Friday, August 11, 2006

Integrity Magazine Sales

In one of those rare moments, the Portland Tribune, our city’s bi-weekly newspaper, has done and excellent piece on troubled youth caught up in the clutches of the door-to-door magazine sales industry.  Usually I expect just some local news from them.  Oh, this is happening and that is happening, and it’s all local or has local implications.

This week, while the story is mostly about an industry that passes through Portland every now and again, it has national implications and it’s something that everyone should be hearing about.  I don’t know what kind of treatment this is getting elsewhere, but the quality of the journalism and the depth and scope of the piece compare to stuff that Willamette Week does (when they write Pulitzer quality articles). 

I’m sure that you’ve had your doorbell rung by young teens or early 20 somethings trying to sell  you a magazine subscription.  The prices are certainly not competitive, but I think they are hoping that you appreciate the kids desperate situation or at least their desire to work for a living.   Or something, as I’ve never really been tempted to order from them.  However I also have never considered the circumstances that led them to pick this vocation.

Apparently it’s not all on the up and up.  The Trib describes it as “an underworld that turns homeless, naive and scared young adults from across the country into what often amounts to 21st-century indentured servants.”

      To work for Integrity Program, they suggest, was to naively answer a newspaper “help wanted” advertisement promising free travel and easy money and suddenly enter a world of violent and abusive sales crew managers who transport vanloads of young “sales agents” from town to town and state to state.

      A world of being put up in cheap hotels, where young agents are sometimes physically and sexually assaulted and often emotionally abused, and are forced to work 12 and 14 hours a day, six days a week, for $20 dollars a day or less.

      And, in essence, the young people, usually age 18 to 25 but occasionally younger, have no choice – or believe they have no choice – but to stay on the job. Because crew managers won’t give them the money – either the money they’ve earned or money they were promised when they hired on – to get a bus ticket back home.

These kids are mostly from troubled backgrounds, and off the street.  They are convinced by their managers and handlers that life on the “outside” is no better than what they have, so there’s no reason to leave.  More often than not, the kids actually buy into that, because of what they left behind. 

There is also a lot of physical and mental abuse by the managers.  Many have died in car accidents where the driver is later found out to have had no license.  It usually occurs when transporting from one city to another.

There’s a guy who lost his daughter too all this madness, and he keeps a website that tracks the misdeeds of the company.

      Ellenbecker’s research has found more than 275 felony charges against door-to-door traveling sales crew members over the last few decades. He suspects the actual number of felonies is much higher. Included in that number are dozens of sexual assaults against women who answer their doors to the sales agents, and at least a half-dozen murders.

It is thought that, of course, the company never does background checks on it’s recruits.
I hat to say this, but read the article.  It gets much worse, and not very many kids are making it out of this vicious circle. 

There’s a part two to the series as well, talking more in depth about the owners and managers who run the crews from place to place.  There are lawsuits in several states.  Wisconsin has banned the company after a horrific accident that killed several crew members.  Most of the managers have a checkered past with arrests dealing with fraud and the like.

So the next time you get one of those unfortunate kids at your door, ask them if they work for Integrity Sales or Integrity Program.  Keep your eyes out, because they might need more than just your money.

14 comments:

JD Rupp said...

I used to work for Integrity Sales, the company written about in the Tribune, and with Brittany Pierce, the girl in the story. All I can say is that I'm so happy she made it out alive. It was a narrow escape for me as well. The general public annot BEGIN to understand the seedy life of a mag kid. It is a story akin to one you would read in a dramatic horror novel. Be thankful your own children have not been exposed to the torture that we have seen.

Trisha A. Paliotti said...

Hi I am just adding on to this last person comment. I also worked for a mag sales crew. World Media InternationalInc, RUn by Roy P. Snowden and Kimberly(kim)Snowden,I traveled through your city knocking on doors. Why there is not some protection in place for these kids, more then a randaom story or Blog. This man was just convicted on 5 counts of Tax evasion and defrauding the IRS. I have a tax lean on my credit report from him not filing the taxes he said he was paying!!!! We were kids, and many lives have been Ruined by these people. Freezing cold tempertures and 12-14 hr work days....$15-$20 a day if we were lucky. Then when you don't make the cut they drop you at a bus station, spit on you and leave eyou w/ no money no ticket, in some ghetto bus station!
More, More MOre needs to be done about this. ANd it starts with the people answering the doors. Don't or if you do tak ethat kid in your house and tell them what is really going on and get them help. These kids are used to make millions of dollars for these dirty old men and thier dirty wives. I pray for the children of these people everyday! I tell you one thing there is no Justice, for these kids.

Trisha A. Paliotti said...

NORTHWEST FLORIDA BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED TO
FOUR YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR TAX FRAUD

Pensacola, Florida - Gregory R. Miller, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced that Roy P. Snowden was sentenced today on conviction for five counts of Evasion of Payment of Income Taxes and one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Snowden admitted during his November 2006 plea hearing that he was a businessman engaged in a variety of marketing and investment-type ventures, including a magazine distribution business. He had most recently been manufacturing and selling “Java Jo’z” drive-thru coffee businesses. The indictment and factual basis for pleas further proved that his wife was named president and director of the Ft. Walton Beach business, though the indictment alleges she had little to do with its operation.

Snowden admitted that he failed to file accurate and timely income tax returns from 1992 through 1997, and was subsequently assessed taxes by the IRS. After the tax assessment, Snowden admitted he transferred businesses and placed assets in others’ names, and created corporate entities which he used in part to transfer and hold money and property out of the reach of the IRS.

Senior United States District Judge Lacey A. Collier sentenced Snowden to 48 months (four years) imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay a special monetary assessment of $100 per count of conviction. Judge Collier further ordered Snowden to pay $1.16 million restitution to the IRS. To date, Snowden has already paid over $900,000 of that restitution to the IRS.

The investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Heldmyer

Trisha A. Paliotti said...

I just hope this story and those of others do not grow silent...Parents should know that these people are out there waiting to pray on our children , who or gullable to believe in the life these folks promise!

Anonymous said...

I worked fro integrity program before but for a short period, I worked for kay hilliarys brother rick clair for 4 years....though. Im so sick of reading about how its so horrible for the kids blah blah blah..it really is its terrible its scary and they really do make you belive that their is no way out. They get you hooked on drugs and cut you off from the real world. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT DTOP TALKING ABOUT IT

Anonymous said...

My son is very caught up in this integrity Program or whatever their new name is now as of Jan. O9,
These kids / young adults are forced to work for nothing , are dropped off and promised to be picked up for lunch (if they've made quota) and if they haven't they are dropped at a gas station with no money to feed themselves. I have seen them come home with STAFF infections from living in horrible conditions.
They are all on drugs and severe alcohol abuse. MY Son is diabetic and drunk every nite with them... (keeps him tied to them) and of course..he's fed, and feels part of a group, (although a sick and abusive type of "family").
They let them live on "advanced " money for thier hotel, food, expenses, than what they sell goes back towards that, and FUNNY>>>> at the end of the week, the kid is still in the hole to the company.. and cannot get out!,,..They can't even get a ride home. So the slave labor continues. And of course.. even though their schedules, rides, rate of pay and are given rules and expectations for this job, no taxes are ever with held nor paid on the employees behalf,... they call them "subcontractors.." Only with employee rules... and time clocks.." Funny shouldn't that be W-2 earnings?????
I thought that QUITE illegal in most states.

I've heard where they have even been physically kicked out of moving vehicles!
One of their bosses even had his throat slashed last year over a drug deal in Miami I think! Great group of people leading teams of young folks to your doors. Most of the girls are x-pros and runaways. I know for a fact. Spoke to one the other day who is a heroine addict just as the rest of her family is...
If you know how we can help these kids... please... I am desperate to get my son help..
Please get in touch or post a comment.
Thanks. Desperate in Nebraska.

anthonyalbanese said...

My name is Anthony Albanese and I sold magazines for 2 1/2 years for Rick and his sister Kay. The drugs , sex and mistreatment of these kids is true. I personnally left people in the middle of no where and did not pick them back up under the direction of management. I sold alot of magazines till close to the end so I didnt get mistreated like some. I even turned on people that were my friends when they told me to and to this day I feel bad about it and wonder what ever happened to them. They hired under age kids, just anyone they could control. It has been years since i've sold mags. The only way out for these kids is to finnally realize they have no future selling mags like I did and leave and not let them talk them into staying. They just have to realize there is a better future for them than living off 15.00 a day and sleeping in roach infested hotels. The only people that make money are the owners and managers. It has been 12 years since i worked for them the crew I worked on was called Kays Naturals. I am now a successful Real Estate Agent and have a daughter, so I am an example that these kids can change their lives. If anyone I used to work with reads this I would like to talk to you. You can email me at Albane1us@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I worked for Roy Snowden. I was given drugs/alcohol and used for sex at the age of 14 or 15. I hope he doesn't get out anytime soon. My heart goes out to his daughter.

Richard said...

Thanks for all your comments. I haven't paid too much attention to this lately, but recently had the opportunity to council a teenager NOT to do this sort of thing.

Due to the watchdog sites monitoring this activity, we found a list of organizations like Integrity and the one he was being recruited for was strangely like a couple of them.
So he didn't take the opportunity.

Thank God.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Roy P Snowden in 1999 - what a skum bag! I did a month and got out and am successful. Many of the kids didn't have parents to call and transfer bus money - kept me all day and wouldn't drop me off at the station until midnight - it would be easy to get trapped. I made them hundreds a day and got $20 to live on. 4 people to a room - low sales = sleep on the floor. Nasty.

BEAUTIFULLY_BLESSED_07@yahoo.com***** Sally said...

*WOW*WAT A FLASH BACK*I WAS JSUT ON HERE LOOKING FOR A JOB AND TRYING TO FIND THE INFO ON INTERGRITY SALES I CAME UPON THIS AND THE OLD NEWS PAPER ARTICLES OF ME AND BRITTANY FROM PORTLAND OREGON*MY NAME I SALLY*EVERYTHING EVERYBODY SAYS ABOUT THE MAG CREWS ARE TRUE*I WAS IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WHEN I FOUND THE AD.MY FAMILY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ME AND I WAS TRYING TO FIND AWAY OUT BEFOR I ENDED UP DEAD. WE ARE SUCKED INTO THIS LIFE STYLE THAT IS HARD TO GET OUT OF*I JOINED THE CREW TWICE TO STAY OFF THE STREETS AND OUT OF SHELTERS*THE FIRST TIME I WAS ONLY THERE ABOUT 3 WEEKS AND DECIEDED I WASENT CUT OUT FOR THE JOB BECUSE I COUDNT CONVINCE ANYBODY TO BUY ANY MAGAZINES..I WAS CALLED A WAB (WEEK ASS BITCH) EVERY TIME I GOT INTO THE VAN TO GO HOME EVERY NIGHT FOR NOT SELLING ANY MAGAZINES*WHEN I DECIDED I WANTED TO LEAVE THEY TOLD ME I EITHER HAD TO FIND MY OWN WAY HOME OR THEY WOULD PAY ME $50 TO SAY BECUSE THEY SEEN POTENTIAL N ME*I ENDED UP LEAVING ABOUT 2 WEEKS AFTER THAT*BUT ENDED UP CALLING THEM BACK A FEW WEEKS LATER BECUSE I STILL HAD NO PLACE TO LIVE*NO MONEY TO EAT*AND WELL IT DIDNT FEEL LIKE MY LIFE COULD GET ANYWORSE*WE TRAVELED A FEW PLACES AND I HAD STARTED GETTING PRETTY INTO DRUGS, AND DRINKING A WHOLE LOT*I REMEBER ONE NIGHT BEING CHASED AROUND THE HOTEL WE WERE AT GETTING SHOT WITH A BB GUN*THEY HAD DRUG DEALERS IN EVERY CITY IN EVERY STATE*IT WAS CRAZY*I WATCHED THEM BEAT UP PEOPLE THEY DIDNT LIKE AND DROPPING THEM OFF ON THE SIDE OF THE INTERSTATE*IT WAS LIKE SOMTHING YOU WOULD READ IN A BOOK*BY THE TIME ME AND BRITT GOT OUT IT WAS HARD FOR US TO ACTUALLY GET USE TO THE REAL LIFE*SHE HAD BECOME A MAJOR ALCOHOLIC AND WELL I DIDNT KNOW WHAT TO DO*WE LOOKED FOR JOBS AND BRITT GOT LUCKY AND LANDED ONE,WE ENDED UP FALLING OUT OF CONTACT OVER AN ARGUMENT ONE DAYY I WAS WISSPED BACK INTO THE STREET LIFE AND BY THE TIME I LEFT PORTLAND I HAD BEEN CONVICTED OF POSS AND DILEVERY OF 2 DIFFERENT NARCOTICS*WHICH HAS DEFFINATLY MADE MY LIFE REALLY HARD*I HAVE A 4 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER NOW, AND THINGS HAVE GOTTEN A LIL BETTER BUT I HAVE FOUGHT MAJOR DEPPRESSION FROM BEING ON THE STREETS FOR SO LONG AND HAVING SO MANY DIFFERENT TRAMIC SITUATIONS HAPPEN IT GETS HARD TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE DAY BY DAY*BUT I PRAY THAT NO ONES KIDS EVER HAVE TO GO THRU A STUGGLE LIKE I DID AND END UP IN A SITUATION YOU CAN NOT RECOVER FROM*ITS BEEN 5 YRS AND IM STILL WORKING ON RECOVERING ALL THE WAY*WISH I WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO MY PARENTS I PROLLY NEER WOULD HAVE ENDED UP TO BE SUCH A MESS*

Anonymous said...

Today is feb 6th 2012 I was on the crew kays naturals..Kay hired me here in phx az..all of that is true but living conditions werent bad. all of you know all the tricks like asking for donations. the cancellation canvas and you all know that it was fun until you gave up.I gave up because I feel in luv like alot of people on crews.hookups were very casual and you all know it. just remember that we gained alot of knowledge from our experiences on the crew.I hated times there but also had alot of good one's.I would only go back to a crew as a car handler..but we all know the truth about it all so hey lets share sum of the good..

Anonymous said...

Roy snowden dropped me off in el paso texas with no money to get home. He was an arrogant asshole. Real scumbag... it was in 1986. I cant believe he continued to do this for 20 more years

Hugo said...

Awesome!