Saturday, September 27, 2008

Magazine scammers in town again

The magazine scammers, like migratory creatures, are back in town again. Yesterday, my son summoned me to the door, saying that there was a guy there who was doing a community project and had to meet everyone in the neighborhood. That sounded annoying, but it was too late to hide and pretend we weren't home.

The young man at the door assaulted me with a rapid rush of words. He was a college student, he was in communications, he was taking a public speaking class and had to meet 100 strangers, he was preparing to be a radio DJ, he was in a competition with 200 other young men and women. "It's boys against girls," he said, hastening to add, "No offense." That was the point at which I wanted to punch him. No offense why? Because I'm a "girl" and so boys-against-girls competitions must be offensive to me? But I digress. Our young man had more to say. He needed to win points. He needed to be the first one to collect the most points and then some mysterious benefactors would pay his tuition and books and give him $1,000 *and* a trip to Nassau. He waved a grimy laminated card in my face. I seized my chance. In the brief moment when he stopped talking to let me read the card, I said I'd had experience with his group before and wanted nothing to do with him. Then I went into my house and locked the door.

For a few minutes I fussed and fumed and explained the scam to Mad Scientist. Then it occurred to me to call my neighbor and warn her, and would you believe it--no sooner had we gotten through the "hi, how are you" portion of the conversation, then her doorbell rang and I heard the repulsive young man giving her the exact same spiel. I wanted to shout through the phone that he was scamming, but I didn't want to embarrass my friend. And I knew she'd figure out for herself that he was involved in a scam, which she did.

A few years ago I had a somewhat more disturbing encounter with these people. It was the same situation, a similar spiel, something about winning a trip and his tuition, only this guy was more charming--he was selling magazine subscriptions--and I got to the point where I was studying his brochure of magazines. None of them appealed to me, but this guy was really pressuring me--I was practically hypnotized, I swear-- and I finally picked a magazine, more to get rid of the guy than because it was something I actually wanted to read. The guy explained that the cost of the subscription was something like $15/a year, but that I'd have to pay a "one time processing fee" of $24.

Stop. Hold it right there. A $24 processing fee for a magazine subscription? I became unhypnotized at once. I pointed out to the guy that I could subscribe to this magazine on my own--nay I could subscribe to any magazine--and not pay a processing fee. Then I told him he was part of a scam and I locked myself in my house. The man became angry and knocked on the door and I was frightened enough to herd all the children into the back of the house, away from him, and I almost called the police, but he eventually left on his own.

Beware, people of Charlottesville.


  1. We've had those come through Greenbrier before. I actually have a small sign by the doorbell that says "No solicitors, no political volunteers, no religious groups." If the doorbell rings and I don't know the person out there, I don't talk to them and I don't care if they know I'm home.

  2. I always wondered where those people went for the remainder of the year...

  3. I hate the magazine scammers. Hate hate hate. I'd much rather talk to the JW's. I do talk to the JW's. I won't talk to magazine scammers.

  4. The JWs peek in my windows. The magazine scammers have the sense to beat a hasty retreat when the see me holding my dog back.

  5. I had a quasi-scary experience with the Magazine Scammers last year (I live in Key West). One of them approached me while I was pulling into my driveway with my toddler in the back seat. I got out to meet the person because I thought maybe it was someone who needed help or something (dumb sucker...). He proceeded to lay the spiel on me and I cut him off early, which I figured was bonus points for me, since I'm usually too timid. But he didn't back off--he kept pressuring and then his pressuring turned into a semi-rant about how frustrating it all was and poor him and all these rich people (Key West is hardly Glenmore, but you get the idea) and on and on, and he was quite upset and animated. He wasn't threatening me, but the pleasant mask had dropped and I saw the dehumanizing and demoralizing effects of the scam on the scammer himself (I believe these are the operations that drive vanloads of these kids all over the region and basically exhort/railroad them into selling subscriptions). I told him I'd call the cops if he didn't leave and eventually he did but it was quite alarming. Next time, I'm ending it even earlier.

  6. We get these, too, all the way across the country. Some times they're kids trying to earn a trip, but a lot of times they're these guys claiming to be residents of a halfway house who need to sell magazine subscriptions as part of their release agreement. What kind of a story is that? Why would I want to buy magazines from a self-confessed criminal?

    And I only talk to the hot JW's.

  7. How evil! Happily, I'm off of magazines these days, but all of those scammy things bug the crap out of me. Rotten scalawags!