Trying to help a good cause could get you ripped off by fraudulent magazine salespeople
College Station, Texas– May 19, 2009 – The Better Business Bureau warns that deceptive door-to-door magazine sales crews are hitting the pavement and looking to earn a quick buck this summer. In the last 12 months alone, the BBB has received 1,100 complaints from consumers in 46 states and the District of Columbia against more than 50 companies that are selling magazines door-to-door.
Many of these companies employ crews of high school and college-age people who are trying to earn money over the summer. These crews are sent to communities to knock on doors and sell magazines—sometimes without appropriate licensing. In the sales pitch, the representative might explain they are working to help get their lives back on track, raising money on behalf of a charity or for a school trip or even selling subscriptions to support troops in Iraq.
“Because sales representatives are typically high school or college-age, victims readily believe the potentially fictitious sales pitch and often pay several hundred dollars for the subscriptions by personal check given directly to the sales reps,” said Larry Lightfoot, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau, “Most complaints against such companies allege that sales reps took their check and the magazines never arrived, however, some complainants also allege being subjected to high-pressure and misleading sales tactics.”
In the last year the BBB has received complaints on more than 50 companies conducting door-to-door magazines sales and the following are a few examples:
The BBB serving has received 286 complaints against two magazine companies owned by the same couple - Trinity Public Relations in N.C. and Seedtime Publications in S.C. Complainants report not receiving the subscriptions they paid for and some allege sales reps used high pressure sales tactics. In one example, a woman called the police after feeling threatened by a sales rep, who became angry when she wouldn’t buy a magazine. Some sales reps have also allegedly told prospective customers that they would not be able to eat that day if they didn’t buy their magazines. Trinity Public Relations was closed down by the Attorney General in N.C. and Seedtime Publications has also closed in S.C.
The BBB has received 33 complaints from 12 states regarding Prestige Sales, LLC. In addition to not receiving magazines they paid for, complainants allege sales reps lied about being neighborhood youth who were trying to earn money for a school trip to Europe, while other customers were led to believe they were purchasing magazines subscriptions for troops deployed to Iraq.
Other door-to-door magazine companies with F ratings from BBB include:
“Experience tells us that customers aren’t the only victims of this scam; the young salespeople are also potentially being taken advantage of by their employers and forced to work long hours, endure substandard living conditions and have their wages withheld from them,” said Lightfoot.
The BBB offers the following advice to avoid getting scammed by a door-to-door magazine sales rep:
The Better Business Bureau of the Brazos Valley and Deep East Texas serves Angelina, Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Houston, Lee, Leon, Madison, Milam, Nacogdoches, Polk, Robertson, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Walker, and Washington Counties.