DENVER (CBS4) – Five years after an undercover CBS4 investigation into door-to-door magazine sales a judge has taken dramatic action.
Two major players in the magazine sales world are now permanently barred from the business and were fined almost $1 million dollars.
A Denver District Court judge issued a permanent injunction against the magazine sales companies, saying they routinely misled consumers, failed to deliver magazines, and routinely misrepresented their connection with charities and other groups.
Magazine crews have been crisscrossing Colorado for years, in many cases misleading consumers like Catherine Pickering.
“He told me what they were doing was buying books for children in the hospital and I thought, ‘Well gee, that’s’ pretty good.’ You know because it was for the hospital,” Pickering said.
She gave magazine salesmen $300, but the door-to-door salesmen were later arrested for fraud admitting their hospital story was just a ruse to sell subscriptions.
Now a Denver judge has ordered the husband wife team of Cody Payne and Jennifer Proffitt Payne banned from the door-to-door magazine business and ordered them to pay nearly $1 million in fines.
The Paynes owned and ran a network of magazine companies that a judge says operated in bad faith, had sales crews make false statements to consumers, and failed to provide refunds.
“What actually generated the most complaints was people who tried to cancel their subscriptions, either because they didn’t get it, or it was too expensive, or whatever other reasons, and were promised refunds that were never processed and never received,” Deputy Attorney General Jan Zavislan said.
The Attorney General’s Office says it’s identified nearly 800 Colorado consumers ripped off by the Paynes and their web of companies.
“There’s no question that with crews operating in multiple states, as well as in Colorado, that they sold magazines to thousands of households,” Zavislan said.
Five years ago A CBS4 producer went undercover with a magazine sales crew. She was told to act younger to elicit more sympathy and sales.
“So I’m talking to you as Stephanie, but when I’m in contests I’m trying to act more like a kid, so my voice is going to change a little bit and I act more kiddish,” the salesperson said to the CBS4 producer.
The Paynes didn’t contest the order banning them for life from the magazine industry. It’s believed they have both now moved out of Colorado.
The Attorney General’s Office urges people not to let any unsolicited door-to-door salesmen in their house at any time.