New warning on door-to-door magazine sales

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The warnings about magazine sales companies keep coming. The latest is about Trinity Public Relations, Inc., which the Better Business Bureau in Charlotte says is sending door-to-door sales crews in the area.

The Florida attorney general shut down the company in 2005 after racking up 68 BBB complaints from 2003 to 2005. The company, owned by James and Lourdes Davis, moved its operations to Charlotte after that.

The BBB says 184 complaints against Trinity were filed from 2005 through 2007. Its troubles didn't stop there. In May 2007, North Carolina's attorney general filed a judgment against Trinity Public Relations, Inc., Trinity Public Relations, LLC, James Andrew Davis and Lourdes Jimenez Davis preventing them from owning, managing, participating in or operating any business in N.C. that offers or sells magazines. Trinity also had to cancel contracts with consumers who complained to the attorney general's office and provide refunds. The BBB gives the company an F rating.
After Trinity was banned from doing business in N.C., the Davis' changed their business name to Seedtime Publications, LLC and rented a mailbox in S.C., which operated as their business address. Seedtime had its share of problems too.

From 2007 through 2009, consumers filed 125 complaints against Seedtime with the BBB and during the past six years, consumers from 22 states have filed 376 complaints. Most of the complaints allege misleading sales practices and non-delivery of magazines already paid for by consumers.

Consumer Ally could not reach the company for comment, finding a string of disconnected phone numbers.

The most recent complaint comes from Charlotte resident, Amy Clark, who told the BBB that two young sales representatives from Trinity Public Relations visited her at home on June 16. They used "high pressure sales tactics" and tried to get her to give them $700. They peppered her with personal questions and also tried to get her to invite them into her home, according to the BBB. Clark ultimately agreed to buy a magazine subscription for $50 just so they would leave. When she researched the company online, she learned about its history of complaints and legal problems.

"After being barred from doing business in two state and being the focus of intense local and national publicity, I cannot believe that Trinity Public Relations is once again selling magazines in N.C. in apparent violation of a court order," BBB President Tom Bartholomy said in a statement.

The BBB has forwarded Clark's complaint to the attorney general. Bartholomy said the customers as well as young sales people are being taken advantage of. The BBB offers the following advice to avoid being scammed by a door-to-door salesperson.
  • Don't allow anyone you don't know into your home.
  • If you feel threatened, call 911 immediately
  • Check businesses at www.bbb.org before buying something.
  • Ask to see a seller's "peddler's license," which is legally required to sell products in many counties.
  • Don't be pressured to buy on the spot.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has a three-day cooling off rule which gives you three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in your home or at a location that's not the seller's permanent place of business. Getting your money back can be difficult but not impossible.
  • If you are a victim of fraudulent magazine sales or any other scam, file a complaint with the BBB at www.bbb.org or local law enforcement.
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