Fellow Filly sister, Karen Witemeyer, blogged a few months back about the Montgomery Ward catalog in the 1800s. Well, I immediately went to Amazon and bought a copy. Not only was the extensive list of merchandise interesting but I loved the fine print in the front.
They assure the purchaser that they employ no agents or traveling collectors and lay out their rules for ordering.
“We will ship goods by freight to ANYONE if money accompanies the order. We will ship goods in our name and collect the bill through your banker if sufficient money is sent with the order to cover the freight charges. Be sure to give us the name and location of your bank.”
“Goods will be sent by express, C.O.D. (collect on delivery) when, in our opinion, the articles ordered are suitable. Value, bulk, weight, class, distance, etc., will determine our acceptance or refusal of all such orders. We will not send C.O.D. for amounts under $5.00.” (It goes on to say that the purchaser has to pay all possible shipping charges up front and that no goods will be sent to points off a railway unless paid for in advance. It seems the prepayment of the shipping was a big deal.
Mail Shipments (sending prepaid goods through the U.S. mail): “Postage by mail is 1 cent per ounce or 16 cents per pound. No one package must exceed 4 pounds, but any number of packages may be sent to the same address weighing 4 lbs. or less each. Packages can be sent by registered mail for 8 cents per package extra. We positively require cash in advance for both goods and postage. We will return the amount overpaid, if any. Explosives, poisonous or inflammable articles are unmailable. Sharp pointed instruments and glass such as needles, knives, pens, lantern slides etc. can go in mailing cases at an extra cost of 5 cents.”
And then there’s a section on insuring the merchandise ordered by mail. The cost was 5 cents for each package of $5.00 or under in value. Value of goods from $5 to $10 was 10 cents. Over that was an extra 5 cents additional. They tell the customer to be sure to write “Insure” on their order and enclose the appropriate fee.
Discounts for cash. They gave 2% discount on orders $20 to $50. 3% on 50 to $100 and on up to 5% for orders over $150. But this only applied to cash sales. They even addressed how to send money for those paying in cash—Bank Draft, Postal Money Order, or Express Money Order.
And of course there’s a section addressing returned goods. Their motto was money back guarantee and they stood behind their promise to the customer.
Of Interest: There are 36 pages of books of all kinds listed in this 1895 catalog.
This book is an invaluable resource of historical writers or just anyone who loves history. You can find a copy on Amazon.com. http://amzn.com/0486223779
As you read this, I’ll be en route to San Antonio, Texas for the huge Romance of America conference. Don’t let that stop you. Come on in and leave a comment and I’ll respond when I can.