Summer magazine crews march through southern Idaho; 5 tips to handle them

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

The rain had just started to fall when Boise resident John Miller answers the doorbell.

On his porch are two young men. They tell him they are working hard this summer to win a trip to Italy, the grand prize in the magazine sales promotion in Treasure Valley that started this past week.

“I asked them for their licenses,” Miller recalls. “Everything appeared to be in order.”

Then the sales pitch began. Immediately the one young man identified as Anderson, says a portion of the subscription helps pay for magazines being sent overseas to soldiers.

“I’m very supportive of the armed forces,” Miller says. “I’ll do just about anything to help them out. “

After about half an hour, and $118, he had subscribed.

Miller is not alone in falling for the door-to-door sales pitches as troops hit the Boise Bench area during the Memorial Day holiday. The company promoting the magazine drive, BNK Productions of Phoenix, Ariz., has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau due to the large number of complaints filed for lack of service and the company’s failure to respond. In addition, BBB does not have complete background information on BNK Productions.

“It was 50 years ago that I was taken for a little money,” Miller says. “I feel bad that I was taken this time.”

He says the young men wanted cash, but he knew better than that. Recent complainants to BBB allege the door-to-door representatives ask consumers to pay as much in cash as possible. Also, when they take personal checks, they immediately cash them at the check-cashing store.

BBB complaints allege BNK Productions sells magazines and books door to door to residents for an initial fee alleged to be $58 to $121, depending on the number of magazines or books ordered.

Past complainants allege the representatives for this company say they are “troubled youths” trying to get their life back on track.  After people order the merchandise and pay, the company sends them a letter saying shipment was not made. When residents do not receive the merchandise and ask for a refund from the company, they either are told they will receive a refund and do not, or are unable to reach the company at all.

The company now provides a P.O. Box address as the only way to contact them, and does not publish a phone number for this business.  BNK Productions is not responding to BBB complaints

Here are tips on how to deal with door-to-door magazine sales:

  • If you don’t feel comfortable, do not open the door to strangers. Instead, say through the door that you are not interested, and ask them to leave.
  • Do not give money to door-to-door solicitors, unless you know you are giving to local kids for local causes.
  • If you feel threatened by any door-to-door sales representative, call 911 or your local police department.
  • Check businesses out with the BBB before making a buy.
  • If you have ordered magazines or other products from a door-to-door salesperson, but have not received them, you can file a complaint with the BBB or local law enforcement. For more information or to file a complaint against a magazine door-to-door company; go to the BBB website or call 208-342-4649.
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Summer magazine crews march through southern Idaho; 5 tips to handle them

  1. Mark Burrows

    This is an interesting story, because when I was young, 17, I latched onto a traveling sales groups selling magazines. It was not a bad experience, we traveled in a string of cars, stayed in motels, and ate in restaurants, and they paid for everything. If we didn’t produce, they would put us on a bus back home. Here is the clench, they taught us a spell. Well, since I did a lot of summer stock theater, learning a script was child’s play. The script was something to the notion that I was working my way through college to pay for my tuition, books, and student housing. This company gives me the opportunity to achieve that goal and education being so very important, I can not contribute to the future, unless I prepare myself.
    Well, at first, I had to go out with one of the senior magazine reps for the few first calls to see if I had it in me. I nailed my first four sales. The rep was impressed and decided I was good to go on my own.
    Perfect, I dropped the sales pitch like a hot potato. I just knocked on a door, and said, “Hi, my name is Mark, I am not going to give you a sales pitch. I am simply selling magazines by subscription which is always below newsstand prices, no more going out and finding your issue out of stock. Mailed to you directly in a timely fashion.
    I had more people swing their doors open then you could imagine.
    The irony was the top sellers brought in about four deals per hour and we worked about nine hours a day. If you could bring in ten deals a day, they would keep you. I was bringing in about seven deals per hour which was unprecedented. You would think they would be jumping for joy. It was not so, when they inquired why I was outselling the best, I told them that I dumped their pitch and customized my own. They didn’t even ask me what my pitch was, they just bawled me out in front of the entire crew that I signed a contract to maintain that pitch that was created by experts for the greatest effect. To which I replied, “What contract? and are any of these experts still alive or not in retirement?” I was fired, given my paycheck which was quite handsome, and money for a bus ticket home. I chose to hitchhike instead. It was the 70’s after all.

  2. maurine

    Well they are in Sodaville Oregon today and this gal used tears.I told I don’t do guilt trips. Bye, Bye now.

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