Virgin on the ridiculous

Turning the tables indeed. Having just read Virgin Megastore’s Andy Kendrick’s attempt to justify Virgin Retail’s high CD prices (MW November 9), I feel compelled to vent my anger.

Consumer groups have been pressing for a reduction in the price of CDs since the Monopolies and Mergers Commission submitted a report to the Department of Trade and Industry in 1994. For too long, consumers have been suffering at the hands of music retailers charging over-inflated prices.

A 1993 Mintel report stated that since their launch in 1983, CD prices have always been held artificially high. It also says that the unit cost of producing a CD has always been less than the vinyl equivalent. So why do they cost more?

At last, someone is listening, and if it is the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda, rather than Virgin Our Price, HMV or Woolworths, then so be it. If Sainsbury’s sources its stock of chart CDs from Europe at lower prices, and passes the saving onto its customers, then why is it that HMV, Virgin Our Price and Woolworths, which have access to the same chains of supply, choose not to?

Andy Kendrick tries to convince us that purchasing music is largely about the “experience” factor. Is the experience one of braving the elements, standing in queues and forking out premium prices just for the privilege of carrying your purchase home in a Virgin carrier bag?

Kendrick points out that Virgin’s new marketing campaign aims to offer “value for money”, but new-release CDs cost up to 50 per cent more at music retail chains than they do online and in supermarkets.

Kendrick also argues that Virgin stores are full of “knowledgeable staff”. They may well be, but there are a host of websites out there that aim for music enthusiasts.

As for this music enthusiast, I would like to say a big thank you to the supermarket chains and the Internet for, at last, making CDs accessible to all at reasonable prices.

Claire White

Account director

View The Penthouse

London W3

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