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What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know About Door-to-Door Magazine Sales

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kentauros Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:00 PM
Original message
What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know About Door-to-Door Magazine Sales
This was a recent story in The Houston Press that I thought I should share somewhere on DU. Although not-ready-for-LBN as it was published last week, I thought it was a very well-written story and of a topic more people should know about and understand. Perhaps we could use it to get the mentioned legislation re-introduced...

What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know About Door-to-Door Magazine Sales
That kid at your door with a magazine order form will tell you a story -- part sad, part hopeful. The truth will be infinitely worse than you can imagine.

By Craig Malisow
Published on July 17, 2008

In the Ramada Inn, across I-10 from Ikea, dozens of young sales agents spill out of vans and head for the first-floor conference room. They're in their late teens and early twenties, tired from a long day of selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door, but excited about the money they think they're going to get.

In the conference room, a line of middle-aged managers sit behind folding tables and count the stacks of receipts and cash their agents place before them. It's a ton of money. The crews hit Houston in late February, it's near the end of March now and it's been a lucrative stay. Houston is always a windfall.

It's been a tough hop for this caravan of sales crews, though. Winding their way down from California, they lost a few agents. Two were arrested in Albuquerque after they allegedly forced their way into the home of an elderly couple and beat them to death, raping the wife first. A few weeks later, another agent allegedly raped a woman in Claremont, California, so he got picked up, too. Then, in West Texas, a van flipped, killing one agent and injuring three others. That's seven agents out of commission. That's about a $2,800 loss per day.

After they turn in their cash and receipts, two agents, a pudgy girl and a lanky guy, hit the parking lot for a smoke. Two Houston Press reporters are there, observing. Without knowing they're talking to reporters, the agents walk over and ask for rolling papers. When asked what they're doing in town, the agents explain their job and how much they love it. It's a blast, they say. You lie all day to sell subscriptions, and you unwind afterward with some smoke. You tell the customers that you live a few streets over, that you go to the local school and play on the soccer team, that you just sold subscriptions to their neighbor, and the idiots buy it because by now you've got it down to a science. And on to the next town. And the next.
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XOKCowboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow what a terrible story....
Terrible on all levels. The "deniability" of the publishers and clearinghouses and the bogus MPA is absolutely sickening.

Thanks for posting this. I'll never look at a dtd mag salesperson the same again.
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kentauros Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I've had an idea of printing this out, making copies
and then keeping copies by the door for the rare occasion when I might get such solicitors. Then hand them copies while saying I'm not interested in what they're selling, but am interested in their welfare (if they aren't trying to break in, that is...)

I would also like to know of all the magazines that participate in this kind of thing so as to avoid their product in the future.
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XOKCowboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. From the way the article reads you might not be buying many magazines...
You could probably Google the clearinghouses mentioned to get an idea of what they sell. You might be surprised.
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:38 PM
Response to Original message
2. Wow...just WOW!
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 02:38 PM by Hydra
And not in a good way! :puke:

A VERY long read, but worth every word. Sociopaths dragging desperate kids or other sociopaths around the country like packs of starving wolves and letting them loose in the residential areas...all corporate sponsored.

OH...MY...HELL.
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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. My thoughts, exactly. I am delighted to give this thread its 5th Rec.
A wonderfully written account of an awful mess.

I used to live in Spring, Texas (where one of the companies mentioned in the article is based), and I would run into those kids all the time.

Really sad and tragic.
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atommom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
5. A friend of mine worked for one of those magazine selling companies
several years ago. She invited me to the hotel for a "party" right before she left. The agents were mostly young men, and the few women on the crew steered clear of them. The supervisor explained that was because the male agents were very pushy, and many women had quit in chagrin after having sex with too many of them. (Creepy.) The male agents were indeed very pushy, but I ignored them. The supervisor kept bugging me to join the crew. I took it as a compliment, but kept saying no. Later in the evening he cornered me in the hall and started screaming obscenities at me because I'd rejected him. The male agents apologized for him and explained he would never have said those things if he hadn't done so much coke. Oh, well, that's OK then.... :yoiks:

My friend didn't stay with the crew long. The profits were not what the company said they would be, and everyone spent the money they made immediately, eating out and partying. She didn't trust the men on the crew, and didn't feel safe in general. From this article, it sounds as if her experience was (though bad) better than many.
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libnnc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
6. bookmarked for later
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:52 PM
Response to Original message
8. Ha. Who sez I'm paranoid?
I figured this scam out even before the first caravan rolled into the state. I do ask my questions, but, I think I only caught one whose story didn't add up.
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XOKCowboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
9. Love this caption....


Rick Senner, who was driving the SUV that plunged off a cliff and killed two crew members, celebrates Jesus Christ's birth with the lighting of special frankincense.
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The Doctor. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Yep, I was thinking the same.
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Iggo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
10. One of the very few good things...
...about living in the 909 (Inland Empire, California...one of the mostestly reddest parts of the great state of California) was that any door-to-door agent had to have a tag issued by the county. No badge, no listen.

BTW: I'm glad to be the hell out of there and back in Whittier.
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
12. I think some of the alarm company sales are done this way as well.
Had a couple young guys over the last 6 months come to my door (and the doors of my neighbors) to sell alarm systems and monitoring. I'm always courteous and tell them no because I have a fleet of pit bulls (I'd have an alarm for the fire feature if it wasn't $50/mo). Anyway, each one offered me their number if I changed my mind and explained that it was an odd number because they were from Omaha or something.
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:53 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. I got ADT through a door-to-door guy 6 years ago.
It's only $34 per month, and the smoke feature works great.

They always call when my wife is cooking. :evilgrin:
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
13. Who answers their door for strangers nowadays? Strange. nt
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Tommy_Carcetti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:39 PM
Response to Original message
14. Good evening Sir, my name is Steve.
Good evening Sir, my name is Steve. I come from a rough area. I used to be addicted to crack but now I am off it and trying to stay clean. That is why I am selling magazine subscriptions.
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kentauros Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #14
25. "Do you know anything about
money laundering?"

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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
16. more info and stories available...
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XOKCowboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:06 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. This explains a lot...
Publishers Sweepstakes is a lot smaller than it used to be, and so the magazine industry is less able to get subscriptions that way now, Ms. Williams said, explaining why she was seeing an increase in problems with crews. And the telemarketing no-call list has also pushed the publishers away from telemarketing and toward door-to-door crews.


That's from the NYT article on the website.
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CanonRay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:40 PM
Response to Original message
18. Belorus, Albania, and maybe, Lativia! Exciting!
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
19. The Houston Press should get an award for this one
Like maybe a Pulitzer for investigative reporting.

The Houston Press is named after the old Houston Press which died in 1964.

The only Houston paper that ever got a Pulitzer was the Post in 1965. Gene Goltz investigated corruption in Pasadena by the mayor and his cronies.

I'm proud to say that my father directed Mr. Goltz to City Hall. Dad said, "They're stealing city hall" when he saw this young reporter. He told him to go down Southmore Street, told him how to find Pasadena City Hall.

:toast:


The mayor, Jim Brammer, had stolen a $75,000 bond issue from Merrill Lynch to the City of Pasadena. He just stole the money and distributed it to his wife and friends. That was an awful lot of money in 1964.



Dad
8-26-1911 to 7-23-2000. I miss you today.



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XOKCowboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Good for your dad...
and good for the Post and the new Press. Lord knows Houston needs more real journalism.
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kentauros Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #19
24. I didn't know that about the history of The Houston Press
so thanks! :D
That's pretty cool about what your dad did as well. Then again, Texas Politics is as "exciting" as that of our neighbor to the East

The Houston Press has been a wonderful local weekly for decades (well, two decades ;)) I have pointed it out to people that have never seen it, usually those from the suburbs where it seems it never gets delivered or picked up. Probably because so many object to the sex ads in the Back Pages

I believe they're owned by another publishing company by the name of "New Times" unless they've changed hands again. They do win awards constantly and is the one paper I read regularly. The Chronicle used to know investigative journalism, but that was back in the days when they had "competition" from the Post. Pete Brewton was one of the Chronicle's best (had to look him up, but remember his series about the CIA and drug-trafficking.) Still, I fall back on HP for real investigative journalism, week after week. The rest of the local media doesn't know the meaning or benefit of such reporting anymore.

I'm going to have to write to Craig Malisow now and let him know what a great piece of journalism that was :D
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #24
26. Joke about Louisiana.
Why did God invent Louisiana?

A: To make Texas politics look clean.


:rofl:

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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
21. I had a friend who was abducted into one of these magazine cults in the 80s.
She wasn't allowed to use the telephone and escaped by physically running off from a restaurant "group meeting" and calling her family from a phone booth.
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aint_no_life_nowhere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
22. Sounds like this strange world would make a good background for a screenplay
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minerva50 Donating Member (229 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
23. There was an accident a few years ago
that caused a lot of bad publicity. One of those crews being driven in an over-size van that ran off a highway in the middle of the night and a number of kids were killed. Young drivers, little sleep, crammed full vehicles, not a good situation.
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AwakeAtLast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 11:04 AM
Response to Original message
27. My area has been hit twice in a year with kids selling cleaning products
The last kid just about had a conniption because I would only talk through the closed (and locked) door.

Sounds like the same kind of racket.
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MadrasT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 11:58 AM
Response to Original message
28. Hmph.
I straight-up do NOT open my door unless:

a) I'm expecting someone
b) I recognize the car in the driveway as belonging to friend, not foe

I've had these magazine people approach me in parking lots at places like Target and Home Depot, though. They lay it on pretty thick...
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cabbage08 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:04 PM
Response to Original message
29. K&R
Excellent article
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