Tuesday, July 8, 2008

When Brilliant is not so Brilliant

As a footnote to Sunday's post about exploring the complete works of Beethoven at an affordable prince thanks to Brilliant Classics, I need to remind readers of a previous observation I had made about this business. The problem with these Gesamtwerk editions is that, the greater the number of CDs in the collection, the greater the probability that at least one of them will be a dud. I previously had written that, when I had purchased their box of the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn, one of the discs was missing. The jacket was there, but it contained a duplicate of another disc in the collection. Unfortunately, at least according to their Web site, Brilliant is not set up to communicate with mere mortal customers; thus, the site supports only business-to-business communication.

Fortunately, all my purchases have been through Collectors' Choice Music. I continue to do business with them because, not only do they often give really good discounts (as was the case for the Beethoven and Brahms collections), but also it is very easy to conduct business with the human being. The only downside of human conversation is that the voice at the other end of the line is obliged (by script, probably) to try to cross-sell all sorts of things you don't want; but they have always been very good about a patient remark like, "I'm not interested in that stuff right now." As I had observed with my Haydn purchase, Collectors' Choice will not replace individual discs; but they will replace the entire set through an easy exchange process in which they cover all expenses. Given my past experiences with trying to communicate with a real person over at Amazon for any reason, I shall take the ease of getting through to a human every time!

I was reminded of this because yesterday I hit a dud in the Beethoven collection. This time it was a disc that just would not play without skipping, and visual examination made it clear why. There were also sorts of marks on the surface (which could not be removed by accepted cleaning methods) that were clearly interfering with attempts to scan the bits on the disc. I went so far as to verify this by trying to do a super-slow RIP with my Nero software, which made it through the worst of the tracks but basically reproduced the skips! I contacted Collectors' Choice and give them the whole story. Within minutes after my telephone conversation, I had the material I needed for returning the box in the Inbox. Given my tendency to gripe about service practices that verge on the pathological, I feel it important to point out when someone still knows how to get it right!

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