Monday, January 08, 2007

Subscription Blues and Job Scams

Yesterday I went to answer the door here at home in La Porte and there was a teenage girl, maybe young twenties, selling magazines she said as part of a contest. My sister says she was the third young person this week. We didn't buy any but after she left I realized I should have asked a few questions about her crew and her experiences. Anytime you are getting these people there is a traveling subscription crew in your area. The people trying to sell the subscriptions as well as you and your neighbors are at risk of, at minimum, being ripped off.

These young people doing this are being ripped off in a very dangerous industry. Many of these companies operate rolling sweatshops and the kids are lucky to get $20 a day for 12+ hours of work and if they are lucky are only ripped off and exploited and beaten. They are getting $20 a day for food, often less on weekends, and promises to be paid for their work later. If they manage to last until the end of their recruitment period they will find the hotel and travel expenses and arbitrary fines for various infractions usually leave them with nothing. The unlucky ones have been raped and killed in a dangerous industry with no safety standards.

Next time someone comes to your door ask them where they are from, if anyone they know has ever gotten all the money promised and if they need to call home or need help. Perhaps they are in one of the few OK businesses in the field.

NYRM: Desperate young magazine sellers are looking for suckers. Have you been conned? Probably has too much emphasis on you not getting your subscriptions but is a good start.

The Portland Tribune had excellent articles this past August about the Industry. Subscription for disaster is the lead off.

Many young people have lost their lives in this industry and a memorial site tracks news about the exploitation companies involved. More links. The subscription crews are often traveling crime waves, either committed on the crews or by the crews.

Why your vote matters. Now that we have a Democratic Congress perhaps we can get some federal oversight. Write or talk to your Congressperson. This is also an example of the "independent contractor" exploitation of laws and regulations that should be more controlled.

I should thank Kuff for reminding me that many people don't know about this story. With a new cell phone I should also watch for cell phone scams.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow, thanks for the links. I was vaguely aware of the problems, but didn't realize its implications.

Another simple scam. It's so easy I can't believe I fell for it. A teenage girl tries to sell some overpriced trinkets which benefits a charitable cause($30+ to support her religious cult or whatever). Then after you refuse, she says without disappointment, I perfectly understand, perhaps instead you would be interested in these handmade (pieces of shit) I made in our crafts workshop. They are only (5-10$). Because they were cheaper and because the girl was friendly, I thought, well, it was for a charity. Then, after I left, I realized she had used a clever gimmick. Scare you with the expensive thing, then when you let your guard down, sell the cheaper thing.