19
Jan
07

Selling Newspapers for College (o rly?)

EDIT (3/19/10): If people are willing, I’d like to hear what regions this occurs in.  I’m curious to see how widespread this is or if this sort of tactic is targeted for certain regions.

EDIT: I just remembered something interesting. It was $15 for a trial to the Oakland Tribune and $10 for the SF Chronicle. I however declined to sign up for the SF Chronicle. This was before I realized that he had handed me a form to sign up for said newspaper. But as I moved to throw away said form, he asked to keep it. When I asked why, he said that he had already bought said subscription (I’m a little hazy on the exact wording here) and that he needed the points for the college money. He instructed me to fill in the box that I had paid him in cash. All he asked was that I give him the form. I wouldn’t have to give him any money. I’m still trying to work that one out in my head.

Door bell rang today and I opened to be greeted by a teenager with a clipboard. Though he was clearly a minority of some sort and spoke with a slight accent, this did not stop him from unleashing a sales pitch at a speed that would do an auctioneer proud.

He spoke of college and the need to pay for his tuition. Proferring the clipboard for my inspection, he claimed that he needed sell newspaper subscriptions for “points” and would in return, gain $500 for college if he managed to reach 500 points. I could cancel the subscription at any point and time and recieve my money back, but he claimed that should I cancel the subscription trial before a certain amount of time, he would not get his points. And no points meant no college money.

To be honest, his pity plea touched me. I do value education highly, and so I respect people for trying to overcome adversity to attain it. Yet, I found myself suspicious. Something just did not feel right about the entire pitch. Perhaps it was because he was pushing the sale especially hard. Or perhaps it was because I didn’t like the feel of his eyes or the overly “pity me” line. But pushing my intuition aside for a moment, here is what I found strange in a more concrete fashion:

1) No paperwork detailing the exact details of said program

2) No website to find said program

In the end, I still have him part of what he asked for ($15 instead of the full $25), but mainly out of curiousity then any real belief that the money would actually be used for what he claimed. I did some searching on Google for several minutes and came up with a piece that confirms my suspicions and opens some new questions:

Soliciting Newspaper Sales with Pity Pleas?

“California Newspaper Sales & Marketing, the largest contractor hired by both the Chronicle and Mercury News to sell subscriptions, and a major contractor responsible for the Stanford area, says that they do not look for any particular profile when hiring these students, as long as the students are doing well in school. Most of the students, they say, have a stable family life and a potential future — as long as they can obtain the money to pay for school.

That claim is anything but the truth. In reality, there is no guarantee the money the students earn will go towards a college education. The students do not receive scholarships; they receive money that can be spent on anything — not just a college education. The students are paid by check on a regular basis, just like any other part-time job. If they are older than 18, they receive the check directly. Otherwise, the check goes to their parents.”

This automatically raises two questions in my mind:

1) How widespread is this practice? Does this occur in other states? (My guess is yes)

2) How much money are these students actually making?

Final Thought:  Newspapers must be really hard up these days to have to resort to this kind of advertising.

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160 Responses to “Selling Newspapers for College (o rly?)”


  1. 1 bill
    February 8, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    I had a nearly identical experience with a kid just the other night. As a grad student, I was initially interested in helping the kid because he seemed like he was trying to do his best to get by and go off to college. But it all came off a little scripted, too polished. (It got really over the top when he pulled up his pant leg to show me where he had allegedly been stabbed in the leg by a gang member.)

    I grew more suspicious as the kid told me that he didn’t have any literature to leave with me, nor could he give me a number to call or web site to check out. Like you, my suspicions were confirmed when I came across the Stanford Review article about this company.

    This is a nefarious scheme, and Bay Area newspapers–in my case, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News–should be held accountable for contracting out their subscription sales to a company that engages in fraudulent methods. I know newspapers are flat-lining these days, but this is outrageous.

    • 2 shane lamplough
      May 24, 2013 at 6:12 am

      I just started working for one of these news paper people ..we only make commission its not a scam and all we really dnt tell you is that AFTER YOUR TRIAL YOU HAVE TO CANCEL. people buy the trials because we can wrk all day and not get anyone to sign and make no money its a rough job..ive been there for two weeks yesterday I made 75 toward my check ..the other part of the two weeks I made 45..so two weeks for 120…bbout 1.50 a hour…job sucks but people have been there for over ten yrs saying theres money to be made

      • 3 MelanieM
        June 18, 2015 at 3:54 pm

        If it’s not a scam, who does the hiring for this? I guess all sales/commission can technically, but it seems like they are exploiting young students. In which case, I would personally start a different organization to ACTUALLY get kids the money for school. Also, heads up! You students can get money from the government for free (not a loan!) if you qualify! I used to work for a marketing firm that went to highschools to tell kids about this. It used to be called Cash For College I think. (haha now I sound like an ad).

        There are better way to get money (and safer!).

        P.S. I live in Southern California and have had 2 different sets of kids come to my door. Very sketchy, very unsafe for all.

  2. 4 SVLee
    March 8, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Last night a kid who identified himself as Sahil showed up at our door. Similar story – disadvantaged family, accepted to SJSU, need points for a college scholarship, cancel within 30 days and get your money back. We have a “NO SOLICITORS” sign clearly posted on our door. When I pointed this out to him, it did not stop him. Perhaps I should have told him that ignoring a no solicitation notice is technically a crime (it really is). I told him that I already have a subscription to the Chronicle (and I really do), but that didn’t stop him either. He wouldn’t leave. My wife had a similar experience a month earlier. I suspect that this marketing company – California Newspaper Sales & Marketing, according to the Stanford Review article – is teaching their salesmen to make these pity pleas. They supposedly deny this sort of coaching, but it seems uncanny that _all_ their employees use the same story.

    I tried to look up this company via the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. No luck. There’s no company in their database with a name that comes close enough. I’m going to call the Chronicle later today to complain about this sales tactic. The Mercury News has an “Action Line” column in which people complain about various things and the reporter tries to help them out. It’s written by Dennis Rockstroh, email address actionline@mercurynews.com. I’m going to write him a letter of complaint. If all 3 of us (so far) write similar letters, I think it might prompt him to investigate this company, which is damaging the reputation of the Mercury News. Thoughts?

  3. 5 SVLee
    March 9, 2007 at 12:49 am

    So I did send a letter to Action Line. We’ll see if he actually responds.

  4. March 9, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Good deal SVLee. I’ll give it a shot if I can find the time and remember to. This week has been rather hectic.

  5. 7 kim
    January 15, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I have had them come by before several years ago and again today. The first time it happened years ago I read an article about it on the internet as they were trying to push magazines back then. TOday I’m not sure what they were trying to push because my dad and husband both cut them off too soon. All they got to say was they are trying to start up a business and trying to earn points. They did tell my dad it wouldn’t cost anything. The handed him some paper and he saw 1500$ at the top but didn’t really look any further.
    Several years back when I looked it up on the internet it said something about some flyby company that gets these kids to sell stuff and makes them work long hours and pays them little to nothing and they don’t get fed unless they sell a certain amount at the end of the day. I think that’s why they are so pushy. Supposedly they bring them in on a bus from somewhere and they are pretty much at the “employers” mercy I guess. I plan to try to locate that article again. I guess in a few years they will come around pushing cookies! I feel bad for the kids if all of that is true but there is no way I’m signing up for anything like that. I hate door to door sells and wil not buy no matter what it is, same for phone sells. (only exception MIGHT be girl scouts but they don’t really do it that way anymore.)

  6. 8 Tom
    March 8, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Ive had some kids come to my door also with the college speech, but I still helped them even though it most likely for college. It takes a lot of courage to walk door to door and talk to strangers. Also, the kids can become better speakers in class discussions because of their job. I do feel sorry for them because I wouldn’t want an individual treating my son or daughter bad if they were walking door to door.

  7. 9 anon
    July 3, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Look at this this way. You could work 40 hours at McDonalds for one week in order to make that same $500 for college. If you are poor, you can take out a government subsidized student loan and the government may give you a grant so that you can go to college.

    Think about how much time it would take to go door to door collecting 10 dollars for newspaper articles in order to reach enough points that earn you $500. Seems to me like you would have to sell at least 50 magazine subscriptions. I would think that your best bet is the government backed loans or McDonalds for one week.

    I lean towards this being a way of taking your credit card numbers for future use.

    Think about it another way. Why are they selling things for points? How do points really help them get to college? If I go and sell 10 magazines what am I going to get? A bunch of points? IF you’re trying to get to college you should be getting money.

  8. 10 ANNON
    August 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    It’s actually funny that I came upon this seeing as i just started selling the newspaper in my area just a few days ago. I actually was looking for a more efficient way to make money while also having the time to do school work and a school friend told me to come work with him. The very first thing he taught me was his pitch, which is pretty much the same, only difference being instead of 500 it’s 200 and it’s not based on points i would simply explain if i get 200 sign up I GET THIS MONEY and it’s 1000 not 500 in return. However on the same note i was warned the company does not support this, so as i’m doing now, I want to know other ways to get the same results.

    The truth is I AM putting this money to my education but I can’t convince you, the person i’m selling to, that unless i make you believe it’s not in MY CONTROL. If i got 200 in a month at max i’ve made 4000 dollar, that 4hours a day, that’s at the least 2000 i can put to school after bills and taking care of myself PLUS more time now in the day to work on school. The problem is I’m selling an outdated product, news can be obtained on the net, it’s offered free by many competitor, and unfortunely the company’s biggest competitor is much favored. As much as I don’t want to rely on this pitch it sells the product because now i’ve given YOU the buyer a good reason to buy from me, it make YOU feel like you’ve helped someone while at the same time getting something in return.

    It’s not about pity though it’s about given you a reason to buy the paper other then to wake up to depressing news every morning. As a student in my early twenties i’m smart enough to know that most people will think i just want to make money for fun. I want to make money I NEED TO MAKE MONEY, and i don’t have the time to be working two job and that’s is what i’m looking at doing if this doesn’t work out. If that happens, if i factor out sleep, i just might be able to get my school work ready but i’ll be in no shape for long term learning.

    Thanks though for posting this at least now i know the pitch creates suspension which was instantly my thoughts on it, but it’s hard not to use it when it’s made me 120 average a day so far.

    • 11 gabe
      October 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      120/8 is 15/hour, not bad but still harder than working at mcdonalds at 9.

      anyway, i always thought it was a identity theft scam. and as i do with any scammer, i stall them for as long as i can. i think i hold those kids for some 40min, half of that trying to make them reason what other work alternatives they have.

      this pitch is awful. it doesnt help that i get 2~3 for month around here. With the same pitch but sometimes for college sometimes for high school graduation, etc…. just make it clearer to me that it is a scam. if not scamming me, scamming the kids like you

  9. 12 Nate
    January 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I wanted to post because this is the first similar post I ran into when searching Google for just this scheme. A boy came to my door about 10 minutes ago asking if I wanted a subscription to a magazine. He had a speech slur, and was trying to explain how he could earn money for college by selling newspapers. I asked if there was some website I could look at and he gave me http://www.mercurynews.com/subscriberservices, but explained that he would only get money if I signed up with him directly. It was a pity plea and a hard sell, but I ended up saying no, because I know California already has grants and loans available for school, and the $22,000 estimate of school costs seemed high, if you start in a community college and then transfer to a state college as I did.

    I feel bad for the guy selling newspapers, but I have no sympathy for newspaper companies; except to say that they missed their chance to adopt technology quickly enough to stay relevant. It would be a cold person who wasn’t moved by the story, but ultimately it fails to add up.

  10. 13 KA
    March 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    The same just happend to me and the first thing that caught my attention was when the young man told me what high school he attended. Being a high school counselor, I know many of the schools in the district and in fact work at another high school just down the street from his. The problem was neither school is close to where I live, so I thought it was strange that he was going door-to-door so far from his own neighborhood. He have me his sales pitch and sad story and I admit he almost had me. When I asked him if he’d applied for financial aid, he said he didn’t qualify because he was undocumented. And like the previous post said, it would be a cold person who wasn’t moved by the story, but in the end it just didn’t add up. So, rather than give him any money, I asked him to stop by my office one day after school and I’d give him some information on scholarships available for undocumented students. I hope he takes me up on my offer.

  11. March 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I posted this over three years ago and I’m still surprised at how widespread this is. If people are willing, I’d be interested in knowing the general regions that this happened in.

    • 15 watch for the passenger vans full of kids
      November 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      Ive moved to La Mirada CA from neighboring Norwalk a year and a half ago. In the last 4 months ive had no less than 5 kids coming through with the following story: Im selling subcripitions to the Whittier Daily News, Ill get high school credits to use toward my graduation, Ill also get points toward a scholarship, I cant accept cash because one of our people was recently mugged, I can only accept checks or credit cards, you can cancel your subcription quickly just help me get my points.

      Im thinking to myself, nobody can “buy” credits to graduate high school, so I instantly recognize this as a ploy to get credit card and bank account numbers.

      I understand the soft spot that most of you have for wanting to help these kids and hence believing their stories, but please listen to this next part.

      Over the past 15 years in the L.A. area weve been bombarded by the “candy kids”, these kids who walk around with large plastic storage containers and try to sell cheap no brand name boxes of candy that look like theyve been obtained from the 99 cent store for anwhere from $5 to $15. The story is that theyre in a program to keep them from joining gangs, although theyre all dressed like theyre gang members, and that theyre trying to raise money to to go on a ski trip. Theyre extremely aggressive and prefer checks over cash. Myself and several of my friends and family have witnessed large passenger vans dropping off and picking up groups of kids with the large plastic boxes at regular times and locations all over town.

      It seems that the adults driving the vans are the recruiters and trainers. Theyre kind of stupid being that they routinely blanket the same areas over and over with different kids, so my neighbors and I are already hip to their game. My assertion is that the same organization has switched from the candy scam to the subscription scam. About five years ago one of our local news channels feaured an investigative report called “The Candy Kids”, which may explain why theyve switched to the subscription scam.

      I just had one of them knock on my door about a half an hour ago, and my wife who has just returned from the store says that she just saw a passenger van picking up a bunch of kids down the street. I guess thats why im P’d and prompted me to search for something on this and respond. GRRRR.

    • 16 Tony
      November 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      I live near Baltimore and a guy knocked on my door today selling subscription to the Baltimore Sun. No pity story. He said he was saving for college. He had his tuition set up but needed money for books, supplies, ect. He seemed like an honest guy. He said with every subscription he’d be given a set number of points. When he had enough points he’d be given a savings bond with a certain amount on it.

  12. 17 sortapissed
    April 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Was your program called “StayInSchool” or something like that? Seems to happen around the Palo Alto area. It happened to me.

  13. 18 straz
    May 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Just got caught by this in Irvine, CA — kid from Canyon HS pitching the OC Register.

    • 19 V
      December 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Canyon HS.. let’s just say I know that school very well… rich, rich kids… I also know this has NOTHING to do with Canyon High… I just got the pitch in Corona, CA OC Register…

  14. 20 spjika
    June 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    i just got taken in Richmond/Albany area… the girl was so cute and had such a good story! i feel like a sucker. But, I wish her all the best. Do you think they case homes this way? i’m feeling a little paranoid now.

  15. 21 NaiveOne
    July 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Spjika, I had the same thing happen in the Richmond El Cerrito area last night. I am new to the neighborhood and so I was feeling less sensible than usual. I also feel paranoid now.

  16. 22 Darcey
    August 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Happened in Atlanta, GA to me today. I just had a teenage boy come to my door saying he was selling a 3 month subscription to AJC. And that for signing up I would get a coupon book worth $1,000 and the money would help go towards a college fund, etc. I asked him why $19.95 since that wasn’t the cost of the paper and he said that you were only charging for the “delivery fee” not the paper. So I asked him if I enrolled would AJC bill me? And at first he said yes, so I told him that if I didn’t have to pay any money, and I would receive an official bill from AJC then go ahead and sign me up, he then replied that I would have to give him a credit card number and you would use that to bill me. So I told him no way, I wasn’t going to give him my card, and he then tried with “well, the way we do it is that my supervisor will call you and you’ll give him your number” – I again said no, that I was not going to give out my card info.

  17. 23 NaiveOne
    August 8, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I was told that I wouldn’t get charged or the money would be charged and go back into my credit card. Sure enough, my credit card got charged and I got a “this is not a bill” statement. I called the newspaper and told them to cancel and return the money to my card. They said they logged it as a “miscommunication.” I told them this was a lie and not a miscommunication.

  18. 24 Amanda
    August 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    It happens EVERY year here in the Stanford graduate student housing. I think all of us feel their pain and they end up getting a lot from us, even though it has always seemed suspicious.

  19. 25 Cindi
    August 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    This is happening in Largo, FL. We turned down two whining teenagers today. One who got defensive when I told her to stop begging and the other one was told he would have better luck getting an internship somewhere to put on his college application.

  20. 26 Adi
    August 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Happened to me 10 minutes ago here in Berkeley and 2 other times last year in my old apartment. It didn’t make sense to me that he was carrying only blank customer copies of sales receipts and then writing down order information on them without any vendor copies. First time this happened, I actually did sign up and never received the newspaper, which was the San Jose Mercury News (which I didn’t know we got up here). Not trusting them again.

  21. 27 upongame
    September 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    same thing happened to me tonight 9/17/10 this particular person said it was for college as well as he was try to do better with his life and his mom was dying from cancer, however when i was still disintreseted in what he was saying he began to show his fruastration lol i explained to him that i did not have a job myself and i dont even read the papper it just piles up at my door. he told me he would have it sent to his school instead…ummm no thanks he wanted the papper back as well but i did not feel bad this happens here Richmond CA, at least once a year so i know the deal. the only think that i dont understand is why do they come so late in the day about 8:30pm i didnt even think about it before but i came to my attention this time beacause I have a 1 year old child that was awakened by the door bell….pissed me off

  22. 28 Sue
    September 18, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Happened tonight (9/18) in Hayward Hills near Cal State East Bay. The story was almost the same. Sounds like a new round of ‘marketing’ has started again. Wish the pleas are more honest.

  23. 29 DeeplyCold
    October 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    We have been solicited 3 times for the San Jose Mercury News in zip code 95054 – Santa Clara, CA. They have now pitched this to my wife and I independently at the same address. These “students” are thorough and well practiced in their pitch, but I can’t stop thinking how much more successful they might be in selling cell phones or smokeless tobacco products at a mall kiosk.

    In my youth I sold greeting cards, candy bars for school athletics, and boy scouts raffle tickets. I even spent years selling computer products and software (though not door to door). If anyone admires the guts it must take to hear rejection over and over that these poor kids get it would be me. However, their pitch breaks down at precisely the point they have no city permit for solicitation, no paperwork showing the legitimacy of their college scholarship fund, and no website to review (come on it is 2010 and every one of those kids had a better cell phone than me).

    The final straw was when they came by after dark and rang the door bell 4 times and beat on the door until it woke me from a late nap. I snapped and told them firmly we were not interested and the police would be by momentarily to check their permit. Then I dialed the non-emergency number for the Santa Clara Police Department while the “student” stared me down from the sidewalk.

    I have no more sympathy or patience for San Jose Mercury News subscriptions, though I’d like to think that I always have time to encourage young people to seek more education.

  24. November 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Happened tonight in North Berkeley. They come by here often, some pitches better than others. I don’t usually give in at all but the boy tonight got me. I gave him 10 cash and he went on his way. Then I got feeling funny about it and found all these posts. I think next time I’ll just say no thank you. Oh well.

  25. 31 Mel Lin
    November 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Just happened here to us in Ventura County. We get the paper, so were ‘free’ from the pitch, but I’m so glad to get the varying perspectives here from previous posters.

  26. 32 dr cheater
    November 26, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I’ve came across boys who try to convice you to sign up for the local newspaper, claiming that in return they’ll receive a scholarship that would be used to pay for a specific university. i live in high land park los angeles and its not rare that weekly you’ll get kids knocking on your door trying to solicitate newspaper. just recently a young adult maybe in his early 20’s approached me while i was leaving my house on my way to the gym, he tried to convince me with his college speech that he needed to raise a certain amount of points to receive a scholarship. they dont provide any information that they’re actually doing it for a schalorship. when i ask him which hs he was attending, stutter telling me that he was attending the local hs here in highland park. whats funny is that when i asked him wheres the school located he couldnt remember. right at the moment i was convinced that he was lying. when i question him why was he lying he suddently turned bright red and tooked out his california i.d, saying that his name is Brian Cruz and that he had just Graduated from North hollywood high school. at last it all turned out that he was 19 years old going to turned 20 in a few months and that he wasnt a high school boy.

    • 33 ....
      November 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      Dr. Cheater and what you do to that kid when u found out that he lied??

    • 34 Door to Door
      July 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      and whats your point? he is a salesman trying to make a living…eventually he will learn how to sell the paper rather then trying to get a pity order. It’s good you question people at the door…. but you never said he told you his age in his pitch. In every door to door program I have ever worked for…the company sets aside 10 percent of his or her earnings each week to pay his taxes at the end of the year, some ask for more to be put in for a new car, tuition,, books, trips/….whatever his goals or ambitions in life are. It is ultimately up to the salesman to decide what they will do with their money just like you are. We all have choices… Do you think that kid wants to knock on doors the rest of his life. Eventually he will go to school and with life experience. Whats your kid gonna do…just go to college out straight out of highschool on your wallet…respect Door to door salesman selling paper….Brian cruz coulda just joined a gang…and coulda got killed…or killed your kid…..instead of trying to make a living… Just be honest with them and question them and teach them…. shoulda coulda woulda

      • 35 Annoyed
        October 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm

        Who the hell does door-to-door sales anymore? Just go work for WalMart, best buy, or any other retail store where ppl actually want what u r selling instead of annoying us late at night with something that no one uses anymore. What’s next? R u going to sell us sewing machines?

  27. 36 dr cheater
    November 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    well the truth he pissed me off not just for lying but also for waisting my time… i didnt called the police though he mustve scam others..

  28. 38 dr cheater
    November 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    He did not have a permit to be soliciting, and from what i’ve heard its a scam…

  29. 39 ....
    November 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    yea but from what ive heard you dont need a permit for that,well from where ever uve heard that there wrong.

  30. 40 dr cheater
    November 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    ohhh i see, so you once worked selling newspaper subscriptions.. so they exploit you? they push you to work hard, long hours for little money.. dont you think they’re taking advantage of all this little kids for them to be sitting in an office playing computer games.

  31. 41 ....
    November 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    no ive never worked in there,but im guessin you have because you sure seem to know alot of information about it..

  32. 42 Mike D.
    December 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I live right outside of Baltimore, this happens all the time. Three or four times when I was living at my old apartment last year sometime and just a few weeks ago at this new place. It’s funny tho the first time the kid said he would get credit if i just filled out this form and mailed it in, which i did. It had no billing info and was basically just a survey and he had his name signed on it too. I don’t know what that’s about, maybe you get some incentives for leads? I mean it doesn’t really bother me that much i used to do the whole selling siding and gutters thing door to door, it’s just annoying because like with this time they was all hanging out in the stairwell of the apartment building for an SUV to pick them up. I guess they got people taking them to different neighborhoods to canvas, a lot like selling siding and gutters and window seals and all that, those people never give college stories tho. Theres gotta be something more to it if all of these from san fran to baltimore always say that they need money for college and are trying to escape gang life…. strange

    • 43 Door to Door
      July 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      It’s called the Yes program….its a free paper for everyone but they need a signature and a real address to get paid…the order pays like shit…but it is a numbers game….$ 8.00 x 2000….not bad right
      whats funny though is that sometimes you can’t give away the paper…probably due to people always assuming things…stereo types…you know

      People….the newspaper is all about advertising… without advertising and legal ads there wouldnt be a paper…your tax dollars pay for the legal ads that keep that paper alive. the bigger the circulation the more money the paper gets for advertising… the paper pays big bucks for new subscribers because they will get it back 10X more … some people that knock on your door can make a very good living if they are good at it… so buy a subscription the next time someone knocks on your door.

  33. December 8, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    I want to thank everyone for posting their experiences. It’s interesting to see just how widespread this practice is.

    One Thing: Please keep the discussion civil. Any comments that degenerate into personal attacks will be trashed.

  34. 45 joe joe
    December 9, 2010 at 10:56 am

    this thread sucks! is that a personal attack? every1 is just saying the same thing how it happened to them once

  35. 46 Mike D.
    December 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Yea i didnt even say anything bad really and got deleted, this thread is some garbage

  36. 47 Jimmy Plainview
    January 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I live in Whittier, CA, and we get these kinds of solicitations once in a while, usually for the Whittier Daily News. I had always said no, though I do listen to their whole spiel and always turn them down in a courteous manner. About five years ago, I finally gave in order to test once and for all if indeed this was a legitimate offer (I was given a customer copy of the form). Sure enough, months went by and the Whittier Daily News never came. When I called the paper’s customer service line and explained the situtation, they said they had no record of any sort of subscription form. Since I intended this to be a test, and since I had only lost $10, I wasn’t angry or upset. However, in my eyes, this proved that indeed such solicitations are usually no good. Needless to say, though I no longer live at my parents’ house, I made sure to tell them to turn down every such solicitation. I am currently visitng my parents for a few weeks, and just about a half hour ago, at about 8:45 pm, I got a knock on my door from yet another solictor. I was a little puzzled by the lateness of the hour, but the kid seemed innocent enough and even showed me his community college I.D. I turned him down, but I did give him about 10 minutes worth of helpful (I think) advice regarding his college plans. I was a little surprised when he told me that he lived in a city about 10 miles away, and then he explained to me that a whole group of young solicitors are bused to different areas each night. Bottom line, I don’t think that most of these high school and college kids are scammers, and I have a certain amount of respect for them for having the courage (or perhaps stupidity) of walking through strange neighborhoods on a nightly basis, knocking door to door and being constantly rejected or ignored. However, whatever vendor company they work for provides very shady and inconsistent service- it might be less of a hassle just to give them the ten bucks and telling them to just pocket it.

  37. 48 LOS O
    February 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    All of your stories are very consistent and I always knew that there was something fishy about these kids coming door to door. I live in the area where the Whittier Daily News is covered. I have always turned them down in a courteous manner, even though it has always been the same story of trying to raise points for money for college. Just like the rest of you, so many great points of raising money like even working at McDonalds, getting student loans, and joining the military. Anyhow, there has been some kids that yes might actually be believeable. However, there was one time when I told one I was broke, unemployed, and still asking me that if I can find spare change around the house. Still, maintained my composure and still turned him down courteous. Still, some of these kids are innocent and I dont blame them for trying to make a quick buck. Just like a lot of door, non legit.

  38. 49 Donna M.
    February 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Yup–just happened to me a few minutes ago in Albany CA.
    Please don’t give in to them–it just encourages more of the same.

  39. 50 Greg B.
    February 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Just happened to me about five minutes ago in Glen Burnie, MD, a suburb of Baltimore, also 30 minutes away from D.C., for those who don’t know. It happens everywhere.

  40. 51 Lizzie McVeigh
    March 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Just had this happen to me a couple of minutes ago. It happens once in a while is Los Angeles, CA. It’s always the same story… that they come from a low income family or don’t have family at all… and what I have found consistent is that they always need 2 more people to sign up for subscriptions. I always tell them “sorry can’t help you out good luck…try talking to your counselor about financial aid…” What bothered me about this young man was that he didn’t listen and he started pleading and begging for me to help him out he was at the door for 10 minutes I didn’t want to shut the door on him. He finally gave up and left. So that prompted me to go on Google and try to see if its a scam.

  41. 52 Edward D.
    March 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Happened here in Burbank CA. I have been solicited twice already for LA Times and Daily News. Same M.O. and same stories.

    • 53 workingmom87
      March 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

      I came upon this dicussion looking for articles on a company I recently went to work for part time to see if there were any complaints on them. The company is a marketing agency working for the local newspaper who uses kids from troubled neighborhoods to sell the newspaper subscriptions for them. This same company also hires qualified adults to walk with these kids to make sure they are honest and respectful when they are doing this.

      The reason I have become suspicious and started researching this is I have talked at length with a few of the kids I have been assigned to as to how they were recruited to do this sort of thing and none of them could tell me why they were contacted just that someone had come to their school and signed them up for the program. I will say that so far it seems for the most part on the up and up to me. I have received a paycheck for walking with these kids 3 hours a night and I know several people who have signed up for the paper from them and did receive it just as they were told they would. I do not think it is a scam I think the newspapers now days are just hard up for customers and will go to any lengths to get them. I do know these kids are paid $3 for every $10 subscription they sell and they do earn points towards a savings bond but I do not know that there is any said restrictions on how they can use the bond in the future.

      I will also say that yes it does take a lot of courage to go door to door and face some of the things I have heard come out of the adults mouths that are on the other side of the door. I have seen one of the 14 year old girls I was working with walk away crying more than once. She has been talked to like she is a crminal more than once. She has even had some gentleman probably in his 30’s offer to give her “something other than money” if she would just come inside for a little while. You would not believe some of the things these kids hear! I know after the short time I have done this I have really thought about how I have treated such individuals that have come to my door to sell things and let me tell you I have a whole different outlook on it now.

      The kids I have worked with are all from not so wealthy families living in an area where they are lucky to make it through high school let alone go to college somewhere. Keep in mind that these are kids that range in age from 12 to 17 and have no control over how their parents chose to raise them. I am not saying you should support them many people feel our tax dollars already do that, all I am saying is do not be so quick to judge. I am sure all of the kids that participate in this are not going to use the money for what they say it is for but some of them have good intentions and even if you are not going to support them at least (if they are respectful to you) give them a little respect when you tell them you are not interested.

      By the way I live in the Dallas, Texas area.

      • 54 Private
        November 7, 2014 at 3:04 am

        I don’t find it wise or ethical to support companies that “work” 14-year-old girls three hours a night. I mean, that’s like a 7th or 8th grade kid. Is that sort of child labor even legal?

  42. 55 Monica
    April 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I just left my door and decided to look up whether or not this was a scam. While what you found might be legit, I still find it highly suspicious. I have kids knocking on my door for magazine and newspaper subscriptions, art and even had kids come a 6PM at night in the dark telling my husband she was a college student in religious studies and was selling books, twice.

    Anyhow, this kid claimed to be a high school student in some program dubbed BSO (forgot what it stands for that quick; Business students something or another) and that I would be helping him earn money for college if I buy a newspaper subscription. And just the same pitching a mile a minute. He was an African kid and had a major accent and talking like Speedy Gonzalez. Then what got me was the fact that he said I didn’t need to give him any cash, just credit or check. And when I heard that I’m like no way. I’m already broke enough why the hell would I give you my credit and bank info for you to walk away and steal my info. On top of that I noticed that the report sleeve that he had this BSO info in was ragged and dirty as well as looked as if it was printing on a home computer. Further the slip he wanted me to sign was even dirty. So I declined nicely and said no thank you and proceeded to close the door when he changes his plea to the fact that I would be keeping kids off the streets and out of gangs. Again, no thank you and he continues. So I said it again and he continues and so as I do with anyone who doesn’t listen to me I ever so softly shut the door. Because I didn’t want to be mean and slam it I just wanted to let him know that I meant no and let it go.

    I’m just a suspicious person because I grew up in a suspicious neighborhood. We used to get people knocking on our door at all times of the night selling and asking for everything. “I have some tools to sell.” At 2 am! Really. So I don’t trust anyone who comes to my door asking for anything, unless I am going to see the benefits of my purchase immediately. Like cookies and candy on the spot. And I definitely don’t trust anyone coming to my door asking for credit card and bank info. I don’t even trust the Pizza man when he comes to deliver and wants to see my credit card and make a carbon copy of it.

    All I’m saying is that it just seems so suspicious in a world where people are so dishonest and there are identity thieves lurking around every corner, coming to my door and asking for personal info and I don’t know you is crazy. I like to be helpful but I’m also not crazy either.

  43. 56 Tito G.
    April 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Early this month I subscribed with Chicago Suntimes and then a few weeks after, I subscribed a Local Newspaper (suburb of chicago) which apparently owned by the same newspaper company. Both subscription were made in the hope of helping a kid go to college.

    In total I have 3 subs. including Chicago tribune. All is well not until when my wife start noticing the stacks of newspaper accumulating in our garage.

    All I can say is that it is a cruel sales tactic and the newspaper company’s image will suffer in the long run.

  44. 57 j_in_chi
    May 20, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Same deal in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood of Chicago (a fairly wealthy neighborhood). It was a team of 4 hitting my street. They made it a point to try to shake my hand and I refused. I was rude, because it is rude for someone to interrupt me in my home, purposefully misleading me and trying to sell an outmoded product.

    The convo went something like this:
    Him: Hi my name is blahdiddyblah and I am…
    Me: What are you selling?
    Him: I am working to earn points for scholarship…
    Me: WHAT ARE YOU SELLING?
    Him: If you buy the Chicago Tribune from me, it helps me to earn a scholarsh…
    Me: I am not interested.
    Him: You can also donate to the scholarship fund…
    Me: No, move along.

    Seemed to take about 60 seconds to get rid of him. I generally have a rule that solicitors are not welcome unless they are bankers or prostitutes with free samples.

  45. 59 anon
    June 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    okay so this one kid came to my apartment just now and asked for me to subscribe to the san jose mercury news. Ive had this happened to me twice. and both times i helped them out. Now the question is, why are they doing this? are they even allowed to come knocking to people’s apartment doors? doesnt that mean they are soliciting? who do i call to complain about this to? i am sick of hearing their pity speech because i come from indonesia and even though they’re only asking for $20, that $20 is the equivalent to 200,000 indonesian rupiah. That could feed me for 3 days and i am a college student who is on a budget – its not like i make that $20 myself. the kid was saying how he is trying to get people to help him to go to santa clara university – a PRIVATE university that is super expensive ($35K) per year. WTF is he trying to do? rob people?

  46. 60 richard
    July 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    so i run a company selling newspapers door to door in canada i know the companys in states that do it and use the university pitch because it sells yes they get a bonus each year to use how they wish. my company doesnt use that pitch however i feel it scams the customers

  47. 61 kevin
    August 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    All you people should not be so rude to all this low income kids trying to earn a couple of bucks by going out there in the streets selling products. First, as some already mentioned earlier it takes courage to go door to door and offer a product to a stranger not knowing what he or she is expecting. Obviously you need a good sales speech to convince the customer to buy the product. So it’s not suspicious to see a young kid trying to sell you something as one should understand that at one point one should add a little story to the sales pitch, and that is what these this kids are doing ” giving a college speech.” How this works, is that newspaper companies hire people to sale more of their products, as these people become managers, they start hiring High school kids to work part time after school from the hours of 4-8pm. The kids get pay between 8 to 12 dollars for each product they sale, assuming they’re selling newspaper subscriptions. The kids are told to to give up a good sales speech. They get trained by their managers and learn to approach people in a nice manner by shaking peoples hand and starting wiith a good sales pitch. One of the main reasons these kids are told to give a college speech is because they’re not allowed to just knock on the door wait for the the person to come out and just throw in the words “hi im here selling newspaper subscription as it is 98% that the person at the door will not want the newspaper as the newspaper is not a great desire especially in this years. However, that is when this situation is turned into letting the customer know that they’re actually doing for a good cause of helping them go to college. Unfortunately, the more you sale the more money you get and at the end of the week their checks range between 100-250 as top sellers will get bonuses meaning extra cash or tickets to go to a baseball game or an amusement park. This is why this kids are very desideratum to sale. On the other hand, if this kids are not able to reach their quota as to the number of subscriptions they need to get at night, they’ll get fired. As so many kids want the job, the best ones will stay and the not so good ones will leave. I understand the effort that this kids show as they have a desire to want a job and have money on their pockets knowing that it’s harder for this kids to get hired at an early age. I’m writting this from past experience as i was once part of this teen jobs organizations years back and i would definately not be happy if i were to be label as a criminal or troublemaker by just going door to door and sell products.

  48. 62 mark
    September 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Everybody shouldn’t be so quick to judge this outgoing kids, most of their speeches consist of reality n their determination is just to see a better tomorrow…most parents look at these kids as positive role models at early age already thinking about the future…now in days what teenager do you see thinking about working?? Not many due to the reason parents provide everything…not every home is da same…what da program tries to teach is independence,self motivation,and ambition to reach ur goals….as well as giving them a different perspective in life…fact: kids that stay active n productive have a less percentage to get in trouble, rome the streets,and less gang interaction…so wen u see a teenager approach ur door give them atleast the respect, it takes courage, self motivation, and the want to provide for themselves n their families…and its not a scam everything is legit if it was ask urselves why has it been going on for so long???

    • 63 Private
      November 7, 2014 at 3:17 am

      “It is not a scam everything is legit if it was ask urselves why has it been going on for so long.”

      Ignoring the grammar and spelling in your quote, prostitution is illegal in my state, and it has been going on for quite some time. As long as there are people dumb enough to pay, the “legitimacy” of the act is irrelevant.

      These kids should get real jobs that pay real wages (even if it is Best Buy or whatever) rather than relying on a promise of easy money. Maybe if they worked for a legit company, they would even have more time to do homework and learn how to spell and write and get promoted to higher wage-earning jobs. Instead, they are seeing the ugliness of door-slamming and are learning that lying is a good way to take money from others.

      People posting in this thread are being lied to and scammed. Does that not bother you?

      If you want kids to learn independence and self-motivation, give them a legitimate with a company that promotes from within, and please, please add in a lesson about integrity.

  49. 64 DeeplyCold
    September 7, 2011 at 9:01 am

    @kevin and mark:

    I don’t think anyone on this thread is acting rude to these children. You should not be so quick to judge hard working adults who are concerned that these children may in fact be at risk of exploitation by disreputable companies selling newspaper subscriptions.

    I admire these teenagers for having the willingness to work hard and the courage to knock on my door and solicit. It’s a job I’ve done in the past and one could argue they’ve been given some real-life experience in an economy where jobs are scarce.

    HOWEVER, I draw a very strict line in my courteous behavior when after saying “No Thank You” to the pitch-person more than once and they start practicing discourteous behavior, such as:

    1. Sticking their foot in my door so that I am unable to close it
    2. Ringing my doorbell after dark
    3. Knocking and ringing my doorbell for over 5 minutes when I refuse to answer the door
    4. Lying to me about their plans to attend a particular school or study a particular major (there is a difference between someone who desires to simply go to college and not knowing how to get there vs. someone telling me a story about computer science and how they’ve been accepted to MIT – I’m in the industry, you would have been better off simply telling me that you are still in high school and unsure which school you will attend.)

    I repeat: their pitch breaks down at precisely the point they have no city permit for solicitation, no paperwork showing the legitimacy of their college scholarship fund (aside from that crazy laminated name tag with glitter and sticker stars on it), and no website to review (come on it is 2011 and every one of those kids had a better cell phone than me). These kids are “too good” and they likely could make more money selling cell phones or international calling cards.

    The San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle have lost ALL respect from me for this truly unethical circus that comes to my door every year. A curse upon both your houses, may your enterprises die and your journalists get the payroll and respect they deserve in the online community!

  50. 65 Bruce
    September 16, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Just had this happen to me in Mountain View, California. Some details:

    A young man knocked on my door at 8:00 tonight. He said his name was Brian (I think), and that he was trying to raise money for college by getting people to sign up for trial subscriptions to the Mercury News and the Chronicle. He offered Sunday delivery trial subscriptions to them for $20 each. He gave me his sales pitch for 15 or 20 minutes and I declined twice.

    He made the following statements:
    – 17-year-old orphan whose mom died of breast cancer when he was 10
    – Student at Palo Alto High School, (transfered this year) but started a little late so couldn’t play football
    – Wants to play football and study MCB (molecular and cell biology) at Stanford next year
    – My money goes to the paper. His money comes from advertising revenue.
    – Makes $200 a day
    – His earnings go to the state (into his 529) until he’s 18 since he’s an orphan
    – They had problems with the papers bothering subscribers in the past, but just got a new coordinator at the school. Now only the school (not the papers) will contact me. Coordinator is Alexandria Dugger, 650-376-0456. It’s her personal number.
    – Can post-date my check to prevent it being cashed until trial is over, and cancel subscription before then
    – He recommends the Chronicle, but some people get the Mercury News for the coupons.
    – Asked if I wanted to do “half support” (just one paper) or “full support” (both papers)
    – Can deliver to local hospital or school if I don’t want a subscription
    – He will deliver the paper himself every Sunday
    – I asked him if he’s looked into financial aid, but he just brushed off the questions

    I did some research:
    – Alexandria Dugger’s number is not a working number.
    – There is no MCB major at Stanford.
    – SJ Mercury News’s Yelp page has many complaints about similar situations.
    – Found this blog post.

    • 66 Bruce
      September 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

      I contacted the Mercury News action line about this situation, and worked with their director of circulation to resolve it. He intervened with the contractor who made this sale and will be returning my check. I was pretty impressed with how responsive they were.

  51. 67 Marie
    October 25, 2011 at 3:34 am

    If you subscribe for things like this, do you guys actually get newspapers? Or do you receive nothing in the weeks afterward? Let me explain:

    I had a kid come by last Saturday offering a trial for the Contra Costa Times/Valley Times to help raise points for some scholarship fund. Before I could even say hello, he started rapidly delivering his speech before finally having me fill out a form with my name and cell phone number. He even called my number with his own phone right in front of me to confirm it was mine, which is where I got really suspicious. He then asked me for a payment up front, which he assured I would get back once my trial was over. Right.

    The thing is, he was talking so fast that didn’t really give me a chance to get a word in about the fact that I was BROKE and had no money in my account since I had just paid bills. Even if I wanted to, there was no possible way I could pay. He ended up giving me a carbon copy of the form I filled out and said that he would just tell his employer that I paid cash, that I should expect a call, and to tell them that I paid so he wouldn’t “lose points.” I then thought nothing of it, since I didn’t lose anything, and I just brushed it off as a failed scam. But today, I actually got a call from a random 510 number confirming that I paid (when I really didn’t) and that I should start receiving papers within the week.

    For those of you who actually sign up, did you ever actually receive papers?

    • 68 Brant
      January 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Marie, your experience sounds almost identical to ours. We too we’re visited by a kid fairly late evening in early Jan. 2012. We haven’t gotten the call yet. Did you start receiving your barrage of papers??

  52. 69 S
    December 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I just had a young kid ring my bell. I’m always apprehensive when someone that I don’t know rings my bell but the kid looked young. He immediatley introduced himself and began his prepared speech…I gave him a couple of minutes but stopped him when he showed me the page (of his 3-ring binder) with a few newspaper subs. I explained to him that i appreciated that he was trying to raise money for college but that i didn’t trust the companies that hired kids to sell papers and that I thought what the companies were doing was questionable. I thought he was extremely polite and well-spoken (he enuciated every word and didn’t pepper his casual conversation with “likes” and “you-knows”) so I asked him how I could help him, I made a small donation to him and asked a few more questions. He said that he lived in Hayward (I live in San Jose) and that the “adult supervisor” dropped him (along with his brother & sister) off in my neighborhood and he should call the adult supervisor when they were done. I wished him luck and asked that he be safe because knocking on a stranger’s door seems extremely dangerous. He shook my hand, thanked me and left. The organization he worked for was called STEP, a non-profit he explained. While he was at the door I tried looking it up online but I didn’t have any luck.

  53. 70 J.J.
    December 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Around 9′ o clock, a teenager knocked on my door. I was expecting someone else, so I ran to the door, turned the porch light on and sadly, it was not the visitor I wanted to see. Too late though. I turned the light on too soon and the boy knew someone was home. I opened the door because he was yelling, “It’s your neighbor!” Obviously, it wasn’t. Well, he threw his sales pitch at me. My mom and I were standing right there, trying to understand what he was saying. He said something along the lines of…I’m selling the newspaper (Mercury News) for some college points and if I get 500, I get my scholarship. One point is $20 but fifteen points is $40. You have to pay up front. Forty students are doing the same thing. We come from the less priveleged. Well, in a week you should get a call from your school’s counselor, saying that you paid. Then in three weeks, they’ll call again canceling your subscription. So it’s like you’re helping me for free… My mom just wanted to pay $20 because she was skeptical. Being the passive people we are, we couldn’t say no at all. We gave him twenty dollars, he shook our hands and left. I’m a high school senior and he even told me that he’s seen me around school with my sister… that he was new there and just transferred… I’ve never seen him before and usually when there’s a new kid at my school, the word spreads fast. His story wasn’t making any sense either. He got accepted to UC Berkeley… have the UCs sent out acceptance letters yet? Even for early submission? After he left (he said his name was Barris) I looked this situation up immediately on Google. Found this discussion and felt even worse… The kids who received our money might not even put it to their education. I lost my mom $20. I felt bad to begin with. I was the one who opened the door. My family is also pretty down there in the gutters…I’m pretty sure we are hitting the poverty line. I’ll have to pay her back sometime. Well, I’m wondering, since he made us fill out our address and we paid…will we actually get a newspaper? I really just want to cancel the subscription, if it’s even a legitimate subscription.

  54. 71 spanos
    December 15, 2011 at 6:51 am

    I have had the same thing about five times over the past four years. Because I too value an education, I have donated. I don’t need or want the Chicago Tribune because we get it at work. Last night was the last time. A young man obviously not from the neighborhood (my neighborhood is Greek, Korean, Mexican, Filipino, and Middle Eastern) showed up at my door with the same scholarship spiel. I donated and oops, he ran out receipts. It was $15 so not a huge sum to be swindled out of. Later that night when I took the dogs out I noticed my umbrella was gone. That rat stole my little, black umbrella! It could only be him because my bungalow’s covered porch is dark and the umbrella is black. The only way you could know it was there was if you came all the way up stairs and had me turn on the porch light. Hope he doesn’t run across me on the street.

  55. 72 Sohnjay
    December 22, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Guys guys…hey i WORK at this program. we earn 9$ per sale..and yes we spend it on whatever. YOU got the paper free because he got a donation from someone else! We do that all the time. We work 5 hours a day 😦 sometimes i would not earn anythin!! Dis is VEERY widespread! ❤

  56. 73 Bradisrad
    January 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I used to sell subscriptions door to door for Orlando sentinel. We make $4 commission for a 13 week trial period for a wed-sun/fri-sun we make higher commissions for higher things ($20 for a daily & Sunday 52 week) point is, a lot of these kids see this as their job and yea, the money you give us is what we recieve as payment, donations make up 75% of your income working this way, and I never asked for much. You talk to about 100 people a day, and everyone gives you $1? I’m perfectly fine with that. The scholarship is a lie and the crew managers tell you to say it. It’s a job filled with deceit but the kids in this article sound obnoxious. If no one ever wanted to give me anything I politely said “alright it’s no problem, you can keep the paper, but have a great day!” with a smile on my face and it was on to the next one, some kids do save their money for scholarships. Not all of them are scumbags, I’d put myself in the middle, I sold alright and made lots of Dono but was never a dick about anything. Hope I shed some light

  57. 74 Brant
    January 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    My experience is almost identical to Marie’s from Oct. 15, 2011. A teenage kid came to our door (North Berkeley) around 9-9:30pm about 2-3 weeks ago. When I told him that we couldn’t afford to pay anything he told me that his school would pay for it (pretty strange) and all I had to do was tell the company, when they called, that we already paid. After the trail period we only had to cancel. He asked that we at least wait ’til the end of the trail period so that he wouldn’t lose points.

    • 75 Nathan
      April 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      That means he received donations from your neighbors and that he could give it to you for free cuz someone already payed for it schools aren’t involved in programs like this

  58. 76 rich p
    January 28, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I found this by googling “alexandra dugger” as that was the councelors name i was given. I’ve had credit card fraud the day after giving my donation. The stories match those above, i’m in berkeley. I feel like an idiot, but this is bad…”good” seeming kids with a credible plea

    • 77 Bruce
      January 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Hi Rich,

      Your experience makes it sound like the same crew is probably still out there using the same tactics–maybe even the same salesperson, although I was assured that he had been fired, and his company had been fined.

      After my experience, I spoke to these two people:
      – Lionel Bart Beaulieu (bbeaulieu@bayareanewsgroup.com / 925-302-1577), circulation manager at Bay Area News Group
      – Neil R. Hall (nhall@sfchronicle.com / 415-777-6788), outside sales manager at the San Francisco Chronicle

      Mr. Beaulieu wrote to me:

      “The sales person […] has been let go. All vendors know that fines for this sort of mis-representation can be issued. In this case the vendor is being fined the maximum amount of $1000. We can not have anyone conducting business that results in negatively impact the reputation of the San Jose Mercury News.”

      “The fines are something that we have now rolled out to combat this problem. Time will tell if they were successful. If not contracts can and will be cancelled.”

      I’d like to follow up with Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Hall, and/or the district attorney or attorney general about your experience and the others described here. It really bugs me that this continues to happen. It’s likely that for every person who posts here, there are many (hundreds of?) other people who are being silently taken advantage of by these fraudulent sales teams. I’d like to get to the root of the problem.

      Can you provide more details on your experience? Thing like:
      – which newspaper
      – which day and time
      – location
      – salesperson’s name/appearance
      – what they told you
      – invoice number, if you purchased a subscription (this is especially useful since it can be used to track down which contractor made the sale)

      I realize that you may not want to post some of this information publicly, so feel free to contact me personally at inbox@brucec.net.

      If anyone else has more details, I’d also be interested in those.

      Thanks!

      –Bruce

      * Bay Area News Group publications include:
      San Jose Mercury News
      The San Mateo County Times
      The Contra Costa Times
      The East County Times
      The Valley Times / San Ramon Valley Times
      The Oakland Tribune
      Alameda Times-Star
      Palo Alto Daily News
      Santa Cruz Sentinel
      The Argus / The Daily Review
      Tri-Valley Herald / San Joaquin Herald

  59. 78 J.T.
    February 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    This just happened to me in Sacramento, CA. I felt bad for the kid and his story and although suspicious I finally gave in and signed up for the trial. And, now I am freaked out about what can be done with my personal information. I did not give my credit card information, but did write a check for the 5-week trial, which I was told that I would have to call the newspaper (Sacramento Bee) after the 5-week trial to cancel the subscription.

    It sounds from the previous postings, that the kids are actually getting paid and not getting scholarships. Which is horrible, because the reason why I signed up was to help a kid get an education. But, what is most disturbing is that I am worried about fraudulent charges to my bank account. Any suggestions?

    • 79 Nathan
      April 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      I work for a program like this in Las Vegas your accounts fine the trick to our program is cash and check are how it makes the trial a one time thing using credit or debut cards gives them the right to automatically renue it

  60. 80 rich p
    February 13, 2012 at 7:14 am

    thanks Bruce,

    I’m pursuing this with both papers. they think that they can track this down through the sales person.

    For me, the credit card fraud the very next day was too much to be coincidence. The name “Alexandra Dugger” was used as the school councilor, and when I pursued it through the web, this name came up in individual’s reports of such exploitative, dishonest practices as those listed above.

    I guess the “no solicitors” notice will now go up on our door too.

    Rich

  61. 81 cube
    March 21, 2012 at 9:58 am

    A kid came to my door last night around 7PM in SF 94131.
    Said he wasnt there to sell me anything, then proceeded to get into micro machines sales pitch mode.
    Said he had been accepted to San Jose State Univ and produced a copy of some type of certificate which had been forged. I don’t recall universities providing full color diploma-looking acceptance certificates.
    Told me both his parents died when he was young and he was in foster care, and that today would have been his mother’s birthday. (extra guilt points)
    Said that if he earns enough points he would get $22,500 for tuition and books at school.
    Asked for $20 cash for a subscription to the Chronicle with a Money Back Guarantee and he knows I probably dont want the paper so he will have it delivered to a school.
    Offered up his full (fake, i’m sure) name and offered to give me his contact details and SSN which I declined.
    I told him I cant help him nicely and he would not let it go, so I just repeated congratulations on being accepted to school but I could not help him. That was met with pleas of “it’s only $20” and a sad glare.
    I’m pretty sure I fell for this scam 16 years ago as a college freshman in the opposite corner of the country. Never again.

    • 82 Er
      August 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Oh! He was back at stanford graduate housing tonight…. He has an awsome pitch…. I nearly went for it but my wife had taken the checkbook and I wasnt about to give him my cc. He ha a young apprentice with him who wasnt nearly as fluid with his talking points.

  62. 83 David G.
    April 6, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Here in Berkeley, we get these kids coming to our door a couple of times a year. I think I’ve ordered subscriptions from them three times and declined half a dozen times or more. I’ve always been skeptical, and also lament the fact that these kids may not have much other options for earning money.

    One other tactic that they use, which I haven’t seen mentioned above, is they say that I can buy the subscription and then, if I don’t want to get the newspaper, donate it to a school. I did this a few months ago, but the check I paid with was never cashed. Last night, I got “hit” again. I figured, since I didn’t get charged last time, it wouldn’t hurt me to “help this kid out with his college dreams.” A new twist was that he said the company would call me later to confirm the sale, and he said that I would have to provide specific information in order to activate my subscription. We’ll see if they actually call.

  63. June 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    It appears to me that this website doesnt download on a Motorola Droid. Are other folks getting the same problem? I like this website and dont want to have to miss it whenever Im away from my computer.

  64. 85 Haley
    June 20, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I hope none of you do this. I worked for these people for 4 months and they did nothing for the kids. They said that after the kids got to a certain goal then they would draw a name out of a hat to see who won the 500 dollars for college. They never did it. I was a manager here and had so many complaints from the kid’s parents saying that the kids weren’t getting paid. I was also told by myy manager that the newspaper did not even profit off of it. That they were actually losing money because of. I am still out over 200 dollars and noone is returning my calls, I still have kid’s parents checking in on me to see if I got through to the main boss. It was a complete scam and I cannot believe that my own small home town newspaper would do this.

  65. 87 Haley
    June 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Michael Detherage is running one of these programs. Do not fall for this scam. You may get the newspaper but if you give them your credit card number for the three month subscription they keep it and keep renewing it without you knowing.

    • 88 Door to Door
      July 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      That’s the newspaper dumb ass… its not the salesman…read your contract the kid gave you. you signed up for easy pay.

  66. June 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I happened to stumble upon this discussion post today because I was searching for ways to boost my own door-to-door sales tactics. I have read through many of your replies and although I do not know about the particular area in California being discussed, newspaper sales is widespread throughout the country. This is a big way for the newspaper companies to obtain new subcribers. If it wasn’t for these students going door-to-door then the people working in the office at the “newspaper companies” would not have a job and neither would the people delivering the newspapers. I do know about this industry and some programs offer scholarships as long as the students produce a certain amount of orders throughout the year. The employees typically get paid on a regualar basis by check. Some students who do well in the program make way more money than they ever would working for minimum wage jobs. Selling newspaper subscriptions is not easy and most people are not good at it, but those that are see the opportunity of the “sales world.” Also selling newspapers, unlike magazines, is protected by the 1st Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the PRESS(newspaper); or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    Thanks for reading.

    • 90 Door to Door
      July 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Long live The Paper !! Bravo !

    • 91 MammaDuca
      January 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      >”If it weren’t for these students going door-to-door then the people working in the office at the “newspaper companies” would not have a job”

      I don’t think newspaper staff should expect to have their jobs long by relying on a tactic that alienates potential customers.

  67. 92 Philip
    June 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I was solicited yesterday in Berkeley. I initially gave in to the story just to help the kid out, as I get all my news online and have no use for a paper. He said a company was paying for the subscription for the first two months and then I could cancel afterwards and that I would be called by an associate to confirm the “purchase”. So, I gave him my name and number and address and that was that. He tried to be nice and offered to pick up the paper if I didn’t want it, but that niceness felt more like weirdness, like I’d be okay with someone I don’t know coming to my house all the time to pick up a paper I didn’t want.

    I honestly don’t know if this is a scam or for real, but either way, I just wasn’t feeling like I would be able to deal with this down the line, being screwed over by too many organizations in the past. I would have probably just given him a donation of $10 if he asked. Anyways, I just got the call after reading these posts and told them I wasn’t interested after all. For one, the receipt didn’t have any website or official organization associated with it. It was some kind of “offer” boilerplate. This just seems like all around weirdness and I’m just not willing to deal with it. I’m a grad student myself and know that school would not be possible for me without student loans. I’m sure this person could do the same if they were serious about going to school.

  68. 93 Door to Door
    July 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    This is a pretty old post but I can’t leave it without my 2 cents as a fellow door to door salesman. In every field and I mean every field!! politicians, electricians, roofers, cable installers, teachers, police, you name it…etc etc.. there are bad seeds….so why pick on the little guy working in the snow , heat, getting doors slammed in their face, getting bit by dogs, and being told NO! , twenty thousand times a day. It takes a gift to go door to door and talk to strangers trying to sell anything especially dealing with idiots like the person who wrote this blog… clueless people !! you make me laugh. ha ha ha. I sell paper for local Newspapers, the heat today was 115 degrees…Just turned 41 yesterday and have been selling door to door or business to business since I to was 15. When we first start out we are clueless and scared , it’s pretty scary at first to go door to door asking someone to buy something your not really familiar with, but you keep doing it because your parents are proud of you, or your parents abuse you and you want out of the house, or because your just a go getter and want to do something with your life. Do not be so closed minded folks… smile, laugh with them, they may make your day. This is the most honest way to sell a product, most of you buy off the internet now a days on Ebay , craigs list,,etc. there are more scams there than anywhere. If a young man or woman looks you in the eyes and has the courage to talk to you… give him respect
    This is what happens to a society that stays in doors besides work, plays video games or works too much on the internet… wake up people !! love your neighbor…. lets bring back culture…get involved…most of you complaining on here don’t even know whats going on in your community. The kid that knocks on your door does…he just talked to all your neighbors… and guess what if you were rude to him…he’s gonna let all your neighbors no you were a DICK.

    • 94 MammaDuca
      January 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Door to Door – The reason it’s a problem is because this is a duplicitous scam. Yes, we can agree to respect the salesman. The issue we have here is with the product, the fact that the money is not going where they say it’s going, and the terrible customer service. Just because someone is knocking on my door doesn’t mean I have to buy a product I don’t want, can’t use, and can’t get rid of. It’s the product, not the salesperson.

  69. 95 MammaDuca
    January 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I was solicited this evening in Alameda by 2 kids, one of whom gave the pitch of being a high school student who lived on my block and wanted to go to UC Berkeley but needed money for his college fund. He raced on, explaining it was only $5.95 for 3 months, and after that it would be cancelled automatically. “What’s there to think about?”

    Oh, he pitched hard. It was at least 10 minutes of pitching. And I felt bad for him, and wanted to help him — without handing out any personal information on some vague form of his. Despite the many inconsistencies in his stories, I was about to give him $20 cash when I asked him where he lived on the block (casually, to make conversation). He didn’t know. I asked him to name the cross street of where he lived, and he claimed he didn’t know. We went over it for several minutes, and the longer he didn’t know the cross street of his own home, the less I believe the whole story and the more I felt like I was being scammed.

    “We’re done now. I’m not doing it anymore,” I told him. He got upset, of course. He couldn’t understand why a cross street was so important. Because without it, he had lost my trust–*and* the sale. So, as a salesman, I hope he learns the lesson: retaining trust is paramount to making sales. And I hope my neighbors learn to trust their gut, and feel comfortable questioning marketing and sales tactics used for duplicitous purposes.

    • 96 Digitalfluid
      January 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      I just had this happen to me today.
      Kid rings the doorbell, talks to me the same exact speech about 500 points for getting college funding and to sign up for 5.99 for a trial subscription to newspaper and a coupon book worth xxx dollars.
      After I said I could not give out any money at the moment, he brought up my car then asked for a donation..

      What made me super suspicious was signing up with a check or credit card only and his consistent asking the same question as to why not and to please give a donation or give the spiel over again..

      I must have said 15-20 times that I cannot give him the money… until he reluctantly left the house. It is kind of scary and it upsets me that newspapers are using these tactics to get subscriptions than to find other methods to push their brand which is deteriorating at a rapid rate.

  70. 97 taylor
    January 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    This is legitimate. Look up circulation marketing inc. We have kids working getting paid ten dollars per sale commission only selling anywhere from 5-50 sales per pay week. Pay period is from Fri to thurs! That’s right. Were the GOOD GUYS.

  71. 99 AnonymousSalesPerson
    April 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Look; not everyone who sells newspapers door to door is a scammer. There are many quite reputable companies selling newspapers who are legitimate and professional- even while employing students. With that said, it is up to you; the customer; to use your head.

    PS, it is very possible to say no in a nice way; common courtesy is always applicable, and your politeness is greatly appreciated.

  72. April 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Why users still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe the whole thing
    is available on net?

  73. 101 Nathan
    April 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Yes your suspicions are correct I’m sixteen and live in Vegas and do the same job you guys are so curious of so here’s the answer to all your questions.
    It’s just a regular solicitation job but for teenager
    The money is not put into college bonds or tuitions but is given to the teen in cash every week
    The sales pitch is just a sales pitch
    It’s an extremely hard job one of the hardest no matter what anyone says walking around for hours while hormones are still in affect hearing no a billion times is frustrating
    So next time u see a kid out in your neighborhood working trying to make money legally instead of at home one the couch doing drugs and robbing houses
    Remember that real jobs are hard to find 25 bucks isn’t much and that theve probably left your door crying
    Even if u really have no money to help which it seems like that’s what every door says at least spare a bottle of water or a motivational remark

  74. 102 Cort
    April 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Two years in a row now, we’ve had a young man come to our door claiming to be selling subscriptions to the Chicago Tribune so they could earn scholarship money for college. I have always wondered whether it is legit or not.

  75. 103 ao
    April 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Just happend to me: The girl was selling the L.A. Times, and was testy when I said I wanted to research it first. Very scripted. Had snappy come-backs to all of my doubts.

  76. May 8, 2013 at 12:33 am

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  77. 105 limabean
    May 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I am so sick of these kids. Im sorry but I have a no soliciting sign. There have been 7 different kids selling the same paper, same script, all get angry when I say no – one of them kept inching closer to me say ‘ya but why’ over and over. Dude! The first kid that came to my door I signed up, I get the paper, I am sorry!! Also please respect the no soliciting sign. They are really agressive. I understand you need the money, but come on.

  78. June 19, 2013 at 10:59 am

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  79. 107 raddd
    June 29, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I had this happen twice and it was the same girl. She was even pleading to clean our house just for us to buy the subscription for the los angeles times. But she said she needed it for credits for school because she was behind on credits to graduate. As soon as she said that I was beginning to think “now why would schools be letting kids get credits for selling things, it doesnt teach them anything” i told her no politely. And when she went away i flashed back to my high school years. I earned my credits fair and square and so did my friends. Of course I never had problems with failing any classes but my one of my friends did but he managed to pick up the pace again. He even graduated with me. Even if this was something real, I wouldnt support this girl or anyone who pleas for credits towards school work. They have to EARN it. My friend had to take classes outside of school just to get credits. If he can do it ANYONE can. I may seem very harsh but this is how i see it as. It’s their fault for not taking school seriously when they could so the consequences are catching up to them now.

  80. 108 Gary
    July 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Today a young girl approached me while I was working in the front yard. She said she was a “neighbor”, living a couple of blocks away. She told me that she was a senior in the local high school and was working to earn money for college tuition by selling 8-week trial subscriptions to a couple of newspapers, the Pasadena Star-News and the L.A. Times. I asked her a few questions regarding her plans for college and her answers seemed legit. I then asked her if the company had a permit from the city. She said the yes, the company had a permit but I failed to ask to see a copy of it. My bad. If I had I doubt if she would be able to show it to me. Anyhow, I bought a subscription after filling out a legit looking L.A. Times form. It stated on the form “No Cash or Donations Please” so for payment she asked for a check or credit card number. I opted to give her a check and at that point she said that the company was “going green” and that I should just write “Void” on the check and that it would be electronically debited. I gave her the check and asked her to write the company name and phone number plus her name. The info she gave me was B.T.O. Program at (800) 354-2406. I’ll withhold her name for the time being in case she’s being duped as well. I wished her luck with her sales and her education plans and she walked down the sidewalk. I assumed she was going to the neighbors house to continue her sales. I went in to check the phone number she gave me and it turned out that the number had been disconnected. When I went out to catch up with her and ask about this and ask for my check back I saw her in a car across the street that was just pulling away from the curb. By the time I could go in and get my car keys and get my car out the driveway she was out of sight. At the bottom of the street she could have gone left or right and within a half block in either direction she could have again gone either north or south. Needless to say I didn’t catch up with her.

    I called my bank and explained what happened and the banker said that the danger is that she, and the company she worked for, now have my routing and account numbers and they could order checks in my name and use them and also used the info for electronic debits. His recommendation was to migrate the money in my checking account to a new account with a new number and to put a freeze on the original account. I would have to update any companies that use my account number for automatic debits like my gym and a couple of online companies that I get products from on a monthly basis as well as renewing several automatic payments I was making through my bank’s web page such as my Sprint bill, trash pickup bill and a few others that had a set monthly payment. The banker said that even though they might only debit the account for the roughly $20 for the newspaper subscription at this time, he said that once they get your info it could be used to drain money from your account months or even years in the future. I didn’t want to take the chance so I opted to open the new account. From now on no more door-to-door sales people will get my business.

    I hope this information helps someone else before they encounter one of these kids.

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  82. 110 Rachel
    September 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    A few minutes ago, a young man came to my door with the same proposal. He said he was a neighbor going to City College of SF, and just needed my address and phone number to sign up. He said that I didn’t need to give him any money, because his school was paying for the subscription. Having recently graduated, I ignored the icky feeling in my gut because I feel the pain of student loan debt, and he never asked for a check or credit card number. He said that all that was important is that when the papers called to verify my address, I tell them that I still want the paper, so he can “get credit”. When I tried to search this program with City College SF, I found nothing. I’m starting to feel slightly paranoid that perhaps this is fake and was some way for this person to case my apartment (although my windows were open and it’s a very hot day, he could see inside without me opening my door). I’m slightly reassured because this does just seem like a petty tactic on the part of the paper, but I do want to protect myself…

  83. 111 Rebecca
    September 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    About an hour ago, two boys came to our door. One was African-American, wearing a tie and a white shirt, but he didn’t talk. The other might have been Latino, and he had his pitch down cold. I told him that I was currently out of work, so we wouldn’t be able to buy into the newspaper “trial.” He said that it wouldn’t cost anything because we could cancel it before we had to pay anything.

    I said, “This is for a scholarship?” He said it was. I said that I used to work for a scholarship organization (which I did), and that I’d be happy to write down the website addresses for him to look up on the web. He tried his pitch one more time, and I declined again. He quickly said, “Have a nice evening” and flew away from my door — on to the next person, I presume.

    If anyone would like to offer website information to kids who are “working for scholarship money,” it’s easy to pass along the names of some organizations that offer scholarship opportunities. The ones for minority students are: Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF.net), United Negro College Fund (uncf.org), American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (aigcs.org), and Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (apiasf.org). All four of these organizations work on the Gates Millennium Scholarship (info at gmsp.org), which is a very selective scholarship for low-income, minority students with high high-school grades, leadership and/or service background, and the desire to serve others. In fact, if one were to use “Gates” and “scholarship” as search terms in a browser, it would be easy to find one’s way to all of these organizations.

    It’s too bad that these fairly enterprising and articulate young people don’t have anyone to help them channel their energies into activities that truly would be profitable over the long haul.

    Two other notes that may be of interest:
    1) Race- and ethnicity-based scholarships make up less than 10% of available college funding opportunities.
    2) Many scholarships will not cover a family’s EFC (Expected Family Contribution), which is based on a variety of factors. Paying the EFC almost always feels like it’s a much larger amount than a family can handle; it is a huge sacrifice — that is, it requires giving up other positive things in life, not just sweeping aside the excesses. If circumstances have changed after families submit their financial information, take *documentation* of those new circumstances to the financial aid office and request that the EFC be recalculated.

  84. 112 Allen C.
    September 9, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Just had a guy for the San Jose Mercury News come by in Sunnyvale, CA. I stepped inside for my checkbook, checked Yelp and then had to politely tell him to leave.

    The Bay Area News Group, parent company of the Mercury News, has a F on the Better Business Bureau for failure to respond to all these complaints.

    As for the salesmen posting here, the whole ‘it will auto cancel in 8 weeks’ thing appears to lead to many people being sent to collections, namely to Coast to Coast Credit. Your customers expect the paper to cancel and then when it doesn’t, they end up with an unpaid bill and have to deal with a potential strike to their credit rating and having to sort the entire thing out with a credit agency. If you want to come up with a sales pitch, come up with one that does no harm and doesn’t end up with people having credit issues.

  85. 113 Allen C.
    September 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Just had a guy for the San Jose Mercury News come by in Sunnyvale, CA. I stepped inside for my checkbook, checked Yelp and then had to politely tell him to leave. Kid had the standard story about doing this for college.

    The Bay Area News Group, parent company of the Mercury News, has a F on the Better Business Bureau for failure to respond to all these complaints.

    As for the salesmen posting here, the whole ‘it will auto cancel in 8 weeks’ thing appears to lead to many people being sent to collections, namely to Coast to Coast Credit. Your customers expect the paper to cancel and then when it doesn’t, they end up with an unpaid bill and have to deal with a potential strike to their credit rating and having to sort the entire thing out with a credit agency. If you want to come up with a sales pitch, come up with one that does no harm and doesn’t end up with people having credit issues.

    I dialed the police non emergency number and they actually ran the whole crew off, since our complex is marked no soliciting. The officers told me this is extremely common and while yes it sucks to be the kids, once the collection agency gets their hands on your info, it sucks to be you as well.

  86. September 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    This is all fucking ridiculous. All of you are stereotypical. I have worked for a contracting company for a chicagoland based newspaper for almost 2 years now. I go door to door and also manage my own crew of sales reps. We don’t lie at the door, we really get a scholarship out of it (I would not have been able to afford going to Purdue otherwise), we work reasonable hours (3-5 a day), get lunch breaks, treat everyone equally and with respect that work here, and I make over $600 a week (more than both my parents combined). This is an amazing program that I believe anyone who is looking for a great future should experience. I hate when people stereotype me as a scam artist and I take it very offensively. I am only doing my job just as everyone else does. I don’t go up to business owners and call them scumbags, or go to religious leaders and call them Jesus freaks. Yes, there are corrupt people out there and I have seen it first hand, but everyone is different and we all deserve a chance.

  87. October 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    This just happened to us tonight, my dad answered the door. Perrrrfect, my dad could be very gullible. I got to the door and wished them luck but told them that we are not interested. They wouldnt leave!!!! Ultimately they made my dad feel guilty and he handed them ten dollars. It got all of us soo upset, our dad has never been the type to just hand money to us without earning it. I’ve had to work two jobs at a time. Both, my sister and I are in college and both work. I just can’t stand pitiful people.
    Maybe I’m proud but I like earning my money fairly without having to give a pity speech.

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  89. 117 Lauren
    January 8, 2014 at 10:23 am

    It’s official, I’m very gullible! My father wouldn’t be proud. This just happened to me last night at about 6:30pm. Why always so late at night? Do they have to do their homework first? After his “to go to college” speech I gave in! I don’t know why, since I know you can get grants and loans! This kid was the best salesman ever, I was so impressed! It didn’t help that my daughter was standing right there saying “come on mom!” I gave him my card which he did a rubbing of! So that made me sketchy even more! So of course I felt I needed to google it. Found this page and got completely scared. I was thinking about it all night! This morning I called The Sun in San Bernardino CA which is what I “subscribed to” THANKFULLY It was not a scam…well kinda…The whole college thing was. But they won’t be stealing my identity or not deliver my paper. The do send out door to door (mostly teenagers) sales reps. The woman at The Sun confirmed that I could cancel at any time. So all in all I fucked up, but not as bad as I thought! I hope this info helps others. When in doubt call the number to the newspaper!

  90. 118 Mrs_a
    January 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Someone came by my house, at 9 PM! Trying to sell me a paper. Same “for tuition” story as everyone else heard. He was nice, polite kid. What threw me off was asking for a donation. I live in the Inland Empire, southern CA. Tried to google the name of the group “B.S.O.” This is where I landed.

  91. 119 Meme
    February 6, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I just received this same story! Young man claims to be finishing college soon. Said he needed points to get money for college. I’m reading the documentation I received because I like to read about stuff before I sign up. Company name is Los Angeles News Group. The kid claimed to be apart of One Voice LA.
    I don’t have a problem buying a subscription from an honest person or donating to youths in need.
    This is not sales! It sure in hell ain’t a way to make an honest living!

  92. 120 Janice
    February 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    A high school/college kid came knocking on my door last night, initially telling me that he’s not trying to sell me anything, gives me a sob story (his parents are dead, his 2 brothers are in jail, and his sister’s still in school) and that he’s trying to earn points buy selling newspaper subscriptions to pay for college. I felt bad but told him “I’m sorry but I’m not interested” and yet he was persistent to the point of asking for any handouts. Ultimately nothing was given but I did ponder about the situation throughout the night. I did a internet search on this and found this site in one of my searches. This happened in the San Francisco bay area.

  93. 121 Mr soliciter :)
    March 10, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Haha I sell subscriptions and all we get paid is 6 bucks a sale on commission it’s not much but it adds up. There’s quite a bit of compassionate idiots out there. We get a ton of bounus money for selling more than everyone else on our team. But moral of the story if you are reading this is unless you actualy want that shitty paper don’t fork over the 20 bucks. I make about 150 every 3 days I do it so yeah it pays alright if you’re a good salesman.

  94. March 30, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I keep a supply of granola bars in my backpack to give to anyone who asks for money for food. I keep a box of inexpensive Cheerios in the car, in case someone requests help when I’m out of the house. It would be easy enough to put a box of granola bars by the front door for any kids who are soliciting — maybe supplement that with $1 and some college advice for a kid with a good sales pitch. If these kids are talented, there are so many other things they could be doing! I don’t mind helping them with a little food, but I cannot afford to purchase a paper I’m not going to read.

  95. May 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm

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  99. 127 Maria
    June 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Same thing happened to me. This kids shared the information about college and all that. I felt bad so I signed up.

    I just want to know if it’s a scam because I just wrote him a voided check!!!! Someone who also signed up let me know please! And also let me know if it’s easy to cancelml.

    Thanks

  100. 129 Mike
    June 24, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I had a kid come to my door today in Alameda. He did not have a sob story. I gave him $15. The pitch seemed like BS but not as bad as the kid that came to my door in San Jose.

  101. 130 Tina
    July 11, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I’m in Van Nuys (Los Angeles), CA Same story as everyone else… kid(s) come to door about once every couple months selling subscription to the Los Angeles Daily News to help them with school. The first time I encountered them, when I said not interested, they claimed I could buy the subscription and they’d deliver it to a local school to help them with reading and current events. HA HA HA. Yes, I was an idiot and fell for it. We received the paper sporadically, and I recycled it until the subscriptioin ended. I tossed the renewal notice letters unopened into the recycling. One day I get a letter from a debt collection agency saying I was way past due on a bill to…guess who… the Daily News. I called their office, and at least they were apologetic, but blamed the kid for lying to me about their policies. Right. Then I had to deal with the collections agency, but thankfully got it taken care of and no $ paid. This was a while ago, and there have been many visits since. Today another kid came to the door begging for school help and saying I could just subscribe to the Sunday edition, etc. etc. etc. I told him that I hated the Daily News and wanted nothing to do with them. He replied that yes everyone says that and that he hates them too, but he’s just trying to get through school. I had to laugh. It’s too bad the business doesn’t get what they deserve, a big fat fine.

  102. 131 JC
    July 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I came across this trying to find the name of the company my son had worked for. I thought it was great a great thing and yes he received a paycheck weekly. The college tuition is a bonus put in front of the kids who rank the highest t in sales for the month. They have the potential to receive up to $1500 in college tuition. Unfortunately my son wasn’t cut out for door to door sales. They give all kids a chance and those who cannot perform a certain quota are let go from the program after a two month trial. We’re located in Orange County, CA and he was selling the OC Register.

    Magazine subscriptions are much different and all you have to do is Google that to see how dangerous those companies really are..

  103. October 3, 2014 at 5:39 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post

  104. 133 Wolff7676
    October 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Ok guys let me explain this too you, my kids both work selling the newspaper and I am also the regional manager and have 4 other teens under me. Here is how it works and hope this helps out. The kids sells two different newspapers in my area $20 subscription and a $15 subscription trial. Off of each trial they make either 5 or 7 dollars off of it in a check depending on the paper they sell. If they make 15 sells in a week they get a 20 dollar bonus and an additional bonus for every other 15 sells they make. As far as the savings bond goes yes they do also earn points for that as well on top of it. They do have a chance to make money but many doesn’t buy afraid of it being a scam which it isn’t. What makes it sound terrible is they are not allowed to mention that they make a check off the sales only points. I am here saying now because I am not giving my info out as a manager I can’t but it is real and they kids are working for real money. And yes it is true what the lady above said they kids have to make a certain amount of sells each day to get food which is usually a snack. But they don’t work long hours usually 2 to 5 hours a day tops. 2 to 3 on school days and up to 5 hours on non school days, for me I take off Sundays along with the kids, and let the kids pick another day of the week to take off it they want too. But I personally work 6 days a week. Hope this has helped out.

  105. 134 Private
    November 7, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Guy claiming to be “Jorge Aviles” for the Bay Area News Group (San Jose Mercury News, etc.) knocked on my door, despite the large “No Solicitors” sign. He had a credit card sized picture ID with the Bay Area News Group papers listed on the back. It was all very legitimate/professional looking. However, he told us he was from the apartments down the street, and when we asked what street, he said he forgot his address. Then, when we asked him to produce the city’s solicitor license, he claimed he didn’t need one because he had that Bay Area News Group ID. I explained that soliciting in our city without a license is a crime and asked him to leave our street. He refused. I called the non-emergency number for the police, and they did an excellent job of trying to set him straight and work legitimately (i.e., without lies and with a license/permit). When questioned by the police, he explained that he is not from around here and goes to new cities about every three days. Glad he was at least honest with the police (even though he was not honest with me).

    Door-to-door is outdated, and lying to get business only ruins reputations (both for the salesman and the company). If you have the gumption to interrupt my peace at home by knocking on my door, at least extend me the courtesy of telling the truth. Shame on the Bay Area News Group If they are using companies that operate like this.

  106. 135 Supicious
    January 27, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    I tried to offer cash; was refused. (Who refuses cash??) I offered to make a gift to his 529 but was refused. (Who would refuse that as well?) I think their jobs aren’t to sell subscriptions; its to collect information. I would certainly at worse the info is used to just auto renew a subscription, and not for other fraudulent activity. My suspicions to this day…..

  107. 136 TH6876
    January 31, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Not sure who if any will read this. I am a regional manager for the kids who sells newspapers trials in my area. It is a tough job and the kids are trained to use college as a way to get sells. No one wants the paper now days with the Internet so they have to put the focus on them. It isn’t a scam in our area each sell they get points after so many points are received they earn a $1000 savings bond. But while doing that they earn cash off the sells. It’s tough because the clients makes it tough not so much the ones that doesn’t by but the ones that treatens the kids by call in cops. I carry the permit but by freedom of press we are legally allowed to sell without it and the entire police team out here knows us. But still makes the kids feel badly then you have the ones that pulls guns out on them for just doing their job. A child should feel safe no, no kid has been harmed but still all the person has to do is shut the door, no need in yelling, swearing and gun threatening.

    • 137 TH6876
      January 31, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      Sorry for bad Grammer typing from phone

    • 138 mike smith
      April 7, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Eh, this just happened to me. I tried to look up the info the kid told me (after he left). I couldn’t find him. I get it it is a pitch. But at the end of the day it is his job. I get it and that is why I gave the $20.

      I have wasted $20 on crap like porn sites, at the strip club, shitty alcohol, crappy food and annoying girl friends. In the end oh well. Hopefully it helps him more than me.

      • 139 TH6876
        April 26, 2015 at 7:09 am

        I’m sure it made him happy. Now this work isn’t for everyone I have seen some kids do really bad. Others they let their grades slip and gave to quit. But the ones we try to keep are the good ones. They usually average between 125 to 175 a week in our area, some a little less. That’s working around 15 hours a week, it’s tax free and they also earn bonus money for making their daily goals. But the kids likes it the ones that are good at it. We meet up with other teams and do rallys, for even more rewards.

      • 140 di
        May 30, 2015 at 9:46 pm

        Thanks for this article, a very young man and his older brother came to my door to sell two papers. I purchased the Washington Post, wrote a check, then wondered if this was real. I can only hope I did not just make a mistake.

  108. 141 Tule
    July 18, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    I was googling when I came across this helpful post. Like many of the commentators here, a young man came to my mom’s door soliciting for newspaper subscribers. My mom, who doesn’t read the newspaper and is too kind to say ‘No’ agreed to a 8 week trial that she paid $20 cash for. I, for one think it was a scam, but my mom took pity on the young man with his college speech. Like Di, I just hope she wasn’t a victim of a scam otherwise he’ll get his karma.

    By the way, we live in Orange County and he was going door-to-door selling OC Register subscriptions.

  109. July 30, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I just had a person, Shaheen Argand, sell me the San Jose Mercury and one other newspaper today. ( I live in Mountain View, CA. ) Story was that he wants to go to San Jose State University, but this was hard from him as he was the child of an immigrant from Afghanistan, and that he will get money to offset student loans if I buy the newspaper subscription, keep it for some time and cancel it later (at which point I would get my money back). I was suspicious – none of this was said in the Bay Area News Group form I signed. But this was explained away by saying that something called the “STEP” program does this.

    After reading this, I see that I have been scammed. I am going to warn my neighbors on nextdoor.com .

    • 143 jamie
      July 30, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      wow, it happened to us roughly around the same time/date!

      I wouldn’t mind it so much if they were just being honest about why they’re selling door-to-door. the sob story is a nice touch, but I hate being lied to.

    • August 10, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      I received a call a few days ago to confirm this subscription from the “student” (the person used that very word) – I told her I was scammed, and that I was not interested in the subscriptions; she assured me that they will shred my payment information.

      To reiterate, this is a scam mainly because –
      1. “buy the newspaper subscription, keep it for some time and cancel it later (at which point I would get my money back)” is false. you dont get your money back.
      2. You get newspapers you wont read. A loss for the environment as well.
      3. You are fooled into thinking that you’re helping a honest person in need.

  110. 145 jamie
    July 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    yep, just happened to me here in san mateo.

    I gave the kid $25 because he looked young and finding work is tough. I straight up told him that even if he is telling me things outside of what is reality, I don’t mind – mostly because I want to help him.

    marvin, if you’re out there – I know the STEP program you told me about is not a thing. but I do hope that you put your money to good use ^_^ good luck to you, dear.

    • 146 Prashant
      July 30, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      I guess these kids suddenly resurfaced today. I am also in the San Mateo area and had a similar experience. I ended up giving him $20. Worryingly, it seems I will have to watch out for unwanted subscription charges from various newspapers I got signed up for.

  111. 147 Gerry
    August 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    The truth about selling subscriptions: their are bad seeds in every business but the majority of kids/ teens/ & young adults that are knocking on your doors trying to sell newspaper subscriptions are truly trying to make a honest living. Most of them are working their first jobs, either high school drop outs, college students, or kids looking to buy their first car. Some of them get creative with their sales pitch trying make their commissions. If you are suspicious then call the paper or ask for the kids supervisors name and # and he will gladly give it to you if he is legit. Most kids hide behind video game consoles and have no drive at all. I respect these kids for even trying to get out of whatever situation or circumstance their in. It is not easy knocking on a strangers door and looking a home owner in the eye. If the person that comes to your door, look at his order form, if it has your local papers logo, phone # , terms and conditions etc. then they are probably legit. Solicitation is the oldest and most honest form of sales there is, not some guy from another state on the phone or computer trying to sell you something and run with your money. Just for every ones information…. Newspaper sales going door to door is protected under the constitution, it’s part of the Freedom Of the Press. Even if the police took a newspaper solicitor to court, they have no case. It would be dropped. So my advice to home owners is …. lighten up when you see a young kid trying to make something of themselves, still be on guard and a little skeptical with an open mind. Ask the right questions, ask for credentials, and look at their order form. Give a creative kid a break!

  112. 148 Reenie
    December 31, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    I live in the Philadelphia area. Last night an African American girl rang our doorbell and explained that she was trying to earn points to win a laptop and scholarship to college. For every dollar she collected in subscription sales would translate to a point ($20 would yield 20 points). She said she was with the Student Project and selling subscriptions for the Philadelphia Inquirer. I wasn’t sure if this was a scam so I declined. I hate to turn someone away who is legitimately trying to earn an education, but I was also afraid it was a scam.

  113. 149 Babiness
    April 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Two kids came to my home claiming they are students at a local university and need to sell coupons to earn point for books. ALL LIES. These kids, like some of the other posters here who say they worked for similar companies, may not even be aware they’re working for scammers. I contacted the local university and they said they don’t have any programs like that. Also, one of the kids looked like a preteen, a little younger than the norm for a university student. DON’T GIVE THEM ANY MONEY. If you make them a check or give them your credit card number they will sell that info to other scammers.

  114. 150 Ses
    May 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Got one in Berkeley at around 6:30 tonight for the East Bay Times. The college tuition thing got me, I started filling out the form until I realised I would need to write down my credit card info. I told her I didn’t want to do that. She claimed that they’ll charge her for the subscription amount of I don’t pay?

    She asked if I had a check. Said no.

    I asked if I could pay in cash, she said it’d be $10 more than by check or credit card.

    This went back and forth for a bit.

    She eventually walked away crying when I told her I wouldn’t give her my credit card number. I feel rather guilty about the whole thing. If it isn’t a scam I just cost her some money.

    In any case, she walked away with my half filled sheet with my name, address (thankfully I’m moving within the month), phone number, and email. Slightly paranoid about that now. Contacted the newspaper via email because of course it’s after their phone hours. Will probably try and call them again tomorrow to clarify the whole thing.

    This whole thing just makes me feel horrible (and emotionally manipulated). If it’s real, in a jerk. If it’s a scam, someone has some of my info (thankfully not credit or checking numbers). I also freelance for newspapers from time to time and boy is this making me not want to keep working in that industry. Well, if something shows up with my bank I’ll deal with it then, but for now gonna try and forget this while ordeal.

  115. 151 RB
    June 16, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    2016 and still happening. Just had a young man come to my door 10 minutes ago. One last year too and signed up with him. Said no this time as I already receive the paper.

    • 152 Clara
      June 17, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      I just had a girl come to the door yesterday evening selling for the AJC. I thought I was helping her out, but now I’m super paranoid. I wrote her a $10 check and gave her my email… that’s it. The coupon book she gave me, I realized afterwards, was old and from like a year ago. She says she lives in my neighborhood… I guess if she actually does and I see her I can talk to her about it.

      I hate this, because I just want to help someone out in their quest for better education but I feel like a sucker and don’t want to get scammed. 😦

  116. 153 Ty
    July 9, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Glad I found this thread. Just had someone come by 15 minutes ago (9:30pm) and in my opinion that’s pretty late to be soliciting.
    Same pity story, and I found it odd that the guy’s community college is by Oakland and he’s knocking on doors in West San Jose. After he insisted I listen to him for “ten seconds” I replied no. Felt a little guilty but man, don’t knock on people’s door so late!

  117. 154 CC
    October 21, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Wish I knew about this 2 months. Still happening in 2016. A “student” sold me the same pity plea. I said NO to the subscription; he was pretty adamant and mentioned a one-time cash paid option instead (he’d get his points for this “college program” and I wouldn’t have to deal with a subscription); the trial newspapers would instead be sent down the street to a local convalescent home for seniors to enjoy. In order for the newspapers to be sent though I’d have to still fill out the form with name and phone number for Bay Area News Group to contact me for confirmation. I also filled in the box stating CASH PAID and left the subscription area blank.

    2 months in, I’m now getting incessant calls from both SF Chronicle and Mercury News for renewals. I was astonished to find out that this “student” basically subscribed under my name (after all, he had my contact information and was physically present at my home address); what’s weird is that when I contacted both news groups, I was told that the initial payments were made to start the trials $15 for Mercury and $25 for SF Chronicle (more than what I donated). Not sure how they benefit or what they gain for upfronting the initial cost, but that may explain why these “students” may not push too hard for a payment, but instead, they’re there for contact information.

    All in all, it’s a horrible business practice. After this many years, there is no excuse for the Bay Area News Group to continue soliciting this way. Its a headache contacting them to cancel the subscriptions; what’s worse is, they contracted third parties to continue calling for resubs. AND they continue to contract other third parties to market those initial subs.

    Lesson learned.

  118. 155 JL
    December 29, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Fremont, California. Someone came by at around 6pm… for Mercury News. Wanted money for school etc… I told him I don’t read newspapers, he kept going about how this isn’t about newspapers. I talked over him by saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” repeatedly while closing the door.

    You know what? There is now a MOVIE about this kind of thing! Yes! You’ve read that right! Look up the movie “American Beauty”. It’s actually a pretty good movie even though the young people portrayed in it seemed to be much, much, worse off. And Shia LaBeouf is in that movie! He did a pretty good job haha.

  119. 157 Becca
    March 11, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I am amazed at how long this has been going on for. We live in San Jose, CA and just had a young, black, male knock on our apartment door (on the 3rd floor!) trying to sell newspapers for money for school at UC Berkeley. He knocked around 8:30 PM. I am relieved to see that this is a newspaper selling scam, because there has been a spike in crime in our area and when my husband opened the door I was afraid that it was some young person scamming so they can scope out apartments for burglary. The guy was really pushy towards my husband after he kept insisting that we aren’t interested.

    • 158 Madhuri
      May 1, 2017 at 11:17 pm

      Omg .. Right back at ya Becca.. This happened today to me in Sunnyvale.same description of a guy but there was this other guy too whom he brought along and said he was his brother from foster care . I gave them like 20 bucks and subscribed .. was feeling paranoid and I looked it up, surprisingly it’s still going on even after 10 years.. I guess I’m a little relieved too that it’s a newspaper scam..

  120. 159 Al
    June 24, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I live in south sunnyvale, CA and a 15 yr old (minority) kid just rang the doorbell and said he was selling San Jose Mercury News subscriptions to raise money for college because his parents can’t afford it. For 10 bucks it didn’t seem expensive but I read news online. That said, I feel like most people don’t read the news from traditional news sources anymore. Soft hearted room mate still bought it though.


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