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Monday, May 19, 2008

Customer Service Tip

posted by on May 19 at 14:56 PM

You know what, Mr. Used Record Store Clerk?

You made me walk away from you today. You know what you did? You started looking around on your little computer for the price of a record. That was stupid, because now I know that you are the kind of clerk/record store that will always go out of your way to get the highest price for records in the least customer friendly way. And you did it right in front of me! SO. RUDE.

You didn’t even look at the condition the record was in! (It was crappy, scratched and a little warped.)

The least you could do, the very least, is say, “Wow, that doesn’t have a price on it, I can’t sell it until the boss takes a look.” Or, “Come back later today, I don’t have time to price it now.” Or, better yet, “$2.”

But to make a guess, then surf the auction sites trying to find a price that matches your guess, is lame. That’s what amateurs do. Go make an EBAY store if that’s the kind of shit your going to pull.

I looked around, I didn’t find anything interesting, but since you were nice I thought, I’ll get this one 12”. But no, you had to do that thing with your computer and make me not like you. Make me not want to spend any money with you. Make me not want to go back to West Seattle, kitty corner from Easy Street ever again.

(Sidenote: At Easy Street in West Seattle, I found a rare Kongas Anikana-O record for $8. On auction sites it goes for ten times that. But, will Easy Street ever sell an $80 Kongas record? No. So they were reasonable, since they probably bought it in a lot of hundreds of used records from somebody’s old collection, and they made $8. Smart move Easy Street, you win a gold star for pricing and customer service today! And I love your Dixie Chicken Sandwich!)

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RSS icon Comments

1

I don't get it. I'm assuming you were in a record store, not a charitable organization. Clerks in records stores can't magically determine a price for every record that exists, and it sounds to me like he was using the Internet to try to determine a fair price for the record, which you have the option of turning down. My suspicion is that the price he quoted would be far less than it went for on E-bay. Or perhaps he was pricing it at a percentage of the new price. Or maybe he was making sure it wasn't an out of print collectorís item. For all he knows you could have taken off the price in an effort to try to get a lower price (people actually do that). It seems obvious to me he was doing his job.

Posted by PJ | May 19, 2008 3:30 PM
2

Also, my guess is that the clerk at Easy Street when online and saw that the Kongas records was out of print and collectible. So he priced it at $8, which is probably higher than he would have priced it if it was not a desirable record. Very few record stores price stuff as highly as they go for online if they want to stay in business. But regardless, they still use the Internet as a tool to get a rough idea of what is desirable, rare, and/or out of print.

Posted by PJ | May 19, 2008 3:36 PM
3

"Clerks in records stores can't magically determine a price for every record that exists..."

thankfully there is a new invention called stickers that allow you to post the price of an item previous to it being sold.

record stores who don't post prices get the gas face. there is a particular record store in ballard that has no pricing and sell everything at a stunningly inflated price. instead of making me say 'get the fuck out of here' or 'no, you keep those', making them fold quickly and drop the price by half, why not just mark a reasonable price?

Posted by cosby | May 19, 2008 3:42 PM
4

no pj, the problem with the scenario is that auction sites rarely give you winning bid prices over the last few years, so he was looking at ebay at what people were asking for, not for what people were buying for.

the record in question would never have gone for the price he was asking because of a)the condition it was in, and b) it wasn't that rare.

in fact when i got home i looked it up on popsike.com (a site that actually gives you winning prices on auctions of rare records) and the record had only ever been sold near that price more than a year ago, sisw (still in shrink wrap) at mint.

he pulled the stack of records i was looking at out of the back for me, so there were no price tags on to begin with.

he may have been doing his job, but there comes a point (especially in used record stores) when you take a little loss on an old disco 12" because you know you'll make it back on the gatefold mint lp of hendrix you bought for a nickel and can sell for $400.

that's good service and pricing.

i'm sure nipples will have something to say about it.

nips?!?!

Posted by terry miller | May 19, 2008 3:42 PM
5

Cosby, I agree with what you said. It was not clear to me why the record was not priced. And I definitely agree with you about the store in Ballard. I won't set foot in there for the reason you mentioned.

And Terry, there is a way to look at completed listings on E-bay. If he was looking at E-bay, he could have been looking at what the record actually was going for. However, if he wasn't checking condition, then he wasn't doing his job. And if he was pricing it at what it was selling for on E-bay, then that store won't be in business for long. And I don't see what you mean about "taking a loss." Most used record stores are barely scraping by and cannot afford to "take a loss" on anything.

Posted by PJ | May 19, 2008 3:52 PM
6

I miss record stores.
It seems with the exception of a few stores records are priced at over the to levels. In many ways it's like the housing market here in Seattle.
I understand that the small shops and their owners need to do better than scrape by but looking up the price of an unmarked record is so rude. I can't count the times I have gone digging in some Seattle record stores to come up with a few unmarked records that are in fair condition only to be given a price that would better suit a near mint record.
That store in Ballard is awful.
Thank you Terry for posting this topic.

Posted by Biggie J | May 19, 2008 4:16 PM
7

pj, we're both on the same page basically here, but...

take a store like Jive Time. every record is priced. and all records in good condition are given brand new plastic sleeves. They regularly take records that look bad and try to clean them up, if they can. if they can't, the record goes for it's "base price". if they can make it look and play new it goes for more. but it's ALWAYS priced. and quite fairly.

I've bought absolute bargains from them, and also fairly priced rarities. how do i know it's fairly priced, because the clerk can talk to me about it with knowledge and tell me all the info about why it's rare, what condition it's in, and how often they see a copy that clean or in better condition come in. again, though, they keep it clean and fair.

then there's everyday which is the opposite, but still fair, they don't protect any records, and price everything super low. fair enough.

the thing that got my goose today was how he made no effort to make the price fair. just went straight for the stratosphere. not cool.

he took a record that hadn't sold on ebay in the past few years for more than $5 and told me it was worth $20. just 'cause that's what people were asking.

i know record store clerks have a rep for being snotty, but this was just beyond the pale for me. he didn't even know why people might have been asking so much for it, he just saw the ebay asking price and went for it.

as far as ballard store.... the thing about that place, unless your buying rare doo-wap and beattles, is he's as likely to under-price due to not knowing much, as he is to overprice. most the time you come out pretty even there. i have just learned to never act amazed at finding a rare record, and keep your mouth shut about why you want some old, dusty record at that store.

Posted by terry miller | May 19, 2008 4:16 PM
8

that's pretty much standard operating procedure at rubato, from my experience and that of my friends. avoid it like the plague!

Posted by rlv | May 19, 2008 4:19 PM
9

Rubato never used to be like that. The one in Bellevue that is.

Posted by Biggie J | May 19, 2008 4:23 PM
10

That was... sorry no longer there.

Posted by Biggie J | May 19, 2008 4:26 PM
11

When it come to unpriced used records, I know how much I'm willing to pay for them before I take them to the store clerk. If it falls somewhere reasonable within the range I think the records worth then most of the time I buy it. However, if a clerk was to look up the record online, I would tell them that almost all records online are over priced, and will take my business somewhere else. If a record store clerk doesn't know how much a record is worth, than most likely they bought it at a relatively bargain price, and they should send the discount onto the customer especially since they will still probably make a profit in the end and move there inventory which is one of the most important things, in my opinion, for a record store to do (i.e. Amoeba Records).

I think Jive Time is by far the best record store here in town. Every record is decently priced and in decent shape at worst. Golden Oldies also is very reasonable as well.

Posted by TJ | May 19, 2008 5:15 PM
12

BTW, That Kongas record is amazing!

Posted by TJ | May 19, 2008 5:17 PM
13

In your sidenote: EXACTLY. The fact that a guy in Japan, a couple dudes in Belgium, and some English DJs (or whatever the scenario) bid a record on eBay up to XX amount of $'s, doesn't mean that's what any particular record shop would ever hope to get for it. If they think they can, they should put it on eBay.

And holy crap, Rubato's is still there?!

Posted by Dougsf | May 19, 2008 6:22 PM
14

Right on x 10,000, Terry.

That said, classify this as a problem Seattle *wants* to have. Seriously. I mean, we're arguing about a variety of *vinyl* stores, not even mentioning other specialty stores like Zion's Gate or what not.

I was hosting some friends from Dallas this past weekend, and they said the only independent store in that city is run by the Polyphonic Spree, basically. Talk about hell on earth.

Posted by mackro mackro | May 19, 2008 6:56 PM
15

Hey,

you are right, Easy Street's vinyl guy in West Seattle is the best and as a former coworker of Easy Street and Rubato- Rubato is far inferior.

BUT... the Kongas record goes for maybe 50 and that's the colored vinyl. The normal version is more like 20.

That being said, you still got a great deal.

Posted by Friend Of Easy Street's Vinyl Guy | May 19, 2008 8:15 PM
16

I don't know if Easy Street has the same vinyl guy in West Seattle as we have here in Queen Anne, but the guy we have here is awesome and fair.

Posted by bunnypuncher | May 20, 2008 2:25 AM
17

I shouldn't even get started...(sigh)...this is a conversation we all oughta have over some beers! 'cause I have PLENTY of opinions and gossip kinda clerk/owner stories to share!

BTW - Sunday was Lake City's LAST EVER record convention. The building where it had been held for what, the last 176 years is being demolished...fucking sucks.

Posted by nipper | May 20, 2008 4:27 PM

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