Home > Author blabber > Dollar Bin Tragedies (or When I Cry in Public): Scratched Discs Part 2

Dollar Bin Tragedies (or When I Cry in Public): Scratched Discs Part 2

I was going to write a feature article regarding something else as I’m apt to do sometimes for Fridays, but my recent quick trip to New York City made me want to elaborate a little more on scratched discs. In part 1 of this, er, series, I wrote about the unfortunate happenstance of finding a CD that is scratched up after the excitement has built up within you … only to come crashing down in a sorrowful plummet of realization.  However, that only covered half of the issue at hand.

Those CDs I discussed earlier were found at charitable locations of ‘take all’ mentality, like the Salvation Army.  Places such as this don’t care what condition the discs are in or even if the discs are original copies.  Yeah, I’ve seen some Salvation Army stores try to offer those delectable CD-R copies for sale.  What I’m trying to say is that the Salvation Army is not checking what the discs look like and are ignorant of the fact that you may or may not get hosed if you don’t bother to look at the contents of the CD you’re buying.

Music stores, on the other hand, have no excuse.  If they’re buying used CDs individually or in bulk from a person they know exactly what they are getting because it is in their best interest.  There is no way they’re going to spend money on picking up garbage whether it is mint or trashed to bits.  If it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t get acquired.  It is with a similar thought that music buyers will go into a store and expect the quality of product to be at a listenable level given the expected sticker price.  Well, that ain’t always the case.

For example, this past week I visited one of the many music stores in New York City that I had been to before and enjoyed browsing through.  The place looked like a music bomb went off, sure, but that’s part of the fun of sifting through the masses of unorganized product and finding something you weren’t looking for.  Imagine my surprise and excitement when, in the cheap bin, I found Pavement’s “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” for $1.99.  Nearly a dollar for a classic Pavement record?!  Surely something must be up.  See, it’s that inner sense of predictable letdown that I’ve managed to build up over time that you too can attain if you get the financial poke in the eye enough times.  Anyways, yeah, the disc was beat to hell.  And I mean it looked like someone tried to play it on a record player and the needle just had a hard time finding the grooves because, well, there aren’t any.  The sticker essentially reflected how much you were paying for the album art.  How many people go into music stores wanting to buy the art only?!  If I wanted art I’d have gone to the Guggenheim.

Well surprise, I passed on that disc.  Instead, I sought out a disc by the Undertones that had a fine comprehensive list of tracks that they had put out during their relatively short, early career.  It was listed for $20 and I figured, well, I haven’t heard much from them and I was feeling rather whimsical with my money.  I was all ready to splurge on the collection when I flipped over the disc and oh man, you had to be kidding me.  There were circular scuffs and scratches that may have been cleanable if time was taken.  However, for twenty bucks I expected to see how white my teeth were in the reflection of a perfectly pristine disc.  Yet again, the store tried something clever with the pricing of the disc.  If I had just bought the thing sight unseen and headed back to Boston with it I would have been livid.

I thought it might have been the store that I was browsing in but I found a similar circumstance at another New York music store.  There was this recent compilation of tracks by the Vaselines that I had considered picking up when it originally came out but I wasn’t sure how much of “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam” that I really needed.  However, for about $12 I could’ve had the previously owned set.  I was seriously considering taking the chance when, whoops, there’s a nick on a disc!  It looked small, yet severe enough to affect play for at least one track.  The other disc was excellent, so what are you supposed to do here?  Sell the thing as if it was mint or sell it for cheaper due to the obvious flaw?  How cheap do you make it before someone is willing to overlook the scratch and think they spent their money well?  I didn’t want to gamble $12 so I passed on it.

I don’t know what I’m getting at here aside from griping about what could’ve been nice grabs, but I do think music stores need to be more up front with such conditions so as to not inadvertently (or, for that matter, intentionally) swindle the consumer.  There’s a devious few that are going to try and trick someone into buying something sub par, but I imagine if store owners just stick a note on the disc that mentions it might not be in the best condition it would be the buyer’s responsibility to weigh their options.  I would just wish, however, that music store owners would just toss or severely mark down their products if they are not worthy of the typical sticker price.  Gotta establish some kind of trust with music fans instead of risking post-purchase anger that may follow.

Bonus Personal Content:  If you must know, I bought seven fine CDs to add to my overindulgent collection.  I congratulate myself many times.

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