Parents Page

This page is dedicated to parents who are considering letting their teens join a magazine crew. It is my intention to inform parents about these crews and to give them resources to learn more about the unethical practices of such crews. Hopefully, with this information, parents can make an educated decision about allowing their teens to "run off" with the crew.

Beware......they move quickly on your teens so you and your teens do not have time to think about the situation. They promise the world and then some.

The promise of traveling the United States, staying at nice hotels and meeting friends from all over the United States lures teens in and captures them for a life of stress, humiliation and constant worry of whether they can eat the next day or not. The magazine crews make it seem like an adventure and promise that they can leave at anytime, if they wish. NOT TRUE.

I sold magazines for a traveling magazine crew approximately 15 years ago. I will not go into the horror stories on this page, however, I would like for you to understand a little of how these traveling crews operate.

The Lure

When teens answer the "to-good-to-be-true" add in the newspaper, the first thing they ask is "are you 18 or older?" Actually, my sister was only 17 but was allowed to join with my step fathers signature . After establishing the age, the traveling crew immediately sends a person to a hotel to meet with the teens and have them sign up. This person then wisks them away quickly - before parents can stop them - to the hotel room where the crew is actually staying.

Of course, when a "rookie" signs on and meets up with the crew for the first time, everyone is happy and having a wonderful time. Nobody - and I mean Nobody is allowed to think "negative" let alone act "negative". The crew leaders make sure that everything looks wonderful for the new people.

When my sister and I first met the crew we were with, they were having their nightly turn in your sales meeting. The "Big" owner was there and he was giving a lecture to the crew. He pointed out a girl who had been with the crew for some time, made her stand up, and screamed at her in front of everyone. He relayed to the crew that she had been a bitch and was bad mouthing and gossiping and he would not have that in his crew. He told her to get her shit together and get out. She was histerical. But did that tell us anything? No. They had already sucked us in and nothing would make us turn back now.

The Pro's - they did allow us to call home and tell mom where we were and where we were headed the first night - of course it was a supervised call.

The Con - that was the last phone call we were allowed to make for a long time. They kept us so busy. We were not allowed visitors until months later and then they watched us the whole time.

These traveling crews know what it takes to lure teens who have grand ideas of being on their own or are desperate to get out of a small town. They lure them in and try their best to keep family and friends out.

The Life

At first, the traveling magazine crew life is appealing because of the traveling and the fast pace of it all. Most of the time, the fast pace is due to the fact that the crew has been spotted by officials or too many of the teens have been arrested and the area is no good anymore.

I was arrested so many times I cant remember. I was booked - finger prints and all - and held in a cell until the crew bailed me out. Then I was made to feel like it was my fault for not being careful. I was also barred from an Air Force base at one point and was sent back in the next day to sell - sell - sell. When I asked the crew leader if I would get in trouble, he told me not to worry that they would bail me out.

The Mag Crew's day started at 8a.m. meeting to gather all subscription materials together and off to the cars. There were at least 5 people to a car and sometimes 7 if it was a station wagon or van. Each crew would stop where ever to get breakfast, if you had the money. In my case, I started smoking, like most did, and spent my money on cigarettes. Therefore, I never had money for food.

9 a.m. the crews start hitting the doors. They tell of being in a contest and who ever received the most subscriptions would win. At first, the enthusiasm is so high that you naturally sell well because the teens are believable. My first day out, I sold 9 subscriptions, 13 on the next day, which was considered a high powered seller. This success did not last long.

Usually around noon the crew would have lunch and then back out to sell again.

Quitting time was based on how well the crew did. If everyone in the car sold at least 2, they would quit by 6 p.m. Some crews stayed out as late as 9 p.m.

When the crew arrives back at the hotel, they immediately go to a conference room to check in and meet with the crew leader. The crew leader looks through the orders and talks to the seller about his/her performance. Its never good enough! Only when you sell consistent 9 or 13 subscriptions a day are you not lectured. Then you are handed your big money - $9 - which is to last you through to the next full day when you meet the leader again. The leaders tell the teens that the money they are earning is being kept in a savings account. Of course, if you need it, they can get it for you but they advise that you save it. Ha. There is no money! Basically, teens earn $9 for an entire day of walking and selling. Of course we are talking about over 15 years ago that I sold magazines, so it may be up to $13 a day by now.

After the check-in, the crews go to dinner (part of that $9 goes to dinner) and then back to the hotel to go to bed and start all over. Rarely is there a chance to site see. On the weekends, most of the crew members were sleeping in, brief site seeing, and then going to the bars. Most of the time, weekends meant packing up and moving on.

Obviously, this is no life for any child. I understand that this is a brief description of a magazine crew, but it would take up many pages to actually tell the full story. If you feel the need to hear more, please email us and I will gladly discuss the details.

Please stop these magazine crews. If you run across someone who is selling magazines door-to-door, tell them there is help available. Nine times out of ten they are ready to quit and go home, but don't know how. Also, please remember next time you are approached by a magazine salesperson that they are being pushed to sell as many subscriptions as they can and usually do not want to be at your door step anymore than you want them to be. Please read the resource page to remember where to send these kids to get help.

Good links to visit:

Better Business Bureau - article on traveling sales crews.

AT&T - 1-800-tobesafe - for kids to call their parents.

Wisconsin Department Of Justice:

Parent Watch:

Traveling Sales Crews Information Web Site

Wisconsin Passes 'Malinda's Act' - On March 24, 2009

Malinda's Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act (SB-4) was passed by the Wisconsin Senate (27-6) and by the Wisconsin House of Representatives (68-30)
On March 26, 2009 Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed the bill into law.
For more information please contact Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach
Web Site:
Read Press Release