Years ago, my teenage son was hoodwinked by Columbia House. At the time, the company offered a CD deal that was too good to be true. For just a penny — which you could glue onto the mailer — you could have eight brand new CDs arrive at your front door.
For a thirteen year-old, just getting into the grunge music scene, this must have seemed like a godsend. I remember the Pearl Jam and Nirvana CDs coming into my house. While I wasn’t really a fan of the music, it was kind of nice to see my son find his voice.
Thing is, my son didn’t grasp the whole process behind Columbia House (just like many teenagers at the time).
He didn’t read the fine print. After all, he was just a kid who wasn’t wise to the world of cheaters. Soon enough, additional CDs arrived on our door step. My son didn’t realize that he needed to opt out from the suggested orders from Columbia House in order to deter them from being sent. This was followed by a bill that escalated to over $100, which was then followed by a letter stating his account was being forwarded to a federal collection agency if he didn’t pay.
We paid my son’s bill, but a distaste for Columbia House has lingered in my mouth since. (I didn’t tell him that I was similarly duped with eight-track cassettes years before.)
Ultimately, this was a teachable moment for my son,and I reminded him that: “Nothing in life is free… or for a penny, for that matter.”
Nobody is buying CDs or DVDs anymore.
Yesterday, Filmed Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Columbia House, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Is that any surprise?
There once was a time when Columbia House was a billion-dollar business, but the world of purchasing physical CDs (which Columbia House transitioned away from a few years ago) and DVDs (which it continued to sell until bankruptcy) is long gone.
It’s surprising to me that a company so adept at cheating its way into money was blind to see the doomed terrain it was abiding. There are few CD stores or places to buy DVDs other than the occasional FYE and Best Buy. There, the selection is becoming smaller and smaller by the month. Soon enough, those offerings will be gone too.
So why was Columbia House keeping its toe in the water?
Whatever the case, to Columbia House, I say good riddance. May your demise further usher in the way for Apple Music, a brand I trust will not cheat or scam my children, my most precious commodity.