For years, Britannia Music’s ’five CDs for the price of of one’
deal has been a mainstay of the outside backs of tabloid supplements,
and finally, in January, I succumbed.
I was uneasy at having to pigeonhole my musical taste on the (very
small) order form, but having hovered over Chart Pop and Classical, I
settled upon Indie/Alternative - might as well act my age (26). Still,
the offer seems quite straightforward and I’m sure I can manage to buy
the required six in the next two years and, with luck, avoid a
’recording of the month’ pile-up.
My ’extra gift’ arrived first: a surprisingly good quality mug. And when
the CDs arrived soon after, they came without the standard bewildering
array of paperwork. Once I had chucked out all the unrelated (to the
product) and irrelevant (to my lifestyle) enclosures, I was left with
the ’club magazine’, a professionally laid-out guidebook and an
invoice/despatch note. My invoice differed from the model shown in the
guide, so I checked that I wasn’t about to be sent a recording of the
Trouble is, at around pounds 15 a CD, you’re paying a premium for not
having to leave your house. Although various ’bonus price’ deals bring
the price down to around pounds 11.75, when you’ve added the p&p, you’re
paying about pounds 13 each, and you don’t get to rummage for
On the plus side, an automated telephone system - which on an 0181
number might not be so handy if you live in Kinross - means you don’t
have to talk to anyone, but a separate helpline exists if you do. And
the dreaded recording of the month? Well, I was offered Queen Rocks
during the first month; I hope they look more closely at my musical
taste in future. But at least I could cancel it with a 30-second
telephone call. Phew.
THE BUYER: Eleanor Trickett
Reporter Eleanor Trickett continues the series in which Campaign staff
see how a product or service lives up to the promise of the marketing.
This time round, she finds herself yielding to the ubiquitous back-page
ad for Britannia Music in an attempt to build up her Take That
Don’t feel too bad about having succumbed, Eleanor. More than two
million others are currently collecting their music and videos from us,
so you are in good company.
All our products have a bonus price and a regular price. You can buy one
at bonus for every one you buy at regular and, as you say, six regulars
over two years is not too onerous. Furthermore, when you have bought
your six, we’ll give you another free recording. So, buying your six
regulars, adding the free recording, plus the five to start and, say,
three bonuses - that’s 15 CDs for less than pounds 10 each (including
p&p) - a pretty good deal, considering they are delivered to your
The automated telephone system is a very efficient way of managing your
account and can be used for ordering, checking your balance and
payments, as well as rejecting your recording of the month. More than
200,000 people a week use the service, which is available 24 hours a
day, 365 days a year.
Service is a key issue in our business and we are developing our Website
(http://www.britannia-music.co.uk) which offers everything the automated
telephone system has, plus the opportunity to search our catalogue of
10,000 items. We are still refining the site, but there is no doubt that
this is the future.
We aim to make the recording of the month as appropriate an offering to
each customer as possible and we use people’s purchasing history to
determine which of the various CDs available are best suited for each
member. I don’t know what you bought in your introductory offer that led
us to recommend Queen to you, but the fact that you didn’t take it will
help us to do better next time. Looking at the alternatives, Ocean
Colour Scene’s Marchin’ Already would probably have been a better
(Spot on - Eleanor)
THE SELLER: Mark Williamson
Britannia Music was set up 30 years ago next year and is Europe’s
largest music and video mail-order club. Mark Williamson joined the
company in 1987 as a management accountant and was appointed marketing
director three years ago. Here, he responds to Eleanor Trickett’s views.