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February 21, 2007


Mag crew exploitation

Mag Crews

The latest article in a series that the NY Times seems to be doing about really horrible exploitation of vulnerable kids is today's piece on traveling magazine sales crews, who go around the country trying to get people to buy magazine subscriptions, often while being abused by their employers. The article is long and incredibly thorough, but might make you throw up or decide that the whole world sucks.

Even though this industry was investigated by Congress decades ago (article includes links to coverage of the hearings), it seems like no changes have been made. Here are just a few excerpts:

Two days after graduating from high school last June, Jonathan Pope left his home in Miamisburg, Ohio, to join a traveling magazine sales crew, thinking he would get to "talk to people, party at night and see the country." Over the next six months, he and about 20 other crew members crossed 10 states, peddling subscriptions door to door, 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. Sleeping three to a room in cheap motels, lowest seller on the floor, they survived some days on less than $10 in food money while their earnings were kept "on the books" for later payment.

By then, Mr. Pope said, he had seen several friends severely beaten by managers, he and several other crew members were regularly smoking methamphetamine with prostitutes living down the motel hallway, and there were warrants out for his arrest in five states for selling subscriptions without a permit.

"You’re involved in bad stuff, you’re seeing bad stuff and they tell you, 'No negativity,' " said Jennifer Steele, 23.

In September 2004, Ms. Steele said, she was drugged and raped by two men who were partying with crew members at a motel in Memphis, where her crew was staying. When her manager told her to go back to work the next day, she said she "threw a fit." But she did as she was told, and worked part of the day before filing a police report and having a rape kit performed. She stayed with the crew for another seven months before quitting.

Asked if they ever went overboard, two enforcers [employed by magazine companies to keep sellers in line] recalled an incident in November 2005 involving an 18-year-old recruit from Dayton, Ohio, named Rudy. "All we were told was that Rudy had shoved and disrespected the manager." For 10 uninterrupted minutes in a motel stairwell in San Francisco, Mr. Simpson, Mr. McClinton and four other enforcers beat Rudy unconscious, Mr. Simpson and Mr. McClinton said. One held his mouth shut. Two others pinned down his arms and legs. Tearing off his shirt, they pressed a flaming lighter into his back. Mr. Simpson kicked him in the face and body. "I stopped because I ran out of breath," Mr. Simpson said.

Ugh. It's sadly reminiscent of Kurt Eichenwald's now-legendary articles about solicitation and exploitation of kids in internet chat rooms, and how child abusers encourage each other online.

categories: Business, Crime, Media
posted by amy at 5:09 PM | #

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I understand that there are alot of scandalous magazine crews out there. But like in any business, there are good and bad. I mean if you go to Mcdonalds and get a bad order, ur not gonna blame another Mcdonalds up the street. I have been in the business for almost 7 yrs now and have seen some crazy stuff, and some great stuff. They knocked on my door and I took the job. As far as living on 10 dollars a night you get what you make. Everyone always has a complaint, but I dont know many jobs that pay daily. Usually you have to wait 2 weeks for a paycheck. IF you ask me the job helped me save my life. These managers that everyone criticizes started off as agents just like the rest of the employees. Yes they do preach positivity in a world full of negativity. Its a hard pricinple to accept at first, but once you get the hang of it, so many other doors open up. My friends that did this with me, most of them are successful salesman or business owners. Im just saying that you cant blame all mag crews for the incidents some went thru. My condolences for those with a bad experience, keep your head up, life gets better. oh yeah as for the girl with the rape charge, kinda weird that that would happen to someone and they stay with the job.

Posted by: Jimmie Whitfield at May 28, 2008 9:05 PM

OK OK My name is Travis Steely and i went to 3 diffrent crews and practiclly every one was a scam DTS10-08 to 4-09(Dave sabisnksi) seemed legit only thing was i was really missing NOVA(northern virginia) where im from I saved enough money to make a living on without a job then there was ISS and they were shady and recently ACI (5-11-11 to 8-12-11 THE ONE REASON I GET WITH THESE CATS IS SIMPLE CANT FIND A REAL JOB although this is FUN and i enjoyed DTS ISS and ACI were shady as hell. THe concept of no cash no pay IS a little off and i still dont understand IF THERE IS SOME COMPANY OUT THERE THAT IS LEGIT wheter its multi purpose cleaner or kirby vacums or mag agents I LIKE TO KNOW ANY OUT THERE It be cool to make money and travel the right way worldsworstenemy@gmail.com

Posted by: Travis Steely at August 18, 2011 2:18 PM

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