West Seattle door-to-door alert: Magazine solicitor(s)

September 13, 2010 at 10:55 pm | In Door-to-door alert, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

Received two reports tonight about what may be affiliated solicitors – read on:

First, from WSB Forums member Hopey:

I received a visit from a young man at my door this evening. I live in Admiral close to Madison Middle School. He was probably about 17 or 18, dressed very nicely (with a tie, even!) and had a pat speech about selling magazines to raise money for “La Familia”, a youth services organization. I told him we were about to sit down for dinner, so I asked if he had something I could read and respond to later. He said no, but pulled out a laminated packet of information which also said “La Familia” at the top. Since he had such a nice packet of info, I asked if I could see his door-to-door license. He acted a little too incredulous when he replied “We need to have a license? In Seattle?!” He indicated that they fundraise here “every year” and that he would be continuing his work tomorrow night, with a wave of his hand indicating further north and west in Admiral. Since he did not have a license, I politely sent him on his way. He seemed harmless enough, not like he was casing homes or anything. No clue if “La Familia” is a legit organization or not.

Then CE left this comment on an older story:

We live near Dakota & 45th and encountered a gentleman, black 5′9″ well dressed with a star tattoo on the right side of his neck selling magazine subscriptions and books. This happened today, 9/13/10 just before 5pm. He was not displaying any business license (which I read later is required). He did have some sales paraphernalia stuffed in the back of his belt. He presented me with his laminated official written statement. The man said he was with La Familia, an organization that helps promote business education and training and was working his way up. My husband came home while he was giving his spiel and I was choosing the book to buy to help him out from his list of options. It was an expensive book and then there were sur-charges and it became very expensive. My husband wrote the check and he completed the transaction with the gentleman. We were given a receipt with the business name La Familia Sales, Inc at 5775 Soundview Dr., Suite 103C Gig Harbor, WA 98335. The man was not rude, but I did feel like he was a bit too slick. He told us that he was 2 weeks out of his training and had a sad story for me that he was out of the army and had a son to support and that is why he was working with La Familia. After reading other comments here and not being able to find any website locally or a business associated with the address given, we (obviously) became concerned. My husband put a stop-payment on the check and I tried to file a police report, but nothing really to report outside of that the man may have been misrepresenting himself and did not have a business license for door-to-door sales displayed. Wanted to post here to at least document for neighbors what is going on.

17 Comments

  1. They stopped at my door, also (4700 block of Walker in N. Admiral). Then I went out for about an hour, and when I came home ANOTHER gentleman (dressed exactly the same) was at my door – using exactly the same sales pitch. He was astounded that someone else could have been there before him. He was VERY persistent even after I repeatedly and politely said “no,” several times. It was uncomfortable after the 3rd time. Black slacks, cream colored shirt and dark tie.

    Comment by slc — 11:21 pm September 13, 2010 #

  2. I bought a magazine subscription from one of these young men last year. (I am in North Admiral.) It started arriving at the time he said it would, my check was cashed, and my checking account was OK. La Familia seems to be a legit organization.

    The young man who stopped by my place was also very nice, dressed in a suit and tie, and had the same credentials. He seemed dedicated to the organization and was happy about the opportunity it had given him.

    Comment by Cheryl — 1:18 am September 14, 2010 #

  3. Cheryl – the person you dealt with may or may not be the same “La Familia” to which these solicitors belonged – glad to hear your subscription worked out OK – but the address on the receipt cited by CE goes to an apparent parent company which (as a commenter in a long-ago thread pointed out) has a very low Better Business Bureau rating and dozens of complaints:
    http://www.bbb.org/western-washington/business-reviews/magazines-subscription-agents/duncan-in-gig-harbor-wa-5001404

    Comment by WSB — 1:24 am September 14, 2010 #

  4. It is very rare that anyone soliciting at your door is from a reputable organization. There are enough suckers out there to make this practice profitable. We need laws to stop people coming to our doors. Does anyone really want to be bothered at home?

    Comment by marty — 9:52 am September 14, 2010 #

  5. Magazine subscriptions are sold by many elementary students in the area (Holy Rosary, among others). Prices are reasonable, and you know exactly where your money is going. Support your local elementary school (and make a kid really happy!).

    Comment by sherri — 10:48 am September 14, 2010 #

  6. I’m not sure that a residential sellers license is actually required for magazine sales in Seattle. The license exceptions say that a license is not required for: “Any person who merely solicits orders for goods, which orders are to be accepted and goods delivered at a future time from a place outside of Washington State.” I’m no expert in reading code, but it seems to me like some magazine sales might fit in that exception (presuming that the company that fulfills the order is based out of state).
    .
    WSB, would it be possible to check with your contact at the City to see if magazine sales reps are required to have a license?
    .
    I agree that it is time for door-to-door selling to stop, but until it’s actually prohibited I’m just trying to figure out what the rules are. I don’t want to hassle a guy about a license if he actually doesn’t have to have one.

    Comment by owen — 5:05 pm September 14, 2010 #

  7. You’ve been scammed. Same thing happened to me years ago. You can file a report with the AGs office, the BBB, warn your elderly neighbors, and count yourself lucky.

    Comment by Betsy — 8:09 pm September 14, 2010 #

  8. Our entire neighborhood will be posting NO SOLICITORS signs so these people shouldn’t get to the front steps, let alone the door. Neighbors will come out of their own houses if they see solicitors on doorsteps.

    Comment by blockwatcher — 9:01 pm September 14, 2010 #

  9. I put a no solicitor sign up a couple of years ago and that promptly put a stop to any door-to-door issues. Even if someone does come to the door, I just firmly say “I can’t donate today. Have a nice day” and shut the door. OR, don’t answer the door at all! Not sure why anyone would buy from a door-to-door person. If you want to donate money to a good cause, just give directly to the charity of your choosing.

    Comment by M — 9:24 pm September 14, 2010 #

  10. I did some further checking and found that while “Ducan Inc” (company name for La Familia in Gig Harbor) may not have a good BBB rating, the parent company http://www.pccsonline.com seems to be a ‘reputable’ clearing house for magazine subscriptions…

    it is odd these days to get door-to-door salespeople, though we also get political door knockers and of course the Mormons still come by with their printed material, so I try to be patient with those still hitting the streets trying to earn a few dollars.

    Comment by SST — 5:27 pm September 19, 2010 #

  11. The same young man described here has been soliciting on Bainbridge Island last week (around 9/22/10). 5’8″, african-american young man, star tatoo on his neck. Dressed well – shirt, tie, slacks. No car, was walking through our neighborhood on foot selling very expensive magazine subscriptions. He said he receives commission on each sale. Told me about his young family and getting a fresh start from reccently leaving the army (think he said Ft.Lewis), looks like he’s 19-20 yrs. Mentioned about having a baby on the way and trying to support his family. He was polite but I was suspicious of the company he worked for. I googled La Familia and this blog came up. I’d be wary of handing any money over.

    Comment by BainbridgeResident — 11:36 am September 29, 2010 #

  12. Similar thing happened in my neighborhood near downtown Portland. Two woman came to my door working for the same company (La Familia Sales, Inc.). They didn’t have a car and wanted to come into my home for a drink of water after I bought a book. I did a secretary of state business search and there doesn’t appear to be a legitimate company by that name in either Washington or Oregon. I just wouldn’t entertain them at your door and I certainly won’t again.

    Comment by James Moore — 4:42 pm October 6, 2010 #

  13. I was just solicited by a girl (20 minutes ago) selling magazines here in Portland, OR from La Familia Sales, Inc. – I didn’t think to ask for a license or anything, but she said she was from Tacoma, WA where the regional office was located or something… her boss’ name was Dezzy (unsure of spelling).
    Anyway, I was mostly concerned about educating her (talking) about who exactly she was working for and how ineffective their business model was at getting money to the individuals they claim they are trying to help.. she said of the money I give them 10% goes to taxes, 40% goes to La Familia and the rest goes to her as her commission. I thought that was pretty inefficient, the fact that I’d have to pay $100 just to give her $40, and furthermore I’d be giving money to several people whom I may not want to have my money.

    In the end, she seemed a little frustrated with me, but hopefully she learned something. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing you can give door-to-door solicitors is questions and ideas through conversation… much more valuable than money. :)

    Comment by Ryan — 4:04 pm October 9, 2010 #

  14. LaFamilia came to my door in SE Portland. Same sales pitch. I gave them money to send to one of their charities but after reading this blog and other scam alert websites and checking with the BBB I put a stop payment on it. I hope no one else gets hit with these sharks.

    Comment by Rick — 4:54 pm October 11, 2010 #

  15. hey i think you guys are being a little too hard on these magazine sells people i also talked with the young fellow with the star on his neck and he was such a amazing person not only did i see his id but also paperwork documenting his time in the army he is just a young adult who has been trough some rough obstacles in life i actually recommend anybody in the future that gets a chance to talk to him to actualy listen to his journey and then you will see this young man is out to do remarkable things he is such a breathe of fresh air i know he is not martin luther king but just like him this young man has dreams yet they assinated mlk for his dreams so please dont shoot down this mans ambitions to be a upstanding member of society he is a vet for christ sakes i pray my message about him speaks to the masses

    Comment by good guy — 10:48 pm October 20, 2010 #

  16. this young man with the tattoo on his neck sounds very intresting i hope i get a chance to meet him he sounds really dedicated and i want to see him succed in life cause your life is not measured by how much you have but by how many lifes you touch and it seems this young man has been touching alot of lives through his passion and dedication i think its about time we return the favor

    Comment by jane gold — 10:56 pm October 20, 2010 #

  17. An identical “visit” happened to me today in Tigard, Oregon. The young man didn’t even have a pen!. Since I wanted to be kind, I agreed to buy a magazine subscription from him…imagine my horror when it was “only” 203.00! Then I couldn’t get rid of him. I was alone in the house and my garage was wide open so anyone could have come in (I had been airing the house out). I felt like I had to comply and became uneasy at his insistence. THEN he asked me if I could pay him in CASH, or partially in cash. He wanted to know just how much money I had in the house. I told him “none”. As soon as he left, I followed the instructions on the reverse of his pitiful receipt to cancel the transaction. Don’t be fooled like I was; it is definitely a scam.

    Comment by Vanessa — 9:48 pm November 1, 2010 #

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