewal fees.
* The other thing they’ve done is increased the cost to members for home delivery of items. (This is mostly for appliances.)
* For most other orders you do have to arrange your own method of delivery to your home. This becomes difficult when you order a number of things and they don’t come in at the same time, so you have to travel a couple of times (and pay someone in some cases) to get the items to your home.

Edna says:

You know, when a guest is invited to a DirectBuy open house and decide not to join, that

K Morgan says:

YOu sound like you work for DirectBuy….

Edna says:

Yes I did work for DirectBuy and have since left since I last posted.

Jan says:

you spelled Kijiji wrong…

Adam smith says:

I have to admit that the $5000 membership fee is a lot and would not work for someone looking to buy a single couch.

I have purchased several items and the average savings is 25% or higher on the larger high end items.

A simple way to look at it is if you are going to spend more then 25k then you will make your money back and save on everything after that.

Teacher Man says:

So your overall experience has been good Adam?

Mckenie says:

Yes…I agree…its good if you are buying lots of furniture or like high end furniture but it is huge saving.s

Bob says:

Is Direct Buy a scam? I would say yes. I have been in furniture retail management for 23 years. Direct Buy like to give the impression there is massive margin on furniture, appliances, electronics and major home improvement products, unfortunately this isn’t the case. The retail environment is VERY competitive and margins are as low as can be. Occasionally when Direct Buy do advertise big discounts on sofas for instances, the pricing is the same or more then major furniture retailers. They take advantage of people since most just trust this quoted savings is real, it’s not. If only we could charge customers thousands of dollars just to be called members!! This borders on evil.

A smart shopper will shop around and confirm this to be the case and not spend $3000-$7000 (OMG!!) just to be a member and trust there will be savings to cover this rediculous fee. If a fee of the amount isn’t a red flag I don’t know what is!

As Direct Buy is discovering people won’t make major purchases based on a picture so they have to add brick and mortar stores to do business which alas is exactly what they claim to be avoiding. Of course with people paying huge fees they can afford to lease buildings can’t they? So they are a retailer arn’t they with showrooms you have to buy through, so how is this different exactly? You pay a fee whether you buy anything or not is the difference.

Please take some advise, shop around at retail get the best price on the best products you can afford from a reputable dealer and save the $3000-$7000. You could furnish numerous rooms for that amount.

One last point why is it when customers get cold feet and want their $5000 back they have to fight to try to get it? This is a company you want to do business with?

Some customers act like being a Direct Buy member is quite the status but to people that really understand the numbers they are labeled “suckers”.

Don’t be a sucker.



Teacher Man says:

Thanks for a “insider’s look” Bob.

Dan says:

I am sorry to disagree with you, I have been a member for about 20 years and have saved thousands, I have bought a couple fridges and a stove and got them for around 60% of store price and when renovating our kitchen we bought our cabinets for about 50% of and cabinet sales place. It is well worth the money for you and your family

Mckenie says:

Direct Buy is NOT a scam. The people that complain about are mainly non members. I have been a member for almost 10 years. It is well worth the membership if you are refurnishing your home, building a new home and have family members doing same. I don’t know what they charge today but I paid $5000 then and you have a 3 payment installment plan is what I did…so you don’t put the whole $5000 up front. That $5000 gives you a membership for 5 years if I remember correctly and then its $250 for every year after that. It really pays for itself. I have bought tonnes of furniture at exceptional low prices, art work, accessories , lawn furniture, etc. My children have bought furniture for their homes, bedrooms, etc, ….you can buy for immediate family. You can buy and give people as gifts. And as compared to retail at stores…HUGE HUGE savings…half price or more on all furniture. Art work that stores sell for $450 + you can get for over 150+ sometimes cheaper…accessories stores put on for $300 you can buy for huge amounts less…I have NEVER received anything I did not like, oh, sorry, one mirror and 2 pieces of Art that did not go with my d

BeachBoy says:

Even if you furnish an entire house, their selection will never have exactly everything you want. And at this price range it’s not like Ikea, you want to pay for what you want… not what they offer.

I have read a ton of articles on them and I would not deal with them even at half price.

Patrick says:

My impression of DB was that it is a bit of a scam (you’re never going to save what they say you’re going to). I think you’re correct in your assessment, that if you’re going to entirely furnish a house completely from scratch it might make *some* sense. Perhaps money-wise it’d work for somebody who’s furnishing several houses.. Also, to me, a lot of the positive reviews you read out there seem like astroturfing, but that’s just my two cents.