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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You're the Reason I'm Leaving

The more time and frustration that comes on this matter, the more I fell less inclined to go out of my way for it. That sums up my feelings on a lot of matters these days, but the one matter that has been on my mind as of late is shopping for used CDs. I used to drive all around town for the best price on a CD, but I'm more and more drawn to picking them up via online sources (especially Amazon's used marketplace). I can't comprehend buying a new CD for $18.99 when Best Buy might have it for $13.99 or a locally-owned CD store may have an opened copy for just $8.99. I don't think I'm being a cheapskate on this, but at the rate CDs are swapped digitally for free, the lowest price is where to gravitate towards.

In Dallas, there are a handful of great, locally-owned CD stores that sell plenty of used CDs. In all of them, I've found so many great bargains that I've lost count. I can live with a CD that's been touched by other hands before mine that may or may not have a hole in its UPC code. However, I've noticed the stock in many of these stores to be the same, month after month. Maybe this is further proof that people just aren't buying CDs as much anymore, but this is frustrating for me when I'm trying to find bargain surprises.

Tack onto matters that a certain CD store here in town makes digging very uncomfortable for me. Since my mind is always racing about what I want to look for, I could be looking in the 'D' section for a Death Cab for Cutie record, then be looking in the 'X' section for an XTC record and then be in the 'C' section for Neko Case and Converge. That tends to attract the eyes of the clerk(s) sitting up front watching the customers to make sure that shoplifting is not happening. I've never shoplifted in my life and I don't want to shoplift, so it bugs me when I'm looked at as a potential shoplifter.

Plus, when trying to merely exit this store without buying anything is a problem for me. Though there have been plenty of times that the spotters have been cool and just left matters at "thanks," there have been many other times where I've been hassled. "Did you find what you were looking for?" is often asked as I make my way to the door. I smile and say "Not today" and leave. If I found what I was looking for and wanted to buy it on this trip, I would have bought it no questions needed. I know they may be trying to present the illusion that they care about me, but I don't want to feel pressured into buying anything.

I like holding CDs in my hand and wandering around a store filled with what I may or may not be looking for. Yet I keep feeling the urge to buy my stuff online. There are no loudmouthed clerks talking about their first experiences of listening to Fleetwood Mac or the failures of punk rock. There are no pushy people at the checkout stand asking if I found everything I was looking for. On the flipside, there are no nice clerks that say hello and talk to you about music, life and whatever else is tied to them.

Forget about the chainstore world of customer service because it rarely exists in everyday human form. As someone who experienced that world firsthand as an employee, I understand why matters are this way. However, bugging the crap out of customers with sleazy sells on eight free issues of skimpy consumer rags or a free trial service of a lesser MP3 online store is not the way to breed happy customers.

As my annoyance grows with CD shopping in general, I find the online shopping much easier. I can tolerate the three-day wait in the mail for something that I want to hear. You can find a used copy of almost any CD ever produced online, so that comes in handy when I want to get something all in one place for cheap. But after all the years of CD shopping, I really enjoy the overall environment of hearing music I've never heard that I may like on a loudspeaker, relatively friendly clerks and reasonable prices. I doubt that enjoyment will go away completely, but the rather solitary world of online CD shopping is way more accommodating for me these days.

1 comment:

Treblephone said...

Most of the time, like you, when I go shopping I'd just as soon be left alone. [I think I know the layout of some of the local stores better than some of the employees.]

I'd always rather they err on the side of friendliness. I've seen enough aloof trendy asshat clerks working in music stores to last me the rest of my lifetime.

Oh, and that subscription thing with Best Buy always irritates me too. They always have a copy of Entertainment Weekly on the counter that looks like it's a petri dish for the community's collective germs!