New Stories 2005-2006
I was 19 years old. Working a dead end job and getting no where. One day, a had a knock on my door. A knock that changed my life forever. A yound male, by the name of James, was at my door selling magazine subscriptions. My parents weren't home and I invited him in. After talking to him, I asked, so is this your job? And just like a hungry curious fish, i was hooked. He told me to pack some bags, and we'd be leaving that day.
I informed my parents, who came home quickly. My mother being the guppie she was my very first sale, and I'd only worked there for 10 mintues. She wrote a check to the clearing house for $660.00. I was told that I would recieve a large payout for that sale. I never did.
SO we left later that day and headed to a hotel in New Jersey. I was one of 25 crew members. After my first day of training, I realized how incredibly easy this job was. So i opted to go out my second day by myself. I wrote agent (62 sales in a week) by my 5th day on the job. I wrote Power Agent and earned my gold Ring supplied by the manager by the end off 2nd week. (power agent has to have 100 sales in a week). I quickly became the star of the crew.
I would soon find out that Mag Crew was not a job, it was a lifestyle. A very dangerous lifestyle. Two months into the job, we ran about 40 crew members deep. I was now a trainer. I was the guy who took newbees door to door selling magazines, teaching him all the tricks i had learned. How to lie to people and tell them one magazine cost 72 dollars for 3 years, when really on his reciept I had sold him 2 magazines for one year each. We did this because it kept you high on the wall chart of sales. a good place to be. I had earned my spot at the top and would do ANYTHING to stay there. Lying, cheating, stealing, and manipulating were practically job criteria. I was trained this way...I trained others this way.
Drugs and Alcohol we're more common than food on a mag. crew. We'd smoke weed on the way to work, and if the day went good, we'd smoke on the way home. There were times when you'd have a good sales day, which for me, meant 15 or more sales, and your manager that you would check in to, would give you your nightly draw of 20 dollars or two dime bags of weed. Which ever you decided. Also If you had over 8 sales that day, we would drink the night away. Since our hotels were usually in rough parts of town, the liquor store wasnt hard to come by. And for those of us underage, I was at first, another agent, or usually your manager would buy the alcohol. I remember my highest week of 134 sales, my manager spent 230 dollars on alcohol for me, and a few other power agents.
I moved up quickly. Before long, I was given the title "working car handler". which meant i still sold magazines, but also drove one of the vans. SO with this title, i was in charge of my van full of agents.
I was strict, and only because I was a power agent who expected nothing less from my agents. This strickness caught the eye of my managers where I was given the worst job title yet. The enforcer. I was not the only enforcer. I would learn that night i was one of 12. this was a very violent, "make it happen" crew of guys and one girl, who were instructed time and time again by our managers to jump or beat up crew members with no sales. there were times we were instructed to go into opposing crews hotels and fight them so they could not work. One enforcer, by the name of Nick, started to hate this role and tried to quit and refused to go along. Our boss had us jump him...one of our own. My boss also joined in. We beat this kid till he could not move. The sick part was that everyone seemed to enjoy it. We fired him the next day. I learned rightthere, that an enforcement unit was more of a gang. Once you were in, you stayed in or you got jumped like nick.
One time, a new kid whose name i wont mention, because of the severity of the incident, came on crew, mouthed off real bad, according to the manager. a few managers pulled him into a stairwell, and one manager came to get us. the enforcers. We beat this kid too. My head manager kept sticking a hot lighter to his back. It was torture. I had tears in my eyes and i hated my job. I hated what we did. I hated who I had become.
I had thought of suicide. Time and Time again, and hated the man in the mirror. This wasnt me. I WAS an honors student. A good son. A good salesman. not a hitman. Many nights i'd lie awake and just wish i hadnt joined. but i knew i couldnt ask to leave.
Everyone came to know me as the head of this group. I know now that I am scarred for life. I would take my anger for myself, and my hatred for the job, out on every assigned target we were given. I had become a monster.
One day I snapped and asked to go home. They gave me 1000 dollar bonus on my books and convinced me to stay. Money, changes emotion.
Some many times we had driven home drunk. This scared me to death. Mostly because the manager would always randomly pick who we thought to be MOST sober. There were times i'd pray. We'd all heard the stories of mag crews dying in accidents, but yet we continued.
One day I was sold. Literally Sold. To another crew. I was there acording to them, to fix thier agents, because apparently, according to managers, thats what I did.
this disgusted me, but it wouldnt be my last time. i was sold to again another crew months later.
One day, I was arrested for a crime a manager commit. he had robbed someone and i was the only crew member police could find. the entire crew left me there. while they jumped to another city.
i was falsely accused. when i was let go, i called home. and cried. and cried some more. the tough guy. the strong one. the enforcer. i was weak.
I have no devoted my time to saving mag agents. no matter the sacrifice. Its not right. If you're thinking of joining a mag crew...dont. Things WILL get better for you, no matter what it is your trying to run from. Stay home.
To this day I am afraid of myself. I will never be the same.
I have more stories, and this is just the tip of the iceberg for me. but right now, i'm glad to be home.
I'm 22 now. I've been home for a month or so. I've been to 38 states, fought over 50 agents, and made less money than i had been making at home. and i will forever be ashamed of who I had become.
I was there for a year in magazine time that is pretty long. I remember the one thing that disturbed me the most was that I witnessed one manager SELLING a girl to another. She was happy about it and I thought that was sad.They encouraged inter-crew dating. I hooked up with a top sales person who was very abusive towards me. I tried to break it off several times and they always encouraged it to go on. When I did break it off I left the crew.
I was living on the street in San Francisco when i was picked up for mag crew. One day when me and my friends (the people i was camping with) were spare changing. a guy came up to us and asked if we wanted to "take showers, make money and travel around with a bunch of other 'kids" of course we agreed. what about that wouldnt sound appealing.
Before we went to the hotel with him we asked if they would seperate us (I was with 3 guys and one other girl) they said no of course not, theyd even put us in the same room if we wanted. the first thing they did when we got there was let us take quick showers. the 2nd thing they did was put us on seperate crews, then they put us in separate rooms. We all had a uncomfortble vibe from the begining but the first night they gave us money to buy some beer and cigarettes and we just partied and started to relx a little. the first cuple days were easy enough but then they sent us out on our own to go door to door and lie to peoples faces and try to talk them into buying magazines that im not even sure they recived. I had trouble lying to people and felt guilty taking their money. One women even tried to offer me money to put in my pocket for my "trip to Europe with my art class from SF state" (what we had to say to the poetential buyers.)I couldnt take it. I felt to guilty. the 5th day working i only made 2 sales and my boss told my "boyfriend" that if i didnt make more sales then he (my "boyfriend") would get his ass beat. He even threatend me, not saying that he was going to hurt me but implying that he could. I tried to save a little money, but we got paid on commision and the boss sold beer, cigarettes, weed and food, so most of the money went back to him. my last day there i blanked (didnt sell any mags) and my boss kicked me out in oakland at midnight. (If you dont know Oakland, its not somewhere a little white girl should be wandering around in the middle of the night.) I ended up getting picked up by pimps and i was never able to find the people i started mag crew with. Long story short. we should have trusted our gut instincts from the beggining. It was an overall horrible experience. It was shady, decietful and eventually scary. to anyone thinkin about joinin mag crew: i know it sounds appealing on the surface. but trust you instincts. its really not worth it.
When I was 16 yrs old, I saw an ad in the local paper. "Teens 16 up to 25" Transportation provided employment with local company. I called the number and the next day, a guy about 25 showed up and gave me something to memorize and told me I would be selling newspaper subscriptions. I thought it would be easy. After school the next day, he picked me up in an old beat up van with 10 other teens in it. We arrived at an apartment complex and they sent us all out on our own to sell subscriptions. It was raining and I had no idea if it was safe but I needed the extra money so I did it. The first weekend we traveled to another part of our state and got dropped off in a neighborhood. The two crew leaders spotted me and decided to pick me up. I rode with them to a gas station where they stole gas. The one crew leader that came to my house the first day started asking me all sorts of personal questions about my body and sex. I was really uncomfortable. On the way home that day we stopped to get beer for everyone. It was a long ride back that day and everyone drank the whole way. I don't know how we made it alive. I stuck out the job for a few more days. Each day was the same ritual, stop get beer, smoke some weed if anyone had it. The last draw was when the crew leader was drunk and drove through someones yard , hitting whatever he could on the way. I never went back. I never got paid. I still see the ads in the paper and I wonder when this company is going to kill someone. Maybe I was to young and dumb to realize how serious it was at the time . Something needs to be done as far as regulating these type of companies.
well i have to start saying that i thought this was the coolest thing in the world till my best friend got pergant and they told her that she had to work (let me say it was snowing outside and 13 degrees). at that point i chose not to go home because i had a bf on crew... nice ya that is what i thought, he was addicted to drugs and we thought all us were helping him but we found out that our mangers the one we trusted were the ones giving him the drugs...
then lets not mention that we were only allowed 20 dollars a day to survive... that was nothing! we ate only fast food and never got to sleep, for my manger use to bust into your room and make us do yager booms. i have so many horrible memories and then i have some good ones... i have made a best friend that i will never forget she is wonderful.. i love her.
CSWell where do I start - I was 18 at the time, And had just been fired from a job. in Michigan I joined a crew in Michigan and went to Iowa. I was on a crew for training for a few weeks, after that I joined a different crew. The first few weeks with the new manager was ok but after
a few weeks I was getting slapped around at least once a week. because I was not producing any sales. I was really scared of the manager. This went on for about 3 years, until I started producing sales. Most of the people we hired had nothing and were uneducated.
I was with the company for 8 years. I was really brainwashed into thinking that it was my life.
I am now 51 years old that was 25 years ago. It wasn't until 1980 that my mother called the company and said my father was dying and I still didn't want to leave. I finally did leave in 1980 things are better now. while I was on the road I have been in jail, have had guns pointed at me, attacked by Dogs, molested by another crewmember. Physically abused by a manager, and mentally abused by different managers. one manager took me out to a cemetery and told me to pick a tomb stone out. the manager once beat me and said he would kill me and shove me under the hotel bed. I have seen people physically and
mentally abused and thought it was normal. I know of one person who had his jaw broke by the manager.
I still keep in contact with one of my fellow sales men that left 2 years
after I did. I find out a lot of stuff that happened that I didn't know about. We are one of the lucky ones we got out of the business. I am now a computer programmer, and life is good. I keep telling my son not to get into any magazine business.
New Stories 2005
I started working for a mag crew in Oct. of 2000. I was only 18. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but had always wanted to travel and see the country. I thought that this was the perfect oppurtinity to truly be on my own. I was actually approached at the bus station in Dallas by a man who tried to sell me a magazine. When I explained that I was broke and on my way home, he told me that if I was looking for a job and was personable and liked to travel that they would send me a bus ticket. He wanted me to come with him right then, but I decided to make the trip home instead.
After deciding that I could try it and talking to a manager several times, I got on a bus in OKC, Ok and stopped in Amarillo. There, I was picked up, fed and then taken to the motel where the crew was staying. By this time I was terrified. I was assigned a room and then told that there was a sales meeting at 10 am and would be further instructed on what exactly I was going to be doing. There were probably close to 70 mag agents and about 6 managers staying in this hotel. That night as I walked through the halls, I realized that alot of these kids were just like me, and seemed to be having fun. It was a big party....
I had always been blessed with the ability to talk to people fairly easily, and caught on pretty quick. A girl took me under her wing and taught me the ropes, and within three months I was one of the best agents.
All the stories of long hours and horrible working conditions are true. I worked in freezing cold temps, rain, and 100 degree heat. And worked many 12 and 13 hour days trying to meet quota. You were paid on commission. If you didn't sell, then you didn't get paid. It was pretty cut throat. There were many competitions for a bonus. Usually money. I became very close with my crew. I worked very hard, and wasn't getting paid much at all. After a couple months of this, I decided that I deserved a raise. I knew that the money was not in selling door to door, but being a manager and having your own crew. So I demanded that I get a promotion, and after having a writing thirty orders in one day I recieved the promotion. The turnover in the business is very high, and finding new recruits that were willing to endure the long hours, and the high pressure atmosphere was difficult.
After a convention in Waco, where all of the crews came together and tried to outsell each other, I heard a story from the girl who took me under her wing. In Indiana a couple years before, a man had been beaten and left for dead. The crew that I was traveling with was involved and several of them were implicated. I later learned that the man had died and that several of my crew members were wanted for further questioning, including my boyfriend, who was a manager as well. No one really talked about the incident. It was kept very hush hush. In July of 2002 the owner was killed in a boating accident, which was very tragic for the company. I soon realized that it wouldn't be long before the company that I was so loyal to, would soon, I feared, go under. My boyfriend had worked for the company for six years, and was very loyal as well, but we both felt that we needed to find a different company to work for. So in January, we got on a bus with our agents and headed for Arizona. It was there that I found out that I was pregnant. I was also very tired and exhausted. I thought that it would be best for me to go home and start planning for the baby. My boyfriend stayed behind to try and get some money saved.
There were alot of kids who probably endured much worse than I. I learned very quickly that most of the sales that the company made were bogus. I personally wrote very good business, and never mislead any of my customers. I trained my agents in this way too, and if they were caught stealing, or being dishonest, they were fired. I always made sure that they were bought a bus ticket and given plenty of money to make it home. There were several times while I was an agent, that I was attacked. I started to carry pepper spray to protect myself. I had to use it three times. I think that it was a godsend that I got pregnant.
After being home for a couple of months my boyfriend came home. While going to pick up a check, he was pulled over and arrested. He was wanted in connection with the incident in Indiana. It was then that I learned that he was involved as well. After hearing his side of the story, I realized how much of a dangerous situation I had been in. My daughter was born without her father there. He was incarsarated in Indiana, and I haven't spoken with him for several years. As far as I know, the company is no longer in business.
I just want everyone to know that I am not defending any mag crew. There are always a few bad apples in every bunch. And by no means was my experience wonderful. I felt trapped most of the time, but had to much pride to tell my family that I wanted to come home. Coming from a broken home, I also felt these people were my family, and that I had no one else to turn to. Now I realize that in a way, I had found myself in a cult of some sort. There are some decent magazine agents out there. I worked with them. There are also some who abuse these kids, and are very greedy. So please don't be so quick to judge. And if you do have a child, or friend on the road, make sure that they know that they have a choice.
I ONCE WAS ON A MAG CREW THAT HAD ABOUT 65 MEMBERS. WE TRAVELED ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THE CREW WAS MAINLY KIDS IN THE AGES OF 16 TO 25. I WAS APROACHED IN MY HOME TOWN AND ASKED IF I WANTED TO TRAVEL AND MAKE LOTS OF MONEY WITH OUT THINKING I SAID YES. IT ENDED UP BEING A BUNCH OF KIDS DRINKING AND HAVING SEX AFTER A GOOD WEEK OF SALING MAG. AFTER A FEW MONTHS I QUIT AND WAS STRANDED IN JOLIET,IL. I HAD NO MONEY OR NO PLACE TO SLEEP. LUCKLY I GOT IN TOUCH WITH MY DAD AND HE SENT ME SOME MONEY AND I GOT A HOTEL DOWN THE ROAD FROM THE MAG CREW. THEY STAY IN HOTELS ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY. SO IF YOU ARE MISSING ANY CHILDREN, YOU CAN TRY TO LOOK IN BIG CITIES OR RIGHT OUT OF BIG CITIES IN HOTELS. DURING THE EARLY SUMMER MONTHS TRY LOOKING FROM VIRGINA TO NEW YORK. THE CREW I WAS ON USES A LINE THAT SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO EARN POINT TO WIN A 50,000 DOLLAR SCHOLOSHIP TO GO TO COLLEGE OR OPEN A SMALL BUISNESS.
LIFE OF A MAGAZINE CREW SALESMAN
It almost seems like a dream now as i think back on the days i spent lingering in the murky world of the magazine crew.
FUN IN THE SUN! FREE TRAVEL! Those are the headlines you see every now & then in your local newspaper catching the attention of young adults everywhere. But as i and many came to find out nothing is free in this world not even friendship sometimes on the magazine crew.
I started out traveling with a sales group that was based somewhere in the mid-eastern part of the united states. I saw the ad in the local paper & quickly called the number. I had been searching for employment in my hometown for months & so far came up with nothing. The man on the phone asked if i could come to the interview today because they were leaving town that same evening.
At the interview i wasn't asked if i had any prior sales experience only if i had been on a magazine sales group before. It wasn't until later on i found out that these type of crews dont like to hire what they call "ex-agents" because they are aware of what they are getting into and they don't like anyone spreading a "negative" vibe to others. In my experience being with more than one crew i found this to be one of the golden rules, not to be "negative" which means your not allowed to complain at all or the consequences will be severe.
That evening i met back up with the individual who instructed me to put all my belongings into the white van because he was in a hurry to get back to wherever the rest of the crew was which was in another state close by. I remember that feeling i was experiencing at the time
that this was the beginning of a very long journey, to where i had no idea.
When we arrived at the hotel i was pleased to find that almost all of the other crew members were my age, ranging from 17-23, both guys & girls. At first it seemed like this was going to be the most awesome experience ever, however my feelings soon changed as the days went by & my experiences with the magazine crew grew.
I'll sum up the daily routine. You wake up rather early most of the time around 8 a.m. Your expected to be awake, alert, (never caught yawning), & ready to leave the hotel. On most of the crews i was on the "agents" (which are the main sales people not the managers) are given a "draw" which is usually about 10 bucks. The agents are split up & put on separate vans & each one leaves out to different towns most of them miles away from the hotel. First they stop at a resteraunt (sometimes a gas station) so everyone can get something to eat & drink. As you know 10 dollars doesn't go very far after a meal & a drink. Then after everyone has had a chance to eat something each individual is dispersed out of the van in different locations & told when & where to be picked up. I remember a few individuals who didn't heed this & were left behind. I always tried to remember where the hotel was in case this ever happened to me.
An average day usually consisted of four "drops" which were around 3 hours a piece. After the driver picked you up the first thing you were asked was "How many did you get?" If your response was zero sometimes you were verbally abused, sometimes physically, & even sometimes made to sit in the back of the van on the spare tire. This was humiliating & often if you returned to the hotel with no sales your draw the next morning would be revoked. I remember an individual who went without a sale for almost three days, they refused to pay him & he went hungry until another agent gave him some french fries from his McDonald's.
I remember a time when one of the managers in the van persuaded another manager with marijuana to leave an agent. I think at the time we were in new york somewhere & the agent was from Ohio. The manager pulled up the individual in the grocery store parking lot where he had been soliciting and asked him for his "ducket" which was the wallet like carrying case for the receipts each agent carried. He asked the agent how many sales he has & he responded with "nothing". The manager physically struck the agent with his fist & then drove off. I remember seeing the agent as i looked back out the window with that horrified look in his eyes. I never saw him again.
Getting sales sometimes seemed like a life or death situation on the magazine crew. Being left out in the hot sun for three hours with hardly little or no money or sometimes not even a store around turned into a quest for survival. I remember several times i didn't even care if the people at the door bought a magazine or not as long as i could get them to give me a glass of water or if i got lucky i'd get a cold can of pop or juice. Sometimes resorting to tactics like lying & saying you were raising money for college was encouraged. I've never spent a day in college in my life.
Often agents are dropped off in places where its posted that its illegal to solicit which alot of times brought the police. I myself went to jail three times for soliciting. Each time i spent two to three days in jail until my time paid the fine. Not once did the owner or any of the managers post for my bond. Some individuals were left behind due to the fact they wont wait on you while your in jail if they are planning to "jump" to the next location.
To sum it all up the phrase "if it sounds to good to be true it probably is" fits perfectly to this very true story. "FREE TRAVEL" means exactly what says which means they're not going to pay you hardly anything to help them get rich. Most of the owners are very wealthy & some even have limos & fancy cars. The only thing i ever got out of it was street smart experience & a strong desire to come home. The reason they pay such little wages is to keep the agent on his or her toes at all times. If you want to eat you have to sell its the only way. I just hope others can learn from this & think twice before leaving home. Sometimes problems at home don't seem so bad after going through an experience like this.