By December 9, 2008

Low and Slow: used CD e-tailer review

One of the nice things about working in a group office environment again is that there is a lot of banter. A LOT of banter. I am the unofficial DJ for our development room, and between the tunes and the shit-talking there is plenty of commentary to go around. Someone dredges up a long-lost track they liked as a youth, and it’s up to me to find it.

I also listen to a lot of music that doesn’t get heavy rotation. I am particularly fond of cultural mash-ups, like traditional Middle Eastern or Latin American music set to electronica. As you can expect, it’s hard to find these types of albums at big box stores like Best Buy or Wal*Mart. Even when I find them at local record shops, the import prices put a ten-track CD into the $20+ range.

So, what do you do when someone mentions “Ladies First” by Queen Latifah, or if you want to buy Cafe D’Afrique Volume 3 without spending $20? Try used CD e-tailer Second Spin.

Just to be clear, SecondSpin sells DVDs and games, too, but I can get those from just about anywhere. SecondSpin is my first stop when I want to buy a weird compilation or a CD that I listened to when I was in junior high. Back to my earlier Cafe D’Afrique Volume 3 example, it’s for sale on Amazon for $19 new. When I bought it from SecondSpin it was $7. I bought Rob Base’s second album “The Incredible Base” for $1.42. I really liked the title track of that album, but wasn’t interested in buying it for retail. SecondSpin to the rescue.

If you usually buy your random music purchases as singles from iTunes or Amazon’s MP3 service, give SecondSpin a look. You might be able to buy the entire album used for the price of a single or two.

I’ve purchased nearly a dozen CDs from SecondSpin, and they have all been in serviceable shape. Each CD is shrink-wrapped and has at least two “USED” sticker on bright orange on the case. I did have one CD arrive with a cracked plastic case, but I didn’t care. I rip all of my CDs to my home media server anyway. I’ve been pleased with the quality of the products I’ve purchased thus far.

However, SecondSpin is not without its problems. For one, the shipping takes FOREVER, especially if you are used to the super order fulfillment skills of places like NewEgg or ThinkGeek. I put my last order for four CDs in on November 23rd, and it didn’t arrive until December 6. Taking the holiday into account, it took my order ten business days to arrive. Orders in the US are sent USPS Media Mail. Upgrading to “Expedited” shipping doubles the usual shipping cost from $3/4 to $7+.

The shipping prices and speed remind me of the eBay sellers who try to save money on listing fees by selling an item for basically nothing and then jacking up the shipping and “handling” prices. I weighed my most recent order and it was nine ounces including packaging. Total actual cost to send via consumer-rate USPS Priority Mail, with a delivery time of two to three business days? $4.75. Total cost to send my order via crap-rate, with a delivery time of ten business days? $4.53. Give me a fucking break. doesn’t appear to have real-time inventory on their site, either. I ordered a disc and it was removed from my order a day into processing. It was out of stock. In this day in age, if a product appears on a Web site I expect it to be in stock. I buy things from sites with low/rapidly fluctuating stock levels (Woot, Tanga, eBay, Etsy, etc) so I understand that sometimes things sell out in the middle of the purchasing process. However, don’t let me complete my order without doing an inventory check! So far it’s only happened once, but getting an “out of stock” email is discouraging.

Lastly, I get charged sales tax. Usually this happens if the e-tailer has a physical presence in the state in which the customer resides. For example, I have to pay 5% tax on my ThinkGeek orders because they are in Northern Virginia. I don’t mind, mostly because my order arrives in a day, no matter what shipping method I pick. To pay tax plus wait two weeks just pisses me off.

So, in short: if you want to find an album you used to like, or an obscure album you’d like to give a try, Second Spin is for you. Just be aware that you may wait up to two to three weeks to get your order. If you’re like me and are impatient, you might be better off with an instant download service like iTunes or Amazon. SecondSpin’s prices may be low, but the slow shipping might be a deal-breaker.

Posted in: music, review

6 Comments on "Low and Slow: used CD e-tailer review"

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  1. Erin Clare says:

    I assumed all CDs were boarding the same ship with Frodo and the Elves to go die a slow and quiet death….

  2. Ed says:

    You know, if you don’t pay sales tax you are supposed to keep track of the purchases and pay use tax to the state of virginia.

  3. drfaulken says:

    I will neither confirm nor deny that I pay VA use tax on Internet purchases, but I will say that paying sales tax on those things is fucking stupid. If I buy something in Oregon I don’t have to pay tax for it in Virginia. The tax man can eat a bag of dicks.

  4. Starbuck says:

    Take a deep breath. Now say what you really mean 🙂

  5. Evan says:

    I have ordered nearly 50 CDs from Secondspin/, and they were almost all in fantastic condition. Also, every order that was a single CD shipped first class, not media, and arrived within 4 to 6 days of shipment.

    I only order when they have their “20% off with free shipping” deals. Paying for shipping kills the deals about 120% of the time.

  6. egbert engbert says:

    They have stores in L.A. with a terrible, doing you a favor attitude when you come in to sell CDs, DVDs. Some prices are okay, some are poor. The Sherman Oaks store has this toad of a female manager with black hair who is nasty. Another girl and a couple guys therre are okay. But overall, they are not so great at all.