TV and Movies

So Columbia House DVD Club Still Exists

I was minding your own business (O__o) when I got an email with the subject “The New Columbia House Site Is Here!” I thought I fell into a space-time continuum and landed in 2003. I was like “Harpo, WHO DIS WOMAN?!?” THEY STILL EXIST?!? Well damb! Talk about throwback Tuesday!

Also, the fact that I got this email means they still got my info on file. Does that mean they remember how much I owe them in unpaid CDs and DVD hauls? I’m just asking. For reasons. And good credit.

Because remember back when they’d do those promotions where you could get like 20 CDs for $2.99 plus shipping and handling. And they’d foolishly allow us to “pay later.” But to us, later meant never? Yeah. And we’d keep ordering under different email addresses and names. And they’d keep getting delivered to the same address. Yet, Columbia House didn’t have a system to trigger red flags so everyone RACKED UP.

Some folks abused it to the point of getting banned though, somehow. My best friend was one of those people. I’m pretty sure all her email addresses are on a list somewhere, titled “DON’T YOU EVER!”

Good times.

How that company did not go bankrupt in 2 years is beyond me. Because based on this hustle we were all on, they probably got paid like $4 total for 300 CDs.

Anywho, turns out they’re still around and kicking! Because the email I got had this in it:

Columbia House DVDs

And of course I clicked on it because I was curious. I was lowkey looking forward to ordering 20 DVDs I’d never watch for $4.28 (I adjusted my imagination for inflation). But thankfully, Columbia House got a little bit more savvy. Now you can order 3 DVDs for $2.99 EACH with shipping and handling, if you join. And they aren’t selling CDs anymore.


But no. I have NetFlix and Hulu Plus now. Soooo…

No Dr Evil gif

Bless their hearts, though.

How many of you were on that BMG and Columbia house hustle, though? Also, how many of you now have bad credit because of it? Let’s discuss, fam.

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  1. Renners
    July 30, 2013 at 11:55 am

    i would be dating myself if i told you the cd hustle for me started about mid/late 90s. also, add fingerhut to the list. i had to outfit my dorm/off campus housing so yeah. thanks for the free linens fingerhut.

    • July 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Fingerhut. Man, you just brought back some memories. A bunch of my friends worked at the Fingerhut call center in college. It was hilarious. I don’t know which company has a worse name, Fingerhut or Dress Barn, but both are horrendous.

      • Renners
        July 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm

        girl those fingerhut linens were probably flammable than a mug. i’m gonna have to say dress barn is the worse. saw a dress barn outlet a couple years ago and thought how absolutely sh*tty the clothes in a dress bard outlet store have to be…i bet it smells like a pure dee sweatshop of synthetic fabric.

    • July 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      My mom clowned my Fingerhut bath towels when she came to visit me in my first apartment. She told me “You do know towels should absorb water, not push it off your body, right?” After I got finished being butt hurt behind the statement, she took me to buy Egyptian cotton plush towels.

      • July 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        O m g you got me so weak with this comment!

      • Camille
        July 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm

        People outside my car probably heard me howl at that!

        I have some Columbia House CDs in a box of college stuff somewhere, right next to the bmg box.

      • Iiona V
        August 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm

        I just died reading this comment…

  2. Milaxx
    July 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I didn’t do the BMG/Columbia House hustle, but I had aol for like 2 years and only paid one month and that’s because I forgot to call in time to cancel my free trial.

  3. mochazina
    July 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    my invite is prolly in my aol inbox…

  4. GoldenLady00
    July 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    So, when I was like 12 (when I got my first CD player!), I decided to join BMG. I got like 12 CDs for like $5. I did not read the fine print, so they started sending me CDs every month that they actually wanted me to pay full price for. Those things were $20-25!! I didn’t have that kinda of scrilla back then! They tried to send me a bill for almost $100 and threatened to send it to collections. So, my parents found out and were trying to figure out how I even managed to join a CD club without them asking my age. My dad called BMG and told them that I was just a child. Since they couldn’t legally enter a contract with a minor and my dad said I didn’t have parental consent, they had to forgive the debt. They cancelled my damn membership though! And I got to keep all those CDs!

    • Niki Fisher
      July 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Well done!! 🙂

    • Amber
      July 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Yup! So I wasn’t the only one!

      I used to do the same thing with magazine subscriptions. I used to read Seventeen, YM, Teen, BOP and all those other teeny magazines. I’d mail in the subscription forms under “bill me later” without my parents knowing and when they would send the bills my parents would be like “We’re not paying for all these and you’re a minor. Quit ordering stuff!”

      Nobody would ever pay and I would have all those magazines. lol

  5. Lacy
    July 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Man I started this hustle as a child. My Outkast Southernplaylisticcadallicfunkymusic albumwas from them.

  6. Amber
    July 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Dude, I did BMG and Columbia House in the late 90’s and got those 12 CDs for a penny (as long as you bought 4 more CDs at regular price within 3 years which I never did)which is how I got my first ever Aaliyah cd.

    And hell no it didn’t mess up my credit because I was underage at the time I was ordering that shit so they couldn’t legally hold me to none of it. lol

    Of course at the time I didn’t know this and was freaking out thinking I had to pay. I went to my mom like “Mom! I gotta pay for these CDs or they’re gonna mess up my credit and I don’t have any money!” She straight looked me in the eye and said “They can’t do nothing to your credit, cuz you’re a minor. They should have thought about that before they gave you those CDs now get out of my face and go outside and play.” WELP

    • i'm sleep tho...
      July 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      lol, are you me? did this shit until i was 17, cuz i knew the hustle well by then =)

      • Amber
        July 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm

        Hahaha!!!! We were all some hustlin mofos!! I think I got at least 100 CDs out of this before they figured out we weren;t gonna pay and stopped sending me stuff.

  7. July 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    OMG I can’t believe they still exist. Seriously – with NetFlix & Hulu, even RedBox, I’m good.

  8. July 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    *raises hand sheepishly*
    I ran that hustle for 6 years and got over 1000 CDs (half of which were sold to Wherehouse Music).

    Not the least bit ashamed though – CDs used to be too damned expensive for college students!

  9. YanaPalana
    July 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I heard that those companies couldn’t report you to credit agencies. I know they never showed up on mine and I had CDs coming to my house pretty much weekly. I would fill out that little card that came with vibe and essence magazines and keep filling it out with different spellings/variations of my name. Yana, Yonna, Yahna, Yaya…it got a little silly towards the end.
    The karma is I’ve lost or had the majority of those CDs stolen.

  10. TiaBia
    July 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    This may explain the voicemail on my home phone yesterday talking about an OLD past due bill for $30….
    It’s not on my credit report that I recently pulled soooooooooo I ain’t trippin. lol

    I think we were all kids ordering that mess. I started my book collection with another similar group.
    My parents called all the companies and told them I was underage and stop sending me stuff.

    • milaxx
      July 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      I did the book hustle. I used to be a reading fool.

      • MrsDBo419
        June 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        You and me both Milaxx, Man Amazon had a program where you could get amazon prime and get books shipped to you for free, man listen. I have about 500 books that never got paid for.

  11. Bethany
    July 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I’m dating myself, but I did the Columbia House/BMG hustle with TAPES first. Fast forward a few years til they forgot, then I did it again with CDs. And also with those book clubs Doubleday and Crossings and Black Expressions. What…I was young…

    • TeeNikki
      July 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! I was just fittna talk about BE and Crossings! I got a rack of books back in the day. But WHY did I just get a collections notice for one of those the other day. I BEEN paid those few dollars. I put it in the circular file.

    • Jacquie
      July 30, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      B- Yes, girl! Had two bookshelves FULL of Black Expressions books!!

    • Kwan
      July 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Doubleday got me :(. I was 18 when I did it so uggh it’s gonna be on my credit report for two more years.

  12. July 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I was JUST talking about Columbia House a few days ago! Girlll…. at 15, I was THRILLED to get my CDs. When that bill started coming, though. Yeah. That got filed in the trash. I don’t know what it did to my credit because at 15, you aren’t thinking about credit. Sure didn’t stop me from getting umpteen credit cards the moment I hit college!

  13. KemaB
    July 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    “And they’d foolishly allow us to “pay later.” But to us, later meant never? Yeah. And we’d keep ordering under different email addresses and names. And they’d keep getting delivered to the same address. Yet, Columbia House didn’t have a system to trigger red flags so ever.”

    Lmaoooooooo too true all of us were hustle man via Columbia house and BMG my CD collection was immaculate and I never paid more than that initial price and shipping and handling would never satisfy the terms and agreement those were the days 😀

  14. lnedykstra
    July 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    LAAAAAAWD! I, too, was on the BMG/Columbia House hustle in the mid-1990s. I remember opening up a magazine and picking the CDs that I wanted! I got my Dr. Dre The Chronic (which my mom promptly took away), Pearl Jam (I loved rock, too!), Whitney Houston, Goodie Mobb, etc! I was in middle school, so those collections letters were filed in the circular cabinet (ahem, the trash can).

    Thanks, Luvvie, for soothing my conscious. Now I know that I was not partly responsible for a company’s demise based on my theft and deceit!

  15. July 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Actually, I used the service the right way. I got my initial 12 CDs for $1 then continued with the services for like 4 years. Every time they sent me new CDs they’d send a coupon to order 4 more cd for just $10 or something like that. As long as I used the coupons I don’t think I ever paid more than $3 for a single CD.

    I was slick mad when they went out of business. But then ipods were in style so I was good.

  16. Christa
    July 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Girl I don’t know whatcha talkin bout! My credit is clean as a…..girl I just don’t know! They probably felt sorry for a broke sister, because ordering stuff at 14 and thinking when I clicked on pop-up adds I was going to be millionaire rich; I was just richly stupid!

    Now Sallie Mae done got me!

    • Terri
      July 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      I think Sallie Mae is in cahoots with Columbia House, BMG, Black Expressions and Double Day book clubs! Alllll of that unpaid CD and book money has been tacked to the back end of my student loans…with interest!

      The devil is a lie!

  17. NOLAgirl
    July 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    So I. Civics I learned I could not legally enter a contract, so I entered ordered and forgot about them. Clearly I wasn’t alone, why didn’t these place vet us? Just tapped a penny and ordered away. Fun time of the 90’s

  18. July 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Man I’m old – I did this with tapes, cds, and then dvds. Man, those were the days!

  19. Tanzania
    July 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I’m honestly still part the Columia House club…gots to get my Supernatural DVDs.

  20. July 30, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I had a drawer full of CDs from Columbia House. When that box was left at the post office for me to pick up later, I use to have my momma get in the car and drive me to get my CDs ASAP. She would watch me open the box and be like, “um…what?” I made up a good lie and kept it pushing. Finally she just stopped asking. I owe Columbia House so much damn money. I’d like to say I even ordered CDs in my mom’s name, she didn’t know about that though. If they ever find a way to come after the people who owe them, we’re all going to be in trouble, and I just might be at the top of their hit list. At least I got to enjoy my CDs while CDs were still hot. lol

  21. NIcole
    July 31, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I am LOL’ing at this because all of the CD’s in my collection are from BMG/Columbia. I loved them.

  22. Aire
    August 2, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Memories!!! I had bookoo tapes and CDs from BMG and Columbia House! I got rid of all the tapes except for Usher and Boys to Men. I still listen to some of the CDs though. That’s crazy how so many of us got all that and never paid. I think i joined Black Expressions too, but of course i never paid them either. But like someone else mentioned, Sallie Mae and nem collecting that money for them, and we know Sallie Mae and nem will hunt you down till you die lol!!!

  23. Oly
    August 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Hell, I was ordering VINYL from Columbia House in the 70s!

    I did the “Get 12 records for 1 penny”. That’s right, I would attach a penny to the order form.

    I’d get so excited when I received my “pizza boxes” with LPs stacked inside.

    Then, I graduated to cassette tapes.

    I quit long before the advent of digital media.