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The Southwestern company
Posted by: sallieparker ()
Date: March 27, 2007 09:57AM

It is astonishing that the Southwestern Company's antics are nearly identical to what they were when I knew them in the 1970s. "Follow our advice, do what we say, or brand yourself forevermore as a failure." A bullying so transparent that you have to wonder why anyone, even an 18- or 19-year-old, would be taken in by it. The answer is that no one is, initially: the summer outing is sold as an adventure, a lark. Students are encouraged to try it out, and if they don't like it--well, no harm done. The bullying begins when they attend "sales school" in Nashville, living 3 or 4 to a motel room under the watch of a Southwestern manager. They go to "school" in the daytime and the rest of the time--even lunch breaks--are forever hectored by Southwestern personnel to rehearse their sales scripts and adopt the right attitude. In my day you were supposed to shout, "Ah feel healthy, ah feel happy, ah feel ta-riffic!" every twenty minutes or so throughout the day. At the motel and during the Sunday pep meetings, Billy Bobs and Norma Raes from East Treestump, Arkansas would sidle on by, chat you up and size you up, and tell you what you were doing wrong. Basically, if you acted like anything other than a redneck wannabe, you were accused of being overintellectual and snobbish.

I do not doubt that this is a benign, even positive, experience for a large minority of recruits. However, most people simply are not wired to wander around strange neighborhoods, making door-to-door cold-calls 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. It is difficult to think what sort of career or aptitude this experience would enhance, other than low-level one-on-one salesmanship.

My brief experience left me with one useful insight, which is that the Southwestern recruitment model is just an caricatured microcosm of sales recruiting in general: a vast and random intake of candidates, with little attention paid to their interests or aptitude: followed by a vast wash-out of those who shouldn't have been recruited in the first place.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: daveyjones ()
Date: May 04, 2007 02:34PM

I am a student at a catholic university and recently attended a recruitment meeting by the southwestern company. After researching the company I was surprised with my findings. Let me clarify that I have never worked for the southwestern company and never plan too. I now find myself with the help of my fellow students attempting to ban the southwestern company from ever recruiting on our campus again. Coming from a background of catholic education and attending a catholic university I feel that the southwestern company practices unethical business marketing which completely undermines my university’s mission statement. I came to this conclusion half way into their recruitment meeting. The Southwestern company my be a legitimate business but does not belong on my campus. I found much of their recruitment meeting appalling and feel that it completely disregards the true purpose of a college education. The most striking statement made by the southwestern recruiters was that the last quality they take into consideration is that of GPA and major. This completely belittles the purpose of a college education, which is something I hold dearly. As college students you should never let anyone tell you education is not important as did this recruiter. He then stated that some of the most sought after qualities which the south western company is built upon are those of HONESTY and INTREGITY. I could not believe that this kid could actually stand in front of me say this and while keeping a straight face. I feel that the south western company is very deceptive in its recruiting tactics and owes a lot of its recruiting success by playing off the averages college student’s connotation of an internship.
Furthermore the south western company practices very unethical business marketing which in some instances has been or can be illegal. The practices of multi-level marketing and network marketing that implement variations of the pyramid scheme can be punishable by law with the penalty of misdemeanors and felonies depending on the state they occur and time in history. There have been several Bills and Acts passed that outlaw these practices. Unfortunately the Direct Sales Association (DSA) the lobbyist group that supports the practice of multi level marketing and network marketing which the south western company and many of its counterparts are members of has gained strength and influence in politics in recent years therefore having success in having many of these Bills and Acts amended, which legalizes these once illegal practices. As you can this has been a very controversial issue for many years. My point being, even though these unethical marketing practices may NOW be legal the reasons for their once illegality still remain. One problem facing the courts and government in regard to stopping these practices is the inability to create a definition and a means to identify the wide range of variations of the pyramid scheme which are used by most multi level marketing and network marking companies including the south western company. The one thing that the south western company and many other similar companies try their hardest to achieve is to dissociate and safeguard themselves from the pyramid scheme, by implementing rules on preventing market saturation and fair distribution of profit which are the unethical characteristics of multi level marking and network marketing.
I honestly feel my fellow students and I will be unsuccessful in banning the southwestern company from our university, because to my knowledge only one university has ever achieved this task. The university in question was also threatened with a class action law suit by the southwestern company if the university did not retract the ban. What does this tell you about the southwestern company who threatened to file a lawsuit on an education institution; just because that university was protecting it student’s welfare after they felt sufficient evidence was apparent in an investigation of the company? I hope this has shed some light on the southwestern company and its history and trust me there is plenty more available. I held back my comments on the financial earnings and treatment of employees/interns/independent contractors.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: Vigilant ()
Date: May 05, 2007 03:45AM

There are a number of good resources out there regarding the history, business practices and experiences of persons involved in these recruited sales organizations. I would submit that the posters who indicated positive experiences about Southwestern are plants (either SW personnel or a singular individual defending the firm).

If there are individuals with positive experiences, then they should not be afraid to self identify. A FTC Report outlines some of the quesitonable business practices while a whole website is maintained to the perils of Traveling Sales Crews. :!:

As a final note, the Southwestern Company is publicly lobbying the State of Wisconsin to prevent passage of an anti-sales crew law.

Don't be misled. A good job at Home Depot would be more rewarding and less dangerous.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: capnbob ()
Date: May 15, 2007 08:07PM

I was a student in a UK university. Following my experience with SW myself and a number of others have been attempting to have them banned from the campus.

They are so close to being a cult that it makes no odds.

We were mislead over a number of things before we even left the UK, including the amount of money we would have to pay the company, the nature of the training regime and the Sunday "fun days".

Most of their sales techniques wouldn't be out of place in a cult. I was halfway through the spiel to a potential customer when I said, "hang on, this is very nearly the speech that got me here in the first place."

The company appeared to choose were to send you entirely at random. We were sent to a town which had recently had a number of murders including a cop. As a result I spent a lot of time talking to police called by jumpy residents. When I complained about this I was told this was my fault even though this happened to everyone else who'd been sennt to this area.

Some of the female members including friends of mine were sent to an area to sell books alone where a guy had been attacking women at knifepoint.

Other points: we were told to break the law:
The other town I was in had a 100 dollar a day door to door sales permit. We were told not to bother gettinng this and to talk our way out of an trouble. I spent a LOT of time talking to police as a result.

The organisation is also controlling. For example we were told that if we struck up a sexual relationship with anybody including group members we would be sent home (why they would have the power to deport someone is beyond me).

This extended to two friends of mine who had been a long term relationship being prevented from spending any time together, for the whole time they were out in the States.

This organisation is deeply unhealthy and fairly predatory.

The spiel those pro on this thread are coming out with are very familiar.

I'd urge anyone thinking of going out there and doing this to do something else.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: krae85 ()
Date: May 22, 2007 11:15AM

Please be careful. This company does a great job of sacrificing their students and protecting their rears. Ask the right questions before you leave.

1. Have the name and address of the location where you will be staying. If they can't give it to you, then don't go.

2. Ask for a signed contract detailing what you will be doing (FYI: they will not give you one. When they don't, decline their request for you to join their org.)

3. Ask for a signed contract detailing how they will handle any problems you may have (car accidents, rapes, death). (FYI: they will not give you one. When they don't, decline their request for you to join their org.)

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: BADBADNEWS ()
Date: June 07, 2007 01:01PM

Right now, I have two teenage girls from Eastern Europe sleeping in a portion of my house because they are basically homeless due to the "character building" of this dreadful company.

Maybe in a different, more innocent time, the idea of wandering young students knocking on doors seeking lodging might have been OK, but today, it's a recipe for disaster and tempting the worst kinds of tragedy.

Right now, it seems this shameful company is recruiting English speaking kids in the poor Baltic countries with grand tales of adventure, character development and money to be made. The truth, from what I'm seeing right now, isn't that- it's a god damned tragic abandonment of good kids who had no idea what they were getting in to.

The post made by SallieParker basically sums up the feeling I get from this outfit.


My brief experience left me with one useful insight, which is that the Southwestern recruitment model is just an caricatured microcosm of sales recruiting in general: a vast and random intake of candidates, with little attention paid to their interests or aptitude: followed by a vast wash-out of those who shouldn't have been recruited in the first place.

The sad thing is when the kids "washing out" aren't a $50 Greyhound ticket from home- they're thousands of miles away on a foreign continent without any money, and a plane ticket home will cost what their parents make in a year.

This company needs to be stopped. This is just disgusting.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: ezdoesit ()
Date: June 08, 2007 01:37AM

Here's another link that might be helpful:


These traveling sales crews are a dirty little secret of certain publishing and media concerns.


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The Southwestern company
Posted by: elena ()
Date: June 08, 2007 01:51AM

Here's a recent article from the New York Times on these door-to-door selling crews. I love this bit:

“You’re involved in bad stuff, you’re seeing bad stuff and they tell you, ‘No negativity,’ ” said Jennifer Steele, 23.

The New York Times

February 21, 2007
For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews

Two days after graduating from high school last June, Jonathan Pope left his home in Miamisburg, Ohio, to join a traveling magazine sales crew, thinking he would get to “talk to people, party at night and see the country.”

Over the next six months, he and about 20 other crew members crossed 10 states, peddling subscriptions door to door, 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. Sleeping three to a room in cheap motels, lowest seller on the floor, they survived some days on less than $10 in food money while their earnings were kept “on the books” for later payment.

By then, Mr. Pope said, he had seen several friends severely beaten by managers, he and several other crew members were regularly smoking methamphetamine with prostitutes living down the motel hallway, and there were warrants out for his arrest in five states for selling subscriptions without a permit.

“I knew I was either going to be dead, disappeared or I don’t know what,” Mr. Pope said.

After persuading his manager to let him leave, Mr. Pope was dropped off, without a ticket, $17 in his pocket, at a bus terminal near San Antonio, more than 1,000 miles from home.

More than two decades after a Senate investigation revealed widespread problems with these itinerant sellers, and despite several highly publicized fatal accidents and violent crimes involving the sales crews in recent years, the industry remains almost entirely unregulated. And while the industry says it has changed, advocates and law enforcement officials say the abuses persist.

In interviews over seven months, more than 50 current and former members from almost as many crews painted a similar picture of life on the road.

With striking uniformity, they told of violence, drug use, indebtedness and cheating of customers during their cross-country travels, often in unsafe vehicles and with drivers who lacked proper licenses.

“The stories about life on crew you hear from these kids are almost unbelievable,” said Officer George Dahl of the Louisville, Ky., Metro Police Department, who estimated that his department had cited or arrested more than 70 sellers for assault, unlawful solicitation or drug possession in the last two years. “But you get them alone and start hearing the same sort of thing over and over from different crews and you start believing them.”

In Collinsville, Ill., Daniel Burrus scrolled through digital photographs of bloodied faces as he described how, on a crew he helped manage for several years, men who missed their sales quota were forced to fight each other.

In Flagstaff, Ariz., Isaac James sat with his wife and newborn daughter as he told how he and others on his mag crew — as they are typically called — stole checkbooks, jewelry, medicine-cabinet drugs and even shoes from customers’ homes.

Last October, Jonathan Gagney joined a mag crew to escape the “crack scene” back home in Marlborough, N.H. But one night last month, he called this reporter from a bus station in St. Petersburg, Fla., to say he had just sneaked away from his motel to run away from his crew.
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“All I know is this guy got beaten and there was blood all over the motel wall,” Mr. Gagney said, his voice shaking.

Earlene Williams, director of Parent Watch, an industry watchdog group, said her organization got about 10 e-mail messages or calls a day, double the number since 2003, seeking help from sellers, their families or lawyers.

“Publisher’s Sweepstakes is a lot smaller than it used to be, and so the magazine industry is less able to get subscriptions that way now,” Ms. Williams said, explaining why she was seeing an increase in problems with crews. “And the telemarketing no-call list has also pushed the publishers away from telemarketing and toward door-to-door crews.”

Last year in response to a similar increase in calls, the National Runaway Switchboard began training its operators to handle the cases.

A Complex Industry

Dan Smith, a lawyer for the National Field Selling Association, which represents about 60 percent of the magazine sales industry, estimated that 2 percent to 3 percent of all magazine subscriptions, or at least $147 million worth in 2005, were sold by door-to-door salespeople, up from about 1 percent, or at least $69 million in 2000. But the Magazine Publishers Association disagreed with Ms. Williams and Mr. Smith. It does not believe that door-to-door magazine sales have grown, and estimated that they account for 1 percent of sales.

The industry consists of layers. While the bulk of subscriptions are sold directly by publishers and through direct mail, insert cards and the Internet, many magazine publishers also hire clearinghouses. These companies then subcontract with crew managers who hire door-to-door sellers. These layers of middlemen, and the small percentage of total subscription revenue involved, may help explain why publishers, who are always eager to increase readership, have been unwilling or unable to prevent mag crews from operating.

Just who uses mag crews is in dispute. Crew members and the National Field Selling Association say many of the largest publishers use magazine crews or clearinghouses that rely on them. But of the five largest publishing companies — Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith and Reader’s Digest Association, which collectively make up nearly half the industry as measured by advertising revenue — four said they did not use mag crews or did so only sparingly.

A representative for Reader’s Digest said, “A portion of our subscriptions come in through third-party agents, who may in turn subcontract to local vendors.”

Dozens of magazines are listed on order forms offered by crews, including Reader’s Digest, Rolling Stone and Redbook.

Rolling Stone declined to comment. A representative for the Hearst Corporation said that in recent years it had stopped hiring clearinghouses that use crews. But when subsequently asked why Redbook, a Hearst publication, appears among magazines sold by one crew, a Hearst representative e-mailed, “We constantly fight unauthorized agents,” adding, “It’s an ongoing battle.”

Generally, the clearinghouses get about 40 percent of the subscription money and the publishers about 10 percent. The crew leaders get the other 50 percent, out of which they pay all expenses on the road, including the sellers’ commissions.

“Nobody is forced or pushed to do anything,” said Tim Peek, manager and recruiter for New Generation, a crew based in Vero Beach, Fla.

Drugs and violence are forbidden, and some sellers make $1,000 per week, which is kept in a savings account for them, Mr. Peek said, adding, “If they don’t want to work, they don’t make money.”

John Wigman, the manager of Mr. Pope’s crew, Periodical and Publications Connections, said, “I don’t see why you don’t tell about all the kids on drugs that we help out.” Asked to elaborate, provide names or respond to Mr. Pope’s accusations, Mr. Wigman refused and hung up.

Mr. Smith said he viewed most stories of drug use and physical abuse as exaggerations. “I don’t put a lot of stock in them because, to be brutally frank with you, abuse is like beauty. It’s in the eyes of the beholder,” he said. “A loud voice, anything, can be called abuse.”

While there may be a few shady operators, he said, the industry has cleaned itself up over the years, and his organization has helped through broad distribution of pamphlets on professional courtesy and ethics, yearly training seminars for members and one-on-one discussions with managers who have problems on their crews.

By pressuring members to perform background checks on new hires, the association has cut the number of crimes and cheating perpetrated by sellers, Mr. Smith said. No one is forced to stay on crew, he added, since the association pays for a bus ticket home for any crew member who wants to leave.

But labor and law enforcement officials said that since many sellers were runaways or high school dropouts or were from dysfunctional families or poor neighborhoods, they had fewer options and were reluctant to report mistreatment or leave.

Many former sellers also said they kept quiet about problems out of fear of violence against them or those they left behind.

Sellers reported having adopted fake names upon joining a crew, being beaten if they attracted police attention and receiving mail sent from home only after it was opened by the company’s central office. “What happens on crew, stays on crew” was a common refrain.

An escape from small-town boredom or overbearing parents, working on a mag crew is a lifestyle more than a job, and it brings good times with the bad. Like gangs, crews become family, sellers said, and the camaraderie of shared experiences is a bond not easily broken.

“You’re involved in bad stuff, you’re seeing bad stuff and they tell you, ‘No negativity,’ ” said Jennifer Steele, 23.

In September 2004, Ms. Steele said, she was drugged and raped by two men who were partying with crew members at a motel in Memphis, where her crew, Precision Sales, was staying. When her manager told her to go back to work the next day, she said she “threw a fit.” But she did as she was told, and worked part of the day before filing a police report and having a rape kit performed. She stayed with the crew for another seven months before quitting.

“I know it sounds crazy,” Ms. Steele said. “But I believed my manager when he said he would never let that happen again, and I believed him when he said my mom had told him she didn’t care about me.”

In January 2006, Ms. Steele left her crew and was placed in the witness protection program during an investigation of her former managers, who were accused in the beating and kidnapping at gunpoint of her boyfriend from a city bus, an incident that was caught on videotape and led to the conviction of one person for kidnapping for ransom and assault with a deadly weapon.

“They’re frustrating cases,” said Sgt. Jeanine Lum of the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station in Norwalk, Calif., near Los Angeles, who was involved in the investigation.

“The ones we arrest at the doors often just need to be sent home,” Sergeant Lum added, “while the real culprits are back at the hotel or in some office somewhere.”

Few Legal Protections

Regulating the industry has been difficult because the companies, many of them operating only out of post office boxes, are small and frequently change names.

“The local police can’t keep up because the crews leave the state before they get alerted and the feds don’t bother with them because they say it is a state’s issue,” said Connie Knutti, who investigated several crews before she retired in 2005 as manager of field enforcement for the Illinois Department of Labor.

The sellers have few labor protections because they are classified as independent contractors, which also insulates the companies from regulation, taxes and liability. Categorized as outdoor sellers, the door-to-door peddlers are also exempt from most federal and state minimum wage and overtime requirements.

A majority of former crew members said that while they occasionally made several hundred dollars a week, most of the time they received little more than the daily allowance of $15, while the rest of their earnings stayed on the books to cover expenses. Many also said that subscriptions for magazines were never actually fulfilled.

On any given day, said Mr. Smith, the association lawyer, there are probably about 2,500 people, typically ages 18 to 24, selling magazines door to door.

But when state and federal labor department officials held a conference in 1999 to discuss concerns about the industry, a panel concluded that the number of sellers was probably closer to 30,000, said Darlene Adkins, vice president of public policy for the National Consumers League’s Child Labor Coalition. That organization ranks traveling magazine sales among the five worst jobs for teenagers.

Catherine Barbour said it was the constant traveling and working in dangerous areas that most worried her when her daughter, Tracy Jones, said she was joining a crew. “I told her no, absolutely not,” Ms. Barbour said. “But she was 18, so what could I do?”

On Nov. 15, Ms. Jones disappeared while selling subscriptions at a Pilot Truck Stop in North Little Rock, Ark. Ms. Jones was found 11 days later, stabbed to death, in a ditch near Route 61 in southwestern Memphis.

Up at 7 a.m., typical crews start the day with a sales meeting where they rehearse their pitches. “We’re selling magazines to earn points in a contest to win a trip abroad” is the standard and sometimes fictitious spiel. Around 9 a.m., the crews pile into vans to be dropped off at the day’s territory. They switch neighborhoods every several hours and often work as late as 10 p.m.

“You work hard during the day, but you also party pretty hard at night,” said Stephanie Blake, 23, who wrote an e-mail message in November to Earlene Williams at Parent Watch because she said she wanted to tell the positive side of the work.

While she and others used methamphetamine, Ms. Blake said it was mostly marijuana, alcohol and sex that filled the nights.

“But there is a lot more to crew than that,” she said, recounting having made some of her best friends, including her fiancé, working on the crew. Coming from Evansville, Ind., Ms. Blake said she relished the chance to see the country. The expense-paid trips to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and a resort in Mexico were more fun than she had ever imagined having, she said. “I still miss it sometimes,” she added.

About a half hour into the conversation, however, Ms. Blake’s tone began to shift. “I have to admit, some things did get to me about crew life,” she said.

The 100 sit-ups and pushups for every number a seller was below her daily quota felt “cultish,” she said. The beatings were also unsettling. But the most galling part, Ms. Blake said, was the unfulfilled promise of big money.

When she and her fiancé finally decided to leave their crew in December 2003, Ms. Blake said, they sneaked away late one night from the motel near Houston where they staying. Asked why she left without demanding to be paid what was still “on the books,” she said, “These aren’t the types who you just go up to and ask to settle up.”

Michael Simpson is one reason.

For two years starting in February 2004, Mr. Simpson, a stocky former high school lacrosse player from Newburgh, N.Y., worked on several crews as an “enforcer.” His job, he said, was to beat crew members upon a manager’s request.

If sellers missed quota regularly or complained about the job, Mr. Simpson, 23, said he hit them while in their room or when they were alone in the van. On more than 30 occasions, he estimated, he and several other enforcers drew blood. In three instances, ambulances were called, he said. Dealing with the police was not a problem.

“You have one kid saying he was jumped and 20 others plus two managers saying he stole something or broke into a room and assaulted a girl,” Mr. Simpson said. “Who do you think the cops are going to believe?”

Daivet McClinton, 23, an enforcer who worked with Mr. Simpson, said talking in front of others about wanting to quit invited the worst beatings.

Asked if they ever went overboard, both men recalled an incident in November 2005 involving an 18-year-old recruit from Dayton, Ohio, named Rudy. “All we were told was that Rudy had shoved and disrespected the manager,” Mr. Simpson said.

For 10 uninterrupted minutes in a motel stairwell in San Francisco, Mr. Simpson, Mr. McClinton and four other enforcers beat Rudy unconscious, Mr. Simpson and Mr. McClinton said. One held his mouth shut. Two others pinned down his arms and legs. Tearing off his shirt, they pressed a flaming lighter into his back. Mr. Simpson kicked him in the face and body. “I stopped because I ran out of breath,” Mr. Simpson said.

Rudy, they said, was taken away in an ambulance.

Darting a glance at his new girlfriend and his chin quivering momentarily, Mr. Simpson explained why he decided to leave last February. “I’d gone from being a kid who was afraid of hitting people in the face to someone who was using objects,” he said.

Still, some current crew members said the work had helped them turn their lives around.

“I was in and out of juvenile facilities, and now I’m actually going somewhere,” said Jordan Friedley, standing in a shopping mall in Oceanside, Calif., near San Diego, where, for two days, a reporter shadowed two crews, Magnificent Sales and Thoroughbreds, both from Alliance Service Company. “They keep things on the up and up, no drugs or none of that, and I bring in $700 a week.”

Asked about incidents in the last five years involving the two crews, including two fatal drug overdoses and the deaths of two crew members in the crash of a crew van, Mr. Friedley fell silent.

Crystal Hall, who helps manage the crews, said: “We’ve cleaned things up. Everyone is drug-tested now. They show up dirty, they’re gone. Those who stay have plenty of chance to make money.”

The Money ‘Flows Up’

Since pay is purely on commission, Mr. Smith, the association lawyer, said that only the best sellers survived and that about 20 percent of recruits left in less than a month.

Matt Ward, a former bookkeeper for several crews, said there were other reasons for the high attrition. “Money in this industry flows up,” Mr. Ward said. “It doesn’t trickle down.”

For about two years starting in 1998, Mr. Ward did bookkeeping for several crews with American Community Services, a company with several hundred sellers that is based in Indiana. It is owned by two of Mr. Ward’s brothers, LeVan and Albert Ellis, who declined to answer questions both over the telephone and sent by certified mail.

Mr. Ward said that while the company should be commended for sticking to its strict antiviolence policies, he left in 2000 after becoming uncomfortable with what he saw while he was keeping the books.

“The sales agents remain almost always in the red while the managers, car handlers and everyone else is in the black almost from the start,” Mr. Ward said between shifts at a restaurant in downtown Washington, where he now waits tables.

Of the more than 400 sales agents whose accounts Mr. Ward said he handled, he estimated that fewer than 40 left the company having made money. The rest spent their earnings on the road or, more often, to cover their daily deductions for room expenses, gas and meals.

This is not a new criticism. In 1987, during the Congressional investigation of the industry, the Senate committee reviewed the records of one company and found that of its 418 sellers, 413 had finished the year in debt to the company, even though the company itself had reported large annual profits.

Ms. Williams, from Parent Watch, said her organization advised customers not to buy from the sellers or to let them in the house, but to offer them a phone to call home or her organization’s phone number to help anyone who might want to arrange a bus ticket home. She said her organization had lobbied for legislation to prevent sellers from being categorized as independent contractors and to provide them with minimum wage and safety and health protections.

“Leave these kids off radar as they are now,” Ms. Williams said, “and the abuses will continue.”

Bob Driehaus and Sean D. Hamill contributed reporting.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: BADBADNEWS ()
Date: June 11, 2007 01:34PM

I would like to add that these girls aren't the degenerate, wanderer types that are so oft the fodder of traveling magazine crews. Matter of fact, I get the distinct impression that this "Southwestern" outfit is leagues away such groups.

Magazine crews sell their participants with the lure of easy money, travel, and a place to "run away" to along with a bunch of other kids their age who are just as drug addled and promiscuous as they are. It definitely has it's appeal to a certain sort of kid...

Southwestern, on the other hand, is quite the opposite.
They are *somewhat* up front about the nature of the program and I could see how with a few tweaks, this program might actually be a good thing (although I do think the model of door-to-door selling is just horrendously outdated from a marketing standpoint and borderline dangerous). Southwestern tends to draw industrious kids who want to better themselves, whereas magazine crews draw kids without any real prospects in this life who just want a chance at a paid hotel room so they can do drugs and get laid.

What makes Southwestern so terrible is that it's rendering these kids into the meat-grinder of "the real world" without any material support. They sell it as teaching the kids "life skills" when in reality, it's the ugliest sort of corporate responsibility/liability dodge there is.
As long as they are "contractors" rather than "employees", SW bears no responsibility to their well being, be it financial, safety or otherwise.

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The Southwestern company
Posted by: catalyst ()
Date: June 16, 2007 12:15AM

Your misunderstanding of The Southwestern Company sounds like those wild 'urban legends' that
get forwarded around, but would be so easy to check out.

The company is 151 years old and has been offering their program in its present form (to both boys and
girlst) for more than 60 years. My wife and I earned our way through college in it -- the most positive
influence we have had in the business world. The experience continues to be even more
valuable than the money (which was generous).

All 3 of our sons found it to be hugely influential for future success.
One is in his second year, running his business right now in Pennsylvania. His brother, currently serving
as a volunteer minister, will be joining him in 2 weeks for his own 2nd summer.
Many students return 3-5 years, even some who don't make a lot of money at first.
We have many friends who have enjoyed 2-3 generations in the program.

We have hosted youth in our home from 4 European countries and many U.S. states during 9 summers,
so we can say unequivocally those girls are not homeless.
The overseas students must have their ticket home purchased before they can leave home, as well as
passports, student work visas, letters of reference from parents or other adults.
It's possible that another experienced student may have made it sound better than he/she should, but we
doubt it. Recruiters are trained and supervised.

They were certainly not lured with easy money and escape. They knew they would be expected to work hard,
and that the company and recruiters would only make money if they succeeded. The company invests a
great deal in the students with careful training in both safety and honest principles that will lead to success.
And, the leaders and managers truly care.

It is the height of ignorance (and perhaps defamation) to compare Southwestern with the flybynight
magazine, squirty cleaner, and burglar alarm companies. You can't get college credit for those jobs. Our son
received credits he will transfer to his own college.

Southwestern is one of the most well-known and respected companies in the South. Their Alumni list reads like
a Who's Who in American business, government, and education. clears up most of your questions.
If not, just message me.


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