Hidden Underbelly of Magazine Sales Crews Reveals Frequent Substance Abuse

At first It sounds like a great idea - a company takes poor, homeless or troubled teens under their wing and teaches them how to work at the same time. The business model has been around for several years, yet it has always drawn criticism, particularly regarding the safety of the employees and shady business practices.

These companies reportedly recruit teens who need a place to live and a job and take them on the road, traveling to different states every few weeks and selling overpriced magazine subscriptions door-to-door. Instead of getting paid per subscription sold, sometimes the employees are given points based on their performance. A certain level of points earns a certain amount of money. Unfortunately, the lifestyle that comes along with this profession is one where drug use is not only likely, it is the norm.

Because the business is structured in a way that former sales people eventually have an opportunity to become leaders of small groups, there is very rarely a manager or administrative person in direct contact with the teenagers. In fact, someone who was selling magazine subscriptions one day can become a manager the next, once they have reached their required amount of sales.

Part of the danger with traveling, door-to-door sales is that the environment often leads to, and encourages drug use. According to former and current employees of certain magazine sale companies, drugs were not only accepted, they were even provided by some of the managers. Operating under the guise of helping wayward teens and helping them to learn work ethic, many teens and managers drink and do drugs after the work day is over.

The absence of parental guidance and an actual place of business make it difficult for anyone to really monitor what goes on with the teenagers. Traveling from state to state every few weeks makes it even more difficult for authorities to ensure everything is under control. There are several incidents of drug use and criminal activity among the salespeople and managers, but they eventually leave to go to another state and the spotlight fades away from them.

Research shows that teen drug use is much more likely to occur when parents are not present and no one is available to enforce a routine. Traveling magazine crews are breeding atmospheres where drug use is rampant, and young people are being taken advantage of as well as the customers.