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.

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

( 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.

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