What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know About Door-to-Door Magazine Sales

That kid at your door with a magazine order form will tell you a story -- part sad, part hopeful. The truth will be infinitely worse than you can imagine.

You also get to travel the country, which means you get to experience Ramadas and Holiday Inns from coast-to-coast, as well as seeing the country's beauty from a van window. Plus, you get to knock on doors in exciting tourist destinations like suburban Houston, suburban Phoenix, suburban St. Louis and suburban ­Minneapolis.

For the guys, there's potential to get laid like crazy. Since crews are constantly picking up new agents, if a guy isn't getting anywhere with the current batch of young women, he just has to wait about 24 hours before the new batch arrives.

For the female agents, there is the promise of finding a boyfriend. A lot of serious relationships start on the road, and many lead to marriage. There are drawbacks, though; the Press spoke with a few female former agents who say their managers coerced them into getting abortions because a pregnant agent can't be walking all that much, and, really, who wants to buy a magazine subscription from a knocked-up 18-year-old? The idea is to appear innocent, not coked-out and with child.

Crystal Mahathy was working at an Arby's when she was recruited to sell subscriptions.
Crystal Mahathy was working at an Arby's when she was recruited to sell subscriptions.
Rick Senner, who was driving the SUV that plunged off a cliff and killed two crew members, celebrates Jesus Christ's birth with the lighting of special frankincense.
Rick Senner, who was driving the SUV that plunged off a cliff and killed two crew members, celebrates Jesus Christ's birth with the lighting of special frankincense.


Sure, if sales are bad, you don't always get to eat, and if you complain, managers often remind you of your station in life, and how your own family didn't want you, and besides, what the hell else are you going to do with your life? The agents who do manage to leave often come back because the lifestyle has gotten in their blood.

An agent named Jenn (she asked that her last name not be used) told the Press about returning to her crew, even though she knew it was bad for her. Jenn was hired in 2006, when she was 22 and hiding from her abusive boyfriend in a North Carolina women's shelter. Traveling around in a van seemed like a nice change of pace, so she answered an ad in the paper for Sunshine Subscription Agency, and met up with the crew manager, a 34-year-old guy who had served time in a Florida prison for burglary. She left with him that day.

She enjoyed the constant partying but had disagreements with the company owner (Vinnie Pitts, the current president of the NFSA), so she left after only a few months. But when she got home, she was freaked out by how quiet and slow things were. Her thumbtack habit grew worse — on the road, she would steal thumbtacks from bulletin boards and poke herself. She didn't know why. Once home, though, she was driving the suckers all the way in.

"I had not been alone for two months," Jenn told the Press. "I was so used to — no matter where I was, whether I was going to the bathroom, whether I was walking to the ice machine, I was never alone. And then all of a sudden, I was."

She added, "Physically, I couldn't be still, because my body was used to walking miles and miles a day, that if I didn't walk anywhere in one day, I would have these muscle spasms all over my body. And so I would walk for hours."

So she went back to the crew and got what she needed; the excitement, the friends, the exercise, the drugs. All fun things. Which goes to show that there is a positive side to this story.

A year after the Wisconsin wreck, that state's governor, Jim Doyle, sent letters to the publishers of the magazines sold by the crew.

In his letter to Condé Nast, specifically citing the magazine Allure, Doyle wrote, "Our complaints document a pattern and practice of illegal conduct and deception in the marketing of your magazine. Unfortunately, last year's accident in Wisconsin was not an isolated incident. Other young people and adults have been killed in other states while working for itinerant sales crews. Young people are recruited to sell your publication with promises of extensive travel, wealth and college scholarships. Once employed, they are treated like animals."

He then laid the final responsibility at the feet of Condé Nast: "As a major publisher, you have the ultimate responsibility for the way your magazine reaches the public. You also control the purse strings because you pay these companies for obtaining new subscriptions. Clearly, you are in the best position to ensure that these companies obey the law and do not risk the lives of the children representing your product."

To date, Doyle appears to be the only politician who has called the publishers on their complicity in the door-to-door trade. However, it appears his words didn't quite sink in.

Two months after his letter to Condé Nast, he got a response not from the publisher, but from a lawyer for the Magazine Publishers Association, displaying that organization's uncanny ability to speak out of both sides of its mouth.

Attorney John Hadlock wrote that, to the best of his knowledge, the company running the crew in the Wisconsin wreck was not authorized by the publishers or the clearinghouse the company used. (This, of course, is an unverifiable statement, since all of the information is closely guarded).

Hadlock continued: "...And substantially, all of MPA's member publishers have taken steps to disassociate themselves and their magazines from road crew agents known to have acted unethically...."

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*** WARNING *** Dedicated Memorial Parents Group: DO NOT ALLOW door-to-door salesmen into your home!!! LOCK Your Door And Call The Police!!! We have documented 89 deaths and over 400 criminal felony cases. www.travelingsalescrews.info www.dedicatedmemorial.org www.magazinesalescrews.info Facebook: Beware of Traveling Door-to-door Sales Crews https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beware-of-Traveling-Door-to-Door-Sales-Crews/100395130009145 Parent Watch: www.parentwatch.org www.magcrew.com The Scumbag Criminals: National field Selling Association President: Sandra Hall http://nfsa.com Magazine Publishers of America President: Nina Link http://www.magazine.org

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