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Sheriff says beware of door to door sales

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is warning consumers to use caution when doing business with door-to-door magazine solicitation companies. Sheriff’s deputies have reported that numerous residents in Grand Rapids and Ada Township are being contacted by traveling magazine sales crews.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) President Jim Hegarty stated, “This is an industry that has been problematic from coast to coast. In the last 12 months alone, the BBB has taken over 1,100 complaints from consumers in 46 states and the District of Columbia against more than 50 companies that are selling magazines door-to-door.”

Many door-to-door magazine sales companies employ crews of high school and college-age people. These crews are sent to communities to knock on doors and sell magazines sometimes without appropriate licensing. In the sales pitch, the representative might explain they are working to help get their lives back on track, raising money for school tuition, etc.

In an article released by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) in May, 2009 regarding door-to-door magazine sales, CBBB President Steve Cox stated, “Experience tells us that customers aren’t the only victims; the young salespeople are also potentially being taken advantage of by their employers and forced to work long hours, endure substandard living conditions and have their wages withheld from them.”

“Every year these magazine salespeople hit the pavement, and every year BBB receives complaints from consumers who feel they were ripped off,” said Hegarty. “Even if the seller tugs at your heart with a convincing pitch, consumers must always stop and do their research before purchasing any products or services.”

BBB offers the following advice to avoid getting scammed by a door-to-door magazine sales rep:

• Always research the company with your Better Business Bureau for free at bbb.org before filling out a check for a magazine subscription.

• The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.

• Victims of fraudulent magazine sales can file a complaint with BBB at bbb.org or 800-649-6814, local law enforcement, and state Attorney General offices.

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