Former Agent Stories

TS

Im definately ashamed to admit that I used to be one of those door to door magazine sales people. I worked for a company that uses a PO box for a company mailing address and move the office every couple years to a different location to make it nearly impossible to track them down. The back of the receipts we used for sales stated our "3 day cancellation period" which was required by law for door to door sales. But, if you called the 800# on the back of the receipt to check the status of your order or refund, you were lucky to get an answer and if you did get one, they just give you the run around. The man who owns the company is married to the woman who runs a well known association. The name of that company has now been changed too, but they are the ones who deal directly with the publishers and are associated with a very large portion of the companies that sell magazines door to door. They are making a small fortune from ripping off customers and employees. The magazine publishers allow the companies 6 months to actually clear the orders, we were trained to tell the customers it would take 6-8 weeks. The worst part is that we were trained to be as deceiving as possible without actually lying. To lead the customers to believe that we lived right down the street and we were selling magazine to "better our future". Then, the company actually had a "scholarship program" where they promised the agents scholarships for selling a certain amount of magazines. Which is a great scam, because if the agents don't know that they're lying, the customers are more likely to believe them, right?

IT GETS WORSE... We - I helped this man build his company, trained and motivated his agents daily, I was in charge of dropping them off in neighborhoods and making sure they hit their sales quota and that I hit mine too. If the sales quota wasn't met, there would be consequences, and it sometimes had agents and myself scared to come back to the hotel at night. I've seen tables thrown over on people, calculators thrown at girls heads and plenty of punches. You are probably thinking "Why the heck would anyone stick around?" Well, almost all the employees are 18-23 and some of us had nowhere else to go.

I wont go into detail about the heavy drinking that occured every night as well as regular use of illegal drugs. Young people like myself were blind to the reality of the situation because we were traveling the country and getting paid to party every night. Agents were encouraged to keep minimal contact with friends and family at home if we wanted to be successful, because "they were a distraction". We were sold a dream of lots of money and nice cars. My boss had a hummer, and a brand new audi, the nicest cars i had ever been in. After working for him for about 2 and a half years, he bought me a lincoln navigator to drive. So you can see how a young person like myself could get sucked in.

I worked my way up the chain in the company and became a manager with my own agents working for me. Well early in 2009 after I had accumulated about $10,000 on my company books, my boyfriend (now fiance) and I had been promised a big draw of our money and a new truck for me to drive. Well when the date had passed that it was promised to us, my boyfriend confronted our boss about it. But, of course, we got the run around. If the agents weren't making a lot of sales, the money wasn't there, and his crew had been doing poorly. My boss knew he couldn't keep his word.

Well, since this was a traveling job, we went to a new city about every week or two and it was my job to drive one of the vehicles. On the night we were leaving New Orleans on our way to Dallas, my boss made my agents (other than my boyfriend) ride in a different vehicle and had one of his agents drive mine. His reason for doing so was because he paid his agent $1000, gave him an I-phone and promised him My manager position if he would "get rid of us". I had heard of other companies doing things like this. They would send a "disposable agent"  into a gas station or store to get them a very large fountain drink and while the agent was inside, they would just take off and leave them there with nothing. Well something similar happened to us. We pulled over at a store in Baton Rouge to get some snacks and a power cord for my laptop. My boyfriend went inside, I stood right outside the truck with my dog so I could feed him. The other two agents returned before my boyfriend and got in the truck. I thought nothing of it because these were guys i had worked with for 2 years. Well, right after getting in, they started the truck and pulled away quickly out of the parking lot. I knew what had just happened. We filed a police report immediately with the police officer at the store but he basically told us there was nothing he could do, even though these people just took off with almost everything we owned. Thousands of dollars worth of our belongings. Including our wallets, clothes, phones, laptop... EVERYTHING! We had $70 in our pocket and thankfully met a wonderful woman who drove us to a hotel, and a few days later to the bus station. The hotel was owned by another police officer who let us stay there for free the next night after he heard what had happened and even gave us money to eat on and drove us all over to find a western union to get money from a relative.

2 years later, I still have nightmares about that night and what I would do if I saw these people today. Like I said, I am ashamed to admit that I worked for a company like this and I'm definately not proud of deceiving and lying to people all day every day just so I could have money in my pocket and drive around in a nice truck. But, I was one of the people who had Nowhere else to go.

My goal is to get the word out about this company  and others like it. I am a mother now and I would NEVER want my daughter in an environment like this. Everyone should be aware of who is coming to their door and what company they are representing. There is at least hundreds more out there just like this one. If the person at your door does not have proper paperwork from a school or a permit from your city or county, do some research before you buy anything. Honestly, some of these kids dont get money to eat or live on, so if you like them and they are genuine in their sales pitch you should offer them money to put in their pocket rather than the companies. Because they could be the next one thrown out in a parking lot and left in the cold with nothing but a couple bucks and the clothes on their backs.

 

WNW

I left home in 2002 @ 18 years old ready to see the world and chase my dreams. I ended up traveling cross country selling magazines door-to-door. I thank god everyday that I am here able to write this b/c I had no idea the true danger that I was in.

I took what looked like an awesome opportunity to make good money but quickly discovered that I worked all day in the rain, sleet and burning sun for maybe $5 to go to McDonald's with @ the end of the night. It took me a year to decide that I would rather try to find a way to make it on my own starting out completely homeless than to spend 1 more day making someone else rich while I earned pennies and endangered my life everyday while living out of hotels sharing a room with 4+ ppl. Nearly every dime you make is spent paying the hotel bills so you never actually see any of it.

I hope the message of this site gets out to young unsuspecting teens & young adults. There was so much danger that @ 18 I just didn't recognize.

I can vividly remember how the driver of the van that took me out everyday had a policy of no sleeping in his van in the mornings and thought it was funny to speed up well beyond the speed limit and then slam on the breaks unexpectedly to wake up anyone who'd dozed off - people actually flipped over the seats sometimes - it was unreal.

It was a couple years later after I finally got the nerve to leave and had successfully pulled myself out of homelessness when I did some research and discovered the horrible tradies, 99's fatal crash, the murders, rapes, etc. and realized that I was truly lucky to be alive. They prey on young people, gain their trust and make them feel like they care about them. The only reason I don't have a criminal record today is b/c of the officers who realized I had no idea how badly it would ruin my life if they properly arrested b/c I was in a no-soliciting area working for these people who assured me that "oh, nothing really happens you can still solicit here" despite clear signage stating otherwise. The officers would just drive you so far away you wouldn't feel like walking back rather than arrest you and give a permanent record b/c you were a kid who was just trying to survive. I've had young people knock on my door selling magazines and I never know what to do b/c I know from experience that even if I give them money just for themselves they'll probably turn it in as a subscription because of how mercilessly you're taunted and mistreated when you don't make your quota - you'd rather go hungry than not make your quota.

I am so sorry for the unneccessary loss of life and wish that I had never belonged to one of these organizations. I made it out alive and without any physical scars but no one's immune - if you don't leave with a physical scar you'll darn sure have mental and/or emotional ones so I can only hope the message you present here saves another young person.

If ther's a person out there reading this who thinks their stuck and have no other choice please don't believe that. I left the crew homeless @ 19 w/nothing but a bookbag on my back, I worked and put my self through college and am currently about to start working on my Master's degree - I'm barely 26 so it doesn't take a lifetime just hard work & faith (in yourself).

I am not superwoman, I'm just someone who realized I was worth more than the dangerous, unhealthy lifestyle afforded to me by these crews. Walk away while you still have the ability to physically do so. God Bless you all, strength and faith can carry you through even the seemingly impossible! You have my full permission to share this story, its the least I can do to help stop this madness.

   

LH

I was on crew about 7 years ago But any who I was just 21 and lost my ex wife to a stroke I loved her dearly. I was in grief about 4 months when I took a trip to Maryland upon making my trip home to Illinois the grey hound bus was over crowed in Baltimore city and a lot of people had to stand. I was holding the carry on bags and my mother was holding my son at the time just 1 yrs old. This guy who was from Baltimore gets up and offers my mama his seat till we got to Washington D.C., here it was he ask my mom how old I was while we was in the D.C. station. She told him I was 21 and he told her about the job or traveling and selling mags door to door. She asked me if I wanted the job and said that she would keep my kids. So I said yes I take it cause I was still missing my wife I had no friends back home, the ones I had stole me blind so I said yeah I need to get away so I took the guys number and said I would call him and meet him in Detroit in a week. I went home got ready and calledl in to unified producers INC. The manager or guy in charge of the crew sent me a ticket. I boarded the bus from Illinois to Michigan on the 1st night in May in 2003 so I got on the bus and went to sleep and woke up like 6 hrs later to the driver’s voice and the day light I was in Detroit Michigan for the new nightmare job I was going to sign up for. The guy who was the manager came and got me from the station and drove me to south field Michigan to the Ramada hotel where they was staying and I was put in the room with the guy who had hired me in D.C. and this other guy from st.louis. Well the guy from St. Louis had a girl friend on another crew who was staying at the same hotel (different crew but same company) (American community service) down the hall he would sleep in her room with her and her room mate every night. So I had the bed, I got there on a Sunday (the only day the crew was off) the fist hour I was there I got offered a blunt ( weed in cigar paper) oh of coarse I took a few hits just to calm my nerves cause I had so much going on. My roommate was smoking weed with a 17 year old girl who parents was on vacation there in Detroit left her at the hotel I guess to watch the room they was in but they did not know she was in my new room smoking weed with my roommate. The next day I got up at 6:30 to attend a 7:30 meeting they took role and then had the new people introduce their self. I was the only one that day so after a whole bunch of screaming, singing, dancing, and bonus giving (it would be 1.00 to 10.00 for a yesterday job well done. It was like a cult almost and then we went out to lunch to get before we made drops. I was put on T (territory) with roommate who was my trainer for the day. I watch him snatch his sales sheet away from people because he was upset at the Jones for not buying. He straight cursed a church guy out for not buying I am like what are you doing? He says if you get mad the Jones will give in. my mama raised me not to walk in peoples lawns. This guy was walking over many lawns and said it kills time.

Ok after walking across everyone’s nice lawns that they just had been began to grow and we almost getting shot at cause this guy comes out yelling at us like HEY GUYS THERE IS THE bleeping SIDE WALK!!!!. So each other door we would knock on he introduced his self and said his name and said he was talking to all the neighbors about the work that the young people was doing in the neighborhood ,…… what young people…..? The guy was 35 years old! But my self was too young and dumb to spot the scam then. Just trying to take care of my two babies my wife left me behind, so the next day I got up the same time and did the same thing but this time I went out on T with this other guy from Georgia because he for some reason begged me…… but now I know it was because he wanted to write business off of me and he sure did well that day and he was trying to win a cash Bonus and a jr managers position. (Different from the 1st guy huh) I still did not smell the rat. By the 3rd day I was out on T and on my own and was told to knock on every door no matter what!!!! But in the back of my mind I was thinking like I was not supposed to think (negative let the crew manager tell it) but I was thinking for my own good you hear me? So any way I tried to do my so called job to the fullest and knocked on a racist door (something I had a concern with the day before because when they drop you off in neighborhoods 9 xs out of 10 they are places where you really don’t belong if you are not the right color.) I knock on this door and this white teen said hey dad there is some colored kid out side in a business outfit selling magazine and dad came to the door and sent his dog out on me and I was running and hopped over a ranch style fence and split my pants and this fence ripped the seat of my pants and I was out there with my whole ass showing. So when the manager came to get me for drop (to see what I made for the hour…. Sounds like a pimp and his whore huh? Well it’s no different!) I told him that I had been chased y a dog and showed his all the ass of my pants was ripped out he just drove me to another spot and put me out to sell again but I still was to young to see this job did not care about its workers. So later on that night we got to the hotel and it was this transsexual on crew who would lead unsuspecting young guys into believing he was a she and having sex with them. But I was lucky that it was a girl from my home town who told me all about her room mate and how he was a guy. By this time it was rec night the next day so we get in and collect our 15 dollars to eat off of and we would go buy beer and whatever we needed and party. We even had couples living and traveling with kids on the roads. (what a life to have your kid apart of ) there was drugs homosexual activity, drinking, the manager sleeping with all the young women on crew and telling them he will give them a better spot his girl friend also was helping lying and brainwashing young women. I saw one girl beaten for coming out of this other guys room for a cigarette by a guy on crew she supposed to had been seeing, I saw one girl who was giving it up to every guy on different crews that was in the hotel and had her boy friend who she has came on the job with getting into fights. I saw where new girls would come on crew and would end up in guys beds that 1st night and one time it was 3 white girls who came in and was fucked that night and was never saw again(but let them tell it we was a all black crew and they sent white to white crews) We was told who we could and could not talk too or date the lowest seller had to sleep on the floor, 0ne night I could not sell anything and came back blank and this is where I know for a fact the manager had 4 guys whole me down and shave my head cause they said I looked to much like a curly head playboy then a business man and Mrs. Jones was not because of they way I looked and walk.(Its your fault if no one buy from you on crew) and if you do make a sale you are taught to write the Jones up for the highest cost. My manager wanted no to take red bull and no doze pills to walk like a power walker on T and my back still hurts from me walking extra fast. My roommate one night threw a crack party and had a spell behind too much coke and pulled out a knife on me and 3 more people for no reason at all. The whole time in Michigan I got chased by dogs and would get the cops called on me for knocking on doors. So one day after we had moved to East Lansing Michigan I woke up one morning with a Bad stomach ache I had to crap real bad so I lied and said I got a call from my mom to come take my son to the doctor and I had to leave but I will be back . I was told I had to pay my own way home but since it involved my kids I would get the 15.00 ticket ( the managers girl friend was a crook just like he was but only had a heart in some places but she still a dirty woman for what she do to young people who knows no better. So I went home just to get my self back together and to take a break from getting the cops called on me, getting bitten by dogs (many young men and women were bitten by dogs and was still forced to work and pay there own medical bill, feet sore with blisters on them from walking for hours on in for 15.00 a day, tied from not getting a decent meal, 1 week later the crew came to Illinois and I met them 90 miles west of Chicago I paid my own way back to hell. Was rough tack to the trashiest hotel in the town where I was staying and put on the floor to sleep just to get up the next morning to go do it all over again?

The 1st day Back we was token up to Wisconsin and had to take finger prints with the Dane county sheriff police office some guys who had warrants was told to just stay back at the hotel. We was then taken to our T that day and I kind of did well cause for once I had a permit and was at ease working. The next day it was back to the old thing again cause we went into a new town with no permit for that town and that day sun prairie police and the Dane county mounty’s office was not having it (you are required to have a permit for each town you sell in) this guy did not! If we was stopped and warned by cops we was then blamed for it and drove to a new neighboring town to knock on doors without permits. I got a 200.00 fine in sun prairie Wisconsin for this and the manager lied and said her paid the ticket and did not I almost had a warrant but I was sent home just in time cause I was starting to see the bullshit this job is really about. I would request that Jones call the cops on me when I was just stopped in one town and token to another to commit the same crime. And I started talking about how brainwashed the people there was and was not going for any more shit these company’s hire older guys and women as the wolves to help take advantage of young teens and adults. The older ones gets to pick who they want to sleep with and what they want to do but the rookies like I was are just bossed around saying we could not drink or eat cause we did not make business. (One night I told two guys who was at the bar in the motel that I was a grown ass man and no other man was going to boss me around the clock especially my off hours! They then told me I better have respect for my manager cause I know I am just doing this for a place to stay….( I had my own place back home) the last night I was there I was on T and had that stomach ache again and had to shit. They took me off T and to a gas station that had shit all over its toilet and then I asked can I be taken somewhere else I was told no! so yeah I tried holding it and knocking on doors and went on my self that’s the day I just stopped work and just sat on the us stop all that day in Milwaukee, I have had enough.

The next morning I got into with this dude I was sharing the room with cause he wanted to call me all kinds of names because I had accident on my self. And I had got word that 3 undercover homosexuals on crew were trying to pay my room mate to get my drunk and high so they can rape me. So I went home and they paid my way home but took my money that was put up so I was broke with no money just my ticket home and my things on me. I asked for just a few bucks so I can get on a city bus once I got home and was told no. It was times I had to take a shit in woods and wipe my self on leaves cause there is no bathrooms on T. You work all day just to get 2.00 off each sale you make and the manager gets most of the cut off all your sells and he does nothing but drive, lie, and boss agents around (sounds like a pimp huh?) I have seen people left on the roads after being arrest and never looked back for. And I want to say to any young person out there that’s looking to get in to this to not even do it. You are putting your life on the line with each knock and closing your eyes around society’s garage (robber’s, rapist, gays, crack heads, scammers, killers, and every worst thing you can imagine) stay clear of American community service and its crews (gold key power house, unified producers inc., Shirley’s globetrotters, (she the biggest scam around) stay away from all these crews the are nothing but modern day slave shops and ad news. I am still looking for a way to sue O.G. Bridges (unified producers inc. manager) and Otis garret (owner I never saw) I think they are the same person look at the names and do the math. These people lie they way to richness so I would not put any thing past em. I want a law suit against the company for UN paid ticket for sales with out a permit I had to take food out of my kid’s mouth to pay to keep from getting a warrant and going to jail over. I like to see these crews be band and outlawed. Before someone else young adult or teen falls victim

That's was my story and I hope I can change any kids mind out there who was going to join the scam job. have a great day

 

 

   

AB

It was the summer of 1998 when I saw that Newspaper ad promising fun in the sun while working in a rock n roll atmosphere. I recently had been going through a lot of emotional issues from losing a boyfriend from a accidental shooting to being kicked out/ abandoned by my parents forced to get married at 17 years old to a guy I did not like let alone love. On top of all that I went from being an honor roll student to dropping out of school to say my life was turned upside down would be putting it mildly, so when the lady on the other end of the phone promised I'd make lots of money traveling around the united states it was perfect, I'd have freedom and I could escape my pain. When I told my best friend what I was going to do, she immediately called the number and a day later we left town together for a exciting new career or so at least we thought! My friend and I left from a local hotel after meeting up with one of the guys from the crew that drove us up to Pittsburg PA to met up with the rest of the crew. On the ride up the guy asked us a lot of questions and told about all the wonderful things we were going to experience.

Once we got to the hotel, we were taken to our mangers room who also tried to sell us on the excellent choice we had made, he gave us some money and room keys, we were introduced to the other agents coming in from working that day who all were friendly and showed us a lot of attention. The next day we went out on training and were taught what to says to prospective customers, we were kids in a contest trying to collect points for a trip / college etc... we were not knocking doors those first few days, we were what they called stemming at the malls the knocking on doors came a few days later after we jumped to Indiana. We would start the day with an early morning sales meeting (usually to practice our sales pitch) then we would load up in the vans and go to get something to eat before starting our daily drops. We would work from 8 am to 8 pm sometimes as late as 11 pm often not getting back to the hotel until late.

The same as a lot of the other stories that I have read we would get a draw somewhere between 2 dollars-20 depending on how you did that night which you would have to eat on that night and the next morning we ate a lot of McDonalds, burger king or all you can eat buffets when you could find them. We slept 4- 6 people to a room having to share a bed sometime with two or three people not that you got much sleep, because night time on Mag Crew was party, party, party!! In the beginning it was easy to resist the allure of the partying, drinking, drugs and sex but the longer you stay the harder it became to resist, eventually from the lack of money, fear and sleep overpowers your sense of right and wrong and you find yourself living for the night-time.

The stories of people being left out on drops, being abandon on the sides of road or left at a bus stop with no money, no ticket a lot of the times beaten no longer becomes just a story but a reality to which you learn not to question in fear that you will be next. In the beginning I believed we were really selling mags to people at discounted prices but after running into so many people towards the end, who claimed they never got any of their mags I started putting the pieces together that it was a big scam which it made it hard to sell, but I knew I had to survive so I would try to get at least 1-3 a day but often I would not sell a thing unable to overcome my own conscience which often meant I didn't get a draw or if I did it was only a few dollars.

I ran into some really bad situations while knocking on doors. I have been trapped inside houses, sexually assaulted and yes I've had guns pointed at me a few times. I was stopped by the cops but thank god not arrested for selling without a permit. I also met some really interesting people that were faces of angels that offered me food, drink, rest and advice along the way some towards the end I owe for my decision to finally pack it up and going home which was not an easy choice because by this time I had fallen for one of the guys on my crew.

The Beginning of the end came for me one night in September, we had just jumped from Tennessee to Indiana the day before and I was on a two days drinking binge. that was Mag crew life after all, so anyways the entire company joined up in Indiana so it was one giant party. I was chilling in a room with about twenty-five other people who also were drinking and smoking every one was having a great time, it was getting late so I decided it would be a good time to stumble back to my room & crash. It was a great plan but I could not remember which room I was in or even which side of the hotel the room was on, so I thought I'd just crash there in the room what could it hurt? There was so many people around that I did not think I had to worry about any thing but then a guy from my crew who I friends with stepped in and said that there was no way I was staying in that room with all those people, he said he didn't trust them, he said it would be a better idea if I went with him back to his room, so that he could make sure I was safe and so I could "sleep it off"

He even swore he would not touch me it was strictly to help me out and keep me safe. I was young only 18 and naive, I believed every word. He had to help me back to his room because by this time I was not walking on my own the last thing I remember is walking into his room and clasping shoes on and all on his bed. I woke up the next morning in bed beside him, neither of us wearing any clothes. I threw my clothes then ran back to my room, thankfully my room mates had already left the room, so they were not witness to the violent shakes, throwing up, hysterical tears that followed as I tried to scrub my skin off my body. I of course had to go out and knock doors, no one would care what happen to me, because I had violated one of the rules, if a girl went to a guys room then she could not report rape only if a guy came into a girls room. ( It took me a long time to realize that was a bunch of crap rape is rape no matter where it happens) So put my breakdown on hold and went to work.

I ended up getting back with the guy I had fell for out there, but nothing was the same after the night of the rape. I knocked doors but half-heartily mainly scared to death the whole time I was on T and even most of the time I was at the hotel. My best-friend left the same week the rape occurred so I did not have even her to confined in, I was alone & afraid. The end came for me when I found out I was pregnant, my mangers tried to talk me into an abortion on more then one occasion even going to the extent of trying to pressure me into it, but I stood my ground I would not have an abortion. In the end when I asked my manger to send me home, he refused telling me I had things to work out with the baby's daddy before he would send me home. I got pretty sick, and the doctors would not let me go back to work but he still would not let me go home, I often went with out food for days at a time, yes pregnant a few friends would bring something back from time to time but no where enough food for one let alone two people to survive on, my mom even went as far as telling them my grandma died and I was need back home for the funeral, I even faked cried and still he would not send me home, he promised me a bus ticket but then didn't get one.

I finally left from OK when my mom husband who was a truck driver had picked up an extra load just so he could come and pick me up. I have some good memories from my time out on mag crew but the bad far out weigh the good times. I have a beautiful daughter that I would not otherwise have if it were not for those reckless days but the nightmares they still come even twelve years later, my advice if you are thinking about going out on a Mag crew or any traveling crew DON'T it is all a lie from the newspaper Ad to the sales pitch. It no kind of life to live, sure you get to see the united states but its doors and houses, Its a dangerous life out on mag crew and trust me if its a party your looking for, look in your own back yard it'll be the best choice you ever made. Hell you can earn more in a month working at McDonalds then you would the whole time your on mag crew. If this can change even one persons mind from going off with a mag crew then it will have been worth it me writing what I could, because there is still so much I'm not ready to talk about yet....

 

   

JS

Hey-just wanting to point out to alot of individuals selling magazines you need to get help. I sold for over a year straight and they had me brainwashed horribly. My high day was 12 and i was very consistent and very good at it but talking to my boss he would not let me leave so one day i left with just the clothes on my back- a jones bought a greyhound ticket for me and ill never forget that man he probably saved my life.

   

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