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STOPPING DOOR-TO-DOOR OUTFITS

Published on Monday, May 22, 2000
~ 2000 Madison Newspapers, Inc.

The words spoken by 16-year-old Monica Forgues from her wheelchair last week are worth remembering: "I want them to shut down the company," she said, "so other kids don't get hurt." The target of Forgues' comment was YES Inc., the door-to-door magazine sales company that employed 14 young people who were in a van that overturned on Interstate 90 near Janesville in March 1999. Forgues, among the van's passengers, was paralyzed. Seven passengers were killed. She spoke after a default judgment was issued against YES in Rock County Circuit Court on seven counts of vehicular homicide. The crash of the YES van, driven by a serial traffic offender whose license was suspended, and a subsequent investigation that revealed nearly 200 violations of state wage and labor laws by YES, opened Wisconsin's eyes to the door-to-door youth sales crew business --a reckless industry that preys upon its employees and consumers. This spring and summer Wisconsin can take steps toward shutting down not only YES but also the entire industry .Here's how: First, students and their parents should reject these companies' recruiting pitches. The ads can appear alluring --YES's referred to travel, wealth and scholarships --but state officials are all too familiar with stories of young people recruited into door-to-door sales only to end up broke and stranded, or even victims of assault. The chances of a good experience are almost zero. If you have been contacted by a recruiter, call state consumer protection officials at (800) 422-7128. They can offer information about the dangers of joining a crew. Also, call the state Department of Workforce Development at 608-266-6861. Officials there can investigate for violations of child labor laws and other employment and wage laws. Second, don't buy magazine subscriptions on your doorstep. The sales pitches are almost always misrepresentations. Not only should you shut your door to magazine sales crews, you should also call the authorities to report their activity. If a salesperson is at your door, call the police immediately. An officer can check whether the sales business has a permit in your community, if one is required, as it is in Madison. In addition, if the salesperson is under 18, the police can determine if the business has the proper certification for employment of minors. The surest way to shut down the reckless behavior of door-to-door magazines sales companies is to deprive them of the two things they want: employees and sales. Let's make sure Monica Forgues gets her wish.

Type of story: Editorial

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