Like many of you, I have to resort to buying vinyl online at times. Oh, the horrors. Yes, please cringe. Why? Well, I no longer live in San Francisco where I had both SF and Berkeley to cruise record shops before giving up. And while many records have been re-released on the lovely new 180 weight, I really miss some of the collectibles I once had that got stolen, misappropriated, damaged, or had to be sold out of desperation due to housing crisis (GRRRRRR). I had UK issued and some Japanese issued records, and damn it I miss them.
Slowly over the last year I have had to keep watch on services like Discogs and occasionally eBay. Cringe again. You try very hard to read all the reviews on a seller, see if other people have had a good experience. You are desperate. There is a rating service, M/M+ (Mint) for perfect, nearly perfect. You are hoping that the people selling the items are looking at the scales and description and are at the very least honest. But this is highly subjective as one person may have completely different standards than you do. A record shop may have thousands of records, buys and doesn’t clean them before restocking, or may be really good about it and looks very carefully at everything they sell. You hope that people will disclose a slight tear in a sleeve.
Sellers, If You Want a Good Reputation and to Sell More…
If you haven’t figured this out yet, many collectors are buying for that cover just as much as the hopefully the well cared for vinyl. Of course, there can be many versions of the released single, and someone may want them all. But we like them as clean as possible, given that some are 30 plus years old. And if it’s damaged, or scuffed with wear, it should be disclosed. If the label on the record is damaged, labeled wrong, that should be disclosed. Yes, some of these are collectables, sometimes bad batches get out and they can become quite famous and some people collect them, I read something about a run of Factory label’s Joy Division issued records that some people collect, where the black and white side labels are switched. While this is a flaw, depending on the band, it may actually become a collectable. But all of this should be disclosed.
You should also package the records in a box designed for shipping records. Someone is paying for Mint or as near perfect as new, having it arrive dinged up and shredded is a bad thing. We can type, we can make complaints. It can get ugly. And we will tell other people who also collect.
Then There is Really Messing Up The Order
My case in point this week. Three days back I received a record, very late, from the UK. The postal employee looked at me and said, “I hope that your record is not damaged. I haven’t seen that poor of packaging with a record in a long time.” My wame began to get that very bad, sinking feeling. It was a favorite 12 inch single from the eighties. I had been patient about finding a good one, in Near Mint Condition. I got the poorly packaged thing home. I found my hands were shaking a bit. I opened it. What looked like what had been Near Mint Condition cover even, had had all corners dinged very badly. There was a gouge on the back of the glossy cover. And then I realized it was the band I liked, but the wrong 12 inch single. Not that I didn’t want to have this one, and had hoped to eventually get this one as well. But it was the wrong 12 inch single, and the one that arrived had been damaged. I then looked at it and noticed that the label on the one side was creased at the plant. Oh, and the label hadn’t been centered. The record was drilled right, but not the label.
Arghhhhh!!! I went to Discogs and looked up the vendor. I looked on their web store and sure enough, the record that had just arrived was still listed on their store. The one I had purchased was not. There was no disclosure about the creased label, which is sad because the label itself is part of the spark of this particular single. Sadly it plays well. But there is no mention of any of that on their site. And of course, more to the point, I didn’t get the one I had ordered.
The Responsibilities of Complaining
Discogs and eBay have their buyer beware warnings and complaints systems. You have to try to contact the seller over a series of days to give them a chance to fix the problem. Okay, it’s several days later, still no response. There is a grinding of teeth. I don’t like being angry and a consumer freak over this, and I too have made some mistakes. But there needs to be some way to remedy this. I also cringe at how many other unsuspecting people are purchasing at this very moment.
I also feel very bad about the otherwise unfortunate, miss-formed thing that did show up. Like I have to keep it now as an adopted 12 inch single that came from the island of misfit records or something. A Curiosity.
For All Those Careful Conservators and Sellers
If you are a kindly one, who loves your own vinyl collection and likes to share with others and send off beautiful gems to the happy collectors around the globe, we salute you. However, there are always mishaps in shipping, no matter how careful you are. Please ship the way you would like someone to ship to you:
- Separate the inner sleeve and record from the outer jacket and pad or repackage separately.
- You can put the inner sleeve with all the cool artwork and lyrics separate and the record in the sleeve, with a generic paper or plastic liner. The nice inner picture and lyric sheet one doesn’t get slit in transit.
- Ship in a box made for shipping records. They make them. Yes they cost money, but you can figure that into your cost build. And depending on what country you are from, you may even get these boxes through your post service. Think of it as insurance policy so that you don’t have to refund if record gets shattered in transit.
We happy consumers like to give squishy, good reviews if you make us squee with delight. We will give fabulous review credo, tell you your shipping style rocked, what worked with the shipping, and friend or favorite you in the online store we buy from. This means you get a repeat customer. If you get those, you get good, constant cash flow as we also tell other people. It should all make sense.
Remember, please do not forget to disclose even the slightest imperfections. You may rely on the ratings system, but we really want to know what we are getting. Please don’t ask us to look at the Discogs or eBay generic rating. That is not really a good picture.
Where to Go From Here?
So now I look at the sad, now more damaged 12 inch of one of my favorite songs and just sigh. I will have to actually buy a copy of this hopefully not damaged from some other vendor after spending an hour combing all their reviews. Sigh. It looks like really I will have to buy two from another vendor at this point, because the one I was to have gotten in the first place still hasn’t shown up. Misfortunes of a Lapsed Vinyl Goddess.
Update: I finally did hear from the vendor after I lodged an official complaint. They had been away. Is there not a system in Discogs where you can alert customers that you are closed for a time? I tried to get them to cancel and refund. No response.