“My birthday – Got £4 record tokens and a Mars Bar from Nig”
EMI Record Tokens had been around since the early sixties. (The advert, left, was always on the back of Parlophone singles sleeves)
They were the perfect gift to give to anyone you knew who liked to buy albums or tapes but weren’t sure what title to get them.
Basically the gift giver bought a card containing tokens to a certain value. Then the recipient could use the tokens to purchase whatever they wanted from any store that accepted them.
Most shops did, but not everyone. Some indie stores refused to accept them because when they were sent back to EMI for processing the credit they got was reduced by 5-11% by way of an administration fee. However, if you didn’t accept the tokens, you couldn’t sell them either.
The argument was always that the stores who took them got extra business, especially in that busy period after Christmas, from token customers spending in excess of what the face value.
I was always happy to receive them. The downside of having a birthday so close after Dec 25th meant I was often ‘short-changed’ present-wise, but a £4 token – presumably from my folks – was a very welcome gift indeed.
In other news the statement “got a Mars Bar from Nig” would take on a certain humorous significance as I got older – right about the time I heard about the infamous “Mars Bar incident” involving Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful.
Something I discovered even more years later was little more than a peculiar urban myth.