your first debt (you just didn’t realize it at the time)

do you know what i’m talking about?

oh yeah, we’ve all been there!

when i first joined the columbia record & tape club you could get your music on one of FOUR different mediums – and CD’s weren’t on the list. LP’s, cassette tapes, reel to reel tapes, and eight track tapes were, though. i chose the second due to walkman usage, and i was off to the races – twelve tapes for only a penny, plus you could tack on your first of eight you were committing to buying for only five bucks, which coupled with shipping meant you dropped ten bucks for thirteen tapes, which back then they ran about seven to ten bucks each! what a steal!

but like another industry i would discover in junior high, only the first one was “free”. after that it’s gonna cost ya.

the tapes were closer to fifteen bucks each with shipping AND if you didn’t send back the card saying you didn’t want the tape of the month they sent it (and billed you) automatically. it’s a big inconvenience that is marketed to you as being very convenient…

“Each month we pick a new album from a hot artist in your musical category – if you want that, do NOTHING! We ship it automatically and you can pay us after you get it! If you decide you DON’T want the tape of the month, just send back your card with your alternate selection(s) for the month!”

there was also an “i don’t want a selection this month” button you could mark, but that’s not mentioned anywhere, of course.

it didn’t take long for me to amass over fifty bucks in debt that had to be handled by mom while i worked it off around the house (and that was mostly for lazy months i didn’t send back the card and got tapes i didn’t even want, so i’d listen to them since i was stuck with em and most got one listen and lived on a shelf until i discovered places that bought used tapes). didn’t teach me much of a lesson – through my twenties and thirties i proceeded to destroy my credit with various credit card bungles until finally getting my shit together in the last few years.

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