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Educational Consumer Tips

Selling Magazines or Books

Author: Rachel Gelb
Category: Retail

By Phone, Salespeople, or Door to Door 

The "Free" Gimmick
There are no "free" MAGAZINE subscriptions-you pay the amount set forth in the written agreement. They are NOT "Free" if you pay only the postage or shipping charges, or because you answered a simple telephone quiz, or because the publishers will pay the cost or want to increase circulation, or because the advertisers will bear the expense, or rather than throw away unsold newstand copies, or because your telephone number was a lucky one, or because you knew the names of George Washington's wife, etc. And BOOKS or encyclopedias are not given FREE for a letter of endorsement, or because you buy yearly supplements, or for any other reason.

"Survey" or "Research"
Supposedly conducting "research" or making a "survey" supposedly not selling anything, but concealing the real purpose-to get into your home-or to get leads, for selling.

Cancel "Anytime"
There may be a limited time privilege of cancellation, but don't be enticed by promise of "anytime" unless it's in the contract. Don't sign anything unless you know what it is-and don't sign a contract unless you intend to fulfill it.

Sympathy Appeals
In selling magazines, there are variations of false or misleading sympathy appeals or objectionable personal sympathy appeals (and in some cases, faking physical handicaps), "nursing students," "student at local college," "medical student," "scholarship contestant," "polio victim," "foreign student," "children behind the Iron Curtain," "needs funds to enter convent," "from an orphan home," "starting route for poor boy," helping destitute relatives, "refugees" from somewhere etc.

(Sometimes a subscription agency will have an incentive program to encourage sales, but any legitimate program can be readily identified and proven by the solicitor.)

"Cents per Week"
Without adequate explanation, the magazine appeal "only a few cents per week" or "at an average cost of--cents weekly" can be very misleading. Actually, a boy doesn't come to collect each week, you sign a contract to pay dollars by the month, maybe 30 months, and it runs into many dollars, perhaps as much as $150.00 total, or more.

And don't think that you're going to get a bundle of magazines just by paying for the postage!

Bulk Subscriptions
If you don't want magazines yourself, perhaps you'll subscribe for a lot of them to be sent to army or navy hospitals or other institutions. Don't do this unless you know and name a person to whom they are to be sent!

"Specially Selected"
This appeal whether in selling magazines or books, is generally the "bunk,"-specially selected because of your standing, specially selected for a special price, specially selected for a special offer or prize, you have been chosen, lucky number, etc. They're just "buttering-you-up" for what they will sell to anybody who will buy. Connected With School Be wary of representations or implication that an offer of magazines or books is connected with your child's school, or that your child will surely fail or can't succeed unless he has what they want to sell.

Special Price
The appeal that you are offered a special price-and that the books will cost you much more later (sign now or never again) is often a gimmick to get you to sign now, or the higher price may refer to a more expensive edition. Why would salespeople go to the trouble of finding you to give you something he could sell at a higher price?

There are many reputable companies and salespeople direct-selling magazines, encyclopedia and other reference books. They do not use the gimmicks described in this leaflet. They support voluntary programs to eliminate unfair practices and to protect consumers.

Carefully read any contract before you sign it. If it does not contain what the salesperson represented or promised, DON'T SIGN! Don't do business with any persons or companies whose representatives use any of the gimmicks described in this leaflet!

In case of misrepresentation, examine your contract carefully for any provisions allowing the cancellation. Yours may be one of several states which permits cancellation of time-payment contracts provided you notify the company of your desire to cancel. This usually must be done by a certain procedure and written within a prescribed time. Such details must usually be printed on the contract itself.

If you experience any of these "gimmicks," report to the headquarters of the company and/or to your local Better Business Bureau. Get adequate identification of the company and the salesperson.

About the Author: Rachel Gelb is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

Questions and Comments

Comment Submitted 3/15/2014

Im thinking about selling Magazines over the phone from home. Do I need any special License or?
Views expressed on this page are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Better Business Bureau.

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