Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To discuss a blast from the past: Columbia House Music Club

Dear Columbia House Music:

You have to feel like IDIOTS. C'mon, don't try to look all naive and innocent.

You know what I'm talking about.

Remember your whole BMG/Columbia House Music Club? I was just reminded of it recently. What a sweet deal that was, back in the day. You'd sign up for the club (by mailing in a card, as the Internet was still in its 26k days, or nonexistent), and instantly get 12 free CDs/Tapes/Records/Music Boxes or whatever format was popular.

Then, oh then, all you had to do was buy a few more albums within two years, usually at a marked-up price, and you'd get to keep those 12 free albums! What a deal!

I could hardly resist it when I was 12 or 13, knowing I could get awesome CDs of Ace of Base, Mariah Carey and Monica (I feel you, Monica. Just one of 'dem days, that a girl goes th... oh, you're talking about PMS? Oh. That's awkward for me... uh...) for free if I could get my mom to pay for another five CDs at a price of $14.98 or more each, even though Wal-mart and every other store sold them for cheaper.

Some may say the whole deal was a scam and it's easier to withdraw troops from Iraq than it is to get out of the Columbia House Music Club, but hey, free CDs!

Have you ever seen a business model implode? Door-to-door milk delivery, Hummers during a gas price crisis, online groceries, newspapers (I kid, I kid)...

Columbia, when iTunes came around, did you physically poop your pants, or just metaphorically?

iTunes won't give me 12 free mp3 albums just for registering, but they also let me buy songs for .99 cents each, and albums song by song. Oh, and I get them right now, instead of waiting for them in the mail. And if I'm feeling particularly sneaky, I could just download stuff for free on bittorrent sites.

How did you miss the gravy train on this one? And how in the world do you still have your music club in business? Even bigger question: At what point did you say, "Eh, mp3 downloading is just a fad, what people really want is to order their music and have it mailed to them so they can keep up with membership commitments!"

Good job offering DVDs, at least... except that Netflix is raping you there, too.

Former customer

P.S. Thanks again for that sweet Ace of Base, CD, though. It's All That (I) Want.


Children of the 90s said...

You know me well, of course I love this post. I also couldn't resist these so-called "deals" as a kid...I was so drawn in by the flashy magazine ads and the idea of getting all the CDs I want for a mere penny. A PENNY!

I really can't believe they're still in business. I can't imagine which sector of society is still thinking this is the most effective way to purchase music.

the surfing pizza said...

loved the post. I'm pretty sure though that the Columbia House site isn't real though.

Amy xxoo said...

That was hilarious. Wot is also hilarious is that i was enthusiastic enough to sign up for one of these clubs when i was younger.

I'd go through the list and tick off all the cool albums i wanted to get ( read: Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey and Limp Bizkit, just to prove my hardcore-ness ) and wait patiently to have the moeny to buy them. And then wait patiently for them to arrive.

And then wait patiently for all that music to become cool....sadly, i'm still waiting on that one.

kisatrtle said...

Ace of Base...I totally forgot about them. Now where is that album....hmmmm

*~Dani~* said...

I, too, belonged to this club back in the day. Sadly, I grew behind in my payments. Being the consummate attorney even then, I wrote them a letter about how a minor cannot be responsible for their debts and that they could not seek payment from me. Free CDs plus.

Love the Ace of Base shout out!

word verfication "ykfifts" - what Columbia House said when they read my letter.

Soda and Candy said...

Honestly, there IS a market for this sort of thing, it's populated by the people who will also buy rapingly expensive outdated cell phones form morning infomercials.

Doniree said...

OH MY GOD I remember those clubs and definitely got some CDs out of it. I also think that Ace of Base was one of them. Wow.

FunnyGal KAT said...

I'm pretty sure writing about the Columbia House Music Club automatically signs you up for the Columbia House Music Club (oh crap, writing out the name three times also gets you signed up! I'd better be careful!) Anyway, good luck getting out of that commitment (do you think your mom is still willing to spring for the five $19.98 CDs? It might be worth asking.)

Jenners said...

Oh ... what a bit of nostalgia. I fell for this as well ... though no one can convince me I didn't get my money's worth. I mean 12 CDs/tapes/whatever for 1 penny?????

And I can't believe they are still around. Actually, I can. They have the ability to find people anywhere. I STILL get mailings from them even though I've moved and changed my name several times. (Not to escape Columbia House, mind you. Just in the course of normal living.) Yet they still find me. I wrote in a post once that if you want to find a missing person, just contact Columbia House -- they can track people anywhere.

They may, in fact, be the CIA.

Anonymous said...

I totally forgot about that... I wanted to go through Columbia House forever as a kid, and my mom would never let me. Maybe I should ask her now. Does it even exist anymore? I'm googling this shit.

kk said...

Wow, it IS a blast from the past.

The best part was, we all did this in college. And who's poorer than a college student?

I think they are still hunting down my friend.

cavy said...

i was a member for like 3 years - it honestly felt like i was getting free cds - which obviously was not the case...hahaha

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