KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Consumer Investigator Amy Clancy questioned DirectBuy Brand Communications Specialist Mike Georgeff.
Clancy question: I’ve heard from consumers who are frustrated with the closures because of their 5-year (sometimes 3-year) contracts --- some have been allowed to get out of their contracts while others have not. What comment does DirectBuy have regarding these closures?
Georgeff: Let me put that into perspective. We have a wide range of options for Club members in this type of situation. Our growing online options and expansive e-commerce site allow for fulfillment of our franchisees’ promises to DirectBuy Members and give our valued customers unprecedented online access to their membership benefits from the comfort of home, 24-7. In fact, more than half of our current orders are placed online. If you find yourself in this situation, we encourage you to contact us so we can help you with your various options.
Clancy question: Who makes the decision whether a contract/obligation is cancelled?
Georgeff: It varies. But contracts are rarely discontinued because DirectBuy dramatically increases the purchasing power of its members. It gives members access to higher quality products at a reduced price. Additionally, there are multiple tiers of membership, so consumers can choose the one that is right for them.
Clancy question: If it’s up to the franchise owner, does DirectBuy corporate have any influence in these decisions?
Georgeff: DirectBuy has an established track record of integrity and we are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience. We are also highly committed to educating and working with our Members during times of transition.
Clancy question: In many consumers’ opinion, DirectBuy isn’t holding up its end of the contract when the showrooms close, yet consumers are still being held to their obligation.
Georgeff: We’re sorry they feel that way. Our goal is to provide an outstanding customer experience and we strive hard to work with our valued Members in times of transition. We have worked with countless Members to educate and assist them with alternatives that allow them to continue purchasing a wide array of merchandise at incredible savings.
Clancy question: For members who aren’t satisfied with the online shopping option, is there any recourse/way to get out of their contracts?
Georgeff: What’s important to know is that the satisfaction of our members is our number one priority. While we do not have recourse for members who feel this way, what I can tell you is that we have more than 425,000 product SKUs online and the savings are undeniable. We encourage any Members with questions to contact us directly and we will assist them regarding their purchasing options and how DirectBuy can continue to help them save on their purchases. Members tell us time and again that the incredible discounts they receive are the main reason they join in the first place.
Clancy question: Are there any plans to open any new showrooms in the state of Washington?
Georgeff: We are always working hard to identify new franchisees - qualified individuals who want to achieve the dream of owning their own business – to help bring DirectBuy into new and existing communities in the State of Washington. With this in mind, we hope to identify some trusted and service-driven individuals in the near future who will be excellent stewards of our brand and help us continue to grow our presence in the Washington State and beyond.
Clancy question: Are there any plans to close the one current location in Bothell?
Georgeff: No, we have no such plans and know of no such plans.
Clancy question: Some consumers have been able to get out of their contracts as long as they sign a confidentiality agreement. What is the purpose of this confidentiality agreement?
Georgeff: Let me put that into perspective. Our confidentiality policies are designed protect our manufacturers. For those who aren’t familiar with DirectBuy, we have a unique and proven business model. DirectBuy allows consumers to purchase brand-name merchandise at confidential prices that manufacturers give to stores. We therefore must insist on confidentiality from members.