By Sara Price
Rumors about scam door-to-door book salesmen have been swirling around the country. Whether it’s a Russian kidnapping scheme or pure fraudsters, the grapevine is buzzing. These same booksellers have now appeared in Carbon and Emery counties.
Worried residents have been calling into local law enforcement agencies over pushy book salesmen with heavy foreign accents. Reports claim that the salesmen try to push their way into homes asking suspicious questions about local children.
This has only fed rumors that nefarious purposes are behind the salesmen’s motivations. So far, there are no official reports to support these fears.
A bit of research has revealed that these door-to-door salesmen are from a legitimate book selling company called Southwestern Advantage based in Nashville, Tenn. The door-to-door salesmen are college students from around the world, often from Eastern Europe. The students work through the summer attempting to earn back their investment and hopefully earn a profit for the upcoming school year. Students are required to pay their own expenses upfront before earning a cent. Expenses include airline tickets and range upwards of $3,000.
Some students who have worked for Southwestern Advantage call the program a pyramid scheme. These same students claim that the company expects it’s salesmen to work seven days a week from sun up, to sun down while requiring at least thirty new contacts per day. This averages out to approximately 88 hours a week. Successful students are grateful however, some making several thousands of dollars in profit each summer.
Customers have also fallen along the range. Some call the books overpriced and worthless while others are very satisfied with the product. Some customers have also discovered that when trying to cancel or return books, the company claims they are past the return date. According to Southwestern Advantage, customers only have three days to cancel an order and gain a refund.
Predatory sales tactics have put many residents across the country on guard, even if the salesmen are from a legitimate book company. Some sellers try to force their way into homes and even ask extensive questions about children including ages, names and where the child lives. They also try to pressure people to make a purchase.
As with all strangers who knock on the door, local residents are urged to be cautious about who they allow in their home and what information they give out. Whether residents of Carbon and Emery counties choose to purchase from Southwestern Advantage will be up to each individual. As far as can be found, there will not be any black cloaked strangers sneaking in the night to steal children.
Residents are also urged to research any product before purchasing. Concerned citizens may call their local law enforcement agency with concerns regarding the pushy behavior of any salesperson.