Making Some Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes In How I Buy My Comic Books

Mad scientist

I shoulda done this years ago!!!

     Let’s get all mad scientist up in here and do an experiment.  First though, I need you to go to the bank and buy a couple rolls of quarters.  Then walk down to the river and start chunking them in three at a time. DO WHAT!?!  Of course you’d never do such a thing. So imagine how I feel to realize I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing when it comes to buying my new comic books.  And I’ve been doing it for awhile. D’oh!  Allow me to explain.

      Since 1989, I’ve gotten probably 98% of my new comics, including the ones that went up in smoke, from Westfield Comics, located up in Wisconsin, the land o’ cheese. I got turned on to them by an ad in Comic Buyer’s Guide way back in my Army days.  In the entire 24 years I’ve been with them, I think I’ve only missed placing a monthly order two or three  times due to illness and our fire.

      And I’ve rarely had a complaint.  For the first few years with Westfield, I would double check my shipments against the invoice, but after never finding a missing item, I eventually stopped. Their packing is pretty much flawless, and I don’t recall the last time I received a damaged item that didn’t come from the publisher that way.

      With all that being said, I think I’ve established myself to be a pretty loyal customer of Westfield Comics. Which makes it feel pretty weird to report that I’m taking my business and my money elsewhere.

      Am I unhappy with them?  No, not really.  I’ve felt at times that the customer service could be a bit better. Sometimes there’s a “meh” vibe about it. Also, in my experience, it generally takes about 24 hours to get a response to an e-mail.  While that may not seem unreasonable to some, I’ve dealt with a bunch of businesses since our fire and most companies get back to you way faster. But that’s probably just nit-picky on my part.  They do have a phone and I guess I could call if I had to…I just prefer e-mail.

     Then what’s my beef?  Well, remember that 75¢ I tried to get you to sling into the local waterway?  That’s about how much extra per comic I’ve been paying by getting my books from Westfield. So yeah, I’m pulling the ripcord and moving my monthly comic book order to Discount Comic Book Service aka DCBS.

     I first heard about DCBS about 2 years ago listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Comic Geek Speak.  DCBS sponsors the show and when the CGS guys do their monthly Previews show, they’re constantly referencing special discounts/deals from DCBS. But I was content with Westfield so I ignored them.  Then, a couple of months ago, I was listening particularly closely, and thought, “Dang, those prices sound really low.  Am I missing something here?”  So, that night I jumped on the DCBS website and did a bit of clicking around. A cursory comparison to Westfield‘s prices quickly demonstrated that DCBS was kicking CheeseHead butt in the price department.

      But since one of my personal mottoes is “I fear change,” I didn’t pull the trigger. Until this month. As part of an overall evaluation of how I spend my money, I decided to do a side by side comparison between the two services.  I mean, I’m eating PB&J sandwiches for lunch nearly everyday.  If I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna look elsewhere to save a few dollars as well.

      For my experiment,  I took twenty comics that I will definitely be ordering in the month of June and put them in each service’s virtual shopping cart. While I’m no Harvard-trained economist, I don’t think you need to be to see a trend here.

Title                                                            Retail Price      Westfield Price      DCBS Price

All-Star Western #23                                 $3.99                $3.19                      $1.99
Astro City #3                                              $3.99                $3.19                      $2.39
Detective Comics #23                               $3.99                $3.19                      $2.39
Legends of the Dark Knight #11                $3.99                $3.19                      $2.39
Abe Sapien #5                                            $3.50                $2.80                     $2.10
BPRD: Hell on Earth #110                         $3.50                $2.80                     $2.10
Conan The Barbarian #19                          $3.50                $2.80                     $2.10
Creepy Comics #13                                   $4.99                $3.99                     $2.99
Dark Horse Presents #27                          $7.99                $6.39                     $4.79
King Conan: Hour of the Dragon #4           $3.50                $2.80                    $2.10
Lobster Johnson: Scent of Lotus #2          $3.50                $2.80                    $2.10
Star Wars #8                                              $2.99                $2.39                    $1.79
Batman 66 #2                                             $3.99                $3.19                    $2.39
Pathfinder #10                                            $3.99                $3.19                    $2.59
Red Sonja #2                                              $3.99                $3.19                    $2.59
Shadow #17                                                $3.99                $3.19                    $2.59
Shadow/Green Hornet #2                           $3.99                $3.19                    $2.59
Shadow: Year One #6                                $3.99                $3.19                    $2.59
The Spider #15                                           $3.99                $3.19                    $2.59
Knights of the Dinner Table #202               $5.99                $4.79                    $4.19

                                         Totals                $83.35              $66.65                  $51.35

      By ordering those 20 comic books from DCBS, I save $32.00 over retail and $15.30 over Westfield. That’s an average of 76¢ per book over what I’ve been paying, and for me, that’s too much to be dropping down a hole for the sake of loyalty.

     To be fair, Westfield does offer bonus discounts which are obtained for next month’s order by exceeding a $350.00 subtotal on this month’s order. Thanks…I guess.  I’ve gotten a few in the last couple of years and the extra discount is 5%.  You can get a bigger discount, but that involves a subtotal amount that would get me killed and my wife thrown in jail if I ever tried to sneak it past her. She’s not falling for the old “sloppy handwriting in the check book register” trick. “Is that a ‘2’ or a ‘5’?”

     Since my typical Westfield order is in the $200-$250 per month range, I anticipate that I’ll be saving between $40-$50 per month by switching to DCBS.  That’s around a $600 a year and that ain’t chump change.

     Of course I can’t speak to DCBS’ customer service and packing methods yet. A Google search of “DCBS Reviews” found nothing derogatory except one clown complaining that his books weren’t being delivered in CGC 9.8 condition or better. It didn’t take long for someone to point out that DCBS doesn’t claim, imply, or state that the books they send are 9.8 specimens, and good luck finding those on the rack at your local comic book shop, Bubba.

      As I wrap this up, let me say that I considered calling Westfield and telling them I was planning on leaving.  I’d like to think the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent with them over the last quarter century would get me some special consideration (aka “a bigger discount”).  I hear some cell phone & cable companies have things called “Retention Departments” whose sole purpose in life is to keep you as a customer. But a little voice in my head said, “Dude…don’t make it weird.”  Let’s face it, I’m pretty sure Westfield is fully aware of  the existence of DCBS and their significantly better discounts. Assuming that’s the case, it seems obvious they’ve decided to keep on rocking along as is. Which is cool I guess.  Except they’re gonna be doing it without me.

      Stay tuned for updates on my DCBS experience. Hopefully I can save a little coin and upgrade my lunch options. Until next time…Stay nerdy my friends.

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