St. Louis, Mo., June 4, 2014 – Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting consumers to be wary of door-to-door magazine sellers after St. Louis area residents raised concerns about salespeople who came to their homes last week.
A woman in Waterloo, Ill., said a saleswoman soliciting on behalf of Ultimate Solutions of Florissant, Mo. approached her last Monday and asked her to buy magazines. A man in Lake St. Louis, Mo. said a young man representing Urban Nation of Willis, Texas, solicited him the next day. In each case, the homeowners initially agreed to purchase subscriptions but later reconsidered and stopped payment on their checks.
Both Ultimate Solutions and Urban Nation have “F” ratings with BBB, the lowest possible.
In the Lake St. Louis case, the homeowner said he had wanted to donate $195 in magazine subscriptions to the Wounded Warrior Project and a battered women’s charity. But the recipients’ addresses filled out by the salesman were so vague that they likely would have made delivery of the publications impossible.
“I was just trying to help the kid out,” said the Lake St. Louis man, explaining his decision to buy and donate the subscriptions.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said BBB sees a spike in inquiries about door-to-door magazine sales in the spring and summer.
“Too often, we start receiving complaints months after the sales calls, when consumers realize they never received their magazines,” Corey said. “Sometimes, they are fortunate enough to get refunds, but often they end up with nothing.”
BBB has issued several alerts on door-to-door magazine sales. Probably the most notorious magazine sales company with local ties is Urban 1, which listed a postal box on Chippewa Street in St. Louis. Nearly all of more than 260 complaints against Urban 1 are unresolved.
In the Illinois case, the homeowner said the young saleswoman came to her house on Memorial Day, and told her she was in a job-training program for Ultimate Solutions. The homeowner paid $80 for a subscription to Reader’s Digest but stopped payment on her check after finding numerous complaints about the business on the Internet.
Until recently, Ultimate Solutions listed an address in Ohio. But Demetra Kyles, founder and owner of the company, said the business moved several months ago to the St. Louis area. Kyles said she now lives in Florissant, but travels extensively for her job. She said she uses a sister’s address on Logis Lane in Florissant as the company mailing address.
Toledo BBB has received nearly 30 complaints about the company, nearly all from customers who said they paid for magazines they never received. Most of those complaints are unresolved.
In a phone interview, Kyles said she intends to issue refunds to customers who were not satisfied.
“Everything is on the up and up,” she said of the business. She acknowledged that mail was not being forwarded from the Ohio address and said that a mix-up with her phone had made it impossible for customers to contact the business.
She said Ultimate Solutions works with people who are hard to employ or are looking for a second chance. She said the business does not do criminal background checks, and there have been problems in the past. “Sometimes there is a bad apple in the bunch,” she said.
She said she did not know how many salespeople for Ultimate Solutions have been arrested in the three or four years she has owned the business.
In July 2012, police in Darien, Ct., reported that they arrested two salespeople with Ultimate Solutions who were soliciting without a permit. Police said a company manager paid $400 in fines, and the men were released.
Consumers reported losing between $40 and nearly $600 each to Ultimate Solutions in 2012 and 2013. They said they tried multiple times to reach the company, without success.
BBB offers the following advice for persons approached by door-to-door salespersons:
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), email@example.com; Bill Smith, Investigator, (314) 584-6727, firstname.lastname@example.org
BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.