recent Rogue of the Week columns:

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Rogue of the Week
Sound City 2000

BY WW Editorial Staff

_____ One of the great benefits of selling stuff on the Internet is that you never have to deal with unhappy customers in person. But one downside of etailing, as this week's Rogue can attest, is that some of those unhappy customers are Net-savvy.

Way back in September 1998, a Connecticut resident named Rex Swain went online and ordered a Dave Brubeck jazz album, Time In (the follow-up to Time Out) from Sound City 2000, a Portland-area purveyor of "hard-to-find" compact discs.

When the disc didn't arrive, Swain emailed Sound City President Linda Simmons. When she offered a panoply of excuses and stalling tactics, he went online again, this time with his own website, chronicling in extraordinary detail his battle to get first his CD, and later, his $26.90 back (

In addition to the 26 emails exchanged, his site also provides links to a Better Business Bureau report on Sound City (thumbs down) and other customer feedback (double thumbs down) and details of an investigation by Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers' office.

Swain was one of 50 customers who filed complaints with the AG's office alleging that Sound City never shipped some CDs they'd paid for, didn't refund money promptly and charged customers' credit cards far in advance of delivery.

Last month, in a settlement with Myers' office, Simmons (who could not be reached for comment) agreed to stop doing business in Oregon and to provide restitution.

The settlement wasn't the first for Simmons' family: In 1990, her husband, Ladislav Hanousek, then president of Sound City USA, signed an agreement with the AG not to sell counterfeit, bootlegged or pirated merchandise.

And, thanks to Swain, all the details are only a mouse-click away. "This turned into a real grudge match," says Swain, who is a software developer. "Had it happened pre-Internet, I wouldn't have had a forum at all."

Originally published
Wednesday, April 03, 2002

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