Sound City 2000, Inc. --
Don't Do Business With Them!

Originally posted 16 March 1999 ~ Last updated 2 October 2004

It's over!
I received a letter from the Oregon Department of Justice dated January 9, 2002, saying
"we have successfully resolved your complaint against the above-named company. Sound City will no longer do business in the State of Oregon."
A press release from the Oregon Department of Justice dated March 5, 2002, has more details. Notice that Linda Simmons and her husband, Ladislav Hanousek, were in similar trouble back in 1990.

United States of America v. Sound City 2000, Inc. and Linda M. Simmons: The Federal Trade Commission web site has PDF's of the Complaint and Consent Decree.

News Flash! From the April 3, 2002 issue of Willamette Week, a weekly newspaper in Portland, Oregon... Their Rogue of the Week column features Sound City 2000!

Even after all this, the Sound City 2000 web site remained running for a couple of years, albeit with a home page dated July 2001 and no working links on the page. But in October 2004, I happened to notice that it has finally disappeared.

I am maintaining this web page on the off chance that Linda M. Simmons and Ladislav Hanousek surface again in the future.

My attempt to buy a CD from Sound City 2000 turned into a nightmare!

Apparently I am not alone...
The Better Business Bureau Serving Oregon and Western Washington says:

"Based on BBB standards, our file experience shows this company has an unsatisfactory business record. Specifically, our records show a pattern of no response to customer complaints brought to their attention by the Bureau. Consumers allege non-receipt of merchandise and slow or no response from the company."

Here's a copy of their full report (as of March, 1999) on Sound City 2000. You can get your own copy by calling the BBB at 503-226-3981, following the automated prompts to request a report, and then entering Sound City 2000's telephone number: 503-654-2196.

The BBB also issued a press release on May 3, 1999 about the "pattern of complaints from consumers across the country" generated by a Portland-based Internet music company. And that company is...? You guessed it: Sound City 2000.

Many other people have had trouble with Sound City 2000 and posted complaints on various newgroups. See the newsgroup archives for more horror stories. (Notice the frequent occurrence of words like "beware" and "victim" and "reamed".) [Sadly, Deja seems to have deleted many of these complaints. Believe me, there used to be a boatload of them!]
A few more online complaints can be seen on the ResellerRatings site. Note the overall score of Sound City 2000: 0.6 out of 7.0!
News Flash! The Oregonian newspaper (Portland, Oregon) published an article headlined Fraud finds a fertile home online on April 6, 2000. Guess who is mentioned...?
"The state received 10 complaints about the company's Internet activities last year and one this year. Nearly 40 other complaints have been lodged against the company by non-Internet customers since 1997, and the state opened an investigation of Sound City 2000 in October."
I received a letter from the Oregon Department of Justice dated May 23, 2000. The first sentence warmed my heart:
"The Oregon Department of Justice has opened an investigation concerning Sound City 2000, Inc."
And here's a second letter from the ODOJ dated July 10, 2000, asking for my notarized signature on an affidavit.

My Sound City 2000 Mailbag page shows some of the email messages that I have received from other people about their experiences with Sound City 2000. Don't miss the friendly email from Linda Simmons to a customer who filed a dispute with her credit card company!

Don't make the same mistake I did -- don't order anything from these people!

But if you've already been burned by them...
File complaints online with:

Briefly, here's my sad tale:

This is in clear violation of their own order policy which says:

So why did it take more than 8 months and dozens of e-mail messages, letters, and phone calls to cancel my order and get my money back...?

A good alternative
I recommend Rockhouse in Holland. They delivered the same CD to me in 16 days flat -- and at a lower price!

Calendar of events:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
September 1998
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10
11
Ordered CD via SC2 Web site
12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21
22
No response from SC2 yet, sent query via email; SC2 replies with order number
23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      
October 1998
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11
1 month elapsed
12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
November 1998
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11
2 months elapsed
12 13 14
15 16 17 18
19
My Visa card charged $26.90
20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
December 1998
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7
8
I inquire about Visa charge; SC2 responds with boilerplate
9 10 11
3 months elapsed
12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29
30
I inquire again; SC2 replies that Customer Service is closed until January 6th!
31    
January 1999
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11
4 months elapsed
12
I inquire again; SC2 says "vendor on holiday"
13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27
28
I inquire again; SC2 says "order still pending"
29 30
31            
February 1999
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11
5 months elapsed
12 13
14
I mail letter to SC2 requesting refund, cc BBB
15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22
23
BBB responds, has contacted SC2
24 25 26 27
28            
March 1999
  1 2
3
SC2 responds: "thanks for writing"
4
I again request refund, quoting their policy; SC2 says Customer Service "will respond within 7 days"
5 6
7 8 9 10 11
6 months elapsed
12
No response from SC2; I initiate Visa "disputed item" process
13
14 15
16
I put up this Web page; SC2 "commencing the cancellation procedure"
17 18
19
I received the Visa "disputed item" form, filled it out and mailed it back
20
21
BBB responds: "we cannot require businesses to respond to complaints"
22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
April 1999
        1 2 3
4 5 6
7
Ordered same CD from Rockhouse -- at lower price!
8
9
Visa says they can't help, but I convince them that they can
10
11
7 months elapsed
12 13
14
Rockhouse ships CD from Holland
15 16 17
18
I mailed second Visa "disputed item" form
19 20 21 22
23
Received CD from Rockhouse!
24
25 26 27 28
29
SC2 says they have shipped CD
30  
May 1999
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11
8 months elapsed
12 13 14 15
16 17 18
19
UPS delivers CD; I refuse delivery
20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
June 1999
    1
2
SC2 issues Visa credit
3 4 5

All the correspondence:


Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 09:18:04 -0400
To: service@soundcity2000.com
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: Re: Brubeck, Time In

I placed an order for

  TIME IN (COLUMBIA)  W05-B228732-G  $22.95  Germany

via your web site on 9/11/98, but have not had any acknowledgement.

Can you confirm that you received my order?

From: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Brubeck, Time In
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 21:19:08 -0700

Thank you for your inquiry.

We have received your order, its number is:182069

The written order confirmation is in the mail, they are printed only about
once a week.

Thank you again for your business. We appreciate your patronage.

Sincerely,

Linda Simmons, Pres.
Sound City 2000, Inc

[I did eventually receive the order confirmation in the mail.]


Date: Tue, 08 Dec 1998 07:08:43 -0500
To: service@soundcity2000.com
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: Order # 182069

Re Order # 182069, ordered 9/11/98:

My Visa card was charged $26.90 on 11/19/98,
but I have not received the CD yet.
Is it in transit?

From: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 18:33:56 -0800

Thank you for your inquiry.

Your order is still pending. As printed in all our catalogs and posted on
our web site, we do not keep stock on hand - rather, we special-order each
CD on demand. Some of our suppliers drop-ship ordered CDs directly to our
customers, others send them to us and we re-mail them. In your case, we have
not yet received the information from our supplier, so I can't tell you more
at this very moment. However, I have already sent an urgent request to the
respective vendor to check out their logs and let me know exactly where we
stand. Once I receive an answer (it should not take very long), I will
notify you in detail by mail. This will take place automatically, there is
no need to e-mail or call-in another inquiry (I have already put your order
on my personal "watch list").

It is also quite posible that your order is on its way to you at this very
moment. In order to work as effectively as possible, the top priority is
given by the vendors to the actual shipping of the orders. The paperwork
telling us what was shipped is done later. So it can happen that you
actually receive your order a few days before we even know it was shipped.

I apologize for any inconvenience caused. We process special orders only,
and although we have the system down to a science (we do this since 1986),
unforeseen delays sometimes happen, albeit infrequently. Moving a total
selection of 300,000+ CDs around the world is by definition a daunting task.

As I've said, once I have the final word about your order I will forward it
to you immediately by mail. Thank you for your business!

Best regards,

Linda Simmons, Pres.
Sound City 2000, Inc.

Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 18:32:33 -0500
To: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069

I hate to nag, but...  It's been 3 weeks since you sent the appended
message, and I have not received any follow-up information.  It has now
been almost 6 weeks since my Visa card was charged $26.90 on 11/19/98.  (I
thought that the usual mechant policy was not to charge credit cards until
the merchandise was going out the door.)

Would you be kind enough to check your "watch list" again?

Thanks a lot.

From: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 23:04:11 -0800

Dear Client:

Thank you for your inquiry.

Customer Service is closed until next Wednesday, January 06, 1999. We are
doing our annual file maintenance on our order databases. All our overseas
vendors are on holiday this week so the timing is right for our internal
computer "tuneup".

We appreciate your understanding and patience. Thank you for your support in
1998 and have a happy New Year.

Your friends at
Sound City 2000, Inc

Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 10:38:23 -0500
To: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069

I hate to nag, but...  It's been 5 weeks since you sent the appended
message, and I have not received any follow-up information.  It has now
been about 8 weeks since my Visa card was charged $26.90 on 11/19/98.  (I
thought that the usual mechant policy was not to charge credit cards until
the merchandise was going out the door.)

Would you be kind enough to check your "watch list" again?

Thanks a lot.
/Rex Swain

From: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 20:09:33 -0800

Dear Rex:

Thank you for your message. Our German vendors were on holiday until
yesterday. We should have an answer from them regarding your order shortly.

Thanks again for your kind patience and understanding.

Sincerely,
Customer Service

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 06:24:45 -0500
To: linda@soundcity2000.com
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069

Well, another two weeks have gone by, and still no information from you.
This is outrageous.  It's now been well over two MONTHS since you charged
my Visa card $26.90 on 11/19/98.  Can you tell me something specific about
the status of this order?

I have been patient about this, but I am just about at the point where I
start writing to the Better Business Bureau and getting Visa to reverse the
charge.

From: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: Order # 182069
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:05:11 -0800

Thank you for your inquiry. Your order is still pending with our vendor. We
have send an inquiry to the vendor and we will notify you immediately after
receiving an answer.

Sincerely,
Customer Service

[Sent via U.S. Mail]
February 14, 1999

Linda Simmons
Sound City 2000, Inc.
PO Box 22149
Portland, OR 97269

Dear Ms. Simmons:

On 9/11/98 I ordered a CD from you (see enclosed Order Confirmation #182069).

On 11/19/98 you charged my Visa card $26.90.

Since then I have corresponded with you numerous times by e-mail. Each time, you
have replied with a canned response saying that you would research my order's
status and notify me "in detail" shortly. Each time, I have received no further
response.

It has now been almost three months since you changed my Visa card, and I have
not received the CD. Isn't it illegal to charge a credit card for a mail order
before the product is actually shipped?

I am tired of waiting and getting the run-around from you. Please cancel my
order and credit my Visa account with $26.90 immediately.

Sincerely,
Rex Swain

cc: Better Business Bureau
    333 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 300
    Portland, OR 97204

From: Michelle Neely <michelle@wwbbb.org>
To: <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: Sound City 2000
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 13:40:29 -0800

Dear Mr. Swain:

Thank you for submitting your complaint regarding the above referenced
company.  We have contacted the company in an attempt to resolve this
dispute.  We will notify you when we hear from the company. This may
take up to 25 days.

The Bureau does not have enforcement capabilities, so we may be unable
to get the business to respond to your dispute.  If at the end of the 25
days we have not received a response, we will contact you and advise you
of what your options are.

Should you hear directly from the company, please notify us immediately.

Sincerely,

E. Michelle Neely
Trade Practice Consultant

From: Customer Service <service@soundcity2000.com>
To: <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: re: order 182069
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 23:14:14 -0800

Thank you for your letter. We have forwarded it to our vendor and have
confirmation it will be resolved by the end of this month.

We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused.

Sincerely,
Customer Service

P.S. Our company accepts prepaid orders only. It is clearly stated in our
condition of sales posted on our web site and on all out printed catalogs.

Date: Thu, 04 Mar 1999 07:34:00 -0500
To: service@soundcity2000.com
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: re: order 182069
Cc: Michelle Neely <michelle@wwbbb.org>

Your web site (at <http://www.soundcity2000.com/cust_svc/t_proc.html>) says:

Paragraph 2:  "The maximum processing time for any CD (from the day your
order is processed until it is shipped) is six weeks."

  My order confirmation # 182069 shows:
    "Order Date: 9/11/98"
    "Expires: 10/26/98"
  My order is now over TWENTY weeks old!

Paragraph 4:  "In case any particular title is not available when your
order expires, we will notify you by mail."

  No such notification ever received.

Paragraph 4, continued:  "After receiving such a written "Option Notice",
you have the choice of either extending the order (if you don't mind
waiting a little longer), or you can change your order to some other title,
or you can have your money back."

    As I said in my letter, I want my money back -- IMMEDIATELY.

/Rex Swain

From: Customer Service <service@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: order 182069
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 20:10:00 -0800

Thank you for taking the time to write to Sound City 2000.

We have received your email and have forwarded your inquiry to a Customer
Service Representative who will respond within 7 days.

We appreciate your continued support as a customer of Sound City 2000.
[I just love that last line!]
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 13:19:01 -0500
To: service@soundcity2000.com
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: order 182069
Cc: Linda Simmons <linda@soundcity2000.com>

Well, the 7 days have elapsed, and no response from you -- as usual.
FYI, I have just initiated the "disputed item" process with AT&T Visa.
/Rex

From: Customer Service <service@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: order 182069
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 15:36:35 -0800

Thank you for your message.

According to your request, we are commencing  the cancellation procedure.
This is how it works:

As explained in detail in our Conditions of Sale, we do keep no stock on
hand - all CDs are drop-shipped on demand. For that reason, your
cancellation request must be first cleared with the respective shipper. This
is necessary to avoid cancelling an order that in fact has been already
shipped or is presently on its way.

In case of US-made CDs, we get response quickly, in matter of days. In case
of European or Japanese shippers, it may take a little longer. Each shipper
has a different response time.

Your order remains pending until the cancellation request is confirmed by
the shipper. Once the respective shipper confirms the order cancellation, WE
SEND YOU A WRITTEN NOTICE BY MAIL with all details. Please wait until you
receive this notice and the FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS IN IT.

Best regards,

Sound City 2000, Inc.
Customer Service
[Gee, now they're "commencing the cancellation procedure". How responsive. I wonder how long they think they can string me along on this latest gambit...?]
[Received via U.S. Mail]
March 21, 1999

Mr Rex Swain
8 South St
Washington, CT  06793

RE: Sound City 2000

Dear Mr Swain:

Although we have sent several requests, we have not received a
response from the business.  We are a non-governmental dispute
resolution agency.  We cannot require businesses to respond to
complaints.  If they have contacted you directly, please notify
us at once.  If not, you can contact one of the following for
possible assistance.

 (X) State Attorney General's Office
 ( ) Bankruptcy Court
 ( ) Contractor's Licensing (L & I in Washington OR
     Construction Contractor's Board in Oregon)
 ( ) Dispute Resolution Center
 ( ) Professional Licensing
 (X) Small Claims Court
 (X) FCC: 888-225-5322

As of this date, the complaint is closed as unaswered.  This
information will be kept in our confidential files for three
years and will be reflected in the company's reliability report.

To help us defray the cost of our complaint handling process,
please remit the attached invoice.

Sincerely,

E. Michelle Neely
Trade Practice Consultant

Better Business Bureau  Serving Oregon & Western Washington
333 S.W. 5th Avenue, #300  Portland, Oregon 97204
Portland: (503) 226-3981  Fax: (503) 226-8200
www.oregonandwesternwa.bbb.org  info@WWbbb.org
[The last paragraph shocked me, but luckily there was no invoice enclosed!]
From: pr@wabureau.com [mailto:pr@wabureau.com]
Sent: Friday, April 23, 1999 2:56 PM
To: linda@soundcity2000.com
Subject: THIRD & FINAL NOTICE OF Consumer Complaint from The WEB Assurance Bureau

Gentlemen:

Rex Swain at rhswain@acm.org previously filed a complaint with
The WEB Assurance Bureau.

This is your THIRD AND FINAL NOTICE of the complaint.

Complaint Number:     921676662
Date/Time:            1999-03-17 00:00:00
Complaint Against:    Sound City 2000, Inc. at http://www.soundcity2000.com
                      P.O. Box 22149
                      Portland, OR 97269

Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 18:05:23 -0500
From: Public Relations and Member Services <pr@wabureau.com>
Organization: Web Assurance Bureau
To: linda@soundcity2000.com
CC: elaine_ross@sprynet.com, webd@earthlink.net, rhswain@acm.org
Subject: Complaint File

Dear Linda:

Unlike the BBB and other organizations, the Web Assurance Bureau will
make a criminal referral.  We believe it is possible that you have the
best intentions and are simply not performing, but to take someone's
money and not deliver is a criminal act.

We will make a criminal referral to the Portland Police Department on
4/30/99.  We would hope that the three complaints we have on file are
resolved by that date.
======================================================================
Sound City 2000, Inc.
 (http://www.soundcity2000.com)
 Complaint Number : 921676662
 Date Submitted : March 17, 1999
 Consumer's E-mail : rhswain@acm.org
 Action : / 1st 18-Mar-99/ 2nd 26-Mar-99/ 3rd 23-Apr-99
======================================================================
 Sound City 2000
 (http://www.soundcity2000.com)
 Complaint Number : -1704387262
 Date Submitted : April 13, 1999
 Consumer's E-mail : webd@earthlink.net
 Action : / 1st 17-Apr-99
======================================================================
 Sound City 2000
 (http://www.soundcity2000.com/)
 Complaint Number : 924632328
 Date Submitted : April 20, 1999
 Consumer's E-mail : elaine_ross@sprynet.com
 Action : / 1st 21-Apr-99/ 2nd 23-Apr-99
=====================================================================

Sincerely,

Public Relations and Member Services
The WEB Assurance Bureau

From: Customer Service [SMTP:service@soundcity2000.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 1999 9:37 PM
To: pr@wabureau.com
Subject: RE: THIRD & FINAL NOTICE OF Consumer Complaint from The WEB Assurance Bureau

Our vendor has just shipped the CD to Mr. Swain.

Sincerely,
Customer Service

From: Public Relations and Member Services <pr@wabureau.com>
To: <service@soundcity2000.com>
Cc: <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: The WEB Assurance Bureau
Date: Sat, 1 May 1999 14:00:00 -0500

We will place this complaint on hold until Rex Swain verifies receipt of the
merchandise.

Thanks,

Public Relations & Member Services
The Web Assurance Bureau

Date: Tue, 04 May 1999 09:22:27 -0400
To: Public Relations and Member Services <pr@wabureau.com>
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: Re: The WEB Assurance Bureau
Cc: service@soundcity2000.com

I am no longer interested in receiving the merchandise that I ordered from
Sound City 2000 -- I want a refund.

Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 19:15:54 -0400
To: Web Assurance Bureau <pr@wabureau.com>
From: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: Sound City 2000 Saga
Cc: service@soundcity2000.com

FYI, a new plot twist:

Yesterday (5/19/99) United Parcel Service brought me a small package --
with no return address on it.  It felt like there was a CD inside, so I
refused delivery.

The UPS driver said that they would be able to determine the shipper from
their tracking number, so it would get returned even though there was no
return address on the package.  There was only $1.86 postage, so it was
certainly sent from within the U.S. (not from overseas).

As I have said many times over many months before, I am no longer
interested in receiving the merchandise that I ordered from Sound City 2000
-- I want a refund.

/Rex Swain

[I think she meant to send this message to the WAB.]
From: Customer Service <service@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rhswain@acm.org>
Subject: RE: The WEB Assurance Bureau
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 17:10:01 -0700

Thank you for your inquiry.

Upon examining information available in our files, it appears there are no
pending items left on this order. All ordered merchandise was refunded to
the customer.

Thank you again for alerting me, although no further action on our part was
necessary. Our company is in the business for over a decade and satisfied
customers are always at the top of my list.

Sincerely,

Linda M. Simmons, Pres.
Sound City 2000, Inc
[Love that last paragraph!]
From: Customer Service <service@soundcity2000.com>
To: Rex Swain <rex@rexswain.com>
Subject: RE: The WEB Assurance Bureau
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 12:01:13 -0700

Refund of $26.90 was posted to your credit card after merchandise was
received back from UPS.

Do you want to do business with these people...?

You are visitor [Odometer] since 16 March 1999

Rex Swain; E-mail rex@rexswain.com; Web http://www.rexswain.com