Tuesday, January 29, 2013


To clear out some of the thousands of album I've collected over the years and as a hobby I sell albums online under the name BadCatRecords.  Over the last five years I've sold thousands of albums to hundreds of customers in some 40 countries.  I try to be honest and fair and judging by the feedback I get, the vast majority of folks who deal with me are satisified with their puchases.  I'll be the first to tell you I'm not perfect, but if something is defective, I'll take it back and cover to mailing costs.

On a regular basis I run into "collectors" and I typically shy away from dealing with them because I know there's just no way to please hardcore fanatics.  Someone who asks me to take a photo of an LP corner, or a promo sticker is bound to be so fanatical, that it just isn't worth my time and effort to deal with them.   I've turned down some major potential sales just because I didn't want the associated headaches.

And then I occasionally let my sense of empathy and decency get in the way. 

I recently had a sale that was so bad as to be comical.  I normally would just file it away as a lesson learned, except this customer decided to post their version of the transaction on their blog.  They didn't use my name (and I'm not going to name them), but they clearly knew that I would see the posting (chances are I'm the only person who'll ever see it).  So here's a little taste of their post:

I am finally getting to go where I wanted to go to avoid the horrendous deal that just happened when I go to make amends and make a record transaction I can love on next Saturday in a PROPER STORE. This is over 3 weeks too late to have saved me from my sickness, but will be a welcome bright spot in a very black period for me. How did this all start? How did it all happen? With the worst goodwill gesture ever from me and the worst nightmare of a record deal I've ever been through. The dealer whom I am now wishing would be in as much pain as I am shall go nameless and so will any other details of the last fatal record nightmare. Let's just say that MOST mail order dealers are parasites who never could run a store because they'd go bankrupt in two seconds. Some of these people, like the one the latest nightmare happened with, are decent to good people who shouldn't be in this business. Honesty is the key and once the lying and conniving starts you're finished and over with.

Interesting to see someone wish me mental and physical anguish and then go on to essentially call me incompetent.  An interesting perspective on things when you consider:

- Customer wanted me to ship the LPs in advance of payment.  Not happening.

- This person ultimately bought 44 LPs and returned five for a full refund.  I'd actually play graded one of the albums and it sounded fine when I sold it.  I played a second one when it came back and don't have a clue as to why it was returned.  It sounded perfect on a Rega turntable. 

- Customer sends me an email that they are thrilled with all of the other LPs. Two days later they are furious that the albums are all misgraded and I've screwed them over. 

- One of the LPs was a sealed rarity.  Now in this person's defense, the LP had water damage and I clearly misgraded it.  The customer was clearly with their rights to return it.  The problem is they decided to return it after opening it, playing it, and telling me they loved it.  Two days later they wanted a discount for the condition issue.  I asked what they thought was a fair discount and immediately agreed to it.  Another two days and they want to return the LP for a full refund.  Now this person understands record values better than anyone I know.  Clearly an opened LP does not have the same value as a sealed copy.  The end result is a major fight where I reach a point where I suggest cancelling the entire deal.  Ultimately we reach an agreement where I double the discount on that particular LP and the person keeps it.

- The albums had to be shipped express mail. To accomodate the requirement I took off early from work to get to a post office before closing time. Cost to me was an hour of leave (roughly $80). Even better - I'd never had anyone ask for express mail before so I had to guess at the cost. Naturally I guessed wrong. The cost was substantially higher than my estimate. Buyer said they'd pay the difference, but then claimed that the package had not gotten there in the guaranteed delivery timeframe and it was my responsibility to file a claim with the post office to get my money back.
- I go to the post office to file the claim and they provide me with their tracking paperwork that shows the post office did try to make delivery within the guaranteed timeframe, but nobody was home to accept the package.
- Customer says they were home and the post office is lying.
- Bottom line is that this isn't my problem. I deduct $40 from the refund check I owe for the returned LPs and get an email that calls me a liar (among other things). 

And here's the kicker.  I felt genuinely bad about the transaction.  Music is really important to this person (they know more about obscure bands than anyone I've ever met).  As a show of good faith I'd actually pulled out an album the person was interested in but didn't buy.  I was going to include it when I shipped the last album I owe this person (my copy of the album had a skip so I found a replacement copy for them).  Needless to say,  when I read their blog posting, that sense of empathy disappeared in a heartbeat and the 'bonus' album went back on the shelf.

I will say I truly agree with the person's statement "Honesty is the key and once the lying and conniving starts you're finished and over with."  The problem with making such a statement is that you better me able to look in a mirror when you make it. 

Oh well, it's a hobby, not one of life's essentials and I guess this experience puts me in the company of other record dealers who've dealt with this person like Ashley Johnson, Zac Groom, the folks at Metro Music, and GoJohnyGo Records. 

I've spent ten minutes on this post and if nothing else I feel better for blowing some steam.  Even better one more LP owed to the buyer and this wonderful episode will be over.

Shipped out the last LP and now actually have a "banned" buyers list.  'Course there's only one customer on it at this time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Busy week at work and home, so there wasn't a great deal of time to listen to music.  Here are the reviews over the past week.  Click on the individual links to see each detailed review:

- Alice - "Arretez le monderating: *** stars
- Philippe Wynne - "Wynne Jammin'rating: **** stars
- Bead Game - "Welcome" rating: **** stars
- John Bassman Group  "Filthy Sky" rating: **** stars
- Junco Partners "Junco Partners" rating: **** stars

Long time since I enjoyed so many albums in such a short timespan.

Monday, January 21, 2013


For the last three years I've fought against getting a pet.  We've had cats in the past and while they brought entertainment and joy to our lives, over the years they also created lots of damage (mankind has never come up with a weapon as devasting as cat urine and cat claws).  Three years ...  for three years I successfully fought back the seemingly never-ending pressure to get a pet.  I ignored arguments that we needed a pet for therapy; Ryan needed a pet to grow up well rounded; etc., etc.   I ignored it all.  Three years.  Finally I caved this Christmas ...  welcome aboard Bailey.

Bailey is the scowling one on your right

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blue Groove Soundz - Arlington, Virginia

The Washington DC metro area has never had an overwhelming glut of used record stores, but there are still a couple around (more now than just a few years ago) and I'll occasionally check one out.  So here are some comments on Blue Groove Soundz in Arlington, Virginia.

Basic Information: 
Name: Blue Groove Soundz
Location: 5852 N Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205Website:  http://www.bluegroovesoundz.blogspot.com/

Location: Grade B-:  You'll have to drive, or take a Metro bus.  No metro access.  If you drive, be aware these folks are tucked in the basement of a small, non-descript building.  Even if you know where it is, finding the place is a challenge.  Parking is also a challenge.  There's parking around the building, but most of it seems reserved for other outfits in the building.  I have no idea if they aggressively tow so I've never chanced it.  Luckily there's street parking around the area and there's a small strip mall across the street that has lots of parking.

Staff: Grade B:  I've been there three times and it's always been different staff.  Two of the three times, staff was pretty young, but were playing interesting stuff on the store's sound system.  To be honest, I've never had any real interaction with the staff, which isn''t necessarily bad.  If I'm looking through the stacks, I don't really need to have an indepth conversation with anyone.  I'll also give them credit for seeming to treat other customers well (at least when I've been there) and when I went to return some items (see below), they were quick and courteous.

Inventory: Grade B-: Space is a major constraint here.  Even if they had a million items, they just don't have the space to display them.  I'm guessing the entire inventory on display is 4,000 - 5,000 items.  Heavy on vinyl (some CDs which are very expensive), it's an ecclectic mix of all genres divided into major genres (rock, jazz, soul, etc.).  Most of the inventory is in alphabetical order, though stuff is occasionally filed in unusually places.  Original issues and re-presses are co-mingled in the stacks, so you'll want to pay attention when selecting items.  Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the difference.  The other thing I'd underscore is look closely at your purchases.  You can always take stuff back for a store credit, but that can be a massive pain.  Perhaps my experience was a rarity, but the last time I was there I didn't have time to listen to any of my purchases.  I took a quick look at the vinyl I was buying, but lighting isn't the greatest in the store so physical inspection of albums is somewhat of a challenge.  Anyhow, literally half of the albums I purchased had significant skips, including a couple of pricey items.  I'm certainly not a sound snob, but one of the albums literally sounded like it had been polished with sandpaper.  When you're paying $2, $3, $4 for an album, skips and scratches are an acknowledged risk.  When you're paying $10 - $20 for an LP, then you your expectations are a little higher.  As mentioned, when I took the defective items back, I was given a store credit.  Haven't used it yet ...
Pricing: Grade C: I sell records on the side and I certainly don't expect anyone to simply give away product.  That said, some of their prices are simply astounding.  What I would consider to be very common albums are priced at $10 and $15.  Large segments of the inventory are in the $15 - $20 range with some items far more than that.  Anyone looking to scoop up quick bargain probably will find this store challenging.  That said, there are some bargains, especially if you're in the market for jazz and older soul.

Facility: Grade B-:  So remember, they're located in a walkdown basement space.  The place is way small and exceedingly cramped.  They've done the best they can with the layout, but your master bedroom is probably bigger than the entire store so ithere are limits to what can be done.  If you're claustrophobic, or uncomfortable with folks invading your personal space, this could prove problematic.   

Damages:  I'm reluctant to admit this in case my wife sees it ...  12 albums, total cost $213.  That said, four of the albums were new releases intended as Christmas gifts.  Add to that the five damaged albums I returned for a $60 store credit (actually they gave me a gift certificate).

Monday, January 14, 2013


Saturday morning my turntable died.  After the thousands of hours of service it provided, I can't say I was surprised - goodbye old friend. 

Anyhow, I started looked for a replacement online and found an item I was interested in with an outfit called MusicDirect.  I looked at the company's online site and couldn't figure out whether the item came with a stylus.  These guys had a 1-800 number so I called and after about five minutes of navigating their state-of-the-art call center, I ended up leaving a message.  48 hours later and nobody's gotten back to me with an answer.  Guess what ?  I found it elsewhere and got immediate answers to my questions.  I can only surmise that MusicDirect wasn't interested in my $1,000.   Bottom line is they can kiss my consumer dollars goodbye (as well as any future business).   I'm going to have to find a way of leaving them a well deserved review on the web.  

You're left to wonder what is wrong with these companies ...

Postscript =  compnay finally called me back Monday morning.  Too late.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

THE STATE OF JONES - first book of the year

I read a brief review of this one in The Washington Post and happened to stumble across a copy at my local library.  I wasn't looking for it, but someone had literally left a copy on a table.  The Post review seemed kind of interesting - Southerns who remain loyal to the Union during the Civil War ...

Title:  The State of Jones
Author: Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer
Company: Doubleday
389 pages
Grade: ** stars

The book started out holding my interest but there apparently wasn't a lot of documentation to be found on the main character - Newton Knight and his family and friends.  That results in a book that is divided into sections of straight forward civil war and post-war history, full of battle descriptions, and short biographical segments on various characters.  Again, I was fine with that aspect of the book.  Unfortunately, gigantic chunks of the book were based on speculation, guesses, and assumptions.  Reading the book I kept wondering how much of this was reality, versus fiction.   Mildly entertaining and a pretty quick read.