Guess who is back in town? It’s the door-to-door magazine sellers from out of state who appear on doorsteps claiming outrageously priced subscriptions will help fund “second chance” opportunities for inner city youth. The Washington Attorney General’s Office has issued warnings about such visitors before, and is again alerting consumers to beware of these solicitors and think twice before buying their magazines.
Shoreline Police have seen young people selling door-to-door in Shoreline without a license from the city to do so, which can result in a misdemeanor charge. Usually selling in pairs they say they have been set up in hotel rooms near Sea-Tac Airport and dropped off in various locations in a van. Fewer goods are sold door-to-door anymore so door-to-door peddling can rouse residents suspicions so they sometimes call the police.
The Attorney General’s Office has received numerous complaints from victimized consumers who paid $50 to $784 for magazine subscriptions purchased from door-to-door sellers. Consumers say they were touched by the solicitors’ stories and believed their purchases would be for a good cause. Solicitors claim to be earning money for college, working toward a better job, receiving points for a free trip, or contributing proceeds to help homeless youth.
“Unfortunately, another common theme is that time and again, consumers throughout the country never receive the magazines they purchased, or hear from the sellers again, and have no idea what happened to their money,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Many of these solicitors claim to work for “business or job training” companies that send young adults door to door to give them a “fresh start” on life. In a recent complaint to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, one seller claimed to represent a company called “Strictly Business.” The consumer did his own checking and found the company was based in Texas. It had a Better Business Bureau rating of “F” for failing to respond to complaints and failing to deliver magazines.
“Besides the potential of falling victim to fraud, there are many other risks involved, such as threats to personal safety or the possibility of being a victim of identity theft. It all makes buying items from strangers who knock on your door a bad idea,” added McKenna.
Consumers should always check out a charity with the Secretary of State prior to making a donation. A state search engine listing registered charities is available at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities.
Sources: Attorney General's Office, Shoreline Police.