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AST, JPD warn of possible door-to-door scam

Posted: August 29, 2011 - 8:24pm

Magazine sales people making neighborhoods nervous

The Alaska State Troopers and the Juneau Police Department are warning Juneau residents to be wary about a possible scam involving door-to-door magazine sales.

Troopers received reports of an individual acting suspiciously while doing door-to-door sales. The individual was noted to be demonstrating very questionable sales tactics and asking some very inappropriate questions.

“A home owner said she was asked some really inappropriate questions that made her nervous,” Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Matt Dobson said. “Questions about when she worked, when she would be home and if she had any pets.”

Dobson said he contacted the salesman in the Ka-See-An Drive area. The salesman stated he was from Success Express Sales, Inc. He was clean cut and dressed casually but a background check revealed he had a very extensive criminal history of theft and drugs in the Lower 48.

The salesman denied his criminal history until Dobson pointed out the extent of the background investigation.

“It doesn’t mean he isn’t rehabilitated,” Dobson said. “And this is the only work he can find, but it did make this more interesting.”

Another homeowner approached Dobson on scene and expressed the same nervousness about the questions and said the seller became more verbally aggressive when she stated she was not interested in any purchases.

Success Express Sales is based out of Gig Harbor, Wash. and also operates under the name Pacific Coast Clearing Services, Inc., according to the Better Business Bureau. The bureau rates the company an ‘F,’ and does not accredit it. The bureau also stated that the salesmen sometimes use high-pressure and aggressive sales tactics, or say they are raising money for charities, or to get their life back on track.

The BBB suggests if members of the public receive a knock on their door concerning sales, they should check out the company with the bureau first before buying any magazines.

The BBB states the law requires any door-to-door sales include a three-day cooling off period in which a purchaser can change his or her mind. Salesmen should be providing a company cancelation form with the sales contract, which the customer can fill out within three days. If a refund is not credited within 10 days, a complaint should be filed with the BBB, local law enforcement and the Alaska attorney general.

JPD is advising residents to proceed with caution.

“Don’t let them into your home,” JPD Sgt. Chris Burke emphasized. “Ask for company credentials and identification of the sales person. Make a note of any vehicle descriptions including license plates. And as always use common sense in dealing with door-to-door salespersons. If you feel uneasy trust your instincts.”

Dobson said the salesman he contacted told him he was one of 15 who are in Juneau. He said he was told the sales team will be working here for a month before heading to Fairbanks. The salesman said they are a self-initiated sales group and that he would win a trip to Europe if he sold the most subscriptions.

That statement was also one mentioned on the BBB website as being false.

“The guy I contacted was polite,” Dobson said. “He kind of had a sales pitch he gave me even. I talked to him a little bit about making sure he was very clear about what he was doing. Obviously he made some people nervous about the questions he asked.”

Calls to Success Express Sales were answered by voice recorder that included a statement applicants must be able to leave their state for more than four months and be over the age of 18.

“My advice would be to proceed with caution,” Dobson said. “Maybe he just has bad personal skill(s), but he did deny some of the criminal history to me before I verified it to him. If someone comes onto your property they should be stating a purpose right away, they should not be asking questions about your employment, when you are home, or if you have attack dogs. That is a red flag.”

The salesman told Dobson he used questions about employment and pets to “break the ice.”

“In one case it made a mom nervous,” Dobson said. “A young guy asking her ‘when she would be home’ and ‘do you have any attack dogs’ is what she felt. Another neighbor stated that when he didn’t want anything to do with it, the salesman became verbally aggressive towards him.”

Dobson also said there was a report of a salesman wanting to come into a house to videotape the owner playing a piano. When that owner said no the salesperson changed the pitch to magazine sales.

Juneau residents should contact the AST at 465-4000, the JPD at 586-0600 or 911 if threatened. The BBB website is bbb.org.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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