When Is The Used Album You Buy Online Not the Album You Bought?

Charles Lloyd pointed me towards the Chico Hamilton album A Different Journey (Reprise RS R9-6078) on which he plays, is musical director and wrote all of the tunes. I'd never heard of it or even seen it, so I went on DISCOGS and found a copy.

The seller's listing hyperlink took me to a page that indicated the record had a "deep groove" label and inner groove etchings:

Matrix / Runout (Runout side A, etched): R-9-6078-A-1 30,223 ①-1
Matrix / Runout (Runout side B, etched): R-9-6078-B-1 30,224 ①-1

Since DISCOGS lists every variant of a given record, I assumed the seller had linked to the correct one with the original label:

When the record arrived it had the familiar steamboat label not one with a cherub in place of the boat. Not that I cared. But the matrix was not Reprise. Instead it was a stamped Columbia Records matrix. In my experience Columbia did a much better job with its own releases than with contract work like this. Worse, the record, advertised as M- had large areas of visible fungus that the Kirmuss machine couldn't budge. When I played it I realized why: the mold had "eaten" into the vinyl leaving a continuous "shhhhhing" sound.

The seller has stopped responding and it's not worth my time further pursuing it. Then stupid me bought a second copy also linked to the original info that's also a Columbia matrix. Yes, stupid me should have asked the seller about it before buying but when you're in a rush, you sometimes do foolish things.

Can I Have My Money Back? Believe me, I'm trying. BTW: It's a great record! Someone should reissue it. Meanwhile, if you buy used records on Discogs be sure to specify to the seller precisely which version you are looking for. Don't expect the link he or she points you towards is the exact record you'll be getting if you don't first ask!

shawnwes's picture

Sucks to be hoodwinked. If I'm looking for a particular issue I always ask. I've had the same thing happen through Amazon.ca fulfilment for a new sealed edition of Giant Steps that was supposed to be the Rhino edition. It wasn't. It was some 100gm floppy disc. Sent it back.
Hope you get a refund or at the very least scorch the earth of the seller if they won't refund you.

mraudioguru's picture

...when I first started buying on Discogs, I had the same thing happen several times. I think the sellers were just finding whatever listing and putting their copy there without making sure of the exact one.

Over the past few years, I haven't had any problems, but it seems they still exist. Sorry for your hassles. Hopefully, you can get some restitution for the wrong one(s).

haidasounds's picture

My take is that if the record is misrepresented, either on condition or pressing variant, you should ask for a return & refund; I always do. I usually get in touch with the seller and 99% of the time the return goes smoothly. If not, hopefully you paid by paypal. I found discogs not very good in dealing with these situations, but paypal is usually on your side. Hope you get it fixed!

PaulG's picture

I love Discogs and I’m diligent about putting the exact pressing in the database, even if it’s a 2.00 record I have no intention of selling. But every so often, you get hosed by a purchase. Be especially careful in overseas stuff. I bought a UK Howling Wolf double LP from the Chess Blues Master series ( I’ve got then all right now) and instead I received a British single disc variant with the wrong cover! The Blues Master series has these great illustrated covers that makes it fun to own them all. But the postage alone would have made it unwise to return. Live and learn.

DrJB's picture

Sorry to hear about your order. My experience with Discogs has been excellent. I got in late on the Beatles in Mono releases, missed the box set and wouldn't pay stupid money for it on the auction sites. So I sourced the 5 titles from the series that I was missing on Discogs. They came from all over Europe--Russia, Italy, UK, etc. Not a single glitch although I did have to pay $130 for Pepper. The only niggle was a slightly torn label on side 4 of The Beatles. No problem. Mono reissue top loaders are getting hard to find.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

Just want to say that while Discogs is brilliant as a reference point, it is not 100% accurate. I have checked various LPs on Discogs that have all the exact same details as ones I have bought but the deadwax is different. So it is NOT the Holy Grail for checking LPs against!


James, Dublin, Ireland

OldschoolE's picture

True, it is not the Holy Grail, nothing is, but it is more accurate in checking against than Ebay.

Rashers's picture

With Discogs. Usually large specialist retailers precisely log the copy and accurately grade the sleeve and disc. A very large amount of material is over graded - particularly NM which is usually VG+ (which is still fine). Buying an older or relatively rare album from a low volume or non specialist seller is a minefield. Usually the album grading is visual and, frankly, for an older record (1950s jazz in particular) - that is not good enough. I have bought records that look NM and play G+ due to microscopic groove wear (heavy stylus).
I still think that Discogs is the best thing to happen to vinyl - possible ever. Much as I love crate digging - if you are not near a major metropolitan area in the US, Europe or Japan - it is very hard to find good second hand records.

xtcfan80's picture

Good post Michael... One downside to vinyl becoming more “mainstream” is that with so many release variants on some titles you can run into this problem on Discogs.... OR eBay or any on line source... I have never heard or seen that Hamilton title either. I have Two Shorty Rogers LP on Reprise that are great one is a Bossa Nova winner.....

PaulG's picture

My favorite weekend activity of crate digging around Portland (we have excellent record stores including one right downstairs from my office [dangerous]) is going to be curtailed drastically for the foreseeable future. Normally I play the long game and hope that stuff that’s on my wish list will pop up during a dig. I rarely buy reissues unless the original is made of unobtanium, so Discogs (A Portland local company!) was always more of a resource than marketplace for me. But it may now have to be my go to for my record fix.

richiep's picture

Most will honor your request to return for any playback quality you're dissatisfied with, usually most over rate the grading. Their excuse is they haven't play graded only visual. Your answer is that the vinyl record is purchased to be listened (played) to not looked at or any other use. Also watch the Gram weight, most that are in the beware class try to pass off 180g for 200g LP's mostly the Classic Record reissues. I will only buy from US sellers unless i've had a history with a foreign seller, Japan purchase cost 3 times the value for return shipping $80.00+. Most sellers are good reputable business, but there's always one hiding that claims they've shipped it and it never shows up. Depend on your credit card company or pay pal to issue your refund, Discogs try to distance itself from disputes but they will remove them after enough complaints.

Rockadelic's picture

I have come across this problem with records. They were initially housed in a clear plastic sleeve which was similar to the ones used to house laser discs in the past. Because they contain some form of compound derived from petrol, it caused some sort of reaction with the vinyl through the record cover causing some form of fogging. Once this happens, there’s no way to remove it and in worse case scenarios this will cause shhhing & swishing sounds. Regular polypropylene sleeves pose no problem at all.This problem was also highlighted in SH forums. Please pass this info forward. Thank you.

OldschoolE's picture

Yes, whenever you see fogging an a record, it is likely from bad sleeves and such. Sometimes it is from improper product used in an attempt to clean the record. The first scenario I can chalk up to the person trying to do the right thing, but also trying to save a couple of dollars buying poor quality sleeves or something not knowing the finer points of record preservation because perhaps they were never told. The second instance of using wrong products in trying to clean a record has no excuse!

pessoist's picture


warpig's picture

Used records are hard to come buy in New Orleans. I can't tell you how many records were destroyed after Katrina. I had friends with thousands of records lost gone no more.

Tom L's picture

Euclid Records? The one here in St. Louis has a ton of LPs. Several tons, in fact.

warpig's picture

Yes I have purchased from them. The selection for the music I listen to is limited. Its pretty far away to go often to check what new has come in.

warpig's picture

I have had this happen several times. What ticks me off is that they get mad at me. I am like wtf you send me something that I did not pay for. One guy sent me a supposedly Who's Next 1st addition Track record when I got it it was a US club record. I tell them I want my money back and if they want the record back they are going to pay for return shipping. Why should I lose money it is clearly their fault. I do explain to them on how to identify a record though and the difference in pressing. One guy said enjoy your free record. I told him I already have 3 of the ones he sent me and its going to charity.

OldschoolE's picture

I have only purchased from Discogs once (about a little less than a year ago). I got lucky, I bought a somewhat rare box set of Mannheim Steamroller (the one in blue velvet). Discogs was the only place outside of snakey Ebay one could find it. The seller advertised it as VG++ and it was not a lot of money compared to other offers. I took the risk and purchased it, but then there was a delay in shipping that made me nervous. The seller was kind enough to keep me informed at least. When it arrived I was astonished to find that it was not VG++ overall, but SEALED/NEW!! It took me a month to courageously break the seal and sure enough, all was right, everything was crisp. Would I buy from Discogs again? Not likely because it is always scary, but if it came to the shove, I would.

I don't like purchasing records on line. Even though I am a record preservationist/custodian (for my own collection, not as a job, but I did get the education and went deep), I still like to see the record before purchase because I only buy original pressings as best I can. I don't buy new records by the way as I do not trust the lack of provenance.

javabarn's picture

first was a couple that just didnt give my money back for a SCRATCHED "mint" record...
The second, GET THIS, is from a long time established female seller.. (cool).. it was a SEALED promo of BOC's Spectres vinyl... I was chuffed to get it and paid immediately... So, when she got my money (now MY record), she unashamedly says, she will send it once she opens it up and gives a complete spin!!!!! Her reasoning was to make sure it is a quality record and that her buyers appreciate her service.. So, i raised hell, and what did discogs do???? Threaten ME! hahaha that is Portland for ya... Dicogs and Malachai Liu... just teasin...

javabarn's picture

sorry, that would be DiScogs and Malachai Loo.... :)

steve3049's picture

Large record stores "don't have time to listen" to their inventory. Better luck buying from a small store, or collector. I've come to expect most purchases from Discogs to arrive with some error. I've defaulted to just asking for a partial refund rather than sending the item back. When you get what you paid for, it's a sweet day!

Demetrio's picture

Used to patronize Euclid in the 1990's. Great store and neighborhood. Nextdoor to Blueberry Hill bar, where Chuck Berry would play from time to time. Never got to see him.

rob the record guy's picture

Working for a seller on Discogs, I always welcome specific questions about a pressing before selling it. The seller, including me, isn't always right. Here's the process. I have a record. I found what appears to be the proper listing based on what's there at that time. Sometimes the initial posting is 100% accurate. Remember, this is crowd-sourced info. And sometimes it's way off. Wrong country. Wrong cover. Mono, not stereo. I'll take the time to fix the big things- but not necessarily everything. I put it up for sale. Then someone adds a pressing plant. I do get a notification so I then have to check if my version is the same version or create a new one. I sell a lot of sealed records so I have to put in a disclaimer. I'll admit to not knowing all the matrix symbols but I'm learning.

I've also had information I've corrected changed back to the incorrect info or asked to create a new version when original post is obviously, to me, wrong. As one person defended his posting of a US release is that he bought it in Austria so it must be an Austrian version although he neglected to put up any corroborating pictures.

And then there are the merges, which I usually don't worry about until it happens.

So, yes, it'd be great to have it totally accurate but if it's important to you, and there's more than one version, go ahead and order but ask for confirmation before paying for it.

charliepress's picture

Mistakes in matrices and labels happen--usually because a seller lists the record in the wrong place. That can be forgiven but communication is still expected from the seller. When they misgrade like this, however, and don't respond, there is a simple way to get your money back--dispute the charge with your credit card issuer. Most of the time, the charges will be reversed.

kuma's picture

I mostly buy CDs from them now.

guyjoseph's picture

"Since DISCOGS lists every variant of a given record.." -- isn't Discogs user-generated information? That is, unless someone has added a particular variant, I don't think it will show up. Or am I wrong?

eugeneharrington's picture

That is the Discogs' aspiration or goal but the website hasn't achieved it and maybe never will? I have listed many items there, from my own collection, that were not listed in its inventory. It is largely user generated as far as I can see so it is not as if it is the 'bible' or 'authority' on music releases, but it's the closest we have! It is very good though for all of that and a very worthwhile reference. It would be a monumental task to list every release and variant thereof, if you think about it. In more than a few cases, I seem to be the only person with the particular version of the record that I have posted or the only person who has gone to the trouble of doing so, more likely!

It is not uncommon also for the original details such as mastering, matrix details etc. say for a U.S. pressing, to be carried over for another's country's release of the same record. The person posting the new entry should of course change those details. There is however a system where members review details in a forum type of setting and errors like this can be corrected over time. Registered members who own a particular release receive emails when it is proposed to change the details listed by way of correction or otherwise. You can have your say on any proposal that is mooted in this process.

My experience of buying on Discogs is rather patchy. Sure, there are some very good sellers from many countries, in particular from Japan in my experience. There are some really bad ones too who are clueless and who would send you a European pressing of an album when the version you thought you were buying was a U.S. issue! That happened to me with a Throwing Muses' album being sold by a German seller. I mean that is rank negligence or could not care less attitude. The condition of the record was far from the advertised NM too.

Accurate grading can also be a problem, I have found. Describing records as NM/M- when in truth they are merely VG is quite common. I tend to steer clear of Discogs except when it comes to known good sellers with whom I have previously dealt, especially Japanese ones who grade best overall, as far as I can see. If you ask questions of a seller about a certain record that is for sale and you get a short answer or worse still are ignored, then avoid such a seller as they would not be very knowledgeable or professional, in my experience. A genuine vinyl professional will go to the trouble of checking the relevant information and will get back to you.

Barretter's picture

Yes, you're quite right, it is user-generated, like Wikipedia, but without the vetting that Wikipedia deploys which means that Discogs is full of errors and omissions. Also some of the lists are so long as to be virtually unusable.

dmatlb's picture


My copy of Chico Hamilton’s Different Journey has the label with the angel playing harp—and, if you look carefully, farting (okay, maybe just floating on clouds, but check the expression on his face). That label was apparently only used for a short time, and only for their Jazz Series, which also doesn't seem to have lasted very long. I've never seen another record with that label.
And yes, great record. Dan Meinwald

avanti1960's picture

always buy the CD :)
i'm running about 80 / 20 buying from discogs but out of the "80" come some incredible finds- sealed first pressings of out of print titles as well as near mint quality of used LPs.
most recent finds were LPs from buddy fite and jim hall as mentioned by jimmy the vinyl man.
all in all discogs is a valuable source for me.

mycophile's picture

I would say my experiences ordering with Discogs have overwhelmingly been quite satisfactory and often very pleasant, and have “e-met” some very nice folks. With a couple of glaring exceptions (both of those happening recently).

Since late 2014, I’ve logged over 100 transactions that have received seller feedback with a 100% buyer rating. I’d estimate that about 1 in 20 transactions go awry (based on nearly 200 transactions; not all sellers leave feedback). All in all, not so bad; every once in a while, dining out, you will have a bad meal.

Annoying problems involve the item being changed to Unavailable, misgraded, or the wrong item sent (wrong release or just entirely the wrong artist / album). Sometimes a seller will own up to it and just issue a refund, other times wanted the item returned - at my expense. I won’t deal with the latter again.

There are only 3 times that I have had an unpleasant experience that likely involved outright fraud - or else the seller just had some personal issues that aren’t conducive to running a business.

One was after the seller just dropped off the face of the earth after I paid for the item, did not respond to messages, and I had to file a PayPal dispute (resolved in my favor).

Strangely, the other two both happened this year (one substantially escalated just today, and is ongoing), and involved two attempts to purchase the same release (Scenery by Emily King, the white vinyl promo version) from (apparently?) different Discogs sellers in Brooklyn.

King’s albums aren’t up my alley stylistically - the production a little too heavy-handed, but I was fortunate to be invited to attend a private “unplugged” concert with about 30 people in the audience (including her mother!) in mid-January in NYC. I wanted to revisit the music, at least, even if in a different form. (I wish her latest album which *is* unplugged were available on vinyl - but I digress.)

I won’t name names but the information above is specific enough to deduce the seller involved, with a little digging, in case someone from Discogs reads this and wants to look into this, since there apparently isn’t a mechanism to contact someone at Discogs if trouble arises - unless the seller is just completely unresponsive. That does not describe the last event described below.

The first time of those two times trying to purchase that album, several hours after I paid for the item, the seller wrote to say there would be a shipment delay (was out of town) and it would ship in 5 days.

A week after that 5 days had elapsed, the status still hadn’t changed to Shipped.

I sent follow up messages a week later - no reply. After another week elapsed the seller offered to refund shipping and send the tracking number by EOD. That didn’t happen.

Red flags were starting to go up, so I requested a refund per Discogs policy (item must be shipped within 4 days of receiving payment or else the buyer can request cancellation and a refund).

To make a long story short, PayPal eventually resolved the dispute in my favor.

But, as a coda to that: I got a notice from PayPal that the seller’s attempted transfer of funds into his/her account to cover my $35.75 refund actually was declined by his/her bank…!

My second attempt to purchase Scenery (and by far the worst experience I’ve ever had in any internet transaction, not just Discogs) started on April 2.

After paying for the transaction, I got a USPS tracking notice from the seller almost immediately - within 20 minutes of paying!

Except, after almost 2 weeks, the status at USPS remained at “pre-shipment / shipping label created.”

On April 13 I sent a message to the seller indicating that the item apparently had not shipped, and I reminded him that Discogs policy indicates that an item must be shipped within 4 days of receiving payment, or else the buyer is entitled to request a cancellation and refund. I was a little gun-shy from having had a disappointing experience the last time I tried to order this particular LP.

The seller claimed that USPS doesn’t always update tracking until the item is out for delivery and then blamed the pandemic situation (he wrote, “You are aware that there is a worldwide pandemic- Yes?”) - but there was no notice posted on his seller terms page indicating shipping could be delayed under the circumstances. Therefore Discogs transaction rules prevail. And I've had many dozens or items shipped to me via USPS and they have always logged an item as received within 24 hours of receipt of the package, so his claim didn’t hold water.

What was also odd was that he apparently re-listed the same LP for sale - I discovered this when the seller, without my even raising this issue, said I must have been “activated” (I think he meant to say triggered) when I saw the item still listed, and claimed to have 10 of them and that they “have been slow to sell.” (Please keep that thought in mind, we’ll revisit it below.) Actually, I only noticed that after he mentioned it, and it was listed for the same price I paid - $21.98 plus shipping.

This morning, April 15, I reiterated my message and now demanded a refund. The seller responded by first writing, “Did this item happen to slip by you and now you are trying to con me?” and even a kind of threat: “…you might not want to piss me off... Let’s Go. The post office is just 9 short blocks from me”

… and THEN followed up by immediately CALLING ME, and after yelling at me about what a nasty customer I am, ended up yelling “fuck you” and hanging up. (When he began his tirade I started recording the call, permissible under New York and New Jersey one-party-consent laws, should there be any dispute about what transpired.)

After that came the worst part: He actually sent a message that said, among other things: “Take your white privilege elsewhere. People like you are the reason we’re in this current COVID-19 mess.”

-> Look, I know people are really on edge now - but even bearing that in mind, it’s shocking to be told something like that, to out of the blue have race injected into a conversation. I was just trying to purchase a record he had listed for sale - and getting a run-around! I now am also a little concerned: he has my address…

Then he sent another follow up message saying "All you had to do was apologize for taking the tone you did” (after he unloaded on me over the phone?) And then what? Was he implying I would have gotten a refund then? Is that admitting that he knew it wasn’t shipped? And accused me of fraud once again: “I am not honoring a refund so that you can receive a free record.”

I have filed a dispute with PayPal.

As another odd coda, I noticed that he re-listed the item yet again later today - at more than twice the price: $49.98 (plus shipping)!

Seems an odd thing to do, since he had claimed to have 10 copies that “have been slow to sell.”

So, here are a few things I learned that might be of help to someone ordering from Discogs.

1. Like any online transaction, scrutinize the seller’s feedback. Scattered negatives might not necessarily be a problem, but pay attention to the tone of the seller’s responses. The seller above had a repeated tendency to blame the postal service for problems (missing or damaged goods) - he did the same thing with me in his communications. It can be tough when they have an item you are looking for, but it’s probably better not to risk encountering someone that could come unhinged.

2. Careful with sellers having limited numbers of ratings as a seller and none as a buyer, especially if they require payment at the same time as placing the transaction (some sellers send a separate invoice before payment).

3. Even sellers with very good feedback (hundreds of ratings) can surprise with problems. In the first case out of three I mentioned above, the seller had 2,357 ratings, 98.5% approval. So it still can be a roll of the dice.

I would still order from Discogs, but after what happened today, I think I will take a bit of a hiatus from the scene.

Static's picture

Never used Discogs before until recently. I used to go to record stores or ebay..and figured since I use Discogs to get info on purchaes on ebay ...lol..why not try them. I must say that I have made 4 purchases and all have been great. I stay away or make sure I inquire directly with the seller if they have limited reviews and dont use them if they have less than 98%. I can go elsewhere. I tend to keep purchasing from sellers that I have not had a problem with. And...in 99% of the cases..which have been few on ebay not discogs there has been no problem with dealing with sellers. As far as discogs info goes..if I am spending big bucks...I inquire directly with the seller and also search out other info on line. Of course vinyl grading is subjective at best...so if..NM to one may be vg+ to others...best to ask before you buy. I will say that recently I inquired about a Beatles pressing listed as NM/NM the seller described the item..soon after they raised the price 20% and changed the status to NM/VG+ ..LOL..I purchased elsewhere.