Breaking news from Wisconsin, as reported by the Associated Press: state lawmakers moved Tuesday to approve the nation’s toughest regulations on companies that use traveling crews to sell products. The bill is expected to be signed into law, and this would put Wisconsin at the head of the pack for protecting kids from predatory traveling sales crews.
This is an issue that’s close to our heart at NCL, which operates the Child Labor Coalition. Working on a Traveling Sales Crew is one of the most dangerous jobs out there for kids, as we’ve reported annually in our Five Worst Teen Jobs. In 2008, Traveling Sales Crews was listed as the second most dangerous job.
Traveling sales might be a legitimate career choice for grown-ups, but our advice for parents is that they should not allow their children to take a sales job that requires them to travel. The dangers are just too great. Without parental supervision, teens are at too great a risk of being victimized by exploitative crew leaders, the dangers of the road, and more.
In May 2008, the Spokane, WA police investigated a 16-year-old’s claim that she was held as a captive worker by a traveling sales crew. She escaped after the crew leaders beat up her boyfriend because he wasn’t selling enough magazines.
Traveling sales companies often charge young workers for expenses like rent and food, requiring them to turn over any money they make from selling magazines or goods – which are sometimes scams against consumers based on products that don’t exist. When they try to quit or leave the crew, they are told they are not free to go. Not all sales jobs are on the avoid list. Teens considering a sales job that does involve door-to-door activity can check out these resources for determining whether it’s a good opportunity or one to run from.