Sunday, May 26, 2013

Door to door magazine sales scam

I was walking up the stairs to my apartment after work yesterday and I was interrupted by a stranger asking to talk to me for a minute.

The stranger was a good looking young guy who couldn't have been older than 18.  I was curious what he wanted so I played along.

We had about a ten minute conversation on my patio and after several minutes of asking me random questions, the purpose of his conversation revealed itself.  He was selling magazines.

I've run into magazine sellers like this before (although it's been a while).  The company that hires the sellers is very clever.  They manage to find good looking, clean cut, well spoken people who are usually around 18 (give or take) who have a I-won't-take-no-for-an-answer attitude.  Essentially, they find hustlers.  The speech is well rehearsed with redirects in the conversation, ways to get you to say yes (in this case, it was two laminated cards, one with the list of magazines and the other with the picture of a child that allows you to buy books for underprivileged children instead of the magazines).  The magazines that were for sale were completely obscure (I had never heard of any of them).  They tell you that they're earning 'points' and in a contest, and my purchase of magazines is what they need to win their contest.

It took saying 'no' three times before he left.  I didn't fall for the scam.

I kind of admired the guy.  He did two things that are difficult:  He knew how to sell (that's a talent) and he wasn't afraid to talk to complete strangers.  If he uses those skills in a positive way after the magazine sales job is over, he'll make a big pile of money during his lifetime.

Unfortunately, it's likely that the whole thing was a scam including for the guy who was selling.  Here's an article that explains what the scam is:  click here.  And, here's an interesting website ( where people tell stories about their experiences working on magazine and soap selling crews.  There are some sad stories on this site but interesting reading.  Click here