MONEY-BACK TRADING.—A form of trading which is growing in popularity, particularly in the United States, though it has not been gene rally adopted in England, is known as " money-back trading," the idea being that any dissatisfied purchaser may have the money he has laid out refunded to him immediately on the return of the goods he has bought. At first sight, to the conservative-minded trader, it sounds like an extrava gant offer, leading to endless complications, but this has not been found to be the case in practice.
The history of money-back trading is comparatively recent. About twenty years ago, a large department store in Philadelphia, which sold everything from a paper of pins to horse clothing, announced that any purchase made at that particular shop would be subject to the return of the goods, if, for any reason, they were found unsatisfactory. The further promise was made that money spent by the customer would be cheerfully refunded if he did not find other goods equal in value to take in place of the returned article. This idea was so largely and so well advertised that the particular firm's business increased by leaps and bounds from month to month and year to year. Indeed, so popular did the idea become, that other department stores, competing with the one which originated the scheme, had to fall into line. In Philadelphia, at the present time, practically every shop will give money back to a dissatisfied customer on the return of the article in an uninjured state. Of course, there is nothing very new in this, but from that enterprise probably dates the tendency of the American store to make good on every transaction. In the big English stores, redress of this character would be just as promptly obtainable ; in fact, it is a tradition with store-keeping nowadays on modern lines, that no dissatisfied customer shall leave a business establishment.
But while this is the outcome of the money-back trading idea, prompt redress on the part of the store-keeper is not what is implied by the title. Really, it was a new and a strong argument devised for the sale of a pro prietary article. The man who originated the idea in the stores was Mr. John E. Powers, who, as an advertising expert, is perhaps best known in the United States. Mr. Powers was connected with the enterprising depart ment store in Philadelphia which first experimented with this policy, and a joint experiment helped to make, not only a national reputation for the shop, but for Mr. Powers as well. Afterwards, Mr. Powers took up advertis ing writing for a number of firms and extended the principle of money-back trading by originating the selling policy of Fels & Company, the proprietors of Fels-Naptha, when they started to put their soap on the English market.
The idea, which made so great a success in the store and which has largely determined all store conduct ever since, was adapted to meet the needs of the Fels-Naptha soap, and the money-back phrase became a leading feature in everything relating to its selling policy. In every announcement to users of soap, whether in daily, weekly, or monthly publications, the concise, plain, and direct offer was made that any grocer, or shopkeeper, was authorised to return the money for a single bar of Fels-Naptha soap or any number of bars bought at that shop, if the article was not found satisfactory in actual use. The further statement was made that the soap need not be returned— that the customer had only to go to his grocer or dealer and say the soap was not satisfactory to secure a return of his money.
In connection with a proprietary article, this method was then a great novelty, and immediately attracted a great deal of attention, and the cam-: paign of advertising then instituted became known as the " money-back " idea, which has been used to describe it ever since. As a matter of fact, from a business point of view, what really happened in this campaign, which was undoubtedly successful, was that an unanswerable talking point was introduced into the advertising, calculated to impress a practical people. When a proprietary article is unknown and the consumer has to learn its quality, perhaps the final argument that would weigh with him is the sug gestion that he might try the goods without any risk to himself Fels Naptha made it possible for every agent handling the soap to return the money when demanded, and the simplicity of the scheme and its directness, in addition to the conclusive nature of the offer, were undoubtedly factors h a great success. It is well worth the consideration of makers of similar lines of goods as to whether this strong selling note is not still as valuable as it ever was, and whether it is not the best selling policy that could be invented. Conservative traders are apt to think that such an offer must involve endless trouble and expense. It was predicted for Fels-Naptha that the office would be overcrowded with demands for the money back, and that it would give so much trouble to the retailer, that the policy could not possibly be pursued. Predictions were not verified in this case, and the offer was continued and made as general and as public as possible, the travellers being encouraged to communicate the matter to their customers and to encourage everybody-who was dissatisfied with the speciality to go back and get the money paid for it.