Father’s Day 2020 was one of the strangest yet, but we celebrated my dad outdoors with steaks and social distancing.
The day started quietly with an espresso at dawn, but I couldn’t wait to get cooking. Jen bought steaks and corn. I love cooking and I especially love barbecuing. Cooking for my mom and dad is one of the best hobbies I have.
The morning was spent relaxing by myself on the patio, reading Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Secret Path, the story of Chanie Wenjack. I spoke about this book a bit on Saturday’s live stream. To say reading this book was an intense undertaking is to sell the experience short. I had to stop twice to catch my breath. This powerful, true story is made so clear, so intense and spiritual thanks to the words of Gord and the images of Jeff. A book/album review is absolutely forthcoming. (Even though the book comes with a download of the Gord Downie album, I still bought the CD individually as well.)
It was a hot afternoon but at least my parents have a back deck with some shade. I lit the gas and let the flames do their work. I incorporated some new techniques that I picked up watching YouTube videos over the winter. I let the steaks get up to room temperature, then patted them dry and seasoned with just salt, pepper and garlic powder. Nothing fancy and no marinate was necessary. I overcooked mine a bit for my liking. Everybody else likes them a bit more done than me. I forgot how hot my dad’s barbecue can get. But they were still juicy and flavourful, I just prefer them a little more red.
We chatted current events, the cottage, and Uncle Don Don. My mom saved for me what was left of his CD collection (I gave my sister first dibs and she took Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats.) Mom asked me to sort through the music, but I decided to take them home to do that here. The CD covers have the telltale yellowing of a smoker’s home and I didn’t want to handle them and have to prepare dinner too.
There are a few CDs here that I’ll have to keep. I’m missing several Tragically Hip. I don’t have that Lee Aaron (her debut). I could probably use some Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, Garbage, and Jane’s Addiction. A few of these are duplicates; I have all the Deep Purple and Alice Cooper albums. But those are two bands that Uncle Don influenced me to get into. “Child In Time”, he said. That was the song he praised. He has two versions of “Child In Time” in this cardboard box.
Looks like I’m going to be owning Jackyl, Haywire and Collective Soul too. Cool. I’ll go through the box in detail in the coming days.
My dad enjoyed his Father’s Day meal, and we had a nice visit. The first one in many months. It wasn’t hard to stay sanitised and distant, but it was different. Just something we have to live with for a while. Hopefully not too much longer. I’m starting to get tired of the same old scenery from my little patio at home. I want to get back to the lake. Because of various health concerns and vulnerabilities, we’ve all agreed that we can’t all be at the same cottage at the same time, so we’ll have to take turns. I’ll have to wait a little while longer to cook my dad a nice barbecue chicken dinner (skin on, of course). It’ll happen though — eventually.
I hope all the fathers had as nice a Father’s Day as my dad did.
GETTING MORE TALE #828: The Ones That Got Away
A year ago we did a massive de-clutter. We had gotten to the point where we accumulated too much stuff. Especially after Jen’s mom passed away. We probably kept too much of her stuff out of sentiment. But in a very short period of time we made massive purge; a painful purge. And it wasn’t the first. As you go through life you get rid of things. You can’t carry all your possessions with you through your whole life.
Although I have forgotten many of the myriad DVDs, books, T-shirts and collectibles that I tossed to the curb, there are some that I now regret losing. Doner’s regret is a very real thing. Some decisions were made in haste and others were made without sufficient foresight.
I used to record all of my CDs and LPs to cassette so that I could play them in the car. Once I had a car CD player, I didn’t need to keep doing that. Eventually I decided to give away all my excess cassettes and that’s how they ended up in a Thunder Bay landfill. I only regret giving away a small handful of my tapes. I wish I had hung onto some of the more obscure ones, and anything that I made cool artwork for. I guess I didn’t imagine that one day people would want to look at photos of old cassettes and read reviews of them.
In years past, any time I have done a major de-cluttering, I’ve thrown a massive garage sale. Sorting through and pricing items gives you some time to process what you’re doing, and make final decisions. It’s an ideal way of getting rid of stuff. But even so, I have made mistakes that I regret now. My childhood rock magazine collection — what I would give to have some of those issues again. They would come in handy with what I’m doing now. I had just about every issue of Hit Parader from 1987 through to 1990. From there I moved on to RIP, Metal Edge and the various guitar magazines available. When I purged my magazines, I hung onto just a small handful, but knowing they were irreplaceable, I kept all my M.E.A.T. Thank God I did! I’d never be able to replace them all if I hadn’t, and those things have been invaluable research sources. At least I know my magazines went to a good home. My old friend Len came to the garage sale and took every one. I know he is someone who would appreciate them for what they are.
I got rid of the magazines when I got married. I had to make space for my awesome new wife and her boxes and boxes full of clothes! Around the same time, I passed all my old Star Wars toys down to my sister Kathryn. Again, I have no regrets. They went to the right person to care for them. I admit I do get a nostalgic craving to hold my Han Solo one more time, but I think that could be arranged if necessary.
More recently, I’m kicking myself for giving away all my Star Trek DVDs. All the movies (I had the double DVD collector sets), and all the seasons of the Original Series. The entire “Fan Collective” series, which were so good. Gone in one trip to the Goodwill store. Decision made far too quickly and I’ve been regretting it ever since. Why donate instead of sell? Because we were trying to do this very quickly. Hiring an organizer is expensive. Getting a couple bucks per disc wasn’t worth trying to hawk them all. I put them in a huge bag, dropped them off at Goodwill and tried to feel good about the regained space.
So now I have to re-buy all the Trek movies. I can do without the series as they are all on Netflix, but I need the films back. I don’t know what to buy: blu-ray, DVD, whatever has the best content? This would have been simpler had I just kept them all. A couple weeks ago I re-bought an old Star Wars comic that I somehow lost. It must have left the house accidentally jammed between something else because I never would have gotten rid of issue #47, “Droid World”. It’s the only issue that means anything to me and the only one I want to have. I used to try and draw all the different robots inside over and over again. Cost me $5 to replace, but oh well. Never should have left the house.
At least I didn’t let a single CD go. That organiser tried, oh did she ever try.
“So what are we doing with these?” she asked about the three CD towers and numerous mountains of dics in my workspace.
“These are all staying.” I replied bluntly. “These are my life and they are non-negotiable.”
“You know that you can put all of this on a computer now and not have to worry about storing all of these? I mean when can you listen to all of this?”
The same questions everybody asks. Everybody who’s not a music fan that is.
“I’m putting them on my computer all the time. That’s what this setup is for. But I collect CDs, some of these are irreplaceable. I love them all. I could tell you where I got almost every single one. I read the notes inside. I look at the artwork.”
Trying to explain it was like talking to a wall. “But all that stuff is online!” She was begging me to reconsider but guess what. I still have all my CDs.
Still trying to work on a decent storage layout, but I’m not a carpenter. I can barely hammer a nail. I need people to help with stuff like that. It’ll happen one day. But the discs. aren’t. leaving. And just on a logistical level, I need to have my music backed up to a hard copy like CD anyway just in case something happened to my 2-terrabyte digital library!
I would never recommend hiring a professional organiser to any of my music fans. They won’t understand your needs and you could end up making mistakes. Don’t make the same ones I did, but do stick to your guns when it comes to your albums!
A couple weeks ago, we looked at “limited edition” CDs once more. Today, we follow up with a postscript reinforcing everything we discussed last time.
To recap: Deep Purple have been issuing live albums from a recent “limited edition series”, but all is not as it appears on the surface. As shown last time, the record company (Edel) couldn’t be bothered to even print the number of your limited edition on the sleeve, instead relegating it to a sticker. That was on a copy of the second album in the series, Rome 2013.
Today I received my copy of the first release in the series, Newcastle 2001. This is a track-for-track reissue of discs 5 & 6 of the 2001 Soundboard Series box set. This time the discs have been “remastered” though there is surely nothing wrong with the original release. They have also been numbered as part of a limited edition run. Mine is copy #4222/20,000.
But wait! Didn’t our friend Heavy Metal Overlord, who got his copy far earlier, have a higher number?
He sure did — #8616. Proof that it doesn’t matter how early you order these things. It will have little impact on the number you receive. It’s also proof that there are plenty of copies to go around. Confirmed: you can take your time to order this “limited” release.
This time, however, I’m complaining about a little bit of false advertising. There is a sticker on the front that says “only 2000 copies worldwide”. A bit of a typo there. 20,000 is the correct number. There’s quite a bit of difference between the two. And we still don’t know if that is for CDs, or both CD and vinyl copies.
Once again, we state what should be obvious: if the record companies can’t be bothered to get these “limited editions” right, then why should we care?
A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 188: “Limited Edition”
GETTING MORE TALE #809: “Limited Edition” 2
When we first discussed “limited edition” albums in 2013, we arrived at the conclusion that very few things truly are limited in any significant way. Even Record Store Day has done little to change the view. Yes, some Record Store Day items are really hard to get after the fact, but most sadly are not. For example, Iron Maiden’s single for “Empire of the Clouds” can be found easily on Discogs. 71 copies available, ranging from $16 and up. Yet strangely, something like Alice Cooper’s “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” is rarely seen under $50. Releases like Cooper are the exception. What we have learned in the intervening years is that nothing has really changed in the world of limited editions. Most are not all that limited and can be found later on. Others truly are rare, and you can’t really predict which will be which.
But we’re collectors here. We don’t buy these things to sell later. We buy them to have, appreciate and enjoy. Sometimes to show off.
When something is limited and numbered, collectors enjoy comparing their numbers and seeing who has the lowest. A friend of ours just scored a fairly low numbered Gene Simmons Vault which I think is pretty cool. I have a bunch of numbered items, and I’ve posted some here. It’s easy to see which are numbered because, hey, there’s the number right there on the back! And according to the numbers I have one of the last copies of Deep Purple’s “Above and Beyond” single: 1934 of 2000. Neat. I just wanted the bonus track “Space Truckin'” live in Italy, but the numbers give us collectors the jollies. It’s just a little added perk to the packaging.
When is a packaging perk not a packaging perk? When it’s not on the packaging!
Deep Purple have been issuing “limited edition series” live albums recently. Our good friend the Heavy Metal Overlord recently acquired the Newcastle set. Limited to 20,000 copies worldwide, he got #8616, handily printed on the back. He’ll always know which copy he got.
I was disappointed when I received my first Deep Purple “limited edition series”, which is Rome, the second one in the line (Newcastle being the first). I ripped open my parcel from Amazon to find that the number wasn’t printed on the CD, but on a sticker affixed to the shrinkwrap!
What is the point of that? Who, aside from nutbar collectors like myself, is going to keep the sticker? Nobody, that’s who. So again: what is the point? I’ll be one of the few people who knows what number mine is, if I manage to keep this sticker with its CD. It seems stupid to provide that information as part of something you throw in the garbage.
It’s not going to be worth anything. My number #1872 of 20,000 isn’t going to be worth more money than HMO’s #8616. That’s not the point. The point is a simple “why”? HMO figures it was probably a manufacturing oversight, that it’s not printed on the sleeve.
It’s also worth pointing out that 20,000 copies is substantial for an archival live album from a band like Deep Purple. It’ll be a long time before that pressing sells out.
Don’t be fooled into spending too much money on these things. I have a copy of Newcastle on order; it’s not sold out. You can often do well by seeing how the prices go, sitting and waiting for the right opportunity. And don’t put too much significance into those numbers. If the record company can’t be bothered to even print them on the sleeve, they can’t be that important.
GETTING MORE TALE #797: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It!
In the early 90s, we got our first Costco store in Kitchener. My parents raved about how much I’d love it. In those early years, I enjoyed going with them. I’d throw a 20 pack of Hot Rods into the cart and see if they’d notice (they always did). They didn’t have much of a music selection, but what they did have was priced to go. So I picked up a few current releases:
- Queen – Classic Queen
- Skid Row – Slave to the Grind
- Van Halen – LIVE: Right here, right now.
- Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion World Tour – 1992 in Tokyo I & II (VHS)
The Guns was a nice score. The full Tokyo show, split onto two VHS tapes (sold separately). At Costco prices they were affordable. The show later made up a large portion of their album Live Era. Costco was great for buying new releases, junk food in bulk, and the occasional electronics. We enjoyed getting free food samples and checking out the latest in TVs and videos games. I stocked up on blank tapes. But there was one thing Costco didn’t have.
To be clear, it wasn’t that I was looking to buy this. I was just being a shit. I have a juvenile sense of humour, and always have. Costco should have known that if they were going to leave pads of paper for “suggestions” at the end of every aisle, someone was going to write silly things on it.
Most people wrote sensible suggestions. “Too much packaging on products” was a good one. It’s true, Costco would use far too much cardboard and plastic to package together three things of deodorant. But I noticed they didn’t carry something; something important that could easily be sold in bulk. My mom gave me shit for it, but I always wrote “CONDOMS” on the suggestion pads.
I didn’t need condoms, believe me. Definitely not in bulk. But something about the idea tickled my funnybone, and so every time, I wrote it down.
“MICHAEL!” my mother would scold. I’d grin and laugh. It went on and on like this, visit after visit.
But you know something? It was a good idea. So good that a few years later, they were stocked. I couldn’t believe it.
“Kathryn!” I shouted at my sister. “Get over here, you won’t believe this.” I proudly pointed at the condoms. “Do you think that’s because of me?” I mean, I wrote it down enough times.
I think I had something to do with it. At least, that’s the way I tell the story, and I’ll be damned if I’m changing it now. Costco carries condoms because of me.
There was one guy I knew back in the day who would have appreciated it. He was a friend of a friend. We were at an age when you’d be expected to be “embarrassed” to be buying condoms. Not this guy. He went up to the counter at the drug store and said, “See that? That’s a five pack. That means I’m getting it five times.” Then when the transaction was done, he’d conclude by saying “See you tomorrow!” No embarrassment for that guy. I like to think that I got Costco to carry condoms in bulk, and I did it for that guy. You’re welcome!
A sequel to #424: How to Stop a Thief
GETTING MORE TALE #795: A Case for Security
Back when people used to actually steal physical CDs instead of just stealing a download, extravagant measures were taken to secure our precious inventory.
We had a magnetic tag security system. At the entrance stood an electronic gate that would go into alarm mode any time one of those magnetic tags was near. Every item we had in-store was tagged. The system was not cheap. I believe the tags cost 5 cents each (in 1994 dollars). They were the cheapest ones available and they quickly added up. The tags were not re-usable. Once they were de-magnetized they were done. Also, because they were sticky tags, if you ripped one off you wouldn’t be able to re-apply it very well as the sticky side got less sticky. You could put it back on with tape, but no matter what you did, over time the tags would always start to peel off on their own. We did a “tape check” every week to make sure every cassette still had a security tag firmly attached.
There was a different method for securing CDs. To cut down on the use of the magnetic tags, we used plastic CD long boxes. The magnetic tags were fitted inside, didn’t peel off, and could be re-used time and time again. You couldn’t get the CD out of the long boxes without a key, or you’d destroy what was inside. The key was kept behind the counter.
Like anything at the Record Store, this security measure had its pros and cons. Storing those long boxes when not in use was a constant struggle. We always seemed to be bursting at the seams with them. We had cabinets underneath the CD shelving that were usually packed full.
The biggest “pro” was reducing the cost of the magnetic tags. Since you could use the same case over and over again with the magnetic strip intact, you didn’t have to keep buying new ones. The long boxes were also an added deterrent. If you wanted to steal a CD you had to hide the long box under your jacket.
This didn’t stop people from trying. One day, somebody from the mall came into the Record Store and told me that they found half a dozen broken long boxes in the trash outside.
“I think someone has been stealing from you,” she said.
I was immediately worried that someone managed to rip us off on my shift. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, though Zellers were not as lucky. Upon seeing the broken long boxes, I could tell they didn’t belong to us. They came from Zellers, who used a similar system. Someone managed to beat it. How?
If nobody was looking, you could lift the CDs right over the magnetic gate. That was the easiest way, and at Zellers, chances are nobody was looking. Another method (supposedly anyway) involved lining the inside of your jacket with aluminum foil. Apparently this would allow you to shoplift anything with a magnetic tag. The urban legend, which may have been true, is that a local gang of CD thieves used this method.
The gang were known locally as “Pizza Guys”. The cops were always two steps behind them. The main detective on the case gave us pretty clear instructions. We were to buy everything the “Pizza Guys” brought in, record it, and get their ID. We were to flag any “shady” purchases but otherwise they told us it was business as usual. I don’t know if the detective ever caught the “Pizza Guys”, but years later their leader Aristotles (real name!) went to jail for selling ecstasy, meth and heroin. Quite a large step from stealing CDs! According to the news, he got just six years in jail.
I don’t think the “Pizza Guys” were shoplifting CDs normally. I think they were getting them from someone on the inside. We’ll never really know. We used to joke that one day we’d be in an HMV store minding our own business, when Aristotles would pop his head out of the stock room. “We’re out of Big Shiny Tunes again!”
Even though the “Pizza Guys” usually brought in what you would call good titles (usually new releases), we all hated dealing with them. As time went on without getting caught, they got more and more cocky and difficult to deal with. It was good to know the cops were on our side, but I’m not a detective. My job was not to fight crime in the city of Kitchener. My job was to sell music, and these guys didn’t make it a pleasant experience for us.
GETTING MORE TALE #755: You’re A (CD) Loser, Baby
I was never surprised but often disappointed with how customers treated their music. Scratched up CDs were par for the course. Also broken discs, scuffed or chipped, with beads of dried beer. But what about empty CD cases? Anybody ever try to sell those? Of course!
We saw lots of people coming in with bags of CDs to trade, only for me to go through them and find empty cases in the bag. Multiple empty cases. The seller didn’t even know they were empty. They were always surprised. I couldn’t fathom how this happened!
I mean, I get it – people leave a CD in a player or changer, forget about it, and lose track of it. I had a Spiderman: Homecoming DVD in my laptop for over six months. I understand that’s one way these things get misplaced. I just couldn’t understand the why, so frequently. CDs were expensive. Some still are. People freak out over a lost pair of cheap sunglasses but not their music?
Now, loaning a CD out to a friend and never getting it back is a whole other thing. That happens. The only solution is finding new friends. But why loan it without the case in the first place? I still don’t get it.
I very briefly dated a girl who had a habit of losing her music. She had all the discs in the wrong cases. If you wanted to listen to Sloan, she had to remember which case she put it in last time. Again, I don’t get how this habit forms. She didn’t seem to know either. All I can tell you is that her copy of Sloan’s 4 Nights at the Palais Royale had one correct disc, and one completely different disc.
People would bring that kind of crap into the store to sell, and then wonder why I passed on a CD set that only had one correct CD. “Come on man, somebody will buy it,” was a common customer response. Maybe, but not in this store!
The only time I can remember losing a CD of my own, it was the whole thing, case and all. And it was because it slid under a car seat. Unlike most of the masses, I refused to house my CDs in one of those portable CD wallets. If the CD was coming with me, so was the case (or at least a case of some kind, if the original was fragile or collectable). When I realized I was missing something from my collection, I remembered I last saw it in the car. There it was, under the seat, safe and unscratched in its case.
People like me are a small minority. At least in this town, most people didn’t value or take care of their music. When I’d see a bunch of empty cases come in from a customer’s collection all I could do was shake my head. I couldn’t feel sorry for someone like that.
Take pride in your music collection, people!
GETTING MORE TALE #687: Chronic Complainers
There will always be people who relish complaining. Maybe they feel that life wronged them somewhere. Perhaps they got up on the wrong side of the bed. Some people are just miserable and like to spread the misery. Others are just cheapskates. Whatever the category, we saw ‘em all at the Record Store.
If you don’t like a store, why do you shop there? Chronic complainers had many grievances, but were still coming on a regular basis. It’s not like we were the only game in town. We weren’t the cheapest either. So why did the chronic complainers like to make our lives misery? Every retail job has “horror stories”, but those are amplified in a buy-and-sell environment.
I think a lot of people used to have the wrong about idea about what a “used CD store” was all about. One of the old managers, Joe, used to say we were nothing but a “glorified garage sale” disguised as a store. A lot of complainers seemed to see it that way too. They wanted to haggle. They wanted a better deal than what was on the sticker.
Me personally, when I walk into a store, I don’t assume every price is negotiable. Some people do. I still know people who love to haggle. At the store, we all hated when customers tried. Only the owner had any real authority to haggle, and he didn’t work at a cash register.
We carried a small selection of new CDs in addition to our used stock. Some folks loved to whine about pricing. Chronic complainers would tell you that “Walmart has the new Metallica for cheaper than you.” Great, super, thanks for the help. You know that an indy shop can’t compete with Walmart’s buying power, right? Their costs were much less than ours, and there was no way to beat them. Why didn’t you just buy Metallica at Walmart when you were there if the prices are so great?
Selection was another subject for complaint. We might have had 10,000 used CDs in stock but complainers loved to point out what we didn’t have. “This is the only Zeppelin you have?” they’d ask as they held up a copy of Encomium – A Tribute to Led Zeppelin. “You never have any good Zeppelin. When are you getting more?” I’d explain that you can never predict when a specific used CD would be traded in, but I could put them on a waiting list. “Nah, I’ll just check back.” Well, then don’t complain when someone else snags the next Zeppelin before you.
We had a pretty good system for a waiting list. It was all computerized so if something particular came in, it would automatically get flagged. We could also have stock sent from other stores to pick up locally. There was one woman that only came in during our first summer open…a chronic complainer that eventually fucked off. She always had a complaint, every visit. You don’t have this, you don’t have that, why is this taking so long? She ordered in a CD from another store, didn’t pick it up on time, and by the time she came in (a month later), it was gone. I remember telling the staff, “Keep this one on hold. She’s really mean. Give her extra time.” Eventually though I had to put the album out and sell it. I know that we called and left a message that she only had a week left to pick it up. She still came in too late, and that’s when she ripped me a new one.
“I had to drive an hour to get here!” she complained.
“Would our Waterloo location be more convenient for you?” I asked, trying to be helpful but also hoping to dump this annoying customer on another store.
“NO!” she exclaimed.
Maybe you should have called in to see if the CD was still here before you made the trip. I would have. I think that was her last visit, and it was one customer I was happy to lose. The owner probably wouldn’t like to hear me say that, but he didn’t have to deal with her.
When I was running our website in the early 2000s, I received a complaint about one of our locations that would not refund some used CDs. I called the manager up to get her side of the story before I responded. She said that the guy was yelling and screaming and wouldn’t let her finish a sentence, as she was trying to explain the return policy. Some customers treated our female employees like dirt, preferring to deal with males. I got the sense that this complainer was one of them. He threatened to go to the Chamber of Commerce, but he didn’t get his refund.
There were also chronic complainers who primarily just sold CDs to us. They wanted a lot more for their CDs than you can offer, and sometimes even act insulted about it. When you wouldn’t give in to them (because you’re not allowed), they’d be grumpy about it, to put it mildly. There was one construction worker that came in regularly who was my first surly nemesis. (And no, he never sold me any Village People albums.) Then there was the prick that worked at CD Plus down the street. He kept coming in over and over again to sell, even though he complained each time. He had tiger-striped hair. What an annoying fuck he was. I sure was glad when CD Plus shut down operations and I never saw him again. (The former CD Plus owner, David Cubitt, still has his mullet but now sells beer for a living.) Whatever that fucking tiger-stripe guy’s name was, I couldn’t stand dealing with his arrogance.
Tiger-stripe loved to argue. He quizzed me about what kind of CDs we would pay the most for. At the time, the Beatles’ original albums were expensive and in demand on CD, so that was one. “We’ll pay top dollar for the Beatles, they’re still very popular.”
“Why the Beatles? Neil Diamond has sold more albums than the Beatles.”
Yeah, not the point man. You could buy a Neil Diamond CD brand new for half the price of a Beatles CD at that time, and he knew that. His store made their coin selling “super saver” titles.
Any time he brought in a bunch of discs, he would only sell a handful of them and keep all the best ones. If he could get more for them elsewhere, why was he coming to us at all?
The constant negativity of the chronic complainers could become a real drag on your day.
If you catch yourself complaining regularly at a favourite establishment, maybe it’s not a favourite after all, and maybe the problem is you.
GETTING MORE TALE #582: Erasure
Fixing CDs is a delicate business. You need a steady hand, the right tools, and patience. A buffing wheel with the right textured attachment works, and you also need an abrasive to gradually smooth out the scratched plastic of a disc. We used to use a special wax but found that regular hand soap and water worked better. That’s all the abrasive you need.
In short: Yes! You can fix some scratched CDs. There are two factors that might make a CD impossible to fix, however: deep scratches, and top scratches. A deep scratch that you can feel with your fingernail probably won’t be fixed. It’s just too deep. A top scratch happens on the top layer of the CD and goes into the aluminum, destroying the data encoded in it. Pinholes weren’t usually a problem.
The best way to fix a surface scratched CD
I spent a lot of time talking to the guys we contracted out to fix our CDs. We used one Toronto-based company for a few years, until one of our guys cracked the secret of fixing discs. Once he had a method, he went into business fixing discs himself. This gentleman (now actually a Sausagefest attendee himself) shared a lot of interesting info about fixing discs.
One thing I learned was that if you had a bunch of scratches close to the outer edge of the disc, and you went too deep trying to buff them out, you could lose the ability to play the last songs on the CD. The information would still be on the disc in the aluminum layer, but your laser can’t read it due to the excessive buffing of the plastic. The plastic layer would be no longer perfectly flat, and your laser won’t read through it. When playing, it sounds like the music fades into static and then disappears. The end effect is that it sounds like the last few tracks have been erased. This happened rarely, but it could and did happen.
Customers could come to us to have their CDs fixed. We charged them a fee and their CD would be back in a week or two. One of my regulars named “Kitchener Rangers Al” had one of his discs fixed. Unfortunately it was buffed too deeply on the edge and he couldn’t play the last tracks. It didn’t skip anymore, but you couldn’t play it to the end either.
I remember when Al came in with his CD after it was buffed. He was helped by the supervisor that I refer to as the “Bully”. Other people used other words that are not as nice, but she could be very difficult to deal with. That went for staff and customers both. Unfortunately Al was treated like a liar when he came back with his CD.
“Bully” heard his story: He brought the CD in to be fixed, it no longer skips, but it also now won’t play to the end. He said “I think the last songs were erased. That’s what it sounds like.”
The “Bully” dismissed Al’s complaint. “It’s impossible to erase a CD,” she said. I heard all this and kept my mouth shut. I learned from experience that correcting her, especially in front of other people, was as dumb as kicking one’s own ass. I didn’t feel like dying that day. She sent Al home with his useless CD that he paid to fix, that we failed to fix. She didn’t even listen to it to test it. She just insisted, mockingly, that he was wrong and sent him away. Quite frankly, she treated the customer like he was either an idiot or a liar trying to scam us, and he didn’t deserve that. I thought to myself, “If she caught me talking to a customer that way, she’d really let me have it.”
I chose to stay out of it, because I learned from the past. This “Bully” was a vindictive bully and it would have been a no-win situation with her again. I didn’t want to spend another three weeks of her abuse, as was par for the course when she exploded on me. Roughly three weeks. I just minded my own business, even though I absolutely knew 110% that she was wrong.
Al wasn’t stupid, and he came back when “Bully” wasn’t in. Al had dealt with her before. He told me the story directly, and I explained to him how the end of a CD can come to be “erased” due to buffing. I refunded him the fixing fee, and he was happy. He said he’d come in and buy another copy if we saw one. Customer retained.
I’ve been criticized by other former employees for not speaking up. That’s fair and all I can say to them is, if you walked in my shoes all those years, let’s see how willing you’d be to jump into the lion’s den. I don’t know what it was about us, but she had an evil place in her soul reserved just for me. Other people had felt her sting before, but nobody I have asked ever experienced the brutal treatment I got. She’d explode on me periodically, year after year after year, right to the end, when I removed myself from the circle permanently.
No thanks to “Bully”, Al got his refund and kept coming back. He had been there since Day One, and I hope he still shops there today. As for me, nobody knows the role I played in keeping that customer. At least they didn’t until now! You can, technically “erase” the songs at the end of a CD, or at least make them unreadable. Not exactly the same as erasing, but the end result is a wrecked disc no matter how you look at it.