Traveling Sales Crews
A National Tragedy

The Silent Killer of Teens and Young Adults

No one deserves to die or suffer
or be abandoned or abused
because they are selling magazines
or cleaner products or candies door to door,
but they are.

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Updated Story Links

Updated Story Links (posted 10/22/12):
Portland Tribune
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Created on Monday, August 07, 2006 | Written by Todd Murphy
PART I: Door-to-door magazine sales crews ensnare young, vulnerable
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Subscription for disaster: Part 1

Subscription for disaster
Created on Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Written by Todd Murphy
PART II: Trio's easy to track in shady industry, but cash trail isn't
Subscription for disaster: Part 2

Industry complaints arent new
Created on Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Written by Todd Murphy
Calling agents 'contractors' shields sales firms from some laws
Industry Complaints
Industry complaints arent new

Door To Door Sales ALERT !!!

August 10, 2006
Daughter’s death sets off father’s crusade
Accident spurs legislative action
By Todd Murphy
The Portland Tribune, Aug 10, 2006

It has been more than seven years since he lost her, his only daughter.
But it still feels like yesterday, Phil Ellenbecker says. So every night, and on most weekends, there’s a good chance the Verona, Wis., telecommunications engineer is in front of his computer at home.

Checking one more criminal court case. Finding one more news article. Talking to one more reporter from some distant newspaper. And putting another new Web link, another new warning, onto the Web site he created to monitor and dog an industry he thinks cavalierly exploits and throws away vulnerable young adults, such as his daughter, to make a buck.

“It’s something that never leaves you, you know,” Ellenbecker says, talking about losing a child — in his case, his 18-year-old daughter, Malinda Turvey. “What I’ve tried to do over the years is focus my anger and my pain and my energy toward stopping these people.”

Turvey was one of seven agents from a traveling magazine sales crew killed in a van accident outside Janesville, Wis., in March 1999, when a driver for the crew tried to switch places with a passenger while the van was traveling 80 miles per hour down an interstate highway.

The driver, who had a suspended license and a bad driving record, had spotted a patrol officer. He lost control of the van, which rolled several times. Twelve sales agents were ejected from the vehicle.

The driver of the van pleaded guilty to reckless homicide. The owner of the magazine sales company was sentenced to three and a half years of incarceration on charges related to the accident.

While the Wisconsin accident was one of the most horrific, it was only one of a number of fatal accidents involving magazine sales crews in which reckless, drunken or sleepy drivers or poorly maintained vehicles were to blame.

And for his daughter’s death and the others, Ellenbecker blames an entire industry that, he says, routinely exploits young agents, working them long hours while paying them $20 or less a day, caring little about their safety and in some cases actually allowing crew managers to physically and sexually assault them.

“If I had my way, I’d herd them up and dump them into the ocean — every one of them,” he says of the people who own and run the magazine sales crews.

Web sites raise awareness

Ellenbecker’s focus during the past several years has been twofold. One is to create and update Web sites — especially — that detail, monitor and chronicle the industry’s problems and problem companies.

The other has been to lobby the Wisconsin Legislature to make changes in state law that would make it more difficult for the magazine sales crews to operate in that state.

A bill in last year’s Wisconsin Legislature — which Ellenbecker helped champion and which was called Malinda’s Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act — won unanimous approval in the state Senate but was stalled in a committee of the other house, the state Assembly.

Ellenbecker says the bill will be sponsored again in next year’s legislative session. And, he said, he will continue working on his Web site, monitoring the industry, finding ways to either change the way it operates or kill it entirely.

He doesn’t mind the work, which he figures is 100 hours a week beyond his 40-hours-per-week job. And that work is spurred on not only by his daughter’s memory but by some of the “agonizing and painful” phone conversations he has had with other parents whose children have been killed or have died in an accident while on a magazine sales crew, Ellenbecker says.

“If you talk to these people like I’ve talked to these people … and seen the things I’ve seen … you’d want to stop them, too,” he says.

Related stories:

Subscription for disaster, Part I:

Subscription for disaster, Part II:

Industry complaints aren't new:
By Todd Murphy
The Portland Tribune
Portland Oregon

They would not listen
they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now.

They would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will...

Breaking News
Criminal Profiles
Magazine Sales Crews
Dedicated Memorial Parents Group

Magazine Sales Crews, Magazine Publishers of America, Robert Spruiell, Karleen Hillery, Karleen Hillery Spruiell:
Houston Press

Houston Press (by Craig Malisow): What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know About Door-to-Door Magazine Sales
That kid at your door with a magazine order form will tell you a story --
part sad, part hopeful. The truth will be infinitely worse than you can imagine.
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
For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews

New Your Times: Life on a Magazine Crew
Life on a Magazine Crew

Portland Tribune: Subscription for disaster
Subscription for disaster

Houston chronicle: Slaves to the sale
Slaves to the sale

Letters to the publishers

Malinda's Memorial

Subscription for disaster, Todd Murphy, Portland Tribune, Malinda Turvey, Karleen Hillery, Robert Spruiell, Jonathan Tork, Integrity Program, Integrity Sales, magazine sales crew, magazine publishers of america, national field selling association, magazine sales fraud, soliciting magazines door to door, crimes against consumers, fraudulent sales practice, human trafficking

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