record club cds not bought at used cd stores

I have sold a lot of used cds at many different used cd
stores. None would buy used CDs from record clubs. The
only difference in the cds, the record club assured me,
is that the fine print mentions it is from the record
club company. What is the reason for this? The employees
claimed ignorance of why the policy exists.

I can’t answer your question about why stores don’t buy used CDs originally from record clubs. However, I do know that not all stores follow this policy.

In fact, the only two places that I have ever sold used CDs both accepted record club stuff. They’re both in Fairfax, VA. Maybe it varies by state?

In my former life as a high school punk, I used to fill out those ‘10 CDs for a penny’ ads using fake names and would have the CDs mailed to vacant houses along my route to school. Of course I would select only the most popular CDs

At the time (late 80s), the record/ CD clubs didn’t put any distinguishing marks on their CDs, so you could turn them in at regular stores like Tower, Sam Goody, The Warehouse, etc. for full price and get credit (“They were a gift from my grandma, and she told me she bought them at this store, but she didn’t keep the receipt”) which I would use to get the stuff I actually wanted.

Then the CD clubs got smart and started putting labels on their stuff so you couldn’t do that anymore…Except, that was about the time that used CD stores became popular! Now you could cash (albeit a small amount) or credit, and that became the new dumping ground for misappropriated CD club merchandise.

Now I assume if I thought of this scam when I was in high school, lots of other people must have been doing it too. Eventually, the used CD stores probably put two and two together (possibly with the help of threats of legal action from the CD clubs) that if they excluded CD club merchandise, people like me would have no where to unload their stuff.

Of course, then Napster came along…

Record club CDs are technically promotional materials - the artist gets no royalties and in fact the artist is often charged for this ‘promotion’ out of royalties from other sales.

Most promotional material is “not for resale”. I guess second hand stores adhere to this policy to varying degrees.

nope…cds from record clubs are paid for and licensed. what the club does is pay the artists a certain amount, lets say 200,000 bucks for a huge artist, maybe 20,000 for a smaller artist. anyway, the artist gets cash, and the club gets to manufacture as many of the cds as it wants, and keeps the profit. the mechanical licenses get paid for too. the artist/songwriter/etc get paid BEFORE the cds are made or sold. the cds are pretty identical. the bar code is different, the matrix/label/index number is usually different, and there’s some difference in small print in liner notes and on the cd itself. but that’s about it.

Are you sure about this? My understanding is that the CD’s that are marked “promotional - not for resale” are ones that were given to radio stations, reviewers, or other music professionals without cost. I’ve never heard of record club CD’s being included in this category.

Haven’t been a member of a CD Club for a long time – last time I was, they were called “record clubs” and dispensed music on these 12" flat slabs of black plastic. Back then, when I tried to sell them, I would only get 1/2 price or so than if they were bought at a record store. The reason given was 1) record club editions have less collector’s value, and 2) they are sometimes of inferior quality.

Not all records had the “record club” stamp on them; records originally printed by the club’s parent label (Columbia or RCA [now BMG]) had no stamp, and subsidiary labels often had no stamps either.

Promos have absolutely nothing to do with record clubs – all the records and CDs I’ve seen with the “Promotional Use Only” stamp were priced no differently than regular versions. In fact, some promos have a VERY high collector’s value (check ebay sometime.) The same guy who explained to me the deal with record club editions also explained why it wasn’t illegal to resell promo items, despite what the stamp says, but it was long-winded and I didn’t understand him then and can’t even remember what he said today.


I would guess that it’s because record-club CD’s have less collector’s value and may be of lesser quality. I have had the same problem with reselling book-club books to used bookstores. Many will not accept them. It is because they have little-to-no collector’s value (collectors want first editions, not some book-club book that’s been reprinted a zillion times) and are seen as “lower-quality”.

They are also a different size than regular hardcover books, so it’s easy for the used bookstore people to reject them right away. I would guess that there is some other sort of easy telltale sign on record-club CD’s. The used CD stores know what will sell…apparently, record-club CD’s don’t sell very well.

Well hey, a subject I know a little bit about and can give an answer to! Yay!

Anyway, I happen to manage a used cd store and I can tell you for a fact that we will not turn away a cd just because it is a record club version. We print our own barcodes for the used cds and cover the originals, so no one would be able to tell. Most of the record club discs we get are fairly popular sellers because they’re always something like Eminem or N’Sync. If it sells, we will buy it (sometimes even if we already have a lot). We also do internet sales out of our store so we can get a pretty good turnaround on most discs. We’ve been in business since Sept. 29, '00, and I have yet to see anyone bring a disc back solely because it was from a record club.

We cannot, however, buy any promotional cds. This is against the law because the promos are property of the label who issued them and must be returned if asked. It says that on some discs, others are just hole punched through the barcode or notched on the side. I have never seen anyone from a label ask for the promos back, though.

<< We print our own barcodes for the used cds and cover the originals, so no one would be able to tell. >>

I think this is called “deception.” Remind me never to go into your place of business.

FYI…I got my information (the first part) off of a special done by Showtime I think. It was about a guy who worked for Columbia House for a year or so. I suppose he could have left out the part about what happens BEFORE the CDs end up in the bins of the record club or he had a poor understanding of the process in general. Never mind, then.

Huh?! I believe fippo is simply saying that they overlay the original barcodes so that the used CDs are charged different prices when they’re scanned at the register. As a result of this, people can’t look at the original barcode and compare.

They don’t cover the barcodes in order to hide the CD’s origin. This is simply a side-effect of a normal business practice. And I don’t think the barcodes are hidden in a covert manner (what “deception” implies), the operation will be quite obvious to any shopper (unless of course they’re wrapping the CD in their own non-translucent cover).

Spent many years in music retail, for a couple of which I was “used CD manager” at one particular shop. We didn’t take club CDs for the simple reason that, if they turned out to be defective or we couldn’t give them away, we were stuck with them - we couldn’t return them to the record company for credit.

I am a high school punk (the kind you speak of ;)) and I still do this wth my friends. The only thin is, theyaccept the CDs. I work at a major video game store (nationwide chain) and I use the shrinkwrapper there to re-seal a lot of them after we burn 50 copies of it. Then we take em over to Best Buy and get credit since we don’t have a reciept. I actually got a 27" Sony Wega using this method. It ends up being about $200 to $150 cheaper to get the TV indirectly through a CD club. Also, my friend (this one I actually had NOTHING to do with, honestly) gets the DVDs from a club, and he get a ton of cash for those. He just turned 18, so he’ll open up PO Boxes around the city and send anywhere from 10 - 40 DVDs and CDs to each of them per month.

Passerby is correct. We print our own barcodes so that when someone buys a used cd our computer knows it as such and charges them nine dollars, as opposed to the 17 or 18 dollars for a new version. Most people peel our price tags and barcodes off once they purchase the disc so they would be able to tell if a cd was from a record club. And again I state that no one has ever returned a cd just because it is a record club version.

And no, we do not re-shrinkwrap the used discs. This makes it a pain when people want to listen to the disc before they buy it. Even if we did, our used discs are clearly marked and kept in their own sections, so no one should confuse a new disc with a used one.

Fippo that is the line they are giving you but it still is deception. You could put that bar code anywhere.

I have NEVER been in a used CD store where they do this. When I buy CDs if they are record clubs I simply don’t buy them. I would only consider it if it was priced less.

Just like CD stores that only put the wrapper out then when they give you the case it is a cut out. Cut outs are not worth as much and must be priced accordingly.
Club CDs are NOT the same quality as label CDs and while it is cool to sell them it is NOT cool to charge as much as “REAL” CDs.

There value is less. And if you were to have a club CD and a label CD and priced them the same your store would simply be taking advantage of the ignorant.

The fact of the matter is the short of your argument is “No one has ever returned a cd because it is a record club”

That is like saying “As long as we don’t get caught we’ll keep doing it. And if we do ONLY THEN will we do the right thing.”

You can call a skunk a rose but it still stinks.

I, apparently, am among the ignorant. I’d never heard of this difference in quality before reading this thread.

How is the quality lower? I’m having trouble grasping how this could be possible with something like a CD. Unless it’s something like flimsier construction…?

Help me fight my own ignorance! :slight_smile:

I’m going to defend fippo’s store here. If they left the original barcode exposed, there would be two barcodes and a likely chance that some used CD’s would be imcorrectly scanned at the check-out as new ones. The best way to guarantee that only the used price barcode is scanned is to cover up the original bar code.

I don’t think that I see what everyone is complaining about. I mention the fact that nobody returns record club cds only to make the point that no one cares where the disc comes from. It’s not as if someone is going to worry about the value of their Sugar Ray 14:59 cd or Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP. When was the last time you actually saw a record club put out something with an aftermarket collector’s value? Joe Blow is not going to care where his Britney Spears disc comes from so long as he can hear the songs.

Markxxx, I could put the barcode anywhere I wanted, that is true. However, why risk the chance of accidentally scanning the wrong one? We’re not worried about “being caught”. If anyone asks, we tell them they’re record club discs. However, no one has, because no one cares.

Flippo, shame on you. People need to be able to look at the original barcode when deciding which mass produced music to buy. You should put the new barcode decal somewhere less important, like over the song listings.