We've all heard some variation of the routine. There's a knock at the door, and when it's opened there's a pair of young, peppy 20-somethings with clipboards and some magazines. They'd like to sell you a subscription. Best of all, the proceeds will not only help the salespeople afford college, what's left will help a worthwhile charity.
Problem is, the mag sellers may be lying about some of that. And if the crew is from Dynasty Sales, chances are good that they're lying about all of it.Craig Malisow, staffer at our sister paper Houston Press, wrote a hard-hitting cover story about the ultra-shady traveling magazine-sales industry back in 2008. Essentially, the industry is is populated by older teens and young adults who are duped into believing that selling magazines will earn them a ton of money and let them see the country.
Instead, these mag salespeople make very little money, spend their days working long hours and their nights getting stoned, and are encouraged to lie, cheat, and finagle their way into getting as much money for their bosses as possible.
What's new about this story today is Dynasty Sales, a company that until recently had been knocking on doors all around the Seattle area.
That is, until a retraining order was filed in King County Superior Court and the company turned tail and fled. The order was filed after it was learned that the company was fraudulently telling people that proceeds from the mag sales were going to benefit sick kids at Seattle Children's Hospital.
This was a lie, of course. Not a dime of the money was going to SCH or any other charity and none of the rest of the sales agents' spiel was true either.
A call to the only phone number seemingly listed for the company was answered by a representative for the customer service firm Fulfillment Services, who refused to give any information on Dynasty Sales, including other contact info.
Either way, most of the info needed is already filed in court documents.
Malisow reports that among the court filings is a declaration from one agent who said:
"We told people we were selling books to benefit kids at Children's Hospital with cancer and autism . . . If the people didn't want to buy the full sale at $55, we told them they could make a direct cash donation to benefit Children's Hospital . . . After one day, I realized that I was being scammed along all the other young kids that worked there. I talked to people from Indiana, Texas and California. They seemed oddly pumped up about Dynasty Sales. They all seemed like they were brainwashed. They were only getting paid, at the most, $25 per day but were working between eight and twelve hours each day. They were all pretty much stuck because Atkins controlled their food, lodging and transportation." (The ex-agent attached to his statement a copy of a sales packet he was given that suggests agents bring up donations for "the Children's Hospital" when dealing with reluctant prospects.)
So why is a newspaper in Houston writing about magazine shadiness in Seattle? Because since the crew left Washington, their next stop may be Texas. And like Seattle, Houston has plenty of sick children that could be shamelessly invoked as a sales tool.