The Columbia House Record Club was a once massively popular, er, well-marketed, record/tape/CD mail-order subscription service. Their hook was, when you signed up and mailed in a SINGLE penny, the club would "give" you a bunch'a "free" records (or tapes/CDs) as a bonus for signing up. It sounded like a great deal until you learned it was a hustle - "multiple times a year," after receiving your "free" stuff, the club would send you a record of their choosing, based on your taste, at their retail price (postage not included). AND, even MORE annoying, if you didn't like their selection you'd hafta return it within a set amount of days or be charged. Oh, if you did return the album, you had to pay the return postage. Ugh.
Well, as there was a "free records" involved, I had a ton of friends who tried to game their system. They all signed up, sent in their penny and, after getting a box of albums, ALL boasted how they had succeeded in ripping off CHRC!! Right, BUT they never bothered to explain how they got past being liable for all the unwanted records, and invoices, that followed!! I'm sure their poor parents/collection agencies ended up having to sort it out. Sheesh! Still, a lot of folks did game CHRC, and not just kids! For instance, dig how many CDs this semi-legit dealer, Joseph Parvin, was able to game. God damn!
The patron saint of the records-club schemers would probably be Joseph Parvin. In 2000, the 60-year-old was prosecuted for having received, between 1993 and 1998, nearly 27,000 CDs, using over 2000 fake accounts and 16 P.O. boxes. All told, he bilked Columbia House (and rival BMG) out of $425,000 of product, selling them at flea markets.
Dag, 2000 fake accounts is a lot of hustlin'! Just goes to show creeps are all the same - they'll work exceptionally hard to steal for a few bucks in return. Including the CHRC. Their business model was hinged not only on extortion, but also on stealing: nearly all their give-aways were FREEBIES! Meaning, most of the artists/groups received NO royalties for the albums CHRC gave away, as they were considered promotional.