Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Consumer Alert --'s Cheap Trick selling The Latest

(NOTE: Since posting this, I received the disc and read consumer posts which indicated that the disc sounded fine and the package was acceptable. This turned out to be the case. That being said, I think that Amazon still should have been more upfront about things.)

When Cheap Trick announced that it was initially selling its new album, The Latest, exclusively on, I wasn't really keen on the idea. But after hearing a clip of the track "Sick Man Of Europe", I didn't care. I had to have the album.

So I signed in to and ordered the album. The price: $12.99 plus the $2.98 shipping cost. Not a bargain, but I had demand and they had the supply.

To get to that point, I entered the appropriate search terms: Cheap Trick The Latest. This took me to this page. As you can see, after offering the album as download for $8.99, there is a listing for an audio CD.

I clicked on that link, which took me to this page. Scroll down to Product Details, and Amazon again refers to this as an "Audio CD."

This would lead most people to believe that one would be buying an ordinary audio CD. You know, like the one that you can buy in a store.

However, that's not the case. Keep scrolling down the page. Past the sample clips, down to Editorial Reviews and the product description. This is where Amazon advises that "This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply."

And apparently, according to one reviewer (the one who gives the disc one star, only due to this deception) the packaging is also substandard. This reviewer gets a lot of grief from Cheap Trick fans, many who ask if this guy could read.

Well, I think he can read. And I think he is perfectly justified to complain, being that Amazon represented in the first two places a person would look, that this was a CD and then squirreled away the truth about what it was selling more than halfway down the main page. I certainly didn't look this far down -- I thought I was buying a CD.

Had they priced this at a price more commensurate with a budget CD-R, I probably wouldn't be ticked off. But $16 for a half-assed package and product? No way.

Moreover, Amazon also blew the release date. The release date was Tuesday June 24, 2009. Considering that Amazon was cheaply pressing up the CD-Rs themselves, they certainly could have found a way to get those CDs in the hands of those who preordered it on that date. Instead, Amazon shipped it on that date. This means folks who bought it from the only website selling it (other than Cheap Trick's website) won't get it until the weekend, at the earliest.

Now Cheap Trick shouldn't be let off the hook either. I would think that the band (or its representatives) would have known about this arrangement. This is based in part on the fact that it has been reported that those who ordered directly from Cheap Trick's website received the actual CD, not a CD-R. If the band did know, then fans should have been alerted to this distinction on the website. But there would be a disincentive to do so -- ordering from Amazon drives up the CD's sales ranks.

As a consumer, I like, even though I realize it has an unfair competitive advantage on retailers, and pretty much does zilch in the way of philanthropy. Jeff Bezos is no Bill Gates in the doing anything good for society department. But this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And I'm a big fan of Cheap Trick. I hope that there is a sufficient outcry that the band realizes that you have to be more upfront to your fans. I'm going to return the inferior version of The Latest I'm getting any day now. I can wait until the July release of the proper CD. But I'll be a bit bummed out until then, and that may color my ability to enjoy what many are touting to be the band's best release in decades.

1 comment:

pghhead said...

Ouch !!! Sorry you were burned - - i feel bad for you. I can see this same thing happening to many fans - - will they transfer their ill will to Amazon? or to Cheap Trick? Makes you think it would be better to buy directly from any band that offers cds on their own websites. The flip side of that is customer service may not be what you're used to. I also think Amazon has a pretty good reputation and I feel confident they will handle your return/complaint promptly. But I sort of doubt a buyer would get that same type of service trying to return the cd directly to the band. I can remember ordering a cd from a band and waiting forever to receive it - - it took several emails before they took me serious enough to get it out to me. So there doesn't appear to be a clear best choice here.
The rest of us should wait for the cd to arrive in the traditional record stores (yea! for the few good ones that remain in business). Cheers.