We are slowly realizing all of the perks that come with living in a working-class neighborhood. While I don’t think the whole Universal Promotions/Travel Universal thing was tied to our zip code (I think I did actually fill something out online), we were contacted a few months back about a new promotion a company was having. The company is called American Direct, Inc. and they told me they were just opening their store in Fairfield and were having a promotion that included a drawing for a new truck or $10,000 cash. I thought that was kind of interesting, but wary of scams after our earlier experience, I didn’t really pay them much attention. They said they were going to ship me a key to try out in the truck and I’ll I’d have to do is show up at one of their appointments to test my key to see if I had won. I said I’d call them to set one up and promptly forgot about it. When the key came I threw it away.

Well, this past Monday I got a call back from the people at American Direct. This time the person’s name was LeAnn (probably not her real name). She said they were “sweetening” the deal to encourage the remaining few people who had keys to come by: they’d give me a $500 shopping spree just for showing up. I asked if they had an appointment in the evening so it wouldn’t really disrupt our work and stuff and they said yes, so I set up an appointment Thursday night at 6:30. They wouldn’t tell me anything about their company and when I asked if they had a website they said it wasn’t accessible unless you had the password. All of these things were making me wary, but I figured I could avoid giving them anything but my time and was determined to simply walk out if there was a problem.

So, along came Thursday night and Debi and I made our way to 325 Commercial Drive in Fairfield, OH. The building is located in a business park. It was a single-storied, stripmall style building where you’d expect to find a scam. As we walked in, our fears were confirmed. The place had clearly been in business for quite a while, which means I had already uncovered their first lie – this was not a grand opening and was not some special promotion. This is how they lure in the unsuspecting and prey on them. We arrived a little late and they were already taking all of the unwitting participants into the back room to try their key in the truck. Since I had to get another copy of my key (I threw the original away), I had to register and stayed behind for a few minutes. While one of the receptionists logged me in, I pulled out my phone and tried to secretively snap a few photos. When we got our phones I didn’t think I’d ever use the photo feature, but I occasionally find it very useful. I snapped these two photos before I went back to the “special rooms”:

american direct

The first one is just a sample of the wall decorations. They had these all over the walls in the front room. Seriously, there must have been 200 of them or so. Poor Roy Sipe… He actually looks happy. I think the U.S. flag in the background is a good touch; I’m sure it has great appeal for the demographic they target.

american direct2

This second one was the real kicker. In case you can’t read it very well it says, “Due to the confidential nature of our business ALL RECORDING OR PHOTOGRAPHIC DEVICES ARE PROHIBITED in this building.” Any honest company would not have this type of sign posted, unless they are literally trying to protect trade secrets (e.g., the Toyota plant my father-in-law visited in Japan didn’t allow photography of the factory floor). Clearly American Direct, Incorporated has something to hide – their dishonest business practices.

Once I had finished “registering,” I walked back to where all the other victims of the scam were and caught up to Debi, who whispered under her breath, “Look at the demographics here.” I hadn’t had time to do that until now and when I did, it was telling. There were a total of 18 “marks” or victims, and of those, all but two were working class – Debi and I. There were a lot of old, deteriorating t-shirts; lots of hairsprayed and oily, stringy hair; stained jeans; and a lot of poorly behaved children. Don’t get me wrong, they are all nice people; we talked to a bunch of them and they were very kind. But you could tell they weren’t coming down from West Chester or stopping by from Wyoming or Hyde Park. These are the type of people who live in our condominium complex – blue collar, working class. I don’t claim to be wealthy – au contrair, I’m a poor graduate student and probably make a lot less than a lot of the people who were there. But there was a clear educational difference, which I’ll touch on a bit more later.

Anyway, we all tried our key in the truck to no avail. No one won the truck or cash. We were then herded like mindless, unwitting sheep into the “sales pitch” room. Our salesperson, an African American, former military guy I’ll call “Asswipe” (’cause I forgot his name) was telling jokes and working his angles the whole time. Once we were all settled, he started in on his pitch. I have to admit the person who called me didn’t say how long this would take, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be very long as I had other things I wanted to do that night. Well, I’m beginning to realize that length of time is an important factor in these scams. Rather than jump right into how much money they want to take from you, they start by “building relationships of trust”. Asswipe pretended to teach us all about how we were mistreated by retailers like Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart (again, think demographics here). He talked about how much they mark-up the merchandise they sell to us. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of Sam Walton’s personal wealth and his claim that it came directly from his marking up of products, which was one of the first places where I shook my head in disagreement (exploitation, exploitation, exploitation…).

The really scary thing about the presentation was that Asswipe was so ebullient and charismatic that 16 and a 1/2 of the people in the room were really getting into his presentation (Debi did half the time). When he would ask, “Who cares about their money?” Everyone would answer in unison, “We do!” And when he’d ask, “How many people agree with that,” Everyone would raise their hands. For some reason I just couldn’t get into his pitch.

I was, however, quite impressed by the use of manipulative techniques. He spent the first hour or so pretending to educate the people. What better way to build confidence in his marks than to actually make them feel like they are more educated now than when they walked in? Quite a brilliant tactic, actually. I also liked how he directly referred to other, classic scams (e.g., timeshares, Amway, etc) as scams. He mad fun of those other scams and spoke directly to the fears of the marks he had in front of him. He said stuff like, “How many of you, on the way here, were thinking, ‘It doesn’t matter what they say, I’m not buying anything’?” Again, 16 hands went up. He then tried to alleviate their concerns by saying, “This is not a scam.”

So, what is the scam they are trying to pull off at American Direct, Incorporated? They claim they can save you money by helping you buy the merchandise you would by at a retailer direct from the factory, saving the retailer’s markup. One example Asswipe used was Blue Blocker sunglasses (which I had never heard of). He claimed the cost to make them was $0.95. He then said the cheapest you could buy them retail was $9.95 from Sam’s Club and that most places sold them for anywhere from $14.95-$49.95. He used several additional examples, including some cheap ass knives and grandfather clocks, showing the markups on them. In short, he claimed you could save money by affiliating with American Direct, Inc. and buying stuff direct from the factory.

Of course that seems like a good idea. The problem, however, is that nothing is ever that easy. It’s not like the people at American Direct, Inc. are just going to sell you a $5.00 guide to buying factory direct or anything; they have a different goal. I think the goal of American Direct, Inc. is best seen in something Asswipe kept saying. He was really fond of asking, “What are retailers in business to do?” Everyone in the room was smart enough to realize the answer was, “Make money!” But the question Asswipe never asked was, “And what is American Direct, Inc. in business to do?” The response, of course, is, “To make money!”

So, how does American Direct, Inc. profit from “helping” people buying factory direct? There are three clear ways they do. First, they charge a 10% handling charge on everything you purchase from the factory through them. That’s in addition to the shipping you pay for. So, even though they claim to be getting rid of the middleman, in reality they become the middleman. Second, they charge a one-time lifetime membership fee of… get this: $1,999.00. Yep, that’s right, that’s almost $2,000.00. On top of that, and yes this makes no sense, you have to pay an annual renewal fee of $199.00. So, the one-time, lifetime membership fee isn’t the only fee – you have to pay $200 per year to stay a member.

Let me recap:

  • 10% markup on everything you buy (in addition to shipping)
  • $2,000.00 up front to join
  • $200 per year to stay a member

And they claim you’ll save money by joining. Well, let’s think about that… While we were sitting in the “sales” room I saw at least three other sales people walking around, sitting on their thumbs, studying the marks, etc. There were also two secretaries/receptionists up front. That makes for at least 6 employees, if you include asswipe, all who take home paychecks. Hmmm… So, what they really mean with the phrase “saving you money” is “making them money.”

I particularly loved it when he said that they are not in direct competition with retailers. He even said that they don’t want to take all of the retailers’ customers away, which didn’t make any sense to me. If they really had a good deal for people and wanted to help them, they’d want everyone to convert. Truth be told, if too many people find out about this scam, they’d be run out of town. So, they don’t want too many people to know about it. In saying this, Asswipe actually claimed that everyone in Cincinnati was given a chance to participate in the program, but that they only contacted 10% of the population at a given time and that they dialed numbers randomly. Yeah, right. Remember my description of the demographics of the people there?

Oh, and about those demographics… At one point, in talking about the wealth of the Walton family, Asswipe said they were worth about $27 billion. He then asked if anyone knew how much a billion is. Two of the fathers in the room said, and I’m not making this up, “One hundred million?” I’m not sure if I was more shocked or appalled. Asswipe was kind enough to correct them, but I thought that was particularly telling. Asswipe really wanted these people to feel special, thus the, “We only invite 10% of the people around here to participate.” American Direct, Inc. is likely targeting people in lower-income and working class neighborhoods. They probably think they are less likely to see through the program and recognize the scam that it is. And because Debi and I are poor and bought our condo as poor graduate students we fall in the right zip code!

It was pretty clear from the get go that I was going to be the group’s only skeptic. I didn’t buy into the charisma and didn’t answer his questions. I didn’t raise my hand. In fact, I spent most of the time writing notes and doing ethnographic field work. But there were a few points when I had to pipe up and question his bullshit. For instance, he kept insisting that we are “forced” to buy retail. Everyone else agreed and I said, “No.” He said, “What do you mean no. You have to.” I said, “You can make it yourself.” To which he responded, “Yeah, good luck with that.”

Later when he insisted that retailers are a monopoly I had to pipe up again. I said, “No, retailers are not a monopoly and they can’t be due to anti-trust laws in the U.S. What’s more, because they are not a monopoly and compete for our money, that actually drives prices down.” He said, “Look, I took an economics class in college. I know how this stuff works…” I cocked an eyebrow at him as he continued, angrily, “I don’t care if you agree with me or not. The point is, I’m here to help you save money.” He got really angry and intentionally tried to avoid talking to me the rest of the time. His anger boiled over when he asked the people in the room if they thought $199 was too much to spend per year to buy factory direct. Everyone else said no, but I said yes. His response, “You think that’s too much to spend to buy factory direct?” I nodded my head. Then he said, “Then leave. You can leave right now.” I said, “I want to see how much the one time membership fee is.” He responded, “Why? It doesn’t matter to you. You don’t want to pay the $199 so why do you care?” I said, “I just want to see. So, do go on.” I think he was pretty upset, but I really didn’t care.

It was at about this point that the sales pitch ended. They then took us out of the “sales” room, divided us up into individual couples, and brought in “the closers.” I loved they way the closers worked. Rather than ask if we wanted to buy a membership or not – they went straight to, “So, how many memberships do you want, 2 or 4?” What a manipulative scheme. The whole thing is designed to manipulate, pressure, and deceive. It was absolutely appalling! We said we weren’t interested and the guy tried for a while to convince us we should be, but he didn’t get anywhere.

He then said he was sorry we weren’t interested, but that they were going to give us our $500 gift certificate and a travel voucher just for coming. Woohoo! When I got home I checked out the gift certificate and voucher in detail. The gift certificate claims to give you $500 worth of cash on this website: www.KEShoppingSpree.com. Since I didn’t use my code, you can use it to get into the site: KE0293712. KEShoppingSpree.com is another scam site. Yep, they rewarded our attendance at a scam presentation with an invitation to another scam. You can, in fact, buy shit on the website, but they charge you exorbitant shipping and handling fees (e.g., $15.00 to ship you an XBox game). I looked through the site and compared some of the prices to actual retail prices. They have the XBox game “The Hobbit” listed at $49.95 plus $14.95 shipping and handling. You can buy it at Wal-Mart right now for $19.95 and can probably get it used on Half.com for about $8.00. All of the kitsch on the site is set up this way. The price they give is way, way over retail. Then the shipping and handling charge is about what you’d pay retail. In short, the $500 gift certificate is worth a whopping total of $0.00, and is more likely to cost you money than save you money! My favorite part about this is that on the back of the voucher it has directions that tell you to enter the URL directly into your browser and not to use Google to search for it. Guess why? ‘Cause now that I’ve posted that it’s a scam, Google will return my URL too ;).

As for the travel voucher… Remember how they talked about timeshares being a scam? Yeah, well, it’s a travel voucher that goes through a timeshare sales company. You may get 2 nights free in a hotel, but you have to go through a timeshare pitch. What absolute and total assholes! American Direct, Inc. is a scam. And when we didn’t buy their scam, they tried to reward us with two more scams. All told, we threw away 2 hours of our life to American Direct, Incorporated. Assholes!

A couple of things I didn’t mention earlier but are worth touching on:

  • Asswipe claimed he wasn’t a salesman but was a “consumer consultant.” Consumer consultant my ass!
  • Asswipe intentionally exaggerated the differences between factory direct and retail by not including shipping and handling costs, which you’ll pay no matter what; he just reported the manufacturing cost.
  • When Asswipe mentioned the 10% markup fee, he glossed over it as though it wasn’t really anything.
  • Most factories don’t sell directly to consumers because it is too costly for them to manage the shipping, ordering etc. They use distributors. What do you think American Direct, Inc. is? You still don’t buy factory direct, you buy through American Direct, who is just a distributor/retailer.
  • At one point Asswipe said, “There is no catch.” That was before he talked about the one time fee… 😉
  • Asswipe mentioned a lot of well-known manufacturer’s names to make people feel like they would be buying namebrand merchandise. I’d bet my left kidney most of the shit they let you buy through them is kitsch and knockoffs.
  • In a sheet they had us fill out, one of the things listed that you could buy factory direct was, and I’m not making this up, “psychic readings.” Debi and I laughed about that one for about 5 minutes straight. We almost put it down just to see how much money Asswipe thought we could save on it.
  • If everyone who attended that night had paid the fee, that would have been about $20,000 (couples only pay one fee, not two). That’s probably about half the amount they pay one of the sales reps per year…

There’s another important thing to keep in mind here about why this program is a scam. I’m guessing most of the people who pay the fees never buy anything through American Direct, Inc. They get lulled in by the slick sales pitch and the deception, but then realize it was a mistake and go back to shopping like everyone else does – retail or wholesale. Keep in mind that Bill Gates doesn’t shop through American Direct, Inc. He shops retail, just like everyone else.

Anyway, I’ve come to love our zip code. It really brings in the scams. This is my new favorite, replacing the bi-annual Jesus Prayer Rug from St. Matthews’ Churches. Why? Well, it’s clearly marketed towards working class people and it really will bend you over and fuck you long and hard.

A couple lessons learned about scams:

  1. If they claim it is not a scam, it is. Any company that has to try to distance themselves from a scam is a scam.
  2. If they are trying to sell you something and won’t let you take pictures of them trying to sell it to you, it’s a scam.
  3. If the person trying to sell you the scam says they are not a salesperson, they are and it’s a scam.
  4. If they mention other scams or make fun them, it’s a scam.

Update 6/5/2006:

I just realized I should mention this company can also be checked out via the Better Business Bureau of Cincinnati. You can see a report on them here. I’m guessing the low number of complaints is the result of the small number of people who fall for the scam and not that the company is a nice one. Just my two bits, though… Also, if they contact you and you’re on the “Do Not Call” registry for telemarketers, you can actually lodge a complaint against the company with the BBB.

Update 6/20/2006:

John Matarese from Channel 9 interviewed me about my experience. You can see the clip below:

Update 7/13/2006:

Amazingly, I just got another call from American Direct, Inc. inviting me to come visit their recently opened store. The call came at 7:25 pm, on 7/13/2006. The number they called from was 1-270-762-9905. The woman on the phone said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Hi. We’ve just recently opened a store in your area and would like to invite you to come visit it. We’ll send you an invitation with a key in it. If you’re key turns on the truck when you get here, you can drive the truck home or win $10,000 cash. Have you ever heard of American Direct, Inc. before?” I, of course, said, “Yes, I’ve been to one of your presentations.” To which she quickly replied, “Oh, okay, I hope you enjoyed your presentation.”

Hmmm… Recently opened store my ass! And do you really think they call people randomly? I’ve received two calls in the course of just a few months. They are clearly targeting people living in working class neighborhoods. Bastards!

 6,111 total views,  16 views today

205 Replies to “a new scam – American Direct, Inc.”

  1. That was awesome! I’ve sat through one of those before. They are amazing. We used to go for the “gift” but decided it was too much of a waste of time once the gifts started to become another scam. Good on ya’ for sticking it to them. That is classic. I love how he got so pissed! Fight the Power!!!

  2. Thank you I am so glad I did some research I got that call the other day and my meeting was to be on friday. I am glad that you took the time to humor them and helping the nieve see the scam thanks again for saving my time and energy

  3. Great blog Ryan, I just got home from one of their little meetings. Google can find anything right? 5 pages into the search of “American Direct” I stumble across your blog as the very first reference! Hehe. Page 9 of google found me their website at http://bidr.trellian.com/r2.php?e=cF8L0S4UvzZFbF2sJTBoT5sEFMD3YymASwJK7KSZMrRaPhiFr%2FwEI92XsRTNrFXxlMAHqXRfXC2bYq213Zkt8hOpyolXHxP%2Fdfjtmh54CcDOWowm97u0ZY2yWrCpIMRMRaj5RZrJCN0bmyid4exDRy2fMjclPP8urvCL3dSbh3gK6p8S7x8khe%2BJACe%2FpqOQMIDmnwNimQoUAL6lq1u4lEk9Ksk6y5T3DgBVU3KmVadZPYi4s2lyKklT8lgp9vmF23RL43KyxVvKphFqxnoisRlF%2BeohoCDeOPigO9XcthfA7ByhWj%2BXIsTHb3PpMf6%2BdPDlMAZAKFHJR7gtSM1BRML1C9h2uFmlqRg%2FOSt8SiSL4QJbEpIFMbEOtNHyDpcbf2VMa%2BITQnFG4KQmGtCNUWKN%2B078l5hzWeTj0aiuoFGE5MmEGeAaU764kbB%2FR6zl%2FK82xsjabEcNIQElxYIDSDcfGox9axPPjmJJpJSVDeJd%2BrPn68W502lZgUKj6dXX0wC90tVXpOYhorELb6sy%2BXuYfDOD%2FqbuhRmvehzV5h9pUOpdzlaleoiY80Cu8GIkjrqZWv5mv7eFy%2BSzcmF%2F2JYcBy9OcpBj8U9ll2DLHXuwlvNheiFM4p0TV2S0C94%2BAaHK6C%2BZEdqnTAFlDCo3ho3tfrfeMNwR5HuxK6w2dl0u%2B1LELvdiUDPGerlz97zSsof7%2BaIunkI%3D with an address on outerbelt street in columbus ohio where my meeting was held. Probably not the same place you went to? It’s not a secure website, and any submit attempt results in the same error page.
    As for the keys, they were all cut exactly the same from a pretty flimsy looking piece of metal. Plus they weren’t even close to what a Ford Ranger key looks like (since I do have one), hence nobody from my group won the truck. I’m pretty sure that a couple of the audience members had to be plants… nobody could be THAT gullible and eager to pipe in on EVERY topic in a room full of strangers. And they were directed toward separate back rooms from everyone else, while I was left at the front table by myself. Apparently they could tell I wasn’t buying, even with their tag-team attempt by two different agents.
    One girl was trying to impress their point, so she took off her watch and asked me if I would want to pay retail for it. I said “No, but I bet you’re going to tell me how much it would cost, and then how much you paid.” Which she promptly did. So I responded “But shouldn’t your boyfriend have bought that for you?” To which she replied, “Let me show you to the door so you can get your free gift and leave.” Hehe.
    It’s true that the “free gifts” are not even worth claiming. The only thing I really wasted was time, but I would feel badly for anyone who shells out the members fee. You know it’s fake when there isn’t even any fine print to read through before signing up. “Just tell us how you would like to pay, and you don’t even have to pay the full amount. We’ll take whatever you’ve got!”

  4. Thanks for the link, Jim. Interestingly, it looks like each individual scam group has their own website. Yours specifically mentions the one in Columbus. The one I tried was originally posted on the flyer I received with my “truck key”. I also tried a member number and had no luck.

    I wonder if there were some plants in the room, but the sad thing is that there probably were not any.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. Thank you for the info. I was going tomarrow but there will be an empty seat thank you we seniors with fixed income don’t need scams like this

  6. man you get MUCH props for this!!!…these SAME people called me today with the SAME garbage b/c i threw away the SAME key!!!..now i have the “APPOINTMENT” tomorrow….i got a special code for them…uaintgettinmymoney….

  7. Thanks for the effort in your page. These … people, to use the term loosely … called today and being of the suspicious nature I am, I immediately went to get information, particularly when the guy on the phone wouldn’t answer my questions.

    I wonder, can I bust them since I am on the National Do Not Call Registry and they called me anyways?

    Hmmmm.

  8. Hi Mike,

    Probably not, since they wouldn’t consider themselves telemarketers. But it may be worth a try.

    Ryan

  9. Thanks for the heads-up. They’ll be having one more empty seat today 😉

    BTW, I did this search on Google:

    +”american direct” +fairfield

    And the link to this blog was on the first page, 7’th from the top.

    Keep stickin’ it to The Man!

  10. Good deal. Maybe others should do the same. If enough people lodge complaints against them, maybe people will catch on.

  11. Well, I filed complaints for the calls from them with the National Do Not Call Registry so those will be there for any law enforcement investigations that come up.
    The numbers they used are:
    270-767-0342
    270-767-0341
    270-762-9917
    270-762-9904

  12. Hi John,

    I’d be happy to sit through an interview. Anything to spread the word about American Direct, Inc.

    My schedule is actually pretty open right now; I’m a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Sociology. If you want to arrange an interview, you can email me or give me a call: YYYYYYYYYY.

    Best,

    Ryan

  13. Ryan:
    Want to be on TV? I’d love to interview someone who actually sat through one of their sales presentations. dont have to use your last name, if youre concerned. John Matarese WCPO jmatarese@wcpo.com 513-852-4086

  14. Hi Tracy,

    I hope you really enjoy your membership. Have you actually calculated how much money you’ve saved? If so, I’d love to see some solid numbers. Really! Given my calculations, saving money with American Direct would be difficult to do.

    Either way, I welcome all sorts of feedback on this page. I won’t delete your comment – I think people should know about everyone’s experiences with the company.

    Ryan

  15. I also went to American Direct and honestly you shouln’t listen to other people’s opinion on things until you go and see for yourself. I read this column and became interested in just knowing for myself if this was a scam because I also got this key promotion thing in the mail. I called and set my appointment. (Very nice people by the way) I went to American Direct, listen to their presentation and am now a member. I save lots of money on things I buy. Point is… Don’t believe everything you hear! Just because one… um… We’ll call him “asswipe”, isn’t satified with the company doesn’t make it a scam or a bad place of business. I mean hell Walmart pisses me off once a week, but it doesn’t mean that we should try to shut down the business or write a column about it!! Come on now!!!!! Let’s all just cash in our chips and go to Costa Rica with the guy who doesn’t need to save money!!! Whoo Hoooo!!!!

  16. Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for not deleting my comments! True we all do have different experiences with companies.

    You wanted some solid numbers… here they are… I have been wanting to remodel my kitchen for a while now. I finally was able to do so. I saved a little over $12,000 on my flooring and cabinetry alone. I can’t wait to start getting my appliances.

    Sorry you had a bad experience but, not everyone will. I say, Thank goodness for ADI!!!

  17. Hi Tracy,

    I have to admit I’m stunned by those numbers. For the life of me I can’t figure out how you would have managed to save $12,000 on what I would think is a $12,000 job (or less). Is there anyway you can actually list the prices on the flooring and cabinetry? I don’t own a big kitchen, so I don’t really know how much it would cost to redo a big one. But when we got an estimate on ours, including flooring, it was only around $6000.00 for the whole job – and that was with very nice ceramic tile flooring and high quality cabinets. So, you must have a monstrous kitchen to save more than I would have spent on my entire kitchen.

    Try listing things like this:
    Flooring – type (e.g., ceramic tile, wood, etc.) – price you paid
    Cabinetry – type (e.g., wood, laminated, etc.) – price you paid
    Any additional costs (installation, etc.)
    square footage of your kitchen
    any other specialty items – new fridge, sink, microwave, range, etc.

    I’ll happily check with flooring and cabinetry experts to see how much something like this would cost retail.

    And please understand, I’m not saying it isn’t true. I’m just shocked by the claim. If you could give me solid numbers, that would help me gauge whether this is really a good deal… I’m still very, very doubtful, but who knows, I could be wrong.

    Ryan

  18. Tracy,

    You’re obviously fulll of crap and must have vested interest in American Direct. Either you work for them or have a family member that does. Saving $12,000 on a floor and cabinet alone is total BS. These people prey on the least common denominator. If a business has to use a high-pressure sales technique, they’re obviously making most of their money on sleight of hand and not the quality of the product. Oh, I’m sure you justify the way you do business some way in your head. Twist it however you want, but you are still a fraud. Sleep well!

  19. Okay here we go… quickly and only because Ed said I was full of BS…
    Flooring- was imported porcelein 18 inch Italian tile. Retail varied from 5 to 7 dollars per foot and that was on sale… Members only price is $2.50. 🙂 Installation was $2.50 a foot so I pretty much got mine put in for free or saved $5,000 in just the tile(depending on how you want to look at it) No! my kitchen is not 2000 sqaure ft. But where I needed tile was.

    Cabinetry- The tile and cabinets were put in my vacation home that has a summer kitchen w/bar down stairs and the main kitchen upstairs. Lowes sent a guy out who bid just the cabinets for $14,000. Main kitchen was Oak and the other kitchen/bar is Cherry. Members only price(my price) for cabinets was $4,200 and I saved enough to put granite everywhere including the bar intstead of a cheaper counter top. And still was $6,800 cheaper than Lowe’s cabinets only bid. In the TV report you posted even the reporter admitted that buying clubs can save you money. It’s kinda like joining the health club ryan, “if you want to lose it, you gotta use it”.
    Hey good luck in your studies, best wishes… even to you Ed!!!
    Tracy

  20. Hi Tracy,

    Thanks for the reply. You may be right – if you are completely refurbishing a home it may be worth it. For me, living in a condo on a graduate students’ income, definitely not worth it.

    Ryan.

  21. Hi Tracy,

    I think you’re missing some of the more significant points of my post. I’m not “defacing” a company – I’m explaining why this company is not honest in its approach. It plays manipulative games and employs high-pressure sales techniques to get people to join. In addition, it takes your money, claiming it is saving you money. The people at American Direct make money some how: How do you think they make money? They make it from you. The point: American Direct is dishonest. The business model may work for some – if you are being completely honest in your numbers – but it won’t work for probably 75% of the people they try to sell it to. In fact, that is probably what they prefer – that you pay for it and never use it. That’s just money in their pocket. So, while I agree with John Matarese that it may save you money if you are doing a complete remodel of your house, if you don’t plan on spending tens of thousands of dollars in the immediate future, it definitely isn’t worth it. If explaining that for other people is “defacing” a company, then I’m glad to provide that service.

    Ryan

  22. Yes it was a rather large project but there are other things i’ll do in the future and I appreciate the savings that will be there for me when i do decide to do them.
    You know Ryan you won’t always be a grad student and I’m sure that you will remodle homes or buy other things in your future. I guess I just don’t understand why you would “deface” a company just because it wasn’t something you could use right at this moment.

    Good luck with everything Ryan!!!

  23. all members receive a written gaurantee and you are only having to spend
    5000.00 thru the company to receive your enrollment back. thats 40% return on my investment. Since i have definitely received my investment back the rest goes right back in my pocket just like they told us it would in the tour. Sorry that some people cant see the math.

    “Good Luck”

  24. I just got home from this meeting. I knew it was a scam going in, but I had a few hours to spare and I like to keep my skills sharp. This was a very interesting experience. Everything they did in Columbus was almost identical to what they did in your neck of the woods. Moreover it is totally derived out of the scam handbook. Right down to the demographics.

    The crappy office is a dead give away, the sleazy look of the sales staff is too. I once worked for a scam outfit and the young girl who tried to close me had that hopeless look in her eyes I had when I was trying to sell junk jewelry 15 years ago. I caught them in a lie when they said they’d been in that location since 2001 because I know for a fact it was vacant last year. I INQUIRED ABOUT RENTING THE BUILDING!!!

    The sure sign this is a scam is that they won’t let you leave to do any research. That was my schtick. I loved everything they offered but I never give anybody money without thinking about it. They said that they can’t operate that way because of certain regulations. HA!

    My blogs aren’t really set up for this sort of writing, but for the sake of humanity I’ll make an exception. I’ll be posting my story on two blogs within the next week. Check out claw71.blogspot.com and stevevc.blogspot.com for two interesting takes on the subject. Give me a few days, however. My mind is flat after having the wrinkles pressed out of my brain for 2 hours.

    As for Tracey, she’s likely an American Direct spin meister. And you’re correct if you think they had plants in the audience. That’s SOP for these scams. The people shopping in the back were probably plants too. Like I said: The fact that they won’t let you think about it proves it is a scam. Anybody honest will let you do the research and get back to them. For Crying out loud, these people even offer things like layaway and financing for big ticket items. Get out of here.

  25. Thanks for this post. I was contacted by Today’s Bride (whatever that is) yesterday. The girl on the phone told me that I had won a $1000.00 shopping spree and a vacation to anywhere I wanted… if I went to listen to a presentation on pots and pans, or some type of cook ware.

    So I showed up, but I did not have my fiancee with. The creppy looking (and very pungent) indivdual named Dave took me aside and had me fill out a survey about merchandise. He then proceded to tell me that I could not attend the meeting because, “it wouldn’t be fair with out both of you here, you would miss out on the savings.” So he then gave me my $1000.00 voucher and my free hotel stay packet. I started to leave feeling like maybe it was legit. But as I walked out I also noticed the demographic. It made me feel a bit irritated that yes I am a poor graduate student and yes I am middle to low class. But it made me even more irritated to see all of the excited and young faces dressed in cut-offs and racing shirt entering the room. So I just got home and checked out the shopping spree scam site. Then I googled (thank goodness for google) and found your link. Thanks for shedding some light on the subject. I will also spread the word.

  26. That’s typical of these big scale scams. They don’t want you to go home empty-handed and saying you have to talk it over with a spouse is too convenient an excuse. By trapping both of you with the free gift they believe they can get you.

    Three rules:

    If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

    If they won’t let you think it over, it’s a scam.

    When the presenter looks like a refugee from the 1970’s, run like hell.

  27. it’s not a scam!

    I have been there and it’s just $200 to sign up and you get stuff very cheap!!! what are u talking about??

  28. Hi Justin,

    I, too, have been there. It’s not $200 to sign up; it’s $2000.00! You may, in fact, get some things very cheap, but unless you are refurbishing an entire house, you are not very likely to get your money’s worth out of it. So, if it works for you (like Tracy said it did for her), great! But for most people it is a total scam! It has all of the trappings of a scam – secrecy, high pressure sales, etc. If it walks like a scam, talks like a scam, and smells like a scam, it’s a scam!

    Thanks for the comment…

    Best,

    Ryan

  29. Ryan,

    Thanks for recounting your adventure with these fine young entrepeneurs! They’ve set up a “store” in Austin, TX now and I’m so very much looking forward to their presentation.

  30. Hi Ryan,
    I love your blog!
    My husband and I, both veteran business journalists, just got back from our American Direct “meeting” in Austin, TX. This is Sept. 2, 2006. I knew it was a scam when my husband told me about it, but we like to keep abreast of scams and such and were a bit curious about the truck deal, so we went. As soon as we drove up to the out of the way, faceless business park I had a feeling. We walked in and the cute, T-shirt clad college girls looked at our IDs. The other “guests”: A drunk, sunburned, drugged-out looking old party guy up front with his young green-haired, nose-ringed Japanese “boyfriend.” An elderly couple: woman with purse and ID ready in her hand, dragging her skeptic husband who kept reading his paperback novel. A couple of Hispanic and black men by themselves or together.

    A young college-looking guy, “Kevin,” complete with pinstriped shirt, pants, spiky, gelled hair and lots of silver jewelry, opened the reception door and greeted us, taking us back into the presentation room. There was the gleaming truck, parked right on the carpet of this odd rented office space. Clusters of furniture, grandfather clocks and lamps, all with price tag looking papers attached, dotted the room. Then I saw it: the “meeting area” with tables and chairs clustered around a space that featured leather jackets, a plasma TV, knife sets, carpet swatches, etc.

    I could go on and on but I’ll just say we were a bit entertained at least. The old drunk geezer in the audience was actually pretty darn smart. The highlight of the morning was when Kevin started his spiel about Wal-Mart and how they’re making money off us. When he mentioned Sam Walton, the old geezer piped in “He’s dead.”

    That got some laughs, but Kevin recovered and acknowledged, “Yes, Sam Walton died in 1992, etc. but his family is worth $180 billion …. all liquid,” etc. then asked us how much $1 billion is, etc.

    Anyhow, he went through some product stuff and everything Ryan mentioned above. After 45 min. he gave us the opportunity to leave, after trying out keys in the truck. Oddly the geezer, his boyfriend and several others left.

    My husband asked me to stay. I said what the heck. We stayed another 10 minutes, until we were again given the chance to leave after trying our keys in the truck. I refused to stay any longer. My husband wanted to see what the final “cost” would be to join this scam. I can understand the curiosity but I was tired and hungry. I did notice throughout our spiel, several busty cute college looking girls walking back and forth through doors behind us and another young sales dude would walk in and out, sit on the couches behind us and watch Kevin’s presentation. For a time, I thought they might be filming pornos in the back, I was that paranoid.

    The kicker was when my husband and I walked out, we were the only ones to do so by the second time. We entered the “exit” room, where yet another slacker guy in baggy pants sat on a big leather couch, oddly fiddling with a video camera and seemingly looking at its projection on a TV that was turned away from us. I was naiive enough to think he was just playing with his video camera. No, my husband said, he was filming us as we left, so that we couldn’t come back later and sue. That we left of our own accord, etc. and that we left with our “free gift.” Which ended up being, as the slacker took our ticket and looked up the number, a “vacation package.”

    We came home and my husband Googled American Direct and we found your blog, Ryan. We were amazed.

    Heck, I’m not livid. These American Direct people were all kids, probably making $6 or $10 an hour or maybe even low $20 Ks. Not more I would guess. And they were there on a Saturday morning, right before the big University of Texas kickoff game. I almost felt sorry for them. Sorry they don’t have better job prospects or a better way to make money than to take jobs with this lousy outfit. Heck when I was in my 20s I showed up once to a hotel, (stupidly) thinking I was applying for a marketing job and instead found a meeting room of desperate unattractive people clustered around a display table of shampoos, deoderants and breakfast cereals, a la Amway.

    Even though we live in a borderline, starter neighborhood with working class folks, minorities and elderly people on fixed incomes, we make over $100,000 a year and don’t have kids, are college-educated and business reporters. We get scammed a lot here: girls knocking on doors with cleaning products and rug cleaners, asking to clean our rugs to try out their new products for sale. Well we had our carpets all ripped out 3 years ago and only have hardwoods, sorry.

    We’ll likely write this up and pitch it to a consumer pub or something. Maybe we can make money off this experience, which would actually be the opposite of what American Direct wants us to do.

    Karen

  31. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for the thoughts and comments. I didn’t realize this company was so widespread. That’s pretty disturbing. Well, at least you didn’t fall for it and saw through things. The more comments people post the more apparent it becomes that this is a scam. Thanks again!

    Ryan

  32. Dear Ryan, We attented a very similar meeting in Columbus last week. I smelled a scam before we went, but my husband wanted to see because they told him on the phone that he “had already won $5,000” and it didn’t matter that he didn’t have the key (because I had tossed it already). I think we had the same guy you call “Asswipe”. I must say he is good! We heard about the sunglasses and the knives too. Do you really think some stuff is knockoffs? They had a grandfathers clock there that was supposed to be worth some thousands, but it looked to me as it the gold metal face was not attached straight. That couldn’t happen in an item of such high quality. What about the chart on the wall with the arrow going from factory straight to “you”? Like you I wanted to ask right then, “But what about American Direct?” Don’t they get something? But then I might have spoiled his flow 🙂 . Thanks for your time in writing this up and good luck on your remaining 13 + minutes of fame! Joan

  33. Hi Joan,

    Thanks for the comment. Sounds very similar to my experience. I agree on the grandfather clock – the ones I saw looked super cheap. Glad to know you didn’t fall for it. Take care!

    Best,

    Ryan

  34. Hi Ryan —
    I wish I had read this before I went to the meeting and wasted my time. The person on the phone lied to me and told me that they were trying to close out the promotion and that I was one of about 10 people who had a real key (with a Ford insignia on it) and that only those 10 or so people could be the winner. Of course I doubted him but thought I’d go check it out. I found out in the waiting room that everyone had the “elusive” Ford insignia on their keys.

    I too stayed for the whole thing because I wanted to know what the cost was (and because they were pretty intimidating when they offered the “chance to leave”) — then, when we were taken to talk to our sales person, I got the presenter (oh noooo). I told him I wasn’t interested and why and he was curteous and showed me the door (didn’t try to talk me into it).

    I was the first person to leave. I had come straight from work and had on a suit jacket and was the only person in the room dressed professionally. I felt bad for the other people who mostly looked like they needed to hang onto their money (senior citizens, young people with small children, etc).

    I’m not sure that they target certain demographic neighborhoods. My neighborhood is upper middle class. A friend at work who lives in a very nice neighborhood told me they called her too. I think that most people from these neighborhoods just don’t go.

    Anyway – thanks for the service your blog is serving!

    Anne

  35. Hey, let’s all realize there are scams. Scams usually don’t come with a gaurantee though do they. I joined American Direct About 3 months ago and have saved just over$1,875.00 on some Ashley furniture and some things from Bass Pro Shop Catalog, It is funny that the only people you have on your gay blog are folks that did not join and like you sound like unstable people to begin with, don’t you have anything better to do, if you are angry because you couldn’t afford it Ryan that shouldn’t give you the right to bash something you are incapable to understand. I just graduated from Indiana University and find this concept and the company very beneficial to me so far, like the salesman told me there will be things with little or no savings, as I have discovered but there are markups on merchandise and if you think there aren’t you sir are a moron. I appreciate your blog although I completely disagree because there are things to watch out for, American Direct however is not one of them, every other person I talk to while I am there have been more than happy with their decision. I imagine you will not post my reply because I’m not on your side and that is fine, I emplore you to get a job and stop causing harm to something you can;t afford to be a part of! Pat & Sandy McCarthy

  36. Hey Pat,

    First, I could afford to join American Direct. It wasn’t about not having the money. I didn’t join because I didn’t think I would gain any benefit from it. As John Matarese pointed out in his news story on American Direct, it is possible to save some money if you are planning on completely redoing your house or work on other major products and you don’t generally care about name brands. I live in a small, fully furnished, two-bedroom condo and don’t plan on having a monstrous home any time soon. Plus, I like buying quality merchandise. So, there is almost no way I would reap any benefit from such a plan. In fact, the sales person at American Direct said as much to me – when he was trying to show everyone how much they would save he looked at our list of planned purchases and said we shouldn’t do it – because we aren’t planning on purchasing anything big and expensive any time soon.

    Second, I posted this entry on my blog because American Direct is misleading and disingenuine. They claim to be getting rid of the middle-man but become the middle-man. You aren’t calculating the cost of your membership into the merchandise you purchase. The amount you allegedly saved on the Ashley furniture doesn’t even cover the amount you paid to join the program. You haven’t covered the costs of the middle man yet. But you’ve already adopted the mindset that American Direct wants – you don’t take the middle-man costs into consideration. You still need to purchase through them to break even – assuming your savings calculations are accurate.

    Finally, I don’t appreciate the insults. You sound like a homophobic bigot. I have a job. This blog isn’t my job – this is just for fun. And, as you can see, most of the people who read this post find it useful and informative. And, yes, I’m going to keep your comment up here because I believe all sides should be represented. Just try to keep the insults out of it. I’m not insulting you, why are you insulting me?

    Best,

    Ryan

  37. Ryan,

    I love you man sorry Mrs. Ryan.
    Let me tell you my story
    I recieved the phone call in the middle of the day mind you I’m home sick.
    The lady gives her spill, I say really, she said let me send you a key.
    I accept.
    Key comes, gets tossed in with junk mail and forgotten until…………
    They call me 3 weeks later to ask had I recieved it. I told them I forgot, but wait, prior to me taking that call, someone from Kentucky kept calling.
    I answered one time it was a man he ask to speak to me.
    I told him I wasn’t home could I take a message he hung up.
    The phone calls continued until I picked up and the lady ask had I made my appointment.
    I made the appointment for today at 12:30pm, she said someone would call me yesterday which was Friday and give me some kind of code.
    She called, gave code and said I’ll see you there, I said Ok
    This morning at 9:58am I recieved a phone call from that Kentucky number and the lady wanted know if I had recieved my code.
    I was pissed and told her that this borders on the line of harassment not to mention you woke me up.
    She apologized, I clocked and then she stated saying things like girl I’m so sorry. I said apology not accept and called her a B**** on the way to hanging up the phone.
    Got up and did a google search and found your blog.
    I actually wonder how they contacted me considering I am signed up on the do not call list. The call i got stated they were like a Walmart or something wasn’t listening to much.
    Needless to say I will not be attending the meeting this afternoon.
    My son is having a tailgate party right in my living room for the Ohio State vs Penn State. Watching the tv sitting on the Ashley furniture entertainment center purchased directly from Ashley furniture without the middleman. 🙂

    GO BUCKS

  38. I went to the meeting at fairfield this evening also. Fully expecting it to be something scammy, I left my money at home so that i wasn’t tempted no matter how good it sounded. I couldn’t stand the curiousity though and had to at least come and see if it was for real. I did feel a bit misled initially. I wasn’t informed that i would be required to sit through an hour long meeting. I just came from work and found myself to be the only one wearing a tie or anywhere near a tie. I am just turning 22 and due to the fact that i own my own business and will be buying a lot of supplies and a new house and many large items over the next year or two, I saw this as something that could really benefit me. However, unless a person that is already set and doesn’t make the large purchases of houses or remodeling and improvements, the only real money saver that made sense was their example of buying groceries. I would want to know if anyone who has joined is actively on a monthly basis using those coupons and buying groceries and if so, how much do you find yourself saving? I found everyone there to be pleasant and other than his power point slide getting screwed up, it wasn’t horrible. To address the fact that only older and lower income people were in the room with me… When a business uses cold calling techniques like American Direct is doing, even though they may be calling totally random #’s, it is common to see a much higher turnout of that segment of citizens because of the lack of other things to do and gulibility. (if that’s a word) The other thing that i didn’t like was the structure of their meeting. If they are going to let the audience talk, then they need to answer the questions. I didn’t like how they would pick and choose what they were going to answer and not. They did try to hide the fact that they are overcharging shipping, however, if you still save money even though paying a slightly higher shipping rate, isn’t it still saving you money in the end? Isn’t that the bottom line? Will this thing really save me any money? For me and those in my situation, as long as we actually take advantage of it, I believe that it would. However, I have a hard time believing that those that i shared the room with really even had a need for anything other than the groceries. They weren’t going to be buying leather jackets or plasma TV’s. not such a good deal for them in my eyes. Becuase I didn’t have the money on me, and they force you to make a decision then and now without leaving and being able to look it up and research it, my only option was to leave, but I do want to point out that other than offering the option to start payments to split up the initial cost, they really didn’t work with me at all to allow me to come back and join myself. I respected that because they have rules that they stick to and don’t bend them. It would have bothered me to see them go into the back and work up some special treatment for me just so that they don’t miss a possible member. When the rules can be bent, you have to wonder about their honesty, and i was very impressed with how bluntly they handled my situation to their credit. I do intend on joining and have incouraged my parents to take a look at it due to the fact that they are preparing to sell their house and move into another fixer-upper. But I will be watching these conversations closely to be sure that nobody gets hurt or in trouble. Thanks so much for this opportunity and for sharing your experiences.
    Also, we are on the DNC list and want to know how that call was allowed. I was under the impression that only political parties, people who know you, and parties that you have been involved with in the past were able to contact you. That part about this whole thing seemed the shakiest to me.

  39. A website problem led me to need to repost a comment:

    10/9/2006 10:39 AM
    Author : Joe
    Comment:
    Hello Ryan,

    Thank you for the informative blog! My mother-in-law bought a membership for my wife and I. After reading your blog, I wanted to send it back to her and not have anything to do with this company. I’ve been thinking about it though and since I haven’t invested anything in this, it might be interesting to try it out and see what happens. I could then let the readers of your blog know what I experienced during the buying process.

    One reason for me wanting to give it a try is feeling bad she spent so much money on a membership for us. If the 1st membership cost $2,000 does anyone know what the 2nd one costs (she bought 2)?

    After reading the Better Business Bureau entry for them, there is a mention of a lawsuit regarding cancellation fees. Do they still have a cancellation fee and does anyone know how much it is? I don’t want to start using this, find out it’s extremely frustrating to purchase through them (slow response, long waits to receive the products, etc.) and not even want deal with them to reach the $5,000 threshold for the “guarantee” and then on top of all this find out there is a huge cancellation fee.

    -Joe

  40. Thanks for the info., Joe. I’ll be waiting to see how it turns out. This will give some good insight into what actually happens inside.

    Ryan

  41. OK. I just started the process. I was about to purchase a credenza and hutch for my home office from Staples.com. The prices online with free shipping to the closest Staples is $1500 for the credenze and $1100 for the hutch. Right before clicking purchase, I remembered to try American Direct. I logged into thier website and under their furniture section they had a link to Kathy Ireland Home. The 2 pieces I want are part of that collection. I called the ADI phone number, pressed 3 to talk to customer service and was immediately connected to someone. She was very nice and took down the model #s, what store I had seen them at and what the retail prices were. She told me I would get a call with a quote in 3 to 5 business days. So now we wait…

    The big downside I see at this stage is the wait time. Hopefully the price savings will make up for it.

  42. Could be. The only way of knowing is if she were to fess up. This web software tracks IP addresses but doesn’t tell me any more than that.

  43. Well it’s been 10 days since I talked to them and had not heard anything back. It turns out they only work 4 days a week. Wed-Frid. 12-8 and Sat 10-5. The Cincinnati location only has one person who can do price quotes and he is out sick (or so they say). So now I will have to call back on Wed. to see if he is ready to give me a price quote.

  44. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the update. I’m really interested in your experience. Sounds like it is a pretty big hassle to get stuff done with them. I can’t say I’m surprised.

  45. I really like this detailed description. Sounds like the whole thing is more trouble than its worth. If you could ever get the merchandise you want when you want it, maybe. But the run around? Blech!!!

    Thanks for the update!!

  46. It turns out they called my mother-in-law since she hadn’t put my name on the membership. They told her they could not sell the furniture I had requested (so I ended up buying it from Staples.com). My mother-in-law put my name on the membership so now I should be able to request pricing. More on that later.

    In reading their membership materials they mention a free membership to grocerysavers.com I called American Direct and got the access code for the free membership and signed up for thie coupon service. There is a $100/year membership which is waived with the access code. I now have a $1000 balance in my account to use toward getting coupons. You pay $0.75 to have the coupons mailed to you and they include $0.75 worth of more coupons you select when they mail it to you. So if you use all the coupons it is free. Interesting idea…we’ll see how it works…

    I tried calling back on Saturday to get a quote on a watch I liked at a local Jewelry store and a quote on custom sized Bali window shades. Their phone said all customer service people were busy and for me to call back or leave a message. I decided to use their online form for requesting a quote. Since they won’t be back in the office until wed. I will see how they respond to the online form.

  47. We love your blog! You counldn’t have put it better! Chatting with my newly engaged friend (Shannon) she told me (Brea) that her and her fiance just won a free trip and shopping spree but she doesn’t know who entered her into the contest. This sounded very familiar (because I just got married, and this scam targets soon to be married couples) we laughed so hard when we realized we had been put through the same sales-pitch, by the same lady, at the same hotel for the same product (Royal Prestege, the cookware, so we got dinner out of it, yea!) Out of couriousity we purposely did what it told us not to do on the voucher… type it into google. We found your blog and loved the ridiculous similarites that we had been through! Thanks for keep’n it real!

    -Brea & Shannon
    San Jose, California

  48. Thanks for the great blog on American Direct. I only saw this after their first two calls.

    I got a call from a nice lady about a week ago. She asked me if I heard of them and said the same thing to you about the Fairfield location being new and that she would like to send me a key to win a new Ranger. At first I thought, why is she calling me since I am on the national do not call list. My first thought of this being wrong. She repeated my address and asked if she could send me the key and some info. I said no problem. I too got the info and threw it a way. I threw it away because 99 percent of the gifts would be the time share deal “worth $175”. I will talk more about the time share deal later. But the fine print told me it was a “private consumer buying service”. My neighbor got suckered into them. He bought a big screen and nice leather furniture from them and with the large membership he still lost a lot of money on his offer. He claims how he wants his money back but can’t get it. I just got a call today from some “southern twang” fast talking (does not seem possible) “mgr from kentucky” with American Direct. Clayton as he called himself was calling to remind me they sent me a “real ford key”. He kept saying it over and over and that I did not understand how important it is for me to come to Fairfield and start the truck. I told him I was not interested in wasting my time in finding out all I won is the cheap $175 prize. He jumps back saying no prize is less than $300. I said your time share prize that most people (per their numbers is 29,976 in 30,000 distributed wins.) He emphasized that they sent me a “real ford key” again. I told him I could go to the dealer and buy a thousand ford keys from the parts department and not one will still open any of them on the dealers lot. I was tired of his tone and told him he broke the law by calling me in the first place since I am on the do not call list. He snipped back and told me that he did not because i told them they could send me the key. What an ASSWIPE too. On the do not call list, calling them in the first place is breaking the law part not me saying he could send me a key. An anauthorized burgler saying hi to me in my house in the middle of the night is not against the law. Breaking into my locked house to say it is. I told him to go “F” himself. I pulled their info out of the trash and field a complaint against them on the do not call site.

    Your trip to Fairfield reminded me of going to a time share place in Florida to save money on Disney passes. My wife, fatherinlaw, 4 year old and two year old went to a time share with me. It said of the savings, free gourmet breakfast and only take 30 minutes. The place was so packed with over 300 people they had a processing area and then you had to wait to go in this huge room with over 300 people. The breakfast buffet was a few donuts/bagels, toast some cheap scramabled eggs and cold cereal. A sales person came over to talk to us and we still did not finish eating the cheap “gourmet” breakfast since we were starving. We had to tell him to give us some time and then the abay started crying half the time(they did not care). They then walked us throught these fancy time share rooms that we had to walk around the building to see. Asked us to buy a unit for 29,000 with 450 annual fee. The place was beautiful. Every few minutes you would see and hear these family members stand up and introduce themself over the microphone. Examaple. ” We are the Smith family and are poud new owners of a three bedroom condo”. What will the jones do next? All the sales people were in great looking suits and lost of gold. Very high pressure and when the saleman could not do it they sent over the “finance guy” then when he could not do it, they sent the floor mgr. The manager made up a scam and said they have an older condo that is being foreclosed on an couple who left the country and he could sell it to me for $14,000 I told him I would take it if he would show me the foreclosure papers. I asked them is that what the new condo would be worth in 3-4 years and they slipped and the younger sales man said yes. We were there for 3 hours. They would not let us go until they all had a chance at us. The more questions I asked the worse the deal got. I was shocked to see all of the suckers. They said that when you stay at the resort you get free meals. They had like 5 great places to eat on the resort and I asked what the details were. They have a “cookout” outside at the same spot every night 5 days a week one meal a day only for a few short hours for dinner and lunch. That is not the same as getting “meals free”. Eating bbq or hot dogs every weekday is a not the same. My wife’s cousin lives in Florida and says they go to them all the time for the free stay at hotels and bed and Breakfast places. He says when you get there, hold out their document showing that they have 30 minutes like the deal says. When it hits 30 minutes he stands up and demands the free stuff and leaves. Don’t get me woring, a time share has its place. I am sure they made money on the Disney tickets. They had a ticket office right there on the spot that printed the actual tickets straight from Walt Disny himself. I think they are all in on it. Heck, the hot dogs at disney were $7 a piece. you think discounting a ticket is going to hurt them.

    If you have the money to get to them a lot of times each year, they may be worth it. But I would rather rent the same place from the idiots who bought them and that don’t have the time(no pun intended) or opportunity to use them. If you like high pressure sales then visit a time share meeting or a “private member” club.

    I checked out the site you got on the voucher. A lot of the stuff was dirt cheap compared to the SRP price but when you added it to the shopping cart the s/h was added and it end up costing the same as the SRP(assuming this is suggested retail price). Plus a lot of it was no name crap.

    I do not believe “tracey”. There are not too many people invited that plan on putting in Italian tile and and solid oak/chery wood cabinets. I love the way she threw in Lowes. Her manager must of helped her with that one.

    I’ve seen some pretty unthical tatics in the car business, home loans and window replacement industries. There is always someone out their to deface the rest of us that try to make an honest living.

    Thanks again for the blog. I enjoyed the adventure. Greed and trying to make a living (the easy way) helps many sleep at night while they take advantage of others.

    ps. Clayton in KY at American Direct….go “f” yourself again.

  49. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the comment and your thoughts. You should check out my timeshare experience as well. I described it on this site here:
    http://www.genesoc.com/

    Sounds like we had a very similar experience. Time share salespeople and those working this new shtick at American Direct are not nice people.

    Thanks again,

    Ryan

  50. Thanks so much for posting this blog! We got calls, too, from American Direct. I was Googling them because I was wary of who they are or what they do, and yours was the first article to appear! Thanks so much!

  51. You are so right !!! My wife wanted to buy some new furniture and begged me to go to the presentation in Columbus. As soon as I entered the store and saw the group of people waiting for their “appointment”, I knew it was a scam. I am a purchasing agent, so I am suspicious of every sales pitch, but their presentation was so phony, I felt that I was being hustled the whole time. Their claims were so rediculous, I was ready to leave after about ten minutes, but my wife wanted to stay to hear the bottom line. When they told us the “one time” membership fee was $1995, we looked at eachother , nodded and left. We took all papers they had us fill our with our planned purchases, so they would have as little information about us as possible. Anybody who thought they were going to win something other than the “vacation” (worth nothing) had to be kidding themselves. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME GOING TO ONE OF THEIR PRESENTATIONS.

  52. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the comment. Glad to have a purchasing agent backup my claims. And congratulations on spotting a scam and avoiding it. Not everyone has such a keen insight into things.

    Ryan

  53. how do i undo a membership? see 4 members 2,500 just 2 have to be named, 2 later remember people under 18 in your family are coverd. sept. 20th 2006 membership started. read your website feb. 20th 2006. 1740 452 7421 zanesville ohio 43701.

  54. Hi Michael,

    I’m assuming you signed a contract to set up the membership? If you could send me a copy of the contract, I may be able to look into ways to get out of it. But, keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer. But I would be interested in the contract either way.

    My email is: ryan -at- genesoc.com

  55. I went too, to fairfield. The calls I received beforehand I feel were deceptive. The person claimed that they were opening a new store, I asked what kind of store, “a buying club”, like sams? costco? “yes, except we get stuff direct from the manufacturer” or some such drivel. Do you work for the store or for a marketing company? “directly for American Direct” (not true) “I am a store manager” (means ‘con man’ in swahili)
    The “store” was not a store, and obviously not new. (red flag here) So right away I am ready to leave, but curious. Then the big pitch about buying stuff cheap directly from the manufacturers, seems plausible, in fact I have done this myself many times, you can get great deals, in fact I hardly ever pay retail for any expensive item. But if I can do this myself what do I need them for? My wife went to JC Penny’s yesterday and spent $129, on the bottom of the receipt it said ‘you saved over $500’, big deal, it happens all the time.
    The next thing that struck me as odd was, If they have 10’s of thousands of members saving money by “buying direct” where are all the people answering telephones, checking prices for the members, and why is their “warehouse” practically empty, the only things in it were a few items obviously on display. I mean, if this were as big as they say it is that warehouse and loading dock would be as busy as a new orleans kmart the day after katrina with boxes and stuff stacked all over the place. At least a morgue has corpses.
    You can get a lifetime membership, who wants to be stuck in a lifelong relationship with someone who decieved you to get you into it in the first place.
    Then the “you have to decide now or walk away forever, you only have this one chance”, sorry folks, even if I was totally convinced this was the real deal, this would be the deal breaker for me (a big huge red flag)
    With the benefit of a little hindsight, I think that Ryan is right on the mark with this one. I didn’t think to google this untill I saw the building, when I did see it, I knew that this blog or one like it was going to be here, and I was right. Thanks for the Blog. btw, one of the sales “managers” that called was named Tracy, I wonder…………………..

  56. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the comments. You’re dead on with your analysis – especially the part about the “this is a one time offer” approach. Whenever someone does that, you know it’s a scam.

    Thanks again,

    Ryan

  57. Hi David,

    Glad to be of service. I’m also glad you didn’t waste your time with them – lucky you!

    Best,

    Ryan

  58. Great job on relating your experience. I got a call today and I had to ask if they were law enforcement trying to sweep for parking ticket offenders! I asked for a web site on she said they ‘had Internet’ but didn’t give me a URL. The office that called me:
    American Direct
    4616 W. Howard Lane
    Austin Texas 78728

    I forget the phone number but it came up as American Direct on caller id. Is there a generic key that will start the Ford. MAybe time to alert the AG in Texas.

    Again, thanks very much for your blog.

  59. Ben,

    I think you’re right. It would not be admissible in court if they have a sign up. Your other thoughts are probably accurate as well.

    Brian,

    Have fun and give them hell!

    Best to both of you,

    Ryan

  60. I was thinking about why they have the sign about no photos or recordings in the lobby. I can think of several reasons why they might be there.
    1. I am quite sure that if a person were to take audio or pictures over the objection of the sign that these would not be admissible in court.
    2. If several people were to take pictures the various plants in the audience might be recognized. Upon reflection, I think that some of the audience members were plants (not the leafy kind). When I was there, one of the couples in the audience went with one of the presenters to take a “tour” of the “warehouse”, I followed them. The “wife” of the couple tried to discourage me from entering by closing the door, saying that they were just going in there to smoke by the bay doors. She sure acted like an employee, I am convinced that the two of them were plants.
    3. I wonder if any of these people have criminal records and would not like their pics broadcast

  61. Ryan,
    We got the invite, last week. We made our appointment for today, and are about to leave… I will try to get some snapshot of their Austin, TX location, and I will send them to you, if you like. I was already expecting a “Hard Sell” sales pitch, but now, thanks to you, I will go in fully armed, with prior knowledge. I am a big fan of “pulling back the curtain,” so to speak. I am, for the most part, a self-educated man, beyond high school. My education was strictly technical (computer geek in tech support). My wife and I, however, also live in a lower end, working class neighborhood. I would assume that your theory regarding their method is probably right on the mark. I will elucidate, further, after we get back from the “Presentation”, OK? I am now RRREEEAAALLLYYY looking forward to this one! Talk to you, soon!

    – Brian

  62. Well here is the latest and greatest. I paid cash up front $1,699 to get into this coop and wanted to go on line to compare prices of all the things I wanted to buy in the next year.

    Well what do you know, the website is down and they tell me it will be up in 2 hours. Well it has been 1 week, but fortunately I opted out of the program in 1 day and they have promised to refund my money in 10 days. I trust these people, however since I have worked in marketing before and knew what type of company I was dealing with, Folks we have here what is called a RED HERRING.

    It sounds good because they only show you the pros and not the cons. Every business has Cons and here are some of them.

    1. Not ready for massive Internet Networking Traffic is the reason the website will probably never work well unless they invest a minimum of $250,000 for a true National Regional Member Server Infrastructure, therfore you will have to spend more time ordering your product by phone with poor photography.

    2. If your product is mailed to your home there is no gaurantee that it will be in good shape and exactly what you ordered, and although you can send it back your will have to take that chance again.

    3. You will have to wait 3 times as long to have your purchase reach your home because the factory is not interested in sending you 1 product when they have an order of 10,000 on the table.

    4. You do not have the luxury to talk to anyone directly at the factory to confirm your product and there is no customer service to help you feel comfortable about what your are purchasing so unless you are buying a Car, Funiture, Carpet, Windows and Doors your chance of comfortability is not going to happen.

    This is just to name a few problems, however I do trust that they will refund me my money and I will be a happier camper by not having to deal with any future problems with American Direct.

    I am also disappointed that I wont have the opportunity to save a lot of money thru them by buying big ticket items on line, but the saying is true!

    YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR AND BY OPTING OUT OF THIS RED HERRING, I AM PAYING FOR MY PEACE OF MIND !!!!!

  63. Hi Big Dog,

    I hope you’re right that you can trust them. I’d be a little worried. Do let me know if they refund your money.

    Best,

    Ryan

  64. Former American Direct member here…

    Although my gut told me this was too good to be true, I found comfort in the contract’s three day money back guarantee. So, I decided to join and figured I could check it out and cancel if needed. On the third day I called to cancel because I didn’t take the time to look at anything. The person I talked to told me if I needed more time to check things out I was more than welcome to take a few weeks. So I did. After a couple weeks I requested half a dozen quotes and decided that for me the cost wasn’t worth the savings. So, I called back to cancel, they asked me to mail in a letter, and two weeks later I received a full refund. American Direct wasn’t for me, but I wouldn’t call it a scam.

  65. Ryan —

    Excellent description of this sort of thing, I did a condo timeshare once, and boy, ask them for a business card so you can call back if you decide to do it, and watch their faces. I hope I spared some person selling their soul by my asking the question…

    The Ford key is going into the recycling. (It does look very much like a Ford key, but the stamping is ragged.)

    I’ll link through my Live Journal. I’m a writer, so my fan base will enjoy the warning. Thanks for bothering to blog. (Of course, with their name bringing up 200 million hits, of course I looked for blog entries on it!)

    Time to leave — they’re calling again. You saved me lots of time!

  66. Hey Ryan! We unfortunately did not find this site until after the hours of wasted time. My husband was immediately skeptical of the whole thing, but I must admit, I was idealistically hopeful that the company had our best interests in mind. There were two things in particular that convinced me there something was not right… First, when we were taken into the private room, we explained that we had just moved to Austin and could not dish out $2000 until our moving expenses had been paid off. We also requested additional time to research the company. We were told by our 23-year old “consultant” that not only did we have to make our decision right at that moment, but he further stated that if we decided not to join, then we will never be given another opportunity to become a member. What the —- is that?? That was when I began to see the light. So, as a psychologist, I decided to applaud him for his success at such a young age and commend him for his persuasive speech, and he proceeded to tell me that he started the company in Ohio and that the company just PAID for all of his relocation expenses plus bonuses for him to move to Austin… they are definitely banking on their consumers’ $$!!

  67. Sigh…thank you so much for saving my husband and I some time! he asked me to check this company out on the web. Your blog came up on the first page. I appreciate both the blog and the informative comments.

  68. Hey Guido,

    Thanks for the thoughts. I think the two companies are separate – direct buy and american direct – but they do about the same thing. (At least, that was what the news reporter who interviewed me seemed to think.)

    I think you’re right in your analysis of how it is a scam.

    Thanks again. Have a good one.

    Ryan

  69. Hey Ryan,
    Great Blog and I hope you are saving people a lot of money and heart ache. I live in Columbus Ohio and recently I have been seeing advertisements for a place called “Direct Buy” and based on the description of what they offer, it sounds just like “American Direct”. I did some checking and found several complaints about “Direct Buy” on a site called “The Squeaky Wheel”. You can check it out at:

    https://TheSqueakyWheel.com/ViewComplaints.cfm

    I didn’t, however, see any complaints about “American Direct”. Do you or any of the others who participate in this Blog know if “American Direct” has changed their name to “Direct Buy” or are there more than one of these Scams operating around the country? It might even be helpful to post some of your experience with “American Direct” on The Squeaky Wheel site to further spread the word. Sadly these Scams prey on people who often can afford the least to throw money down the drain on something that sounds to good to be true.

    As I read your Blog I saw the comment and discussion with Tracy who appears to be completely satisfied with her “American Direct” experience. Oddly her Kitchen remodeling example had an strange similarity to the example I have seen on the “Direct Buy” commercial. Also your point about her saving more than the project was going to cost you for a similar remodeling job were right on. I was doing some ciphering on her comments and concluded that if her $12,000 savings was for example 10% then her total project cost after the savings was still $34,8000, that’s a lot of kitchen.

    Hopefully these discussions help reinforce the axiom “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. Everyone needs to think things through and do some research before they pull out their Check Book. Even something as simple as Fresh Whole Clover of Garlic, at my local grocery store it is around $3-4 and at Sam’s Club it costs about $6-7 but you get probably 5 or 6 times as much. While I hate to waste Garlic and since I’m Italian and use a lot if it, I figure that if I use at least 1/3 of the big one from Sam’s and have to toss the rest, I am still ahead. Plus I have the option of using as much Garlic as I want and I love it. I realize it’s not an example with hard numbers but hopefully it makes my point of Think before you Spend!

    Take Care and Keep Up the Great Work,

    Guido in Columbus Ohio

  70. I live in Boise, ID and my fiancee just got a call from a man in the “RP department” from “Today’s Bridal” on her cell phone. They want us to come down for an appointment pretty soon. We’ll have to sit through an hour or long demonstration of kitchen wares (or so I think). But, if we do that we get 500 a piece to spend on that trashy KE shopping spree website and a two night stay at “one of 17 select locations.” I checked it out (via your handy code) and cross referenced some of their prices – it turns out that the shipping and handling fee is just a little bit over what those items cost out on the open market.
    Have you heard anything about this “Today’s Bridal” company? I tried to google them, but I got nothing. It sounds a lot like a scam – mostly because of the 2 night stay and the KE Shopping spree but I’m optimistic (naive?). I may go just to kill some time – maybe the Kitchen wares will be quality…

  71. My fiance and I sat through the same promotion for the Royal Prestige cookware, through 21st Century Today’s Bride. I can honestly say that we were just about the only couple in the room who didn’t buy anything, which would have cost the low price of a few thousand dollars. But dang that sales guy was good. Most of the other couples in the room looked just as broke as us. I think it pretty obvious that the $500 vouchers were a bunch of crap, but we haven’t tried to do anything with the 2 night, 3 day trip to a Wyndham resort in 1 of 3 locations. We were thinking honey-moon, can anyone tell me if it’s worth the effort?
    -Jesse

    (The remainder of this post will be written by Jesse’s fiance, Michelle)

    I am a little less skeptical of this presentation than Jesse is, however I totally agree that the shopping spree is a fake. At our presentation, though, the man openly admitted that he was a salesman, and the cookware they demonstrated really was high-quality. We were not at all pressured to buy anything, and at our initial contact (recieved not through Royal Prestige but through 21st Century Today’s Bride) they kind of blew off the advertising part like they thought of it as a chore, too. There are some other things that support my opinion that it wasn’t totally a scam, and if interested/needed I can go into them in more detail. It just seemed to me that the company was very up-front about how things worked. The only exception I see now is the shopping vouchers. No one has said anything about checking into the vacation aspect of these presentations, and I’m wondering if some light can be shed on it.
    -Michelle

    **Note: I’d just like to mention that the thousands of dollars were for the entire Royal Prestige collection, which the salesman said he would never expect anyone in the room to buy and would not try to sell it to us. They were aiming for us to buy the smaller packages, and we were not really pressured. Also they admitted right off the bat that the cookware was very expensive, but that it was quality (which it really was) Like I said, they were very up-front about things and didn’t seem to have quite the scam tactics of the other program mentioned.

  72. Chadwick, Jesse, and Michelle,

    I hate to tell you this, but this is a total scam. It isn’t American Direct, but it may as well be as they are doing almost the same thing. First, here’s the deal with Royal Prestige cookware – it’s crappy cookware that they claim is really nice. I spent about $400 on my set of cookware from Bed Bath and Beyond and absolutely love it. It is all teflon coated and works amazingly! If you want to spend even more money on the highest of the high end cookware, All-Clad is the way to go. Ask anyone who has bought All-Clad and they’ll sing praises to it.

    So, how do I know Royal Prestige is a scam? I’ll tell you…

    1) This consumer affairs website details experiences similar to yours but also describes the cookware itself. Turns out it is cheaply made and way over-priced.

    2) If a salesperson is using a scam (the shitty “gift certificates” and fake cruises and time share presentations) to sell you something, you can bet what they are selling is a scam as well. (This is what they did at American Direct.)

    3) There is no evidence whatsoever that teflon causes Alzheimer’s, SIDS, etc. That is pure bullshit. You should ask for the peer-reviewed studies that show as much (peer-reviewed means it is research that has been reviewed by other experts and published in a reputable, scientific journal). I guarantee you that they cannot produce those studies because they are lying through their teeth on this.

    4) The high pressure sales tactics are a dead giveaway that this is a scam.

    5) If it’s too good to be true, (You know the rest of this)…

    So, I hate to say it, but it sounds to me like what is going on here is some bridal company is selling your information to these people (Did you recently order some magazines, sign up for a mailing list online, etc.?). They know you are getting married so they know you are going to be needing some cookware. They then use high-pressure, dishonest sales tactics (including unfounded fear) to sale you really shitty cookware. People buy it thinking they are getting a great deal, but they aren’t. They are getting scammed.

    Finally, ask yourself this: If Royal Prestige cookware is so amazing, why isn’t it carried in any stores?

    (Oh, and the video that pops up on their site is the biggest turn off of all – it’s cheaply made and tells you nothing about the quality of their cookware.)

    If I were you, I’d run from these people screaming. And if you have a blog (one of you has a myspace page, so you do), I’d describe your entire experience there and post it as many places as you can so other people aren’t snared by this same scam.

    Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you were scammed.

    Best,

    Ryan

    P.S. I was just looking through Royal Prestige’s website. They have this ridiculous “customer satisfaction” page: . Well, from what they wrote on the page I know it is total bullshit. Here’s what they say: “Out of 2280 questionnaires mailed, 718 were completed and returned giving the survey a overall confidence level of 95%.” The “confidence level” (sic) is not necessarily tied to the response rate (which, according to their entirely made up numbers, is actually 31%, a pretty awful response rate). The “confidence level” they seem to be talking about is actually the alpha level or probability that their findings are not due to chance – they set it at .5, which means 1 time out of 20 the results will be due to chance. This has nothing to do with the response rate or size of the sample – it is completely arbitrary. You can set your alpha level at 95%, 90% or 99% (all or common, depending on what you’re doing). “Confidence intervals,” on the other hand, refer to something slightly different – it is a buffer zone for how likely your findings are to fall outside the specific degree of confidence (which, again, is set by the researcher, not the sample size or response rate). The smaller your sample, the larger your confidence interval – generally. But more importantly is the question of how random and non-biased your sample is. They provide no indication of this. As a result, I can, as a statistician, say that I have absolutely no confidence in their statistics. They report no measures of response bias. Based on the statistics on their website, I’m inclined to believe that these people: (1) have no idea what statistics really are; and (2) are, in my opinion, making up those numbers to look impressive.

  73. Ryan,

    My wife and I visited the American direct site in Fairfield OH in March. I admit we were drawn in with the selling tactics and purchased the plan that night; however, after returning home that night and researching the company on-line, we found your blog site and probably read 3/4 of your postings. After careful consideration and further research, we turned around and returned the next day and arrived with a grocery list of items we had plan to purchase in the next few months. The idea was to test this program against what we were instructed in the initial visit. To our surprise 80% of the items we were looking for, American Direct did not have direct access to but instead would have to purchase through a distributor. This is what they preach about in the initial brief is leaving the middle man out including warehouse distributors. Some of the other items like tread mills were not possible to get. We really tried to find a legitimate item to cost compare and our digital camera was the deciding factor to our decision to withdraw our membership and have our money refunded. The initial brief leads you to believe that American Direct will get your product of choice directly from manufactures; however, I found that they are just an extension of the middle man. I will say that American Direct did honor the 3 business day money back guarantee and returned our money within 3 weeks of our decision to withdraw. As far as a scam is concerned, I would say they mislead the public is there true access to direct market purchases. Lessoned learned, no more direct purchase companies… I can live without the access.

    mike

  74. Hi Mike,

    Great insights. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like this company really does warrant the extensive criticism and scrutiny. I’m glad you got your money back.

    Best,

    Ryan

  75. Hi Ryan! Thanks so much for posting this (and giving others a chance to post as well). American Direct called me a few weeks back (I’m in Austin, TX). I was busy and didn’t pay much attention. I said they could mail me whatever they wanted. They mailed the key along with a letter. I tossed the letter and saved the key for my 2-year-old daughter to play with. Meanwhile, they kept calling. I could see their name on my caller ID, so I didn’t answer. Finally I was fed up with the calls… they called every day. I answered today, and the woman (who was very nice) somehow managed to get me an appointment. I didn’t want to go… I knew it was some type of scam. But for some reason I just couldn’t say no! I had no intention of going, but I figured I’d just call and make an excuse tomorrow. She asked if my husband could go, and I said no. So she said she’d put me down as single, because “they” would be upset if I showed up without my husband. But something kept nagging at me. It occurred to me that if I had trouble saying no to someone over the phone, how much harder will it be to say no to someone in person? So I went online and did a Google search for “American Direct.” Nothing relevant came up… so I typed in the phone number (270-762-9905). And your post came up! I’m glad to know my instincts are good, because it just didn’t feel right to me. I, too, don’t consider myself to be blue-collar. I live in a fairly nice neighborhood. I’m college-educated. And for some reason, I think they’ve called me before… several years ago. I remembered that I’d talked to someone with a similar deal, but I got out of them that it was a $2000 fee to join. I told them no right then and there. The woman I spoke with today wouldn’t give out any such details. Anyway, obviously I need to get better at saying NO from the start! But I won’t feel bad calling back tomorrow and telling them I’m not interested. Thanks again!

    Julie

  76. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for posting your experience (and your persistence in posting). I’m glad the site is helping people to see the problems with this group. That makes me feel like I’m helping make the world a better place 😉

    Best,

    Ryan

  77. Hey thanks for the post Ryan! We got a call from the 21st century today’s bride people today. It definitely seemed scammy, but your post saved us a trip out to a crappy hotel :p

    I posted about your post in my blog as well:

  78. Thanks for the heads up. I am in Austin, TX and these boneheads called me and made the pitch. I was lke yeah send me a key whatever. Then forgot and the key came in and I threw it away just like everyone else does and then they called and I think I made an appointment for next week. I kept asking what do you sell and they said “everything” and I said “huh ok”… I own a house next to some quad plexes and duplexes, so I am guessing your demographic target theory is spot on. What a bunch of bastards.. Kind of thinking about going just to be an a-hole at the meeting and hopefully get nobody to sign up that night.

  79. Hi, Ryan. thanks for your helpful post. you are a great person.

    I just got a call yesterday said something like lottery you won. i will get the 3days 2 nights vacation getaway, $1000 online shopping, sweeptake card for a 30k car and $50 gift card of Jiminy Peak or cash. on the phone the guy spoke very fast, which make me suspicious. and then they send me a “certification” by mail.

    I opened today, from the website for the $1000(keshoppingspree.com) i google your blog. it is nearly same bait. the certification is just one crapy photocopy paper. I’m in capital region of upper state New York. they didn’t use the “American Direct, Inc”. This time it is ” Bentley Brook Mountain Club”. maybe it is anohter northeast version scam. here is the detail:

    they asked me make an appointment and let me bring this certification and two ID, one is driver license, the other is credit card or established checkbook. and they eagerly let me take my spouse or friends. I was told go to Bentley Brook Mountain Club at Jiminy Peak, Hancock MA, which is 40 miles away. i google map and found it is really big ski resorts. the certification said that after 90 mins tour you will get your gift. they emphasized that no obligation to purchase anything on phone and letter.

    there are too many spots to suspicious. they pretend to show you how great the resort are(90 mins!!). and need credit card for identification?? they told me that they will mask the card number, just for identification, but i’m afraid about the financial information safty.

    all in all, it is fraud definely. my appointment is on this sunday, i’m thinking if i go here to see how it works in this new version.

  80. Hi Kai,

    Yeah, that definitely sounds fishy. I wouldn’t give out my credit card number no matter what. But if you can go with out giving that out, it would be interesting to see what they do in this scam.

    Thanks for the post.

    Best,

    Ryan

  81. you know what really annoys me about whiney guys like you? you dont take the time to know anything about what you are talking about before you claim to be an expert. first i am a college educated sales pro. and using techniques you mentioned is fairly common place from retailer to retailer. now i havent been in retail in years but i recall the mark up.evan with the mentioned costs it is a tremendous savings. ive been a member long enough at american direct. ive had nothing but good experiances. your life must be so unsatisfying. i mean you are such a whiney man. you werent taken by a scam, you just believed you were smarter than everyone else, i mean look at how you characterized the other people in the presentation. when i was there i was late too and there was a large bmw, a mustag gt conv and several other cars i doubt oud ever have. i mean i know alot of peple like you so bitter and obviously “so smart” that you miss out on alot because you would rathernot suck it up and grab your balls. its easier to sit back and tear down the choices others make rather than make a choice yourself.
    hey man no one wants to be sold. you are the extreme example on how moderately intellegent people with limited sociol skills try and compensate. listen if youve read this far than realize that this guy craig is just upset and bitter about how the world has treated him. he didnt have the nerve to join the club and lost out big. i have personally saved well over what the program costs and i couldnt be happier with the results. listen id at least respect you if youd been taken by a company but you got turned off by a sales pitch. you truly think you are better than the people that worked there but more importantly you act as if you are better than those you live close to. maybe its just the arrogance that pisses me off most but who are you to call something a scam when you dont really know. you flaunt your education like that is a big thing. i mean i remember college and i remember a few guys like you. you were kiss ass whiney little geeks then and sounds like you havent changed. you may remeber me, i didnt have to study and i did better than you. not to mention i dated the girl you secretly stalked. listen if you dont get taken then you dont get to yell scam! im happy that i just found your blog. im happy to give an alternative view to your twisted perspective. get help. the truth is you are the real scam. you claimed to be educated but what do you offer? nothing concrete except your ignorance. maybe id believe you if you had something to say about your experiance using thier store but you use wild speculation and a fear of being taken advantage of to justify your screwed up sense of self rightousness. god you are pathetic. people make your own mind up. think for yourself and dont let someone like this guy make you feel stupid about something you see value in.

  82. Hi Jason,

    Congratulations! You have successfully fallen prey to a logical fallacy known as “ad hominem.” You see, you did not refute any of my arguments in my discussion of this scam. What you did is attacked me. What that tells me, and I could be wrong but I don’t think so, is that you don’t have a good counter argument to what I claimed. And since you can’t refute my arguments, you attack me instead. You try attacking my credibility. Whether or not I am personally “whiney” (sic) has nothing to do with whether my criticisms of this company are accurate or not.

    As for your other points you kind of hint at…
    1) Have I ever said that no one can save money with this program? No! As I and John Matarese (someone who debunks groups like this for a living) said, perhaps if you own rental properties and don’t mind buying cheap stuff this is a good deal. But if you are a regular old single-family home owning consumer, this deal sucks!
    2) Did I ever say I was better than my neighbors? No! I live in a working-class neighborhood because that is all I can afford. I’m a poor college student. I like my neighbors. All of them are very nice. Do they have the same level of education that I do? No. But that doesn’t make them bad or me good. I really don’t even have to argue this point as it is an ad hominem anyway. My whole point was that I believed the people at American Direct targeted the working class because they would be more susceptible to the persuasion tactics they used. That’s a theory, not a statement of fact. It’s based on my experience there, but I could be wrong.
    3) Finally, are you Mr. Cool? I have no idea and couldn’t give a shit. That has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Apparently you think you are Mr. Cool. You also seem to think that education is worthless, when someone has more than you (you didn’t think it was worthless when you claimed you were a college-educated sales person). I really hope for you that you are Mr. Cool. I’m not cool. I’m a geek, and I say that proudly. I watch science fiction TV shows and am fascinated by science. If you can be happy being “cool,” great. I’m happy being a geek.

    Honestly, Jason, I hope American Direct works for you. I really do. But just because something works for you doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else. I have every right to criticize what I believe are the questionable business practices of a company (welcome to America!). If you can show that what I describe above is a lie (rather than attack my character without any evidence), I’ll retract it. I believe in being honest and trying to educate people. That is, in fact, what I do – educate. So, if you have solid evidence of how American Direct has saved you money, post it and let me and everyone else who has commented about this company examine it for its merit, not because you are “cool” and I’m a geek.

  83. Hi Michael,

    Do let me know when you have more information. I’m interested to know how things turn out. Sorry your parents were sucked in, but hopefully you can help them back out.

    Best,

    Ryan

  84. My parents were tricked into this last night, except they call themselves USA Direct Inc. on Kemper Road in Cincinnati. When Mom got home all excited about the money she would save, I grilled her for info. She spent $2000 plus $500 for extra cards for all four of us kids. She actually got quite defensive and swore up and down that they seemed like a reputable business, but everything she described screamed scam to me. I even predicted several things about the company that sure-enough I have substantiated thru an internet search. Now she is distraught over her foolishness. She and Dad have lots of medical and living expenses and very little money to throw away, and she really only did it because she thought it would benefit the kids. Unlike American Direct, this contract does not offer a 3-day out period. My partner and I are going over there today to try to pressure them into a refund, but I’m not holding out much hope. I think we’re both going to have to restrain ourselves from getting physical with them if they don’t comply, and we’re both pretty formidable. Their “asswipe” blatantly lied when Mom asked about the Better Business Bureau and told her that the complaints filed were about the length of the presentation…BULLSHIT! BBB has numerous complaints about service issues, refunds, etc. I’ll post again when we find out more.

  85. Hi Penny,

    I really hope that is true. But to verify it, can you give me the brand of TV, the model number, and a copy of the receipt? Without all of that information there is no way to verify what you are saying.

    Best,

    Ryan

  86. I just became a customer at American Direct and just saved 450.00 on my new wide screen at Best Buy the TV was 1999.99

  87. Okay, so we went and they gave us a refund. It was hard to get a real fix on this business. I got the impression that they are as legitimate as they are required to be by law, but they’re not what I would call reputable. At first they tried to sell my partner and me on the whole scheme, but we were playing “good cop – bad cop” and I was the hardass who showed ’em I meant business. I told them they blatantly lied to my mom, showed them a copy of the BBB report, told them I went online and read a number of blogs and reports from dissatisfied customers and that I’d found LOTS of bad info on America Direct, which they claimed is their biggest competitor. I also asked why the BBB has them listed under five different names, which they denied like idiots. Basically, they knew we had done our homework and decided a mutual dissolution of the contract was probably in their best interest.

  88. Thanks for the update. I’m glad you were able to get out of the deal. Just goes to show that Google can save you money!

    Best,

    Ryan

  89. Dear Ryan,

    Wow I feel like an idiot! I went to the Royal Prestige presentation to grab the 2 $500 gift certificates and the 3 day 2 night hotel stay. I didn’t buy anything, because I am a poor student who is getting married and I hate cooking. (I KNOW WHO SOLD MY NUMBER, I HATE DAVIDS BRIDAL ARRRGH! They spam my phone at ungodly hours wondering if they can sell/rent me a tuxedo.) (Besides I wouldn’t spend $2000 on pots and pans when I can’t spend that much on a car I so desperately need.)

    I remember sitting there going, “WOW! I don’t know teflon could give you cancer…” The salesperson working that night joked with us and I told him there was no way in hell that I’d buy his stuff. He gave me the coupons anyways and I asked if the stuff was legit and he said yes, which makes me sad because he was pretty nice and he handed me scam stuff.

    Anyways it was very nice to find this site. I never bought anything with the gift certificate because I balked at the shipping prices. I kind of figured it was a scam because they were very vague with the products. Plus it surprised me when it said, “Do not use GOOGLE or any other search engine” under where it said to type in the address.

    What is the deal with the 3 day 2 night hotel stay? Is it timeshare, and what exactly do they want? I was really hoping to use it as a vacation my fiancee and I so desperately need, but it costs anything more than the $50 security deposit it says on it…then its really going to pop my bubble. Not only did I sit through the long, boring, presentation…we had to wait for it since the one I was originally scheduled for was canceled since not enough people showed up. I was already at the hotel it was at so my friend and I just sat at the bar drinking for two hours before the next one. At least we had a few cocktails to get us through the bullshit, but I still feel like a complete idiot for going in the first place.

  90. Hi Kim,

    You’re definitely not an idiot (though I’ve felt the same way many a time). Think about it this way, you didn’t fall for the sales pitch – and you’re lucky you didn’t. I don’t think I’ve specifically mentioned this in this post before, but I paid about $400 for a very nice set of pots and pans about 5 years ago. I got them at Linen and Things. They are non-stick, teflon coated and they are superb. I can’t believe I cooked without them for so long. I’m completely enamored of them. And they were $1600 less than the crappy cookware they sell at these sales pitches. So, good for you for not buying.

    As for the 3 day, 2 night hotel stay, I’m almost positive it is contingent on you going to a timeshare sales pitch, where you’ll get even more pressure to buy something. If you know, going into it, that you absolutely will not buy anything and don’t mind wasting somewhere between 2 and 4 hours listening to someone try to sell you someone, then it is a free 2 night hotel stay. But if you don’t have the fortitude to sit through that sales pitch, don’t do it.

    Sorry you wasted your time, Kim. But, yes, waste it you probably did. Part of the allure of these sales pitches is that they do get you to invest time into the sales pitches. And the more time we spend on something, the more valuable we believe it to be (basic social psychology). So, unfortunately, it is actually working to make the sales pitch more believable the longer you spend there. Congrats for finding the site and realizing it is a scam.

    Good luck with the wedding,

    Ryan

  91. Hi there! I posted on May 4. I just wanted to update you… they just called me again! They wanted to send me another key! As soon as I told them I’d already been contacted and had turned them down, she couldn’t hang up fast enough.

    Julie

  92. Julie,

    In my experience, once you let them know you’ve had some involvement with them, they can’t get away fast enough. They know they only have one shot to scam you, then it’s over.

    Thanks for the update.

    Best,

    Ryan

  93. Hi Breanna,

    Glad I could help. Pat yourself on the back for looking into it before you went; not everyone does.

    Best,

    Ryan

  94. I am actually very thankful that I found this blog. After being contacted and told I had won a honeymoon vacation package and $500 shopping spree at KE I actually thought for a moment it was the real deal. Then me and my new husband decided to do just a little research and the ONLY thing we could find about this scam was this blog. I found it interesting that the web wasn’t flooding with information (and we all know if this were real, it would have more on the internet than just this). I am 5 months pregnant and I’ll tell you one thing, if I ended up going and they made me sit through some BS like that I would be a very VERY unhappy woman. So Ryan, thank you for the insight… We both greatly appreciate it!!!

  95. in response, your arguement holds no real value. i decided to become a member and saved tons of money. well over what the enrollment was. what more can i say.

    your loss and for those who dont believe it try it for yourself. dont listen to this skeptic.

  96. Hi Jason,

    I’m glad it works for you. As for my argument holding no real value, a sample of one does not illustrate that. I also think it’s funny you think calling me a skeptic is a bad thing. I’m a skeptic and I’m extremely proud of that fact! I don’t accept things just because someone says they are true. I want evidence. Just because you said it works for you doesn’t mean it actually works. I need proof. Send me receipts for items you’ve purchased to show me how much you’ve saved. Send me the evidence. If you can prove that it works, I’ll stop criticizing the company. But I have yet to see any evidence of that.

    Best,

    Ryan

  97. I worked at a call center. I too, Ryan, am a Graduate student. Firstly, I have no particular love for the company, they just paid really well to talk on the phone. I hate phones, I like talking, and I’m not rich, so two outta three ain’t bad. Secondly, the people that call you have no idea what they’re doing. We were just given a script to read. We were explicitly kept in the dark about the actual operations. We knew there was a membership fee, but I have no idea how much it is. And the annual renewal is new to me. Though it is pretty humorous.

    So basically, what I want to say is this, don’t hate the caller. In fact, we do use our real names, I did anyway. But most of us are just college student trying to pay the bills while getting an education. With a few High School drop outs with an excuse for not getting an education. (The pay is surprisingly good. It ranges from $7.00 – $16.00 depending upon performance.)

    Anyway, I think scam might be a little a harsh…I mean they actually do deliver a product. If anything, I’d say they’re only guilty of self-ingratiation.

    As for the target demographics…I think that’s probably not true. I mean they’ll take anyone’s money I’m sure. But you are right, the calling isn’t random. IN fact, it’s the exact opposite. As a caller, we’re given a couple of folders lists of numbers. The folders are organized by area code (not zip code) and then the lists of numbers start with one prefix in the area code, say xxx, and then goes through every 4-digit remainder. e.g. xxx-0001, xxx-002, xxx-003 etc. So it’s certainly not random, but it’s not targeted either. I think the demographics you observed most likely came from the type of people desperate enough to win a new car or $10,000. I mean honestly, if you’re a multi-millionaire, you don’t care about winning either one, and you’re not overly concerned with how much you spend on retail. So it’s not as if a particular demographic is targeted, it just that a particular demographic responds more often than others. Which is different from being targeted.

    You are right though about the new store bit. They have three stores, 2 in Ohio and one in Texas, and the Texas is the newest. The other two have been open for years. But then again, ‘new’ is a fairly relative term.

    And just as an aside…The national do not call list doesn’t technically doesn’t apply to American Direct. The scripts are worded so that they are not selling you anything over the phone. While there is a sales pitch at the location, that doesn’t qualify as telemarketing. Granted, this may be merely an aesthetic thing, but it does allow them to legally not be classified as ‘tele’-marketers. They technically market nothing over the phone.

    In any case, thanks for giving me the skinny, I always wondered what happened to the poor saps I lured in…

  98. Hi Ryan –

    My boyfriend and I attended a presentation on Saturday, May 26. Everything you said is 100% true. I’m surprised that we were contacted…our zip code is in the heart of Hyde Park. They seem to be shooting for a higher demographic as there were two middle aged, upper middle class couples there. The free hotel stay is now “two free roundtrip Delta tickets” through FlyFreeAmerica.com. You pay $99 activation fee, and you get to fly free to a limited number of destinations. The kicker is that you have to pay $199+ per night to stay in a hotel once you get there. We only went because we thought maybe we could fly free down to our already purchased condo in Florida, but I don’t think it’s going to work. We have a request in to Fly Free America. I will let you know what happens.

    One last comment. The tactics of the sales people bordered on illegal. I almost felt kidnaped. Usually when I go to a sales presentation like this, I play along and pretend I’m really interested. I’m not sure why…I guess I like to see their faces when I tell them I’m absolutely not interested once we’re in the pressure room. Usually it makes it easier for us to get out of there quicker, but at this one it made it way tougher. They kept us in that room an extra half an hour after I said no. I got up and opened the door and stood in the door to show them I wanted to leave. The salesman kept telling me to write down a “legitmate reason” why we weren’t interested after I had already written down something. I finally said “look, we saw a woman who was in the presentation with us leave after 5 minutes. We’ve been here an extra 30. Now I want to know what she said to be able to leave.” The guy said “she said she couldn’t afford the membership”. So I said “Great! We can’t afford the membership. Can we leave now??” Overall an extremely high pressure and intimidating sales pitch that I didn’t appreciate.

    The presentation lasted two hours. The woman on the phone told me it would last one. The “free gifts” are a bunch of crap. I tried like crazy to find USA Direct on the web before I went to the presentation, but I couldn’t. I wish I would’ve found your blog beforehand – it would’ve saved me some aggevation on a holiday weekend. I plan on complaining to the BBB.

  99. Hi Former Employee,

    Thanks for the thoughts. I can understand your position. I still think working for such a company is morally objectionable, even though you didn’t know all the details. But, I can understand your position.

    As for it being a scam… Well, if they claim something other than what they deliver, that makes it a scam. They deliver crappy products at a paltry savings. I don’t think that’s what they claim. But, you’re right, it isn’t an out and out “steal your money” scam. It’s just mostly an out and out “steal your money” scam.

    Christen,

    I’m glad you found the site, but sorry it took you until afterward to do so. The company must be having a hard time signing up new people if they are getting so pushy. That is really, really pushy (which is an indication that it is definitely a scam). Please do complain to the BBB. The more complaints, the merrier!.

  100. I wouldn’t say I hate them. I simply believe they are scamming people. In the interest of informing people about what they are getting into if they go to the American Direct sales pitch, I posted about my experience. I don’t think what American Direct is doing is entirely honest, but that is my opinion. I leave up the opinions of others on this blog – those who agree and those who disagree. Basically, I think people should make informed decisions. American Direct wants to limit people’s access to information; I want just the opposite.

    Ryan

  101. So what you are saying is that you were NOT ripped off by American Direct. That is absolutly opposite from what you seem to be implying in your story about your experience. About 90% of the postings here are from people who did not even join the club. Do you think that this is a fair representaion of an overall member experience?? I wish more of my fellow members would post on this so more people would not take to heart comments made by people who have zero clue what they are talking about since they are NOT MEMBERS. Like yourself. Unfortunatly people who have good experiences typically will not talk about it in this format. They would rather be happy with all of the money they have saved and have a nice day.

    You don’t like their sales tactics? Fine. You did the right thing by not joining since you did not feel comfortable. But others choose to look past that and find more money in thier bank accounts at the end of the day once the utilize thier membership. It is not for everyone. It worked for me and it works for many more people than this site reflects. Thank you for you time.

    Happy American Direct Member

  102. Hi John,

    I never said I was “ripped off” by American Direct. I said I went, found the whole enterprise questionable, and decided to describe my experience. Given what I know about it, it is very close to being an out and out scam. As I said earlier, it is possible that some people might benefit from this – if they buy lots of cheap stuff (e.g., home furnishings for rental units), then this may actually save them some money. But for the average consumer, it’s isn’t very likely.

    As for whether this is a fair representation, that’s neither here nor there. This is my blog. That means I get to post MY OPINION. I never claimed impartiality. Additionally, just because someone is a member doesn’t mean they have accurate information. They, too, are biased – just in the opposite direction of myself. You are welcome to start your own blog talking about how wonderful American Direct is. It’s a (mostly) free country. But I do want to point out that, if I was completely biased and not interested in dialog over this issue, I’d just delete comments like yours. I can, but I don’t. What does that tell you John?

    As for me having “zero clue,” I don’t think that is fair nor accurate. I went to the presentation. I sat through it. And I did not find the arguments made by the sales people at all convincing. Just because I am not a member of something doesn’t mean I can’t have an informed opinion about it. I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, does that mean I have “zero clue” what those two parties are about? I’m not a Muslim or a Catholic, does that mean I have “zero clue” what those religions are about? Your argument is fallacious.

    I really do hope it works for you. I know it would not have worked for me – the sales person even said it wouldn’t. I reserve the right to describe my experience. It is, after all, my blog. I can say whatever I want, so long as it is my opinion (which this is).

    Best,

    Ryan

  103. Hi Ryan,

    I recently worked for American Direct. The only reason I did so is because the pay is really good, for a high school student. Ha, they have highschool students working for them. You guys are being called by alot of fifteen and sixteen year olds just to let you know. I finally quit due to the fact that I was tired of scamming poor individuals out of their valuable time. I worked at the “marketing center” in Kentucky. I’m soooo sorry for calling you people! Anyway, when I started working there, there were certain things that the Owner and managers wouldn’t tell the employees. For example, the membership fees, the website address, what year the company started and much more. It was all very shady. Trust me, this “opening promotion” has been going on for an extremely long time. When we tell you that we are trying to get this promotion to a close, that is also false. We have said that for months. It’s just a way to lure you guys in.

  104. I just got caught up in this scam today I went to the seminar and signed up. I just got home decided to do some research and came across the blog, and few other sites. I am going cancel this contract because legally, we have three days to cancel.

    I Learned my lesson do some research before hand…

    Thanks allot for putting this up….

  105. Hey Ryan, I’m glad you had this online. I think it’s crazy that you started this page over a YEAR ago and you are still getting replies on this! I got a call today and was tempted to make a long drive to get our 2x$500 but thought it was fishy i couldn’t see what i was going to buy with my gift certificate. with your password i saw it was a bunch of stuff i couldn’t care less about. I’m glad i saw your site on google before going all the way out there! thanks for posting this over a year ago!!

  106. Hi Karen,

    Happy to help. We’ll just chalk one more up as having been saved from a high pressure sales pitch! Spread the word!

    Best,

    Ryan

  107. I just got a call from a woman at American Direct. She told me the key I had thrown away was probably good at that I could get a duplicate if I went to the appointment tonight. I told her my dad had recently passed away (true) and that I really could not be bothered with promotional sales events. She continued to reassure me that it was probable that my key would fit and I really should attend. I then did a search and found this blog, thank God.

  108. I really want to thank you all for the heads up regarding this company. I am grateful to Ryan and Debi for starting this blog. I am also happy I did the research. I really was not expecting something for nothing, but I must admit the caller from American Direct was good. She had an urgency in her voice while she told me about how my key was one of the only ones left that could turn the ignition. For a moment she almost had me fooled. I have just registered my telephone number to the “do not call” registry.

  109. Just thought I would share a little. My wife and I went to a presentation in Columbus in 04. We ended up buying in and later wished we hadn’t just because we really did not need it.
    I suppose if you were remodeling you might use it. They did come down to $1700….if you call that coming down, and also there is a $100 renewal fee every year. We haven’t paid it yet, and unless I’m planning on buying a car or some windows. I don’t think I will.
    I just wish I had went back and got my money back before the 3 days were up. I was under the impression there is no cancellation fee.
    But so goes…..just wish I had researched the company before I went. Thanks for the informative blog.
    Erin

  110. Hi Erin,

    Sorry you joined. I think you’re right, if you are planning on making a lot of purchases right away it may save you some money. Otherwise, it’s just like giving money away.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Best,

    Ryan

  111. Hi Becky,

    Thank you for posting. I’m sorry you won’t be making the money, but I applaud your decision to do the moral thing and not participate in scamming people! Good for you!

    I hope you find a better job as a result.

    Best,

    Ryan

  112. Ryan, I just wanted to say thank you for posting this, along with everybody else. But I am thanking you for a reason that I haven’t seen yet…

    I was supposed to start my new job this morning, make $7 per hour in Murray, Kentucky, at a call center (the only one?) for American Direct. I was told that it wasn’t a sales job, but I was going to be paid based on my “quota” of contact cards (people who will be receiving invitations in the future). It could go as high as $12 an hour–something I desperately need right now.

    Something told me to check sources earlier, but I was just lead to do it this morning by my gut feeling. I was supposed to start work 10 minutes ago, but I am not going.

    Last year, I was a Quixtar “independent business owner” (associate them with Amway), who would be found in a meeting similar to the one you experienced. My husband and I regret joining that business, and are still recovering from financial losses. I am not proud of attending those meetings, encouraging demographics similar to those of American Direct’s to buy into a business opportunity that in fact was only “opportune” if you got out, haha.

    Anyway, I will not be working for American Direct, although I desperately need a second income. I just cannot allow myself to morally do that to people again, whether or not I see them face-to-face.

    So, I’m off to a job application that I can be proud of.

    By the way, the 270-762-#### confirm that they are in my town. I am sorry that it’s based here; kind of a sore in a beautiful college town in my opinion, and disappointing to say the least.

    And I’ve never gotten a call from them, which makes me think they could get “removed” if it was discovered to be in Murray. I doubt they ever call people this local.

    This is a good thing for your blog. You just saved at least 3 people per hour from coming to seminars in the future, and I planned to work full-time :o)

  113. I have really enjoyed reading the responses on this site and would have to agree that this is a total scam.

    Even to those that have reaped the benefits, the company still employs deceptive and strong arm tactics, which if it was good for the majority, it wouldn’t.

    If it was so legit, then why not tell you UP FRONT, that you would need to do major purchases to recoup just the “one time” fee, much less the purchases you would have to make annually to cover the $199.

    And then there is the “free” gifts for attending. Did any of you “advocates” actually use those? Give me a break, I looked up several items on different categories to do my own comparison and on every single item I saw the SAME one at or below the shipping cost. Where the hell did they get their MSRP’s?

    Now lets get to the truck. In every post I read, not one person won the truck. How about with you “advocates”, did anyone in your group win? That alone is a deceptive tactic.

    Lets face it, even in the biggest scams someone has to benefit, but the reality is that most will not, and that is where these posts come in handy. If they had come out and told me that I could save thousands of dollars by joining the club, but only if I was planning major purchases, then I would be ok with it, but the fact is that the majority of the people in the “group” can’t afford to spend the money necessary to make back the investment, and ADI KNOWS IT!!

  114. Ryan and Debi.

    Thank you VERY much for your website. I was very suspicious of the call, the key and the follow-up calls to ensure I was going and to give me my passcode to go with my key. My appointment is tomorrow at 10 am but thanks to you I wont be there wasting my time on beautiful spring day in Austin, Texas!!

  115. My 78 year old dad just surprised me with the membership card for this service. He wouldn’t tell me what he paid. I am guessing $2000.

    Going to talk American Direct this week to get his money back. Ugh.

    Ryan, thanks for hosting this blog.

  116. Hi Karen,

    I wish there was. I’d suggest lodging a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Hopefully enough complaints will lead to more investigations of the company.

    Best,
    Ryan

  117. I attended an American Direct presentation yesterday. I have taken early retirement and had nothing to do. “If its too good to be true, it is.”

    The presentation was the stock script described on your blog. My one-on-one counselor told me he had only been on the job 6 weeks and kept going to the manager’s office for answers to my questions.

    I was really surprised when the counselor insisted I sign a statement making my decision not to join irrevocable!! Irrevocable my left sneaker! I’m waiting for the next call!

    A friend and I did a longish google on Ameircan Direct.. We found lawsuits filed in Columbus and in Butler County. We also found the name of the owner of the American Direct website among other things.

    Interestingly enough, we were unable to locate the website for the group that “sponsors” American Direct:: The American Manufacturers Association (I think, it was mentioned in the presentation). The ones I did find had the word “Asian” or (Latin) in very small letters in front of the bold print site name of American Manufacturers Association. I’m not certain these are the actual sponsors referred to in the presentation.

    I’m ready to nail up a manifesto on their office door! Is there any way to get these dudes out of town short of a shotgun and a shovel?

  118. Ryan,
    Wish I had read your blog before I committed to American Direct on Saturday in Columbus. The sales pitch was completly phony and certainly a hustle. Talk about time share pitches! Because I didn’t check any big ticket items on the list, they gave me to a newbie, who was very unsure of her presentation. She kept expecting me to walk out, especially after she told me that I wouldn’t be saving much on the refrigerator I need to buy.
    So why did I fall for it? Because I buy wholesale for my jewelry design business and know what the markup on things is. I figured if this was legit, despite the scammy, scummy sales pitch, I could buy other things I need wholesale and save a ton of money.
    Then I went looking for things to buy . They said I could go to a store, get the manufacturer’s number and then buy it through American Direct. NOT! I just discovered that unless you are buying HUGELY POPULAR items such as flat screen tvs or whole rooms of furniture, they don’t actually buy from every manufacturer. Instead of a nice Kohler toilet, for instance, what they can sell you is American Standard’s commercial one-piece stool, with no tank, and which requires special plumbing. Who wants that in their half bath?
    And that bedroom furniture ad they wave at you at every presentation — you all know the one I mean. That ad struck me as wrong, but it wasn’t until today that I figured out what it was. The brand name of the furniture is fake, I think. It’s supposed to sound like something good such as Bassett or Broyhill, but it’s neither. Now I wonder if you actually could order Bassett or Broyhill or just junk.
    Discovered your blog when I was writing the “Cancel my membership” letter. Thanks for putting it out there, since there is almost nothing on the internet about a company that says it’s been in business for more than 20 years. That should have been a red flag right there.

  119. Has anyone been able to find out where the headquarters for American Direct is? Who the founder is? President of the company? Any web site? A friend of mine joined American Direct in Fairfield recently and I knew it had to be a scam. I want to be able to show him any info that can be found.

  120. Ryan, I posted last July. I was the girl who decided NOT to work there, despite my need for better income at the time, haha.

    Well, just wanted to update you: American Direct is still based in Murray, KY, much to my dismay. As for me, I interviewed for a job the same day I decided not to go to work at American Direct, and I love it! It’s a REAL sales job, where I sell insurance adjustment software to people who actually need it, haha. I can’t believe they haven’t been weeded out yet! If you need any assistance, just let me know!

  121. Hi Becky,

    I’m glad it worked out for you. I’m not sure what will be required to shut this company down, but nothing seems to be happening along those lines as of yet.

    Best,

    Ryan

  122. Well I was contacted by American Direct recently and invited to their Fairfield, OH showroom for a Ford Ranger or $10,000 cash giveaway. I thought it sounded too good to be true. Thanks to all for bringing this scam out in the open.

  123. I just got the key in the mail. I can’t wait for them to call and “sweeten the pot”. Thanks for the heads up.

  124. I live in Dayton, OH. I just got a call from American Direct this afternoon, inviting me to take part and I was suspicious right away. When I asked the girl (who had a very thick southern accent) how she got my number, she claimed it was dialed at random. When I mentioned the Do Not Call list and told her my number was on it, she didn’t seem to know what it was but when I told her about it and that calling me was against the law, she promptly hung up on me. I then did a google search and found your blog. Thanks for warning the public against this dishonest practice.

  125. I just got a call from these scumbags.

    I just love how they claim that the Do Not Call List does not apply to them. Sorry, honey, but it does. It IS a sales call, and it IS illegal for them to call me.

    I live in Yellow Springs, a nice place to live but also has a high percentage of unemployed 40-somethings living in their parents’ basements (they seem to form the defining voter bloc in local politics), so I get calls like this all the time. I love my ZIP code too!

  126. Wow, I guess Im glad I searched for this tonight. My wife and I got a call a week ago about winning a truck and I was playing on the internet. I told the person on the phone that if he was calling for me to buy something then i was not interested and he replied that all he needed was my address and he would send a key to me. Of course I gave it to him to shut him up and get back to playing my mmorpg (lol).

    We received the key and set a date for tomorrow at 11:30am I guess they will have one empty seat.

    Thank you Ryan for your post on this. We would all love to save money but if most are like me. I dont have the money it takes to save money from American Direct.

  127. June 2008: They are still calling!! Same “win a Truck bait”. I live in Austin, Texas in an upper middle class neighborhood. I told the lady i had heard about American Direct (actually i knew about Direct Buy – same sort of scam) and told her she better be looking for a new job because everyone now knew they were a scam outfit. GREAT blog – GREAT info!!

  128. Just got a call today here in Austin, TX. Same pitch as previously reported, including “just opened a location in your area” which is great considering you have reports that are 2 years old from Austin. I just told them not interested and hung up. then googled them. Glad I didn’t waste my time.

  129. Hi Ryan,
    A search for information on buying factory direct led me to your blog. We need to make some major purchases over the next year or so and hoped to save some money buying directly from the manufacturer. The list by priority includes new furnace – new mattress set – windows for the entire house – sofa bed – stove/range – and kitchen floor covering.

    To give away $2200 just to find out we get nothing in return except a useless membership would be a significant hardship. I’ve been searching to see what’s out there to save money yet purchase good, reliable, durable and long lasting the tests of time merchandise. It’s very difficult to make an informed decision when folks like Tracy from 6/12/06, Patrick from 9/22/06, Jason from 5/16/07, and Penny from 5/18/07 refuse to provide credible information to substantiate their claim that they are satisfied customers of American Direct, Inc. I hoped that Joe from 10/11/06 would have made progress on his quest to utilize his membership and report back. Since his last post was 10/31/06 maybe he just gave up and requested a refund or decided to let dogs lie and all that. Did Michael Rocker from 2/16/07 ever send you the copy of his contract for your review? Just curious what the contract provides in the way of their actual guarantee.

    Using the $2200 ourselves, taking care to research and wait for sales, we could purchase the mattress set, sofa bed and stove instead of a membership. The furnace will cost $3400 and we haven’t even tried to price replacing 18 all natural wood windows for this 110 year old house. Thankfully, the original windows use a chain link instead of rope for the pulley. The problem with the windows is that the wood has warped and multiple cracks around the wood frame, between the wall and the wood frame, of each window means it is far from energy efficient not to mention the dust and bugs that can sneak into the house. This house was made to last but is in need of some major maintenance and repairs. The furnace is the original that was converted from coal to gas. The kitchen flooring is considered a luxury when looking at the big picture of things. It is still in very good condition; fully intact and functional with some pitting and yellowing but for linoleum that’s probably over 40 years old it’s not so bad.

    Because the furnace and windows require on-site installation how would American Direct, Inc. be able to make guarantees on services provided by outsourcing? Just one more of the multiple questions we all have and for which we can’t seem to get an honest, forthright and credible answer.

    I’ll keep searching on my quest to find good values and reasonable prices for the necessary items. Hopefully, I can avoid the Tracy’s, Jason’s, Penny’s, and Patrick’s who are bent on bad attitudes instead of helping all of us who truly want to make an informed decision based on facts not fiction or fantasy. We all agree that salespeople can be fast talkers and pushy even when the product is good, that’s why I rely on solid info with actual facts and figures before spending a lot of money. These are purchases I hopefully won’t make again in this lifetime!

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and allowing others to share as well so we can see the big picture. Making an informed decision is too important.

  130. Hi Fran,

    I never did hear back from Michael Rocker or any of the others.

    As per American Direct providing on-site installation, I don’t think they did stuff like that, but I could be wrong.

    Glad you find the site helpful.

    Best,

    Ryan

  131. They’ve moved into Austin, Texas. I just got at least one phone call from them. The phone rang twice before and left no message. I don’t have Caller ID, so it might have been someone else.

    These kinds of businesses (and I use that term loosely) do prey on those who are less astute. If you could save 20% on every purchase you made through them, you would have to spend at least $11,000 in the first year to break even. I don’t spend that much on groceries and certainly don’t spend that much on home furnishings, office supplies, etc.

    Real businesses are in business to make money. Legitimate manufacturers deal with wholesalers or large retailers. Most have agreements with wholesalers that prevent them from selling direct to preserve the wholesaler’s ability to sell. The idea you can save significantly with a “club” is very unlikely.

    This pitch is pretty old. I remember a door-to-door solicitation when I was in college (living in an old blue-collar neighborhood in an efficiency apartment) that was pretty much the same deal promoted with colorful graphics in a looseleaf notebook presentation. Even then, I knew enough to know it was a bad deal.

    Any ideas on how to shut these scum down?

  132. Hi David,

    The best suggestion I have is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in your area or a state regulatory agency (contact your local department of commerce, they may have some numbers for you) and see if you can file a complaint. That’s about all we can do, unfortunately.

    Best,

    Ryan

  133. I work for the call center in Murray,Ky. I’m one of the people who keep calling over and over. Many of you have probably spoken to me. I know Clayton very well and it is his real name, he’s a very nice guy. The business is not a scam, however, the promotion is another thing. You’ll get a vacation. The truck is given away in a drawing once a year, the keys won’t work. We cut them in our call center. As for the do not call list… we are unaffected by that. We have folders full of numbers, (no names or addresses) that are computer generated (therefore random #’s) they are listed in order. We call them all, then we start over and over and over. The pitch is printed up by a lawyer,so it’s legal, barely, but still legal. And since we aren’t selling anything over the phone, the DNC list does not apply. My advice to you that do not want the repeated, and they will be repeated, is not to simply say “not interested” and hang up. you won’t be removed from our list. Ask the person nicely to remove your # from our call list. Don’t piss them off or your number most likely will stay there. We have a lot of teens working there, as young as 14-15. Sorry for the constant calling, we’re just doing our job. Remember, if you just hang up, we can’t take your number off. I use my better judgement and scratch a lot of numbers off just being nice. not everyone does that.

  134. Hi Ammi,

    Thanks for posting. Your advice is pretty good and it’s nice of you to give it.

    That said, I have to wonder if your company really is not obligated to follow the Do Not Call Registry. I just read through the FAQ on their website and your company is definitely calling people trying to sell them something, even if they purchase it later and not on the phone.

    For anyone who follows this website, here’s what I suggest: First, register your phone number with the Do Not Call Registry. Then, rather than just file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the next time you get a call from American Direct, Inc., write down the name of the company and caller, write down the time they called, write down what they said, and get their contact information . Then go file a Do Not Call complaint . Several thousand Do Not Call complaints will get this company investigated. Each violation is a fine of $11,000. A few hundred of those and American Direct, Inc. will be out of business.

    I hate to turn your offer of good will into a tool for ruining your company, Ammi, but it may just work.

    Best,

    Ryan

  135. I understand your frustrations, but you have no idea how many people have asked me for the same information that you have asked people to get. It won’t work. When anyone asks for my info, I gladly give it to them, tell them to have a nice day, and go to the next # on my list. All of us have heard the ‘I’m on the do not call list’ As I stated before, it’s a fine line, but we are on the legal side of it. We have a pitch drawn up by a lawyer that’s inside the legal bounds. We are only “advertising our store”. If you will just ask to be taken off the list, most of us do that without a problem. It’s when we get cussed out and phones breaking our eardrums as the slam down that those numbers stay on the list. We are human, not robots. We have feelings. Just take 15 seconds of your time to be nice, be polite and I can just about guarantee we’ll leave you alone. Oh, one more thing… We are REQUIRED to take you off of our list if you’ve been to the store before. Tell them you went and saw the presentation before and you’re not interested. That’s the fastest way to come off the list. We aren’t supposed to send out more than one invite to a household. The drawing in Austin for the truck and prizes is in a couple weeks. If you do want a shot, go out to the presentation, you don’t have to accept the membership in order to be put in the drawing. The reason you “have to be on time to be registered in the bonus drawing for $1000. in gas” is that’s how we know who came to the showroom for the presentation. They are the ones who have a shot at the truck and prizes, so if you went, you do have a chance.

  136. Ammi, makes sense. I think I’m still going to encourage people to file complaints with the Do Not Call Registry, but they can also just ask to be taken off your list. You sound like a very nice, reasonable person. Why are you working at American Direct?

    -Ryan

  137. Honestly, I needed a job, they were hiring and the pay is okay for this area. I average about $8-9/hour, which is good for Murray. However, we have closed our Ohio markets, at least for a while. Be aware of another “new store” in the area with a different name, same location. That’s probably what will happen. By the way, if you need them, the owners are Paul Guy (here in Murray) and Scott? Scarbrough (in Ohio). I enjoyed reading your blog, it gives me different insight to the people I’ve been calling and hopefully gives them more insight to us. It’s not personal, so sorry, it’s just one of the larger jobs located in a town that’s overrun by college kids and retirees.

  138. Oh my..i’m only 17 years old and only a senior in high school, but over the years i have found that my parents are prime victoms of these things. I know they are scams, and I tell them that they are scams and they never believe me..We live in central Texas and so far, they have bought a $9-12 thousand dollar lot in brownsville (got a $500 walmart shopping spree with this one)..and to my huge surprise, we have NEVER been back to visit our tiny patch of land that will someday be in the price range of modern day orange county real estate. Also they have not only fallen for 1, BUT TWO timeshares (one for anywhere in the world the other for only a few diff. places in florida and we’ve been to ONE of them ONCE)(by the way the 2 free nights in a hotel they gave us for the first timeshare was to a microtell inn..and i dont know if it was just this one in san antonio but it was so bad that my mattress fell through the bed and we got up and left in the middle of the night so they gave us another free night in galveston that we never used), and a Lonestar direct buying service (like ADI, they cancelled this one shortly after signing up) and I may be mistaken, but it always seems like I’m smarter than the people selling to my parents (and smarter than my parents in some ways)..and I always tend to drift them away but the salesperson always brings them back to the sale and they fall for it..So here recently they were out for an entire day and weren’t answering their phones and got home and told me about the key they received in the mail to go to austin and try to win a truck and i thought to myself ok hopefully they know by now that they shouldn’t be doing this but they did and they fell for the ADI thing (because its going to save them over $900 on the Omega watch i’ve always wanted)..

    i’m dissapointed in them..i have asked why save $900 when you could have saved $2000!? and they just get mad and tell me to go away..We live in a really nice newly-built suburb, and I love my parents to death, but I hate to say that they are the people you see in those trailors in the nascar t-shirts and jeans that are 5000 years old..oh well i guess i’ll just have to learn from their mistakes and try not to make my own in the future..

    ps: I’m getting the Omega watch as my graduation present/class ring type thing..now after reading this all I have to hope is that its not made in China!!

  139. I just got a call from American Direct. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, because now I know what they’re up to. You made one mistake though that hurts your credibility. It was the cheap swipe at the LDS church. I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase “Building Relationships of Trust” as a prelude to “selling” people the gospel, although that sounds like a pretty good idea. I also kind of doubt you went to Costa Rica. Anyway, your statement was an asswipe thing to do, since the rest of what you had to say was spot on. In a way this makes you the moral equivalent of an American Direct consultant.

  140. Um, “The Skeptic,” did you serve an LDS Mission in the 1990s? That phrase is literally right out of the Missionary Guide – they recommended that you “build relationships of trust” before trying to teach people about Mormonism. The new manuals may not say it, but the old ones did (I still have the manuals; if you really don’t believe me I guess I could scan them in to show you). It was part of the “commitment pattern.” You’re welcome to doubt my serving a Mormon mission, but the thousands of pictures of me in Costa Rica with my name tag on sitting next to investigators and my detailed journal would disagree with you.

    As for that being an “asswipe” thing to do, you’re welcome to your opinion. But you should also keep in mind that I have to put things in the framework that makes sense to me. The Mormon missionary framework is very familiar to me, so it made sense to me to put what they did in that framework.

    As for that reducing me to the moral equivalent of an American Direct consultant, well, I guess you can think that way, but I fail to see the connection. That’s also very denigrating and I’m not sure why you felt like you had to include this after I went to the trouble to tell people about my experience. Is this how you return all favors – thanks for all your help and f*ck you!?! Not really the moral high road…

  141. Ok, I believe you about Costa Rica. You’re right, I guess I went way overboard with the moral equivalent statement, but it irked me that you had to work your swipe into an otherwise well-founded and brilliant report about the American Direct scam.

  142. The Skeptic, thank you. You’re right that a swipe at Mormonism is unnecessary in my post. At the same time, as I suggested above, the American Direct pitch did seem similar to me: get friendly with people before you try to persuade them. That’s what I was taught to do as a missionary and so when I saw the salesman doing it, it triggered memories. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to do, it just seems a bit sneaky. But, I guess if you’re goal is to sell something, sneaky is as sneaky does.

    Again, thank you for the apology.

  143. Taking that a bit further … many relationships are first built on establishing some degree of trust. From your description, it’s easy to picture how American Direct attempts to build trust and soften their marks for later exploitation. This seems to be all too common with people in sales, marketing, politics, stocks, banking, and, yes, with misguided purveyors of faith.

    Once, when I was in the military, I agreed during a telemarketing call for a vacuum cleaner “representative” to come to our home to demonstrate his product. The con was that we would receive a new 35mm camera worth $200.00 at the end of the presentation, whether we purchased the product or not. I was deep into photography and thought it would be great to pick up a new camera for just watching a presentation about a vacuum cleaner that I had no intent to buy.

    When the big night came (for receiving my new camera), my wife and I sat through the hour long sales pitch, learning more about vacuums than we cared to know. The salesman was talking up a storm like he was our best friend. He thought that he had us hooked because my wife acted like she liked the vacuum and I kept nodding politely. At the end, he tried to close the sale with pen in hand, refusing to tell us the price of product, which we later found was over $1,200.00 (1986). When I said, “No thank you, we’re not interested,” he went completely silent and started packing his things like he was offended. (I think I was supposed to beg him to sell me the vacuum at this point.)

    As he was leaving, it seemed like he had forgotten to give me my camera, so I followed him out the front door to where his car was parked in the driveway. When he opened his trunk to stow the vacuum, I asked, “Hey, what about the camera?” He groped around in the trunk and came out with a clear plastic bag with something heavy inside. He then threw it at me with an underhanded pitch and said, “Here’s your damn camera.” I caught it a few inches from my face and said, “Thank you, you’re very lucky I caught that.” Really, it was all I could do not to make this guy eat the camera after he tossed it at my face with no warning in the dark. (I had him bested by several inches in height and maybe 85 pounds of muscle and special tactical operations training and experience.)

    When I got back in the house I discovered that my prize was a non-functional 35mm replica worth nothing more than the value of the lead bars inside the plastic camera housing. This taught me a long lasting lesson about the value of the free stuff you are supposed to get for just attending a sales presentation.

  144. I just wanted to say thanks for the heads ups, I got a call from the loonies today, sending me a KEY. So I sent their info to a couple of local law enforcement offices, DoNotCall.gov complaint and like you I will tell all about these scams. Oh just a note if you get tired of strange (previous) writers tell them their friends on LiveLeak are looking for them and they will go away faster. Great Story and keep it going.

  145. i think you shouldnt dog us until you have went to our store and seen for yourself. we dont sell over the phone so we can call you even if you are on the do not call list., lol im so tired of hearing about this do not call list, its rather funny to hear people threaten us like they do. dont they know we are working for someone else and we could care less. we just need a paycheck. at least we are not sitting home on our butts doing nothing to make a living . alot of us have families. yes there are high school and college kids working there to. they need money to. if ya dont want the call ask to be taken off our list. and you can do that in a polite way. no need to get all hateful. we call being nice to you, if you dont want what we have to offer , just say take me off the list please it is not a scam we have alot of very satisfied customers that have saved alot of money, we relize its not for everyone. well thats all i have to say today.thanks for calling us loonies , lol i feel alittle loonie at times !!!!!

  146. Unfortunately, my husband and I attended one of these meetings. It was prior to your blog and the interview done in Cincinnati and we were new to the area. I was the only one working at the time and we have two kids and during the meeting they were acting up reallllly bad so we weren’t really paying that close of attention. What we did see, I will have to admit, we were impressed by the amount of savings and the quality of the items. A lot of the people there were as well as about 10 people stayed behind to join the club. We did start the membership and after about 4 months, we realized that it was a scam. They said to call and give a description of the item that you are looking for and they can get it cheaper than you can get it at the store. Everytime we called they told us they couldn’t get the brand or item we were looking for and the only thing we got out of it was a coupon book that helped us save a few bucks on groceries, but it wasn’t enough to recoup the cost of the membership.
    My husband called to cancel the membership and we thought all was well and good until I got a call the other day from a collection agency. They told me to pay up or they would take us to court or they would garnish our wages. I told them my husband had cancelled the membership and the guy on the phone said, and I quote, “Obviously not or I wouldn’t have a record of this debt.” This is when I started doing some extensive research and they are not registered with the BBB of Ohio and I am not sure if it’s due to the number of complaints or if they just haven’t registered period.
    Good news though, according to the BBB website, they have reimbursed membership fees to those that have complained and sometimes will let clients opt out of the membership by paying a cancellation fee of $199, which is much better than having to pay $2000. I am going to call the collection agency first thing tomorrow to tell them that I am lodging a complaint and that I am disbuting the debt until my complaint is resolved. Wish me luck!!!

  147. Hi Scammed,

    Sorry you didn’t find this site before you signed up. They really aren’t a nice company. I hope it works out for you.

    Best,

    Ryan

  148. SCAMMED ,I am sorry all that happened to you.i hear the stores in columbus and cinn. have shut down but there is one in Austin TX.I wonder how long that store will last. HMMM, It dont sound good.

  149. Their office in Austin is 4616 West Howard Lane, Building 1,Suite 140. I attended one of their presentations and stayed long enough to see the $2000 membership fee. The whole thing is presented the same way you would expect a scam to be presented. It’s the kind of thing you would see exposed on 60 minutes. It looked like most of the people they invited were elderly. Very creepy.

  150. I read through your entire blog and found it interesting that not much has changed in two years with this scam, even down to the description of “Asswipe” or in this case Mr. Hamilton. My wife and I attended this just to be curious and after an hour and half we still never got to the one time fee and left when we couldn’t get and answer. They shifted from being very nice to being extremely rude. The whole setup is a scam and you can tell as soon as you walk into the place on Howard Lane in Austin. I really enjoyed your post and how accurate it was. I agree with Texan’s post….very creepy.

  151. maybe they should be reported to the better buisness bureau.
    or someone should sue them.they havent called me, but if they do ill tell them no thank you and dont call back !!!!

  152. We actually fell for their bullshit in October of 2005. And after our 3-day “grace period” was over- yes, they only give you 3 days to get out of your contract- I fell seriously ill, and haven’t worked since.This was in January of 2006. We’ve changed phone numbers and registered on the Do Not Call Registry. They are threatening to sue us for breach of contract for non-payment. BULLSHIT, they get their money the same time we pay rent. I’ve hired 3 attorneys to help us fight this. Their 3-day “grace period” is against the law in Ohio according to Legal Counsel. Who is going to change their mind that quickly? An if you were, why’d you sign it to begin with?
    We don’t have a problem paying them, just with them threatening for no reason.

  153. yea its all about the money for sure. ive talked to several people who went there , they said it lasted way over the hour they said it would take. if you go and arent sure about it dont join.but i hear it is a one time offer. good luck to all you people who go there. me myself will not be going. you will only end up with a 3 day 2 night vacation. accomadations only, you have to pay for your airfare, or gas to get there.un less you are refurnishing a house its not worth the membership fees i was told. be careful!!!

  154. Most of these storys and opinions are very one sided. I understand them to a point because if your not a member and have not made purchases it’s difficult to understand the concept and see the saving’s. I have been a member for a little over a year now. I’ve only made one purchase which was a King size bed, I saved a little over 1400 on the bed. I have not saved my 1999 dollars yet but Ive only made one purchase, Im only 28 and I still rent so I’ll be using this program for a long time once I become a home owner. I understand what some people are saying but, the meeting I went to had about 14 or 15 people and I saw older people and people my age. Im sure this program isn’t for everyone, but Im happy I attended and that Im a member. Im sorry you didn’t see the value or couldn’t afford it at that time. Best of luck.

  155. carson, i am so glad you posted your experience with american direct. im glad you are a happy memeber.so many people are. its not for everyone, some people who go to the meetings are just trying to win the truck or cash.and they will be given away!!! of course most people get the vacation. but its a very good program for people just starting out who will be purchasing alot of stuff to furnish or fix up thier home. i hope you continue to be satisfied with american direct.

  156. Unfortunately, I did not find your blog before we got suckered in to the American Direct membership. We paid them $1699 ($300 discount for paying on the spot). This was on a Saturday (November 1, 2008). I did a Google search but kept coming up with a lot of junk not related to American Direct. Since they are closed Sunday thru Tuesday, the 3 day cancelation period expired before I even had a chance to test the pricing. I did, however, test the pricing the next week. At our presentation, the speaker stressed the fact all we had to do was go shopping, gather certain information and then communicate that info back to American Direct. Like a few of the responses I read, I wanted to believe this would be good for us.

    We did not fall for the stupid key in the ignition lure. We genuinely wanted to get the discounts for home improvement and building materials. There was one response (from Amy?) and she claims she saved some $12,000 on her cabinets and flooring. Well, if that is the case, you can’t prove it by me. I wanted to know what kind of prices we would be looking at when we build next year so I requested pricing on some Armstrong flooring. I did this via their Internet online form. A few days later I got an email response telling me that remodeling items are handled DIFFERENTLY. I had to make an appointment with ONE supplier in Austin. Problem is we live in San Antonio. The travel time is about 90 minutes and if the pricing was as Amy claims it to be, well worth the travel expense…but I have a vision problem that prevents me from driving the 90 minutes and getting someone to drive me is out of the question when everyone else works.

    And another thing I discovered that I didn’t see on your blog is that members are LIMITED to the vendors/suppliers listed on their webpage. The webpage has 45 different categories and sub-categories with a little over 600 different companies listed but a vast majority of those companies were unfamiliar to me.

    I discovered this when I simply went “shopping”, identified items of interest and requested pricing information only to be told the items were not available thru American Direct!

    By November 13 I had requested and then demanded our money back because we had been misled. ADI has refused. I filed a complaint with the Austin Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General’s Office. ADI has responded to my complaint by calling me unreasonable. They have lied several times in their written communications and I have had the pleasure of pointing out the discrepancies, but so far we have gotten nowhere.

    I wish I had seen your site before. But let me say this, I found another site today where someone else signed up for the ADI membership with the Austin outlet. Like us, that person was interested in the home improvement and building materials. After he got home, he checked out the pricing (he must have attended the presentation during the week) and determined that the pricing was not as good as he could get by wheeling and dealing with Lowe’s and/or Home Depot. So, he immediately canceled his membership and ADI got ugly with him, claiming he had not canceled within the 3 days. Fortunately for him, he had paid the $1999 on his credit card because he disputed the charge and the credit card company fought the battle for him. His membership was ultimately canceled. So, even if we had canceled within the 3 days chances are we would not have gotten our money back.

    We are stuck and unless Amy is correct (and I doubt that she is), we will not be able to recoup our initial membership fee without spending more money than we would have to locally! I can’t see flushing good money after bad just to try and make it look like we have saved.

    I have to wonder if the retail prices provided to Amy were inflated. The pots and pans through this B&F System that allegedly retails for $1295 (the set they show in the presentation) can be purchased at several sources online for about $250 but the way ADI tells it, you save more than $1000 on just that one item.

    I requested pricing on an island range hood (Boen) that retails for $2834. ADI proudly provided me with a cost of $2163. They calculated the savings based on the retail price of $2834 PLUS Texas sales tax (8.25%) minus the $2163 PLUS Texas sales tax and came up with a savings of $726.36. Thing is, it took me literally MOMENTS to find a site on the Internet where I could purchase the same identical island hood for $1549. Why would I buy it from ADI for $600 more than I would have to pay for it elsewhere just to save what they claim to be $726.36.

    And this business of having a guarantee that Amy mentioned? You must spend $5000 thru American Direct in 5 years and then you will be refunded the difference between your initial membership fee and the amount you actually saved. But the amount you save based on their calculations will NEVER result in a refund. Its like the pots and pans…according to them you saved over $1000 even though actual savings based on what you would have had to pay elsewhere is the difference between $181 and $250 (less than $100).

    I am so frustrated I could scream. I just don’t see where we will ever be able to recoup the initial membership fee in real savings even though we plan to build TWO homes!

  157. Hi Bonnie,

    I’m sorry you didn’t find my site sooner. I wish I had a magic solution that would get your money back.

    Given how much you’re out, you may want to consider suing in small claims court. It may be worth trying it.

    Best,

    Ryan

  158. Yeah, I am considering that option. Their failure to disclose that members are limited to just those vendors listed on their website and the fact they require you physically visit the Austin showroom just to get pricing are material facts that had we known we would not have joined. Withholding material facts can render the agreement voidable. I’m not an attorney, but I did study business law in college and this was one thing that stuck in my mind.

    They turned me over to the “operations manager” and in the numerous communications back/forth he said and I quote, “If location is such a big issue now, then I would assume that you would have asked someone to clearify this issue before joining and if you did I assure that none of my staff members would have mislead you to believe that there are showrooms in San Antonio.” No, we didn’t ask that question because there was nothing in the presentation to prompt it. The speaker repeated over and over and over again all you had to do was go shopping and submit the info.

    When he responded to the BBB, he claimed that all I had to do was tell him that I couldn’t shop in Austin and they would have made alternate arrangements. Wow, that was the first I heard that statement even though I had told him several times I couldn’t shop in Austin and I even told him WHY…and all this was done in writing so I can prove it. Yes, I have submitted all this to the BBB and AG’s office.

    I even tried to put it into a perspective that the AG’s office would find interesting and tempting. ADI operates 208 days a year (Wednesday thru Saturday). If they only lure ONE new prospective member in per day of operation at $1999 per membership, that means $415,792 initial membership fees in one year. I know that this company is located in several states based on what I have seen on the Internet. So, assuming 24 states each have just one ADI outlet that operates 208 days a year, the figure is now over $11 million.

    Time will tell if my plea to the AG’s office landed on listening ears. Meanwhile, I’m not sure what we need to do. These people lie and trying to be prepared for their lies can be very stressful. What I want is for a regulatory body to make ADI fully disclose their services prior to the member joining. Granted, that would shut them down, but the public has the right to full disclosure. And I think they should be required to allow 30 days for cancelation. Shoot, we went to the presentation on Saturday afternoon. They closed at 5:00 that day and didn’t reopen until the following Wednesday which was beyond the 3 day cancelation period. Had we tried to cancel during that 3 days, no one was available to notify of that cancelation. They would have denied our refund anyway and as it was I caught on to their scam within days.

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. I hope someone reads this before they make the mistake we made…and some of those that have responded with comments that ADI has saved them money should look into whether or not the savings were real or contrived.

  159. I got pulled into this company’s sales pitch by prospect of major home furnishing purchases and minor purchases. However, I had two problems, 1) my monthly payments kept getting returned because the post office didn’t recognize the mailing address in Austin, TX. and 2) After going to the web site and looking for things we wanted, we could never find anything.
    So I haven’t paid them an monthly payment in 7 months including the payments returned to the bank by the post office. I have called them locally and told them to cancel my membership. They returned the $199 renewal fee that they somehow managed to charge to my credit card account that had been changed to a different number from the original number I gave them.
    Today I received a delinquent account notice, and I called them back locally to tell them to cancel my account because I would not be sending them anymore money. The young lady informed me that I needed to call elsewhere. I told her I would not be calling other numbers that this was the location which I did business with them, and I informed her that they would hear from my lawyer if they turned my account over to a collection agency like the letter threatened.
    All that said, I consider the first payments they received as my penalty for being so stupid and gullible. I am frustated by the lack of information on the web other than your blog. I wish I had seen it sooner; I signed up with them Oct. 2007, so your information was available then.
    I sure hope I do not end up having to pay them another $1527.20 as the letter states. By the way, I have never used their service where I have been able to purchase anything.

  160. Hi David,

    I’m glad you’re not out more money. I can’t give legal advice as I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think they can make you pay the balance. If they try, I would sue them. Again, that’s not legal advice. I hope it all works out.

    Best,

    Ryan

  161. We went to a presentation in Jan 2009 in Austin, TX. Almost exactly the same presentation as you described here.

    When we went to our little separate room, I asked a lot of questions and the salesperson got flustered. He was mad as we left with our final great prize of a nonsense 3 day scam trip.

  162. I just got the call in Austin. I’m kinda short (but very polite) and told them to remove my name and don’t call in the future…I’m on the no-call list, etc. Your blog was a great read, nice pseudonym! I tend to shy away from anything with America in the name or a flag on the label. Sad, but American can be synonymous with scam. Remember when products had to have the country of origin on the package and everything had a big flag promenently displayed, but the fine print stated that the packaging was made in america but the hammer (or whatever) was made in china? What is it with americans scamming americans? Is america synonymous with sucker? Sometimes I wonder. Good job trying to dispel this myth.

  163. Brand Name,

    Kudos to you for being smart enough to run at the first sign of trouble!

    I just wish more people would read this blog before they go.

    Best,

    Ryan

  164. I can sadly say that I used to work for the American Direct “scammers”. The job was horrible, but was a weekly paycheck. It was only until recently that I began doing research on my “employers”. I feel so guilty and used, since I used to the the “telephone specialist” that called the people at home.

  165. I work for the company so go ahead and bring it on i have been there for over 2 years and watch people win the grand prizes. If you look up any company you will see all the complaints no company fits everybody life style. The invitation goes in detail what you are coming into it you dont have a obliagtion to join because we do know this company is not for everybody. So there is people who loves us and people that hates us thats business people. I stand up for the company i work for and i do use my real name and very proud of it. Now that i lit a fire underneath some of your bums im sorry we do everything legal. The “Do Not Call List” you need to read it again we are exempt because when we call we are not selling you anything over the phone im just asking to mail a invitstion for you to look over at your convience, but all you have to do is ask to take you off are calling list and we have no problem and everybody who has threaten me to get arrested i hate to tell you im still here. So, with that everybody has a opinion and that is why we have “Freedom of Speech” let me write this and dont delete give a chance to support my company im not a threat trust me.

  166. Angela, I let anyone who wants to comment on this page comment. So, you’re comment is up and I’m not going to take it down.

    That said, I can and will respond. You’re right that your company is technically working withing the laws – it is not doing anything illegal. But it does behavior unethically. With very few exceptions, people lose money by joining your company. That’s how your company makes money. Ergo, you work for an unethical company in my opinion. That’s your prerogative. You’re welcome to try to dispute that, but I’d like to see the hard evidence.

  167. We just got back from the presentation…
    When we said we’d have to think about the sales guy was short with us about recieving our free gift and slammed the door.

    Luckily during the presentation I did a google search on my BlackBerry and seen this site. I told my wife it may be a scam…after the $1999.00 joining fee I figured it was too good to be true…and you know what they say about that…
    This location was in Austin, Tx.

    Thanks for posting this Blog, it may have saved us a lot of money and frustration

  168. Dear Ryan,
    I am so happy that I found your site. I am originally from the Cincinnati area, so I am familiar with the news program that helped you tell your story. Currently, I am living in Western KY, which houses an American Direct “store”. I have a friend who is need a job, and I tried to find American Direct’s number in order for her to inquire about a job, and I found your report. Thank you for informing me and others about this company, and not only will I avoid their call, if they call, but now my friend will not have to endure another horrible part-time job!
    Currently, I am working for a bank, and I have witnessed many scams, and this company is just as bad as the others, even though they have a “legitimate” sales pitch. I will remember this information if a customer comes to me with information regarding American Direct!

  169. Hey!
    I didn’t read all of the posts but as the last person posted, there is an American Direct store in Murray, Kentucky. I had a friend who worked there and he told me that the majority of their calls go to the Ohio and Texas regions. I wouldn’t take it personally against the employees of American Direct – most of the workers are just looking for a part-time job because the store is a few blocks from a university.

  170. Guess what everyone!!! I heard today that American Direct has shut down and has laid off all of its employees. Hopefully the phone calls will stop and noone else is scammed!

  171. I live in the Houston area just got a call from American Direct just a few minutes ago. I am smart enough to smell a scam a mile away, so I promptly told the “telephone specialist” that I wasn’t interested and hung up. The same kind of company, Direct Buy, was targeting my parents not long ago until I looked up the company online and informed my family of that and sent them a link to a website much like this one. All I can say is, thank god for the internet….and especially this website. I hope it saves some people from getting scammed out of a fairly large chunk of change. I have learned to do research over the internet for almost everything these days!

  172. If you spend enough money it is worth a membership either here or direct buy. I flip several houses a year so it is def worth the money for me. Builders or people having a home built can also save quite a bit too. If your not doing anything like this its probably not worth it.

  173. yea i just bought their soundwave wireless headphones. all they are are two peices of plastic with red lights on them to make them look like they work. i bought them at tj maxx.

  174. Yea this is crap. My husband and i bought into the scam in 2006. Bought 1 item took the vaction that had a extra fee and never used membership again. I called when we got divorced and they said only one of us could keep the membership..i would need to pay the renewal of 200.00. What a way for someone to make money. JB from Kingston Oh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *