Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

May 11, 1976 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-05-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Tuesday, May 11, 197+6


Page Five

War and Columbia Records

My story begins long ago, before bu-
reaucracy bore my sanity away to ob-
livion. With great difficulty I look back
through the mists to the evil day almost
a year ago when my private war with
the Columbia Record Club (a pox upon
its name!) began.
A friend of mine (a former friend of
mine, now) persuaded me to associate
my name with the club. You know the
one - it offers you fourteen albums
for $1.98, provided you agree to buy a
certain number of albums at "regular
price." I soon found out that "regular"
in this day and age is a synonym for
"outrageous." The agreement bound me
for three years.
My friend snared me by explaining
that anyone who enlisted a new member
would receive three albums - their in-
sidious, if necessary, method of expan-
sion. Sounds like imperialism, doesn't
it? A sucker from birth, I joined.
The selection cards lets you know
how many more albums you are obli-
gated to buy in order to "complete your
enrollment agreement," your contract,
in other words. With Columbia, as with
the Mafia, a contract is a contract. They
never forget, even if you pay up.
"They let you know horn
to fulfill your contract. With
Columbia, as with the Ma-
fia, a contract is a contract.
They never forget."
During the first, ignorant months of
my association with Columbia, I ordered
three albums, and they delivered. But
in September they sent me a card say-
ing I still had to buy eight albums, a
suggestion I regarded as strange as I
had only agreed to buy eight in the first
place. They were wrong, I told myself.
I only had to buy five more. Eight minus
three is five - it wasn't that complicat-
ed. I ignored the notification, believing
in my ignorance that this true-blue com-
pany had simply made a true-blue, ex-
cusable mistake.
I bought another album in January,
and soon received another bit of corres-
pondence. This time they were gener-
ous enough to say that I now only had
to buy seven more albums, when I was

as sure as before that I only owed four
purchases. (Isn't it interesting to be in
a position in which one "owes" a pur-
chase? Is this how loan-sharks begin
their careers?)
I called Columbia. (They had already
ripped off enough of the unwitting to be
able to accept my collect call.) In re-
sponse to my demand for a correction,
their computer dashed off a little note
that told me I still had to buy. six al-
bums. Not four, six.

of the Month" cards washed up at my
door, stating that I still had to buy two
more albums. In a fit of passion I sent
the cards back with "Bullshit" inscrib-
ed across them, then decided not to give
them the benefit of my postage money.
I took a long, hard look at my life
and decided it wouldn't be worth com-
pleting if I let these scoundrels intimi-
date me. It was time to roll out the
heavy artillery. I called Legal Aid.
Jim Allen, a law student, and I, de-

would be without permission.
In the meantime a reply to my letter
arrived, declaring that I had been mis-
taken, that two of my purchases didn't
count since free albums had come with
Well, maybe I had been wrong, Allen
and I decided, but if I had been it was
because the Colunbia malefactors had
misled me. We sent off a letter and a
check, and settled back into our deadly
waiting game.
I was tortured day and night by vi-
sions of losing every penny of my sav-
ings because of two celluloid circles
which I had never even seen. But Allen
reassured me that all Columbia could
get was the cost of the records and a
few bucks in court costs. And Columbia
would have to hire a lawyer at $50 an
hour. Was it worth their while? Perhaps
not, but it certainly would have suited
the style of their ruthless, worthless ex-
istence, the canards!
We waited.
"I ivas torture( (lay ( (
night by visions of losing
every penny of my savings
because of two celluloid cir-
cles which I had never even
One day I opened my mailbox to find
a letter lying in wait, like a cobra. It
referred to my phone call of a few
weeks before, claiming that I still-still,
for God's sake - owed them two pur-
chases, and also made a crafty refer-
ence to free coupons if I agreed to fork
over the money for the records.
My friends and I were driven to in-
sane, sick fantasies of destroying Co-
lumbia, conjuring up schemes of tor-
ture and deprivation for its executives.
The time for a climax was near; it was
win or die.
Allen called me. "We won," he said.
The computer and its masters had sur-
rendered, agreeing to close my file but
insisting still that I was wrong.
It had ended as all wars end - great
forces colliding never maintain equal
resolve. A sigh of relief, the cool of the
evening - I was calm in victory. The
retired warrior, I hung sip my typewrit-
er. The blood-red battlefield was quiet.

Columbia had me worn out, and I de-
cided to exercise my right to give up
- the right of anyone in any situation-
to buy the four albums and be done with
it. Leafing through their corrupt cata-
logues, I found some albums worth own-
ing and mailed in my order with a
curse. Two albums arrived at my door-
step and I assumed the other two were
on the way. Sweet relief enveloped me.
But, like a swarm of locusts in sum-
mer, a brand new deluge of "Selection

cided to send Columbia a blistering let-
ter along with a check for the final two
albums, which had meanwhile arrived.
The back of the check would say, in ef-
fect, that acceptance of the check meant
my agreement was over. We agreed to
wait a few days while Allen checked a
few statutes on contracts and my right
to keep anything sent through the mail
without my request. We figured that since
the contract was fulfilled, in our hum-
ble opinions, any more albums sent

IAL6'VA VU t [r6v/p YOXR
woveToov Too 0V6 'AMP P$Z3,
TfE R&(C5-WGFT 1 £00D:'WcOO~-
To2 ltd U6 A~CU56rV
H #AY 6VvS
ATM[, 16R0t1



r.". F

Back to Top

© 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan