To Be Frank: November 11, 2014

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Online retail giant Amazon is a great way to simply and easily buy just about anything more cheaply than many other places, isn’t it?

Well, no, actually. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to work like that at all. In fact sometimes, just like a trip down the river itself, an Amazon experience can be fraught with hidden pitfalls.

Let me tell you a story. I’m a big Led Zeppelin fan. For the uninitiated, Led Zeppelin (1968-1980) were the greatest rock band of all time. And this year, for the first time ever, deluxe versions of the band’s albums are being reissued – each with a bonus disc of previously unreleased material.

For a band who have always locked their vaults and thrown away the key, this is a Very Big Deal Indeed. Not only were the original albums freshly remastered by Zep guitarist and producer Jimmy Page himself, but each one also has – gasp! – an entire album’s worth of extra tracks as well!

For fans, this was truly the Holy Grail. True, most of us probably bought the original vinyl albums, and then a later CD version, but hey. How could we say no? (as a line from the band’s Achilles Last Stand goes).

Naturally, because of that, and these economic times we live in, you don’t want to pay any more than really have to. Enter Amazon.

Now then. Amazon offers this service they call Auto Rip, whereby if you buy a CD, you can automatically download a free mp3 version as well ...

Do you see where I’m coming from? Buy the CDs from Amazon, download the Auto Rip versions – and then resell the CDs on eBay, still shrink-wrapped, new and unused, and get some of my money back! Yes, it means I wouldn’t even get to look at the new booklets the deluxe CDs come with – but hey, the music’s the important thing, isn’t it? And this is by far the cheapest way of doing it. And look, I’ve bought the original studio albums twice already!

Zep’s first three albums were released earlier this year, and my cunning plan worked – almost perfectly. Annoyingly, one of the albums’ bonus discs didn’t appear as an Auto Rip version, so I had to put that CD through my computer myself – couldn’t therefore sell it as brand new, and so didn’t get such a good price for it. But I thought that was just a glitch.

Silly me.

Deluxe versions of Zep’s fourth (including the legendary Stairway To Heaven) and fifth albums have just been released. Amazon said Auto Rip versions were available. I trusted them. I bought the CDs.

Guess what? It turns out that this time, Amazon’s idea of Auto Rip versions ONLY extends to the original albums, and NOT the bonus discs – in either case!

But that was the whole point! Obviously everyone will already have the original albums! It’s the bonus discs that fans really want!

So now I’m forced to put each bonus CD through my computer, and resell them as used, not new – and I feel Amazon have sold me them under false pretences, quite frankly. Ever been had?

Cheers, Amazon. Say what you mean, why don’t you? Well you might like to know that in future I shall be downloading Zep’s deluxe reissues ... from iTunes.