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.

And then, "The publishers would like to work with state and federal regulators to have a central clearinghouse of agents that are believed to be unethical or that violate the law. For antitrust reasons, MPA has been unable to create such a list for fear that that would be deemed an unlawful boycott."

A careful rereading of those passages presents a paradox: How were MPA's members able to "disassociate" from agents "believed to be unethical," unless they knew which agents had bad records and which were kosher? Presumably, one would have to work from a list in order to make disassociation possible.

Yet, "MPA has been unable to create such a list" for fear of inviting accusations of antitrust violations. So which is it? Either there is a list or not. Apparently, the likes of Condé Nast are afraid of being sued by people like Rick Senner and Vinnie Pitts, which would indicate that Condé Nast doesn't have much in its budget for hiring decent attorneys.

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.


Hadlock ultimately blamed these unfortunate situations on the industry's bogeymen, the nefarious bunch of unauthorized sellers known as "rogue agents."

"Magazine publishers see such unethical agents as a serious problem," Hadlock wrote. "Agents of that type are quick to disappear when they are under scrutiny, only to reappear later under a different name and at a different location."

Although Hadlock's letter acknowledged the Wisconsin wreck, the MPA never issued a public statement on the tragedy. It was a sensitive time for them — it was the same year the association got a new president, Nina Link, who came to the MPA from the Children's Television Workshop, where she was, among other things, a producer of Sesame Street.

Nine months after the Wisconsin tragedy, Link was interviewed by Folio, a magazine geared toward people in publishing.

The interviewer asked Link, "In television reports about the accident, the MPA refused to comment. Was that the right decision?"

"I don't know," Link is quoted as saying. "People here are so thoughtful, and that decision was made with a lot of ­consideration."

The interviewer tried again: "Would you refuse to comment?"

Link said, "I'd have to be in the situation. If I felt it wasn't in the best interest of magazines, then no."

A few questions later, the interviewer asked, "Should publishers be more aggressive in self-policing efforts?"

Link's answer: "We have some 'best practices,' and again, we have established guidelines. I think many members have been good about following those guidelines, but there are probably a few that haven't."

The thing is, neither Hadlock's letter to the governor, nor Link's position that publishers take the MPA guidelines seriously, appears to hold up under scrutiny.

At the time of Crystal Mahathy's death — 11 months after the Wisconsin wreck — she was working from a hot-list provided by National Publishers Exchange, one of the country's biggest clearinghouses, which cleared major magazines like Time, Rolling Stone and US News & World Report. Yet NPE did not sever ties with Senner after the wreck. He served six months in jail and was back on the road, still using NPE's hot-lists.

After the families of Crystal Mahathy and Scott Tarwater sued Rick Senner, Russell Wood and All-Star Promotions (the case was settled for an undisclosed amount), Senner split from All-Star and joined a company called Entrepreneurs Across America. (Mahathy's and Tarwater's families also sued Firestone Tires, which in 2000 had recalled a massive number of defective tires, many of which were fitted onto Ford Explorers, one of which Senner was driving. Firestone settled with the families for an undisclosed amount).

Entrepreneurs Across America also used hot-lists from NPE, which featured titles like Reader's Digest, Maxim, Forbes and Elle. And these titles were hawked by top-tier individuals like Jacob Kanupp, who, according to internal documents from EAA, was a top seller when he joined in 2005. At the time, the 23-year-old Kanupp had a warrant out for his arrest and had racked up charges (if not outright convictions) for possession of cocaine, assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, felony possession of marijuana, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, credit card fraud, driving without a license, DWI, defrauding an innkeeper, drunk and disorderly conduct, and, oh, ­littering.

Representatives at the National Publishers Exchange ignored calls from the Press for weeks. It wasn't until we left a voice mail saying we had confirmation that NPE had subcontracted with All-Star Promotions and Entrepreneurs Across America that we got a call back. That was from a woman named Elaine Scanlon, who would only say that they do not disclose which road crew companies they work with.

A TV Guide representative was the only person who would admit to a relationship with National Publishers Exchange, and that was only because, according to the representative, TV Guide dropped NPE — and all door-to-door sales — in 2007.

A representative for US News & World Report stated in an e-mail, "...since U.S. News is a privately held company, we do not disclose individual vendor sales ­information."

Ellen Morgenstern of Reader's Digest also sent an e-mail, stating, "the vast majority of Reader's Digest subscriptions come from direct mail efforts, partnerships, and via the Internet. A very small percentage come from authorized subscription agents that comply with industry guidelines and practices."

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

*** 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

Houston Concert Tickets