What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“HE doubts not of giving Satisfaction to such persons as may please him with their Custom.”
Among the various marketing appeals in their newspaper advertisements, merchants and shopkeepers often vowed to provide exemplary customer service. Several who placed notices in the June 6, 1772, edition of the Providence Gazettedid so. Edward Thurber, for instance, declared that “Whoever pleases to favour him with their Custom may depend upon the utmost Fidelity, and on having their Business executed with Dispatch.” An extensive catalog of the “fine Assortment of Grocery, Hard-Ware, and Piece GOODS” for sale at his store “at the Sign of the BRAZEN LION” in the “North End of Providence” comprised most of his advertisement, but he did not intend for that testimonial to consumer choice to eclipse his commitment to customer service. Gabriel Allen and William Allen also stocked a “compleat Assortment of English, India, and Hard-Ware GOODS” at their shop “on the West Side of the GREAT BRIDGE.” They enhanced their allusion to so many choices with a promise that “Ladies and Gentlemen that are pleased to favour them with their Custom, may depend on the best Treatment.”
Artisans and others who provided services also incorporated customer service into their marketing efforts. Benjamin Bagnall, Jr., informed the public that he “Carefully CLEANED and MENDED” clocks and watches at his shop, confidently stating that he “doubts not of giving Satisfaction to such Persons as may please to favour him with their Custom.” In this case, “giving Satisfaction” had more than one meaning. It implied that Bagnall extended good customer service to his clients, but it also signaled quality and skill, two appeals that artisans often included in their advertisements. In addition, convenience was an element of the customer service that Bagnall provided. He claimed that “Watches have been frequently sent to adjacent Places to repair,” presumably because colonizers believed that artisans in Providence did not possess the same skills as their counterparts in Boston and New York. Such inconvenience was not necessary, Bagnall contended, since he “will endeavour to convince his Employers that there is no Occasion to send [watches] out of the Town.” In making that pledge, Bagnall brought together customer service, skill, and quality in a single appeal to prospective customers.