“I am good customer by Sears Roebuck.”

During the years I worked for the Customs Service I was occasionally required to research and prepare responses to Members of the United States Congress on letters received from their constituents.

The only one I can recall today was the one that began with the sentence: “I am good customer by Sears Roebucks.”

The writer was a small businessman who had imported merchandise for the first time who was insulted that the Customs Service had required him to produce a surety bond to ensure the payment of increased duties at final liquidation of his transaction.  He could not understand or accept that the Government of the United States would not trust him to satisfy an obligation; after all a big company like Sears Roebuck did!  He took it as a personal affront to his integrity.

In my response I tried to assure the importer that the Government did not single him out as  as a bad credit risk;  that all importers, even the largest corporations in the country,  were required to post bonds with commercial importations exceeding a certain estimated value.  I explained that the procedure was actually advantageous to importers because it enabled them to get custody of their goods immediately instead of having to wait until Customs could determine the tariff status of the goods and their value.

I assume the importer was satisfied with the response.  We never got a follow up letter.  It was a routine matter, but I remember it because of that wonderful first line:  “I am good customer by Sears Roebuck.”

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