Door-to-door alert: Free paper, with a pitch for a “tip”

An Arbor Heights resident just sent in this report, saying a couple things raised his suspicions – read on:

We just had a very sketchy door-to-door salesman come to our house. His pitch was that every house in the neighborhood would be getting the Seattle Times free of charge for eight weeks, and they just asked people to chip in $2 a week for the delivery kid’s tip. And people were being asked to pay the tip in advance, by cash, check, or credit card.

He had a semi-official form with the Seattle Times’ logo on the bottom that he asked me to sign. The form had a field for “Amount Paid” with the number “$20” filled in. I didn’t quite follow what was happening until I saw that he was asking for payment in advance, and then I got very suspicious. I didn’t give him any money and took back the form with my signature on it.

He had no ID from the Seattle Times and no ID at all, in fact. (“I lost mine the other day,” he said. That’s the worst excuse in the world.) At the very least, he’s a terrible salesman. But my gut tells me that he’s running a scam of one sort or another. I’ll be calling the Times tonight to see if they have anyone in this area.

He was about 5’9″, brown t-shirt, stocky build, shorts, very short black hair. The name on the form says “Brad,” but I don’t know if that’s his real name or not.

As always, here’s the link to the city code regarding solicitors. They MUST display an ID and permit.

13 Replies to "Door-to-door alert: Free paper, with a pitch for a "tip""

  • Kevin July 23, 2009 (8:59 pm)

    This sure sounds like a scam. Last I heard, the Seattle Times only uses adult carriers. So much for the “delivery kids tip” pitch.

  • forgotten_robot July 23, 2009 (9:11 pm)

    He came to 35th as well.

  • Michelle July 23, 2009 (9:26 pm)

    Seems like all my interactions with the Times subscription group has been via telephone. They call and give you a week or a month for free / discount, but I’ve never had a person show up on my doorstep. VERY suspicious!!!

  • Megan B July 23, 2009 (9:39 pm)

    A young boy came by our place on 18th last week saying the same thing. I asked for id, and it matched in the photo and was issued from the times, but it still seemed fishy, and I hate solicitations, so no go.

  • sam July 23, 2009 (10:06 pm)

    Megan B- us too- think we’re on the same street. I commented on another post on WSB (along with someone else from the area), and it was kind of fishy to us too, since his pitch started with ‘where do you want your paper delivered’ and we don’t have a paper subscription.

  • Cheriberri July 23, 2009 (10:11 pm)

    I live on California and Williow in a semi secure apt building and at 7 pm a guy with a clip board was banging on my door i peaked through my peep hole and he had a clip board and was waving at me. My husband was still at work so i was scared to open the door i told him i wasnt interested….. There was no way i was opening the door… especially after yesterdays break in just blocks away…

  • A. Nonymous July 24, 2009 (7:52 am)

    I was the one who sent in the original tip, so I wanted to post the follow-up here. I just called the Times circulation office and the guy was working for the Times!! There is a promotion going on in West Seattle right now.

    His story was wrong, though. You’re actually signing up for a subscription when you sign the form, not just paying the delivery guy’s tip. The $20 is a half-price subscription rate. So even though he had his facts wrong, he was legit. He was probably getting some kind of one-time fee for new subscriptions and saying anything he could to get people to sign on the dotted line. He still should have some kind of ID, and I made sure to tell the people at the Times this.

  • Kelly July 24, 2009 (11:20 am)

    He came to my house on 32nd but only my husband saw or spoke to him. This guy struggled to name the paper he was selling–sounds like he got some practice…

  • MAS July 24, 2009 (11:43 am)

    A. Nonymous – In that case, what he said constitutes a attempt to defraud. Telling you the money is for one thing and then channeling it for a different purpose is fraud, akin to “please give $10 to the widows and orphans fund” followed by The purchase of beer with that money.

  • Tonya July 24, 2009 (2:39 pm)

    Yep, he was at my place too and I’m on Beach Dr.

  • Stephen July 24, 2009 (3:16 pm)

    We had a teen stop by our house (30th) earlier this week. We had the front door open (screen door locked) when he came by. We have a for sale sign in front and he asked if we were moving or had just moved in. I was surprised by this question and shooed him away after a brief sales pitch. He had a younger girl with him. Neither had a visible ID badge.

  • ABC July 24, 2009 (4:15 pm)

    we live on Seattle Street and he came to our door too. He said he was with Customer Service and asked where we wanted our Seattle Times delivered on Sundays. I told him we did not have a subscription, he said “I know, do you want one?” Sounds like he is trying anything to sell his papers!

  • robin July 24, 2009 (6:38 pm)

    2 folks just came by here. 20ish male with navy seattle times polo shirt and younger girl in regular clothes. They said it’s free to west seattlites M-F but they are asking us to help out by paying for Sunday’s. Said this is to try to help save the times since the PI went under. I said no thanks. They didn’t seem suspicious to me but maybe I’m gullable?

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