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STATEMENT OF MR. ALFRED HARTOG, MANAGER COLUMBIA
UNIVERSITY PRESS BOOKSTORE, NEW YORK CITY.
The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.
Mr. HARTOG. My name is Alfred Hartog, manager of the Columbia University Press Bookstore, 2960 Broadway, New York.
The ('HAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Hartog, have you any charge to make against the board?
Mr. HARTOG. I have about the same charge to make as Mr. Danielson has--that the board is very slow in meeting its bills.
The CHAIRMAN. You may make a statement before the committee of the facts as they appear to you.
Mr. HARTOG. The board owes us at this moment $3,233.38, of which $2,300 is overdue for about six months.
Cp to January, 1920, the board had not paid for purchases made by the students of February, March, April, May, and June of last year, and September. In September, when I started to get nervous about the money, I went down town to the board to find out when the money would be forthcoming. I could not get anybody to give me any information. I kept on sending bills. In the meantime, in October, the bills amounted to over $2,000.
The bookstore is doing a.cash business under the contract with the trustees of Columbia University, but the bookstore also opens charge accounts for professors and students, but the store is not prepared to have charge accounts on its books for five and six months unpaid.
In September, when the amount was about $2,000, I went down to the board with the bills made out as requested by the board, and tried to get some information when the money was coming to us. I tried to see Mr. Farwell, who was the head at that time. I was told that I could not see him.
In October the bills amounted to about $3,000. I went again with the bills, and I got the information that Mr. Farwell was busy and was not to be seen.
The CHAIRMAN. Was this at the office of Mr. Farwell?
Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir; in front of his office, in 469 Fifth Avenuewhatever the number is, I am not sure—the corner of Forty-first Street and Fifth Avenue.
The ('HAIRMAN. The party who told you that you could not see Mr. Farwell knew what you wanted to see him about ?
Mr. Harrog. Yes, sir; it was a young lady.
The (CHAIRMAN. Do you have any evidence that Mr. Farwell knew you were there?
Mr. HARTOG. Well, he was in. I know that, because I asked whether he was in, and the lady went inside and came out again and said he could not see me.
The CHAIRMAN. You say you do not run a credit account but a cash account? You don't sell on credit, but for cash? Mr. HARTOG. Yes: we do sell on credit. The ('HAIRMAN. On credit to students? Mr. HARTOG. To the students and to the professors.
The ('HAIRMAN. When you sell on credit do you submit a monthly bill!
Mr. HARTOG. A monthly bill which is payable in 10 days after the statement is received.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you submitted a bill to the board?
Mr. Hartog. There is no reply. The board has paid us, as I stated before, some bills in January which were overdue for six or seven months.
The CHAIRMAN. Upon whose authority do you sell'the books to the students ?
Mr. HARTOG. This system has been changed; the system of selling to the students has been changed three times since February of 1919. First, the board made a contract with Columbia University for the tuition fee and the books and the supplies to be sold to the students, and we were to turn in the bills to Mr. Danielson at the end of each month.
The CHAIRMAN. When you sell the books to the students is it upon the student's statement or upon the statement approved by the board!
Mr. Hartog. I have to go back to the various systems, because at the present time they have a system since February 1. Before February they didn't have a system.
The CHAIRMAN. Who changed the system, the board or the university ?
Mr. HARTOG. I believe the system was changed after Mr. Farwell left the board or resigned.
The CHAIRMAN. Was it upon the initiative of the board or of the university ?
Mr. HARTOG. Upon the initiative of the board.
The CHAIRMAN. The thing I want to get at is whether there is such a thing as your selling to students without authority, and therefore the board could not be held for it.
Mr. Hartog. No; we have never sold without authority.
Mr. HARTOG. I have the correspondence here-our first authority and the changes later on.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any items of dispute between you and the board as to price or as to books?
Mr. HARTOG. No, sir.
Mr. HARTOG. With the exception of a brief case which I sold to a student with only one arm. I thought he was entitled to it. I have been notified by the board that this brief case will not be paid for. I have taken it off of the account, and if the board doesn't pay it, I
The CHAIRMAN. And the amount underpaid now amounts to how much?
Mr. HARTOG. $3.233.38.
Mr. HARTOG. This goes back to September, the bulk of it, but there are some unpaid bills for June and July.
The CHAIRMAN. What was the last time you received any money from the board for books?
Mr. HARTOG. In January The CHAIRMAN. Was that part payment or full payment? Mr. HARTOG. That was part payment-just some items picked out and some of them dating back as far as February, 1919.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you ever gone over these accounts with anyone in authority ?
Mr. HARTOG. Recently; yes, sir.
Mr. HARTOG. The result is that I have been promised that the board will take care of it.
Mr. SEARS. What is the balance due? I didn't catch that.
Mr. HARTOG. Altogether, the whole amount of business that we hare done with the board since February, 1919, is $4,206.90. Of this amount $973.52 has been paid, leaving a balance of the amount I told vou.
Mr. Sears. You had 159 students there, I believe. Mr. HARTOG. I just counted them. We are keeping 145 accounts. I have all of the account sheets here. They may have 159. It is possible that some of these smaller accounts have been wiped out by the payment in January.
Mr. SEARS. What general course of study are the students following! Different courses?
Mr. HARTOG. All kinds, sir..
Mr. PLATT. How do you account for the failure of the board to pay you? Is that the intention on their part?
Mr. HARTOG. It seems to be the inefficient system they had.
Mr. HARTOG. No, sir. I have written them letters, one letter after another, and told them how we carried charge accounts and that we can't keep them on our books longer than 30 days, and they never gave us any explanation.
Mr. Platt. They did not say they did not have the money or the appropriation was not sufficient or anything of that sort?
Mr. HARTOG. Nothing of the sort; no, sir.
Mr. Donovan. Do you sell the books to the board at wholesale rate, at net cost to you, or at a profit?
Mr. HARTOG. At a profit.
Mr. HARTOG. We have a contract with Columbia University that we give the students a discount from the list prices on books-textbooks.
Mr. Donovan. I thought you were the representative of the university, and that it had a cooperative store that you managed. Am I right in that assumption ? Mr. HARTOG. No, sir; your idea is wrong about that.
Mr. DONOVAN. And you are a separate business. What is the name of the concern?
Mr. HARTOG. Lempkie & Buechner.
Mr. Donovan. Then you are not in any way officially connected with Columbia, other than having a contract to sell certain books?
Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir.
Mr. Donovan. On that contract? I am not asking you what you pay, how much; but do you, as a matter of fact, pay the college a consideration for the privilege you enjoy of selling the books to the students ?
Mr. HARTOG. I am not prepared to go into this matter at all.
Mr. DONOVAN. Well, then I understand you decline to answer whether or not you pay Columbia a consideration for the privilege you enjoy of selling the books to its students? Mr. HARTOG. Yes; I decline.
Mr. Donovan. Now, would you state to the committee the average profit that you make in the sale of your textbooks to the students of Columbia, or, more particularly, to the crippled students that are in training?
Mr. HARTOG. Do I have to go into this? We are a business concern and I don't see why I should be compelled to answer the question. Mr. Donovan. That is your answer? Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir. Mr. Donovan. My purpose in asking this questionMr. HARTOG (interposing). Pardon me. May I say something? Mr. DONOVAN. I thought you had completed your answer. Mr. HARTOG. If you will tell me the purpose, I may answer.
Mr. DONOVAN. The purpose is this, to see if the Vocational Board, which is a governmental agency, is buying the books at net price; if the Vocational Board is paying an exorbitant profit, or a profit beyond which it could buy at wholesale, I think my question is very pertinent, and that it is my interpretation and that is my reason for asking the question.
Mr. HARTOG. Well, the Columbia Bookstore-
Mr. DONOVAN (interposing). If you will pardon me just a moment-and further, that a person who sells to the board at a profit Inight be more tolerant in extending time of payment than a person who was selling to the board at a wholesale price.
Mr. HARTOG. I am now ready to tell you something about the prof. its we made.
Mr. DONOVAN. Average, that is all-approximately. I am not asking you for the secrets of your business.
Mr. IIRTOG. It is not exactly a secret, but I simply was not prepared to tell how we transact business. I don't think any business man is willing to do that.
Mr. Donovan. I don't want you to do anything that will injure your business.
Mr. HARTOG. Then I will just explain to you how we arrive at the price. For instance, a textbook costs $1.50 list price, as we call it; on this book we get 20 per cent, and we give the student 7 per cent off, selling the book for $1.40, and the book cost us $1.20. We have figured it out on January 1 it cost us about 15 per cent to do
this kind of business in our store, and on our textbooks, which is the bulk of our business, we are not making this 15 per cent overhead expenses, so we are not disposing our profits—I did not mean to hide any large profits. I did not care to make public how little expense we handle the bookstore on.
Mr. DONOVAN. You are perfectly justified in taking that position. Nobody has any complaint to make with you in it.
Now, I understand that out of the total sale of $4,260, you have received $970 and some odd from the board in part payment. That payament was made in January last?
Mr. HARTOG. The largest amount was paid in January.
Mr. DONOVAN. What was said by the representatives of the boardand I understand you have dealt largely with the New York district manager?
Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir.
Mr. Donovan. Rather than with the board itself here in Washington?
Mr. HARTOG. I have never dealt with Washington.
What was said by the New York office in justification of its nonpayınent of the difference between what you have sold and the total of $973 which you were to pay?
Mr. HARTOG. Oh, they said: “All we can do is to send the bills to Washington, and if Washington doesn't pay it, it isn't our fault.”
Mr. Donovan. Did the New York representative at any time have any items in dispute with you of the sales made up to the time of the last payment in January?
Mr. HARTOG. No, sir; as I stated before, there was doubt whether they should pay for a brief case, and another time there was a fountain pen. That is all.
Mr. Doxovan. With the exception of those two infinitesimal items, so far as you know, New York approved the bills?
Mr. HARTOG. Absolutely.
Mr. HARTOG. That is what they told me. Whether they did it or not-I know they haven't done it. I know they haven't sent the bills to Washington. I know that they neglected that part.
Mr. DONOVAN. Then I understand that that was during the time of the inception of the board, the first number of months under its jurisdiction in New York?
Mr. Hartog. I didn't get that question. (The reporter read the question as above recorded.) Mr. Donovan. In other words, the difference here that is due was largely contracted for under the first district manager's jurisdiction in New York City, Mr. Griffin, and then Mr. Farwell ?
Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir.
Mr. Donovan. And most of that paid was under Mr. Griffin's administration?