Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Horror of Traveling Sales Crews Revisited and A Condemnation of the Modern Direct Selling Industry!

(The beautiful young girl in the picture to the right is the 18 year old daughter of Phil Ellenbecker, Malinda. She died on March 25, 1999 from a massive skull fracture when the van she was in flipped over twice while traveling at 81 mph. The crash near Janesville, Wisconsin left a total of 7 dead and 5 maimed for life. Phil's email to me is at the bottom of today's post. Please see the online memorial to her by clicking here. Make sure you have your speakers turned on because the beautiful music and words are very moving and brought tears to my eyes.)

Before the advent of the modern age, direct selling was a necessary and desired business model. Pioneers living out on the edge of the wilderness many times looked forward to that occasional peddler bringing any number of products and goods from the east to the homestead. General stores did not exactly put these peddlers out of business who began to specialize. Bible salesmen appeared as well as people selling hard to find beauty aids and various other hard to find items.

One of my favorite movies of the past few years was "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" where John Goodman played a disreputable Bible salesman in the Great Depression era who gave a good beating to two of the key characters of the movie with a tree limb and then squished a toad with his bare hand. This movie may have been a farce, but these types of direct selling characters really existed then and in many ways still exist today.

I see the modern age MLM sales tactics to be an evolution of these last century Bible salesmen who used questionable tactics and outright deceit to make the sale. These early Bible salesman, for instance, would prospect folks who had recently suffered a death in the family. They might approach a widow and con her into buying a Bible that they claimed their loved one had ordered before their untimely death.

Quixtar representatives are taught to size up their prospective "marks" in a similar fashion. The Quixtar training materials teach questionable methods to identify character flaws or weaknesses which will facilitate the sale of their plan which for the most part is a product based pyramid scheme con job. These modern day multi-level marketers like to call themselves direct sellers as if they were a throw back to the good old days of the homestead peddler. How often do you get a knock on the door and are asked to buy products offered by a MLM direct seller? Probably not very often because door to door selling is not generally done by MLM scam artists. These so called sellers are more interested in finding people who will sit down in front of their easel board and see the plan for making it big in their business by buying the products and recruiting others to do the same. This can hardly be considered direct selling but direct recruitment! Many of these MLM scam business people are not true direct sellers but hope to benefit by the self consumption of company products they hope to inspire the newly recruited rep to make.

What about the traveling sales crews who are actually direct sellers? Here again, there are many problems. The mostly young people on these sales crews are many times taken advantage of themselves by the company and people they work for while they go out and take advantage of the door to door residents who many times swallow deceitful claims and buy the magazine subscriptions and products. To make sales, these door to door sellers might claim that they live a few blocks away or are trying to work their way through school. People fall for these deceits the same way people seeing the Quixtar plan to success are also hoodwinked. Many times the Quixtar reps like to pass themselves off as Quixtar success stories sporting nice suits and jewelry. They may look the part, but are anything but successful; their appearance only furthering the deception. I have described how questionable misrepresentations are made to talk prospects into climbing aboard the Quixtar mother ship and how the training materials are basically propaganda to keep the new recruits buying the overpriced products, the training materials (known as tools) and believing in the success dream.

The traveling sales crews are despicable, the MLM schemes and scams represented by the DSA are despicable, and even the Vacuum selling industry (like Kirby and Rainbow) are fraught with problems and are considered despicable by many. There is very little good that can be said about modern day direct sellers or con artists which misrepresent themselves as direct sellers, a common thread that runs through them all.

There are different trade associations that represent all these businesses who hope to find some degree of respectability amongst one another. Of course there is the Direct Selling Association which Jon Taylor of the Consumer Awareness Institute believe have been infiltrated by questionable MLM product pyramid scheme companies like Amway, Herbalife, YourTravelBiz, and Mannatech. The traveling sales crew companies also have their own trade associations also which are described below by Mr Ellenbecker.

I realize that I made a earlier post which described the traveling sales industry, but I felt the industry should be revisited so I might provide readers with more information on this very questionable business which takes advantage of its recruits and encourages young people to leave parents, family and friends for a life on the road. These traveling sales crews many times are traveling dens of corruption, sex and drugs.

I received an email from Phil Ellenbecker who I am going to copy and paste directly below which links information related to the traveling sales industry that AGCI readers might want to further investigate. I support the efforts to expose any situation that takes advantage of young people and in some cases has directly or indirectly caused the death, rape and murder of these youths who are exposed daily to the dregs of society and dangers of the road. Parents and family are the secondary victims of these traveling caravans from hell as well as the people who open their door to some unsavory gypsy sellers.


To whom it may concern,

I would like to provide you with more information on Kirby, the Direct Selling Association, and 'traveling sales crews.'

Southwestern and the DSA:

Southwestern and the DSA lobbying against a bill in Wisconsin to protect kids and homeowners
from the crimes committed by traveling sales crews:

Kirby: a brief chronology of crimes:
Traveling sales crews:
Specific to door to door magazine and cleaner sales:
Wanted Page:

Traveling sales crews:
Specific to door to door magazine and cleaner sales:

Featured Articles:
Houston Press:
What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know About Door-to-Door Magazine Sales:
New York Times:
For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews:

New York Times:
Life on a magazine crew - Video

Our battle to protect homeowners and children from the door to door sales industry is mainly focused
on the National Field Selling Association: the trade group for most of the magazine and cleaner door to door
sales companies, and the Magazine Publishers of America: the trade group for most of the
magazine publishers in this country. Extreme crime and exploitation of children, young adults, and homeowners is occurring in this immoral
and corrupt industry.

The NFSA and the MPA are separate trade groups and not associated with the DSA.
However, the DSA, Kirby and Southwestern have now taken up arms against us and
legislation in the state of Wisconsin that was created to protect Wisconsin kids and homeowners
from crimes associated with the door to door sales industry.

Thank you for your article and your time.

Phil Ellenbecker
Dedicated Memorial Parents Group

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