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Watch for unscrupulous door-to-door magazine sales

Consumer Reports News: June 18, 2009 10:35 AM

A young person comes to your door peddling magazine subscriptions. Maybe you’re told the proceeds will be used for a school trip, a charity, or to help troops in Iraq. Who wouldn’t be eager to help?

Hopefully you.

The Better Business Bureau says it has received more than 1,000 complaints from nearly every state about crews of young people who go door-to-door selling magazines, especially during the summer. Most of the complaints allege that the sales reps took a check as payment but the magazines never arrived. But some people also alleged being subjected to high-pressure and misleading sales tactics.”

These young door-to-door people often are employed by companies that force them to live in substandard conditions and work long hours. Wages often are withheld, the BBB said.

No matter who is trying to sell you magazine subscriptions, warns the Federal Trade Commission, be especially careful of door-to-door magazine salespeople who:

Encourage you to buy based on a weekly price instead of the total cost

Tell you that magazines are “free” or “prepaid” and that you’ll be charged only a processing fee

Don’t identify themselves or their companies, leading you to believe that they’re representing the magazine publishers.


Check the company. Before buying, research the company with the Better Business Bureau. Among the door-to-door magazine companies that have received the BBB’s lowest, “F” rating are: Fresh Start Opportunities of Seattle, Washington; Greater Image Inc. of Holly Springs, Miss; Omni-Horizons Inc. of Michigan City, Indiana; and Prestige Sales of Phoenix, Ariz.

Ask questions. How long will the subscription last? How will you be billed? How many magazines will you receive? What are your cancellation rights?

Read the contract. Ask for a contract before you sign up, and read it carefully.

Use a credit card. It’s easier contesting a credit card payment than one made with cash, a check or debit card. Remember that the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel purchases of more than $25 made in your home or a location other than the seller’s normal place of business. Sellers must notify you that you have that right.

Complain. If you’re victimized, complain to the BBB, local law enforcement, and your state attorney general or consumer protection office.–Anthony Giorgianni



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