BBB warns that potentially deceptive door-to-door magazine sales crews are hitting the pavement looking to earn a quick buck this summer. In the last 12 months, BBB has received over 600 complaints from consumers across the country, eight of which were Md. residents, about companies selling magazines door-to-door.
Many of these operations 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 he is working to help get his life back on track, raising money on behalf of a charity, for a school trip, or are even selling subscriptions to support troops overseas.
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 representative. Most complaints against such companies allege that a sales rep took their check and the magazines never arrived. Some complainants also allege being subjected to high-pressure and misleading sales tactics.
Experience tells BBB that customers aren't the only victims of this scam; the young salespeople are 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.
BBB offers the following advice to avoid getting scammed by a door-to-door magazine sales rep:
· Always research the company with your Better Business Bureau for free at bbb.org before filling out a check for a magazine subscription.
· The Federal Trade Commission's Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
· Victims of fraudulent magazine sales can file a complaint with Better Business Bureau and the Maryland Attorney General.