Criminals within the door-to-door magazine sales industry are still exploiting their workers and it seems that nothing can stop them from luring children and teenagers from low-income neighborhoods out of their homes. Stories about what really traveling door-to-door magazine sales crews circulate around the internet and to call them heartbreaking is an understatement.
There were magazine sales agents badly bruised and beaten because they were forced to participate in a boxing match. Teens taught to deceive and exploit customers in order to make a sale. Deaths due to drug overdose. Reports of prostitution and sexual and physical abuse. A lot of former agents have shared their heartbreaking stories and call for help. Some were beaten because they couldn’t meet the quota. Other has to go without food for days without means to buy food thousands of miles away from their homes.
How labor trafficking rings do it
A company usually places an ad in the local papers with headlines such as “earn money as you travel the world.” Once a prospect responds to the ad, the company immediately secures a bus ticket to a different state where they will be meeting the newly hired worker. He or she will be trained for a fixed amount per day.
Training is not so bad but after that, things are different. Sales agent have to start selling subscriptions from 8:00 am onwards. Knocking on doors for 12 hours in an effort to sell at least six magazine subscriptions on a daily basis. After that, crew members were herded in a room where they all sleep. When they couldn’t sell magazines, food was scarce or they literally had nothing to eat.
Sales agents receive commissions for every subscription they sell. But the money didn’t go to them. It was kept by the team leader who had complete control over it. It’s like the crew had to ask for permission each time they needed to spend their earnings.
When they failed to sell, they were given a hard time by their handlers. It is not uncommon to see magazine crew members with a split lip, black eye, and bloody nose. When they are hurt, they are never even brought to the hospital.
Those who managed to get out and return home are lucky. In rare instances when they are allowed to go home for a while, agents were dropped off at a bus station without a cent.
The Clamor for Reforms
It is unclear whether state legislators can ever stop the labor and human trafficking rings operating within the sales industry but a few legislators are taking notice and are coming up with laws to combat the growing problem. A number of companies have been prosecuted and the people behind them made to pay for their crimes. Right now, the focus is to regulate the industry, impose sterner penalties to the perpetrators, and provide more protection to the victims of this practice that’s truly a form of modern day slavery.