I worked for Internet Subscription Services back in about 2001. I worked for a team called the Raiders. My team manager's name was Randy Snook, and the big manager above him was Mr. Roach.
I read the other letters on here, and I agree, they treat their employees like slaves. The crew that I worked for had about 30 people in it, between the ages of 18 and 25. I found a job offer in the classifieds of the local paper that said it was a fun travelling job. I called the number and talked to Cindy Gonzalez, who told me that there was a $200 sign on bonus, they would pay for the bus ride to where they were located at that time, they would pay for everything for the first two weeks, and after that I could earn up to $800 a week in commission. The best part? If I decided at anytime I wanted to leave, they would pay for my bus ride home. It sounded like a pretty good deal to me.
I left the next day on a Greyhound bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma and travelled for two days to Fresno, California. I had been given the cell phone number of the manager of the crew, Randy Snook, and called him when we got to the bus station (0ne of my friends joined with me.)
Randy, and another manager, Steve, came to pick us up from the bus station. When we got in the van the first thing they asked us was if we smoked pot. At that time, I did, and told them so. They asked if we brought any with us, and we said no. They told us that everyone there smoked, but that we weren't allowed to smoke during our first two weeks of training. When we got to the hotel we were taken to our rooms to put our stuff up and shower, and then had to report immediately back to Steve and Randy's room to learn our "first fives." We had been on a bus for three days and were tired and hungry. They told us that once we learned our first fives, they would take us to get something to eat. So we had to sit there and memorize these first fives, and finally they took us to eat.
I got back to my hotel room around midnight or 1 am, and then met my roomates and finally got to sleep. It is worth mentioning that I was about 20 years old, had a son (who was staying the summer with his dad, so I thought this would be a fun summer job) and had been living on my own since high school. The point is, I was used to being independent. These people seemed like - zombies. It was really odd. They were all JUST ALIKE.
We got up early the next morning, and had our morning meeting. They talked about quotas for the day, and had everyone tell them what their quota was to sell for that day. They assigned the new people to go out with the agents who had been there longer, and they did their morning chants. One of the chants included all of the girls in the group pulling up their shirts and flashing their breats to all the men in the group. I quickly learned that this type of behavior was a normal thing in this crew.
We left out, stopped at a gas station to get a quick breakfast and cigarettes (they only gave us $20 a day to live on), and then started doing our "drops." The car handler would drive through neighborhoods, stop the van, and call out names and just drop us there. Usually, they would drop 2 people in each "T" (territory) to work. They would tell us when they would be back to pick us up. We had to go door to door and sell, and the thing I hated the most about it was the manipulation that was involved. The girl that was training me was Randy's girlfriend, and she would push her way into people's houses, grab change jars if they said they didn't have any money and say "We'll just take this, it will be enough." She also lied about what came with the magazines, but I didn't know this until later, when I was selling with another agent and told a "Jones" (people we were selling to) about a magazine. When we got outside the agent told me not to lie about the magazines, and when I told her that Sarah told me that was how the mags came, she told me that Sarah trains everyone to lie to sell more mags. So - just a note here - the people knocking on your doors are not always aware they are deceiving you.
On a drop, if we did not sell at least two magazines, we were not allowed to sit down. If they came to pick you up and you were sitting down, they would hit you in the head with their packs when you got in the van. Remember, we were in California during the summer - it was hot. At some point during the day, we would stop for a quick lunch, and then we usually sold until around 10 pm or so. If we did not meet our quota for the day, we were not allowed to leave our hotel rooms at night. This was the process Monday through Saturday.
On Sundays, our day off, we had to pack up all our stuff, load the trailors, and set off for a new city. We would drive all night with so many people crammed in the vans people had to lay on the floorboards. My first day off, we drove from Fresno, CA to Salt Lake City, UT. Then, you unpack, have your morning meeting and start all over again. Now, these are just the working conditions.
At night, many of the people would go out, or stick around and get stoned. People would go out and have sex in the vans, or drive out to people's houses they had met that day selling magazines to buy pot. I started dating this one guy on the crew. I went into his room one night, and one of the managers, Steve was his roomate. My boyfriend wasn't in there, but Steve was. He had been flirting with me since they picked me up from the airport, but I had always put off his advances. This night, he decided it didn't matter and picked me up and slammed me down on the bathroom sink and started trying to rip my clothes off. At that time, my boyfriend walked in and Steve stopped. He told my boyfriend he was just joking around with me, but he wasn't.
We were not allowed to call our family from the hotel or have cell phones. If we wanted to call, we had to use the manager's cell phone, and he had to sit there and listen to everything you said. All the people in the crew stole from each other. I had my discman, my cd's, shoes, clothes, etc, all stolen from me. And then you would see the other crew members wearing your stuff and confront them aobut it, and they would say, "No! I bought this yesterday!" It was like this complete world of fantasy. Also, some of the agents would steal things out of people's houses. So beware, DON'T EVER leave an agent alone in a room in your house, no matter how sweet they seem. The hard thing is, it's hard to tell the honest ones from the ones who truly know what's going on. Chances are, if they've been working in this industry for a while, they know what's going on.
Anyway, after about two weeks of this, and especially the day after Steve assaulted me in the bathroom I decided I was done. But I had seen what happened to people who quit. The rest of the crew would beat them up and steal all the rest of their stuff that hadn't already been stolen, so I was scared to quit. They dropped me to work by myself this day, and I just couldn't sell - I didn't want to. Steve was my car handler that day, and that didn't help either.
When he dropped me at my last drop before lunch, I just walked around this block a whole bunch of times. There was a man in his back yard and I stopped by his fence and said, "You don't want to buy some magazines do you? Didn't think so." (Far from the first five I was supposed to be reciting.) I kept walking around his block and finally he asked, "Are you alright?" I just started bawling and told him what it was like wroking for the crew. This man was so nice. He invited me in, gave me something to eat, and let me use his phone to call home. My friend said to just quit, so I decided I was going to. I stayed at this man's house until it was time for them to pick me up. We went to Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch, and I didn't have enough money to eat, so they all ate and watched me not eat anything because I hadn't sold any magazines that day. I told Steve that I wanted to quit, and he told me to give him my pack. He gave me some change for the pay phone and told me to call Randy, and then they left me at the Kentucky Fried Chicken, on the other side of Salt Lake City from out Hotel. I called Randy, and he said that he didn't blame Steve for leaving me, and I could either walk back to the hotel, or wait and see if Steve came back for me at 10 pm.
I asked directions and spent most of the rest of the day walking back to the hotel. I walked so long that one half of my body was sunburned by the time I got back. I told Randy that I wanted to quit, but he said he couldn't get me a bus ride home. I had to go to a pay phone and call my friend collect and have him send a bus ticket to Salk Lake City. I spent the night in my hotel room, being treated like trash by the other agents, and barely able to sleep afraid of what would happen to me. The next morning we got up, and they told me they had to watch me pack to make sure I didn't steal anybody's stuff. Instead of going out with the rest of the crew I went to Randy's room. At this time ISS owed me over $2000 in commission, but Randy told me there was no way for him to get it that way, but if I gave him a blow job he would give me $60 for the bus ride home. (Oh, I almost forgot - the managers would buy false subscriptions from the girls on the crew in exchange for sex. I never did this one.) I told him to give me the $60, and he did - and said he wanted to film the act, and went upstairs to get his video camera. (I already knew he had a fetish for this, many of the girls told me he had filmed them.) When he went upstairs to get his camera I took my 60 bucks and luggage and ran out the door. I walked to the bus stop and stayed there until it was time for my bus to leave.
Wow - I have never actually written all of that out before. It has been so long, I'm sure there is much more I have neglected to write. Just know that when people come to your door, they too have been duped into working for a company that they probably hate, and are mostly powerless to get away from. I was lucky to have a friend back home to send me tickets to get away, but many of the others on that crew were not so lucky. So, I agree with the person that posted the other one. You don't have to buy a magazine, but at least be kind and offer them a drink, some food, or a place to use the bathroom - or maybe a call home! And if you ever think about joining a mag crew - DON'T!!!!