Any office boy could do that.
Mr. CROTHERS-and get all the answers back and tabulate them, and if they were not complete ask for further information. I know that cannot be done by little work. A great deal of work is being done. Some days ago we wrote a firm at St. John, N.B., for some further information, and a day or two ago we received the following reply:-
St. John, N.B., May 29, 1917.
We are in receipt of your favour of the 23rd instant and note contents. The writer has been away or your letter would have been replied to before.
The discrepancies you notice between the prices we furnished you with and the American companies mines prices are easily explained :
In the first place we do not buy the coal ex mines, but f.o.b. vessel at tide water. We think the company's prices for April ranged at about $5.50 f.o.b. schooner at New York; but it has been for some time practically impossible to purchase coal from the companies and get vessels loaded promptly, and as vessels will not
wait two or three weeks for cargo, it has been necessary to go outside to individual operators and pay two or three dollars a ton premium for spot coal. Our figures for April were made up of some coal purchased and shipped in March, but which did not arrive here until April and of one cargo purchased and shipped in April, the latter costing us,-coal, freight, insurance and cost of discharging approximately $11.65 per gross ton.
That is what the coal actually cost them per gross ton.
Since then prices have advanced and we have paid as high as $9.<f0 for coal, f. o. b. New York and $5.00 freight. The figures we sent you were the average of a number of cargoes and the reason the stove shows less than the egg is because we happened to get a little better price or a little lower freight on the stove we imported than on the egg size.
You will understand that these prices are fluctuating all the time. When we are able to charter a vessel we have to go into the market and secure spot coal; sometimes the premium we have to pay is greater than at other times and sometimes we can secure a little lower rate of freight than at others.
We are now landing coal that is costing us $14.50 per gross ton at our dock. At the moment we are selling at $14.00 per net ton.; but we expect to advance the price in the very near future. [DOT]
That is just a sample of scores of letters we are receiving every day from all parts of the country. When we receive an answer that is not satisfactory we ask for an explanation, and we get from other sources information to check up what we receive from these people, so that in the end we are satisfied we get the correct information. I do not desire to take up any further time in dealing with these matters that come under this item.