FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - BBB Warns Against a Summer Scam Going Door-to-DoorNationwide
Trying to help a good cause could get you ripped off byfraudulent magazine salespeople.
The Better Business Bureau is warning that deceptivedoor-to-door magazine sales crews are hitting the pavement andlooking to earn a quick buck this summer.
In the last 12 months alone, BBB has received 1,100 complaintsfrom consumers in 46 states and the District of Columbia againstmore than 50 companies that are selling magazines door-to-door.
Many of these companies employ crews of high school andcollege-age people who are trying to earn money over the summer.These crews are sent to communities to knock on doors and sellmagazines-sometimes without appropriate licensing. In the salespitch, the representative might explain they are working to helpget their lives back on track, raising money on behalf of a charityor for a school trip or even selling subscriptions to supporttroops in Iraq.
"Because sales representatives are typically high school orcollege-age, victims readily believe the potentially fictitioussales pitch and often pay several hundred dollars for thesubscriptions by personal check given directly to the sales reps,"said Michael Coil, President BBB of Northern Indiana. "Mostcomplaints against such companies allege that sales reps took theircheck and the magazines never arrived, however, some complainantsalso allege being subjected to high-pressure and misleading salestactics."
In the last year BBB has received complaints on more than 50companies conducting door-to-door magazines sales and following area few examples:
The BBB serving Charlotte has received 286 complaints againsttwo magazine companies owned by the same couple - Trinity PublicRelations in N.C. and Seedtime Publications in S.C. Complainantsreport not receiving the subscriptions they paid for and someallege sales reps used high pressure sales tactics. In one example,a woman called the police after feeling threatened by a sales repwho became angry when she wouldn't buy a magazine. Some sales repshave also allegedly told prospective customers that they would notbe able to eat that day if they didn't buy their magazines. TrinityPublic Relations was closed down by the Attorney General in N.C.and Seedtime Publications has also closed in S.C.
The BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona hasreceived 33 complaints from 12 states regarding Prestige Sales,LLC. In addition to not receiving magazines they paid for,complainants allege sales reps lied about being neighborhood youthwho were trying to earn money for a school trip to Europe, whileother customers were led to believe they were purchasing magazinessubscriptions for troops deployed to Iraq.
Other door-to-door magazine companies with F ratings from BBBinclude:
Michigan City, IN-based Omni Horizons Inc., which has received122 complaints from consumers in 17 states according to the BBBServing Northern Indiana;
Chesapeake, VA-based True Visions Inc., which has received 82complaints from 13 states according to the BBB of Greater HamptonRoads;
Memphis-based Greater Image, Inc.,which has received 71complaints from 16 states according to the BBB serving theMid-South; and,
Seattle-based Fresh Start Opportunities, which has received 66complaints from seven states according to the BBB serving Alaska,Oregon and Western Washington.
"Experience tells us that customers aren't the only victims ofthis scam; the young salespeople are also potentially being takenadvantage of by their employers and forced to work long hours,endure substandard living conditions and have their wages withheldfrom them," said Coil.
BBB offers the following advice to avoid getting scammed by adoor-to-door magazine sales rep:
Always research the company with your Better Business Bureau forfree at www.bbb.org before filling out a check for a magazinesubscription.
The Federal Trade Commission's Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule givesthe customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are madein their home or at a location that is not the seller's permanentplace of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should alsoinclude a completed cancellation form that customers can send tothe company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must givecustomers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellationnotice.
Victims of fraudulent magazine sales can file a complaint withtheir Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, local law enforcement,and state Attorney General offices.
BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholdshigh standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businessesthat earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to theorganization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBBprovides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTMand charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational informationon topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust,BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support forconsumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints.The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 125 BBBs servecommunities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoringmore than four million local and national businesses and charities.Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.
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