Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bad Business alert: So much for integrity.

If a girl scout comes to your door selling cookies, and your waistline permits it, get as many as you want. It's up to three bucks a box, but hey, you know you are getting a good product.

If someone comes to your door selling magazine subscription, run for the hills. At least slam the door. Fast.

According to several sources, the individuals that do this cannot be trusted, nor can the companies who use them as independent contractors. These people will feed you a line to suck you in, say they are trying to get a scholarship, even claim they know your neighbors. Another typical part of their M.O. is to wheedle their way into your home once they have convinced you.

The salespeople and their employers, according to several articles in the Portland Tribune, as well as many other websites, use tactics ranging from everyday con-artist, to stuff the Godfather wouldn't even do.

According to a Better Business Bureau listing, there are many such companies based out of Las Vegas. Are you listening, Nevada? Your laws allow these sleazy companies to thrive in your state! If you check the BBB search results you will find many of these companies are no longer in business. They frequently change names and addresses to avoid complaints. They also do minimal to no background checks on their employees. The person ringing your doorbell could be a convicted murderer or rapist. Their independent contractor status shields the company they represent from legal responsibility for any damages to your person or your pocket.

Though based in Nevada, they can do business anywhere in the country. If these people come to your home, and you actually answer the door, make them go away. Warn your neighbors.

If your child works for one of these companies, do whatever you can to get them out, because mistreatment is not limited to customers.

Testimonies from kids who have escaped the talons of magazine sales companies tell horror stories of beatings, torture, sexual assault, and worse. These companies seek out young people in their late teens and early twenties who are often alone and desperate for travel, or naively seeking a dream job with minimal education required. Their words make Oliver Twist sound like a sweet bedtime story.

The following is a list of articles and websites detailing the viciousness of these companies, and one in particular that has the unmitigated temerity to call itself "Integrity Program" (aka Integrity Sales).

Portland Tribune:
A Subscription for Disaster, Part I, Part II
Daughter's Death sets off father's crusade
Industry complaints aren't new

New York Times:
For Youths, Grim Tour on Magazine Crews
(You'll need an online subscription to read it)

International Herald Tribune
For Youths, Grim Tour on Magazine Crews
(Same as NYT, no subscription needed)

San Antonio Express-News
I-Team: Be cautious of Scamming Solicitors

Information, help for trapped Mag Crew kids and their families:
Traveling Sales Crews Information Website
Parent Watch

A complaint in Springfield, IL
More complaints

A small sampling of Better Business Bureau Reports:
Integrity Program.
Royal prestige Golden Lion
Universal Subscription Agency

What to expect and how to protect yourself:
Info from the US Federal Trade Commission

I sincerely hope the national media picks up on this. People need to know what's behind the teen or twenty-something who rings your doorbell. The magazine publishers need to know who is selling their products, and how. If the publishers have any character whatsoever they will discontinue their relationships with such companies. If the magazines are half as good as they are supposed to be, dishonest sales tactics should not be necessary to sell them.

1 comment:

VRWC1999 said...

Don't forget that these companies send their employees to grocery store and mall parking lots, too... especially at the Christmas season. I've been verbally accosted by these individuals trying to make their quotas.

I was already suspicious of such marketing. Most of them tell you that it's so they can earn a scholarship or study abroad opportunity, but they acted like their next meal depended on it.