Tales from the Jugular


By: Eric Compton
Published: Monday, March 26, 2007
Many of you have responded to my controversial tirade last issue entitled "GO DOWNLOAD BURN". Some have responded rather negatively while others echo my thoughts and have shared their own stories regarding CD purchases. I wanted to follow-up that article with another entry in what I'm considering my PRO-DOWNLOAD stance in the music business. Let me say for the record that I am open to any possibility or alternative to downloading. I have always supported music and the metal bands that I love and adore and wish nothing more than to give them, and the labels they belong to, a piece of my wallet candy. In the following paragraphs I will explain to you once again my CD shopping struggles since writing the "GO DOWNLOAD BURN" column a few weeks ago. Keep in mind that the below problems and scenarios are REAL. I wish I was simply making these stories up but this is reality, a product of our failed retail system to deliver quality goods to hungry consumers in a timely and just manner.

Again, after downloading several great albums I attempted to use the online and "brick-and-mortar" retail stores as an outlet to fuel my collection and desire to own key metal albums that I feel need to be supported with a monetary donation. Let's start with my order from Impulse Music....

Myself and a friend decided to order approximately eight CDs from the Impulse Music website. Each item was listed on the website so one would assume that the items are in stock and ready to ship. I loaded my shopping cart and entered my payment method. Two weeks later the payment method credit card has not been billed and of course the items are nowhere near my lovely doorstep. I email the owner and he states to me in email that my order is being held up because one of the items will not be in for another two weeks. In a rather heated email I respond by asking WHY I was never sent any notice that the order was being held up. After a few emails we agree to send the order as is with a replacement for the backordered item. The order arrives about a week later with only five items....four original items and the replacement item. The rest of the order simply was ignored and never sent. Along with the package is no billing slip and no estimate on how much I was even charged for the items in the package. Another heated email to the owner asks WHY only part of the order was sent and WHY I was never sent a statement with the package explaining how much I was charged. The response was that the online website lists EVERYTHING available through Impulse's distributor but is in no way an updated site that lists all things in inventory. The packing slip was left out because the owner doesn't want my billing information to be leaked in case the package doesn't arrive. To myself I'm thinking it would be easy to have a system in place that keeps track of what is in stock and a program that automatically re-orders when an item reaches a certain quanity. Also it would be easy to simply put a packing slip in the package totalling the amount and leaving out my payment info. I respond to the owner with an email stating do not send me the backordered item nor the items that were excluded from my original order. Thinking that everything is over and done with and Impulse Music is out of my life once and for all I get a package two weeks later with the missing items from my original order. Two of those items I had already purchased elsewhere leaving me with double copies. I never bothered to respond to Impulse Music and have simply put the whole matter to bed. Moving on to Plan 9 Music....

Thinking there is simply no way to order online I decided to visit my local indy retailer, Plan 9 Music. The manager of the store gives me an online link where I can browse their distro catalogue and order various items. I decide to order a copy of Machine Men's "Elegies" album. I visit the store, place the order, and am told the item will arrive at their store in 7-10 days. Three weeks later I receive a call from the manager stating that my CD has arrived and is available for pickup. It definitely beat Impulse Music's service even though the item was delayed. I then order two copies of Halloween's new album "Horrorfire" and three copies of the band's new EP "Evil Pieces" (of which the band promised me promos of each but that is a whole different issue). I also order a handful of other items thinking that something is bound to come in within 7 days. On a quick visit to the store to pickup a used CD I am then told by the manager that "something came in last week". I bought those items as well and never bothered to ask why the store didn't call to notify me that items were in. Being a good sport I then team up with Troy Cole and a friend and order approximately twenty-four CDs from the online catalogue. Again I'm met with the usual 7-10 day spill. Three weeks go by (my mandatory wait period before getting involved personally) and I hear nothing from the store. I decide to call them. A clerk answers the phone and hears my complaint and responds by saying "we were waiting on you to call us because we don't have a contact number for you". I respond by stating that the store obviously has my number because they called me when an item arrived last time. Nevertheless I picked up the handful of items (8 out of 24 isn't bad) and called it a day. Moving on to Wharehouse Music...

Deciding that maybe another retail store locally could help me I ventured to order from Wharehouse Music, now known as FYE. I went into the FYE store and placed an order for a band called The Confession. I used the store's Kiosk Station to order the item through Wharehouse.com, avoiding shipping costs by paying with my credit card and having the item shipped to the store location. I ordered on March 11th and was told to expect delivery in....get this....7-10 days, a slogan that must be included in every retail chain handbook. On March 17th my check card was billed and at that point I assumed that my CD has either been delivered to the store or has been shipped. Today, March 26th, I called the FYE store and talked to an associate. After 16 minutes and 43 seconds of holding he came back to the line and told me they had nothing in the store for me and asked again how I ordered the item. He then was kind enough to give me a toll free number for Second Spin, the name that apparently this FYE store uses to cover items ordered at Wharehouse.com. Confused? So am I. Anyhoo I call and talk to a customer service rep who asks for my order number, city and state, and name. She informs me that my order was shipped to the store on March 13th and allow two weeks for delivery. I ask for a tracking number and the rep explains that they don't have tracking numbers for their shipments. I am asking for a refund at week's end.

So what is left I ask you, my beloved reader? How do I, a willing, paying consumer, purchase a CD?

What am I supposed to do when I hear a new song online and want to hear the band's full release?

What do I do when I try and order the album only to find my order has been misplaced, backordered, non-tracked, or simply disappeared?

Tell me readers, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Do I simply sit on my hands and wait until K-Mart or Best Buy finally gets the German import to arrive at their store or do I GO....DOWNLOAD....BURN and enjoy the band, enjoy the music, share my thoughts with the metal community, support the band by going to shows, and simply wait for the official CD?

Or maybe I should do nothing but play the free song online and forget that the band and album even exists?

That is what the retail world wants me to do.

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