The Southwestern Company – Door to Door Deception

How do you feel about a company that relies on prying information about your children from your neighbors without your consent?

A college-aged woman came to our door and said she was visiting all the homes of the children in our school district to provide resources for our kids to use for homework completion.  I invited her in.  It was also hot outside, and she had made the clear impression that she was employed by our school district.  She showed me her list of names, and told me she had to visit with each family in her assigned section of the district.

The charade that she was associated with the school district continued, even as I asked direct questions about it.  She would not say “No, I am not from your school district or employed by your school district.” until I asked her directly “Were you sent by our school district and are you employed by them?”  Instead she said she was interning for “them” (deliberately vague pronoun meaning her company, rather than the school system), and that she was brought in from Colorado while interns from our area of the state were sent there as part of the program.  She said it was for college credits.

She asked personal questions about my wife, myself, our home, our kids, and details about our kids’ education.  She did all this under the (technically unstated) guise of being an official with the local school district.  We’d been duped into conversational information sharing with someone misrepresenting herself.

edited to add:  When the saleswoman gained affirmation that our daughter was to attend the school she was listed under, the salesperson immediately made it appear that she had a personal relationship with the principal of that school.  She named her, asked if we’d met her – then referred to her by her first name and said what a wonderful person she was and didn’t we find that to be so.  Again the inference that she had been sent by this principal in an official capacity, representing our school.

She eased into what became a more and more obvious sales pitch.  She was selling reference books for families “who prioritize education”.  I asked how she got our name and address and she evaded a couple of times before saying that she inquires about neighbors from other homes she visited.  She gave the names of several of our neighbors, and indicated that the one next door told them we had small children and that we had a particularly strong interest in their education.

The new neighbors next door do not even know our first names.  They may know we have kids, because they see us walking with them, but they can’t even see our home from where they live and they certainly don’t know anything about our educational priorities.  They moved in less than 6 months ago and they keep to themselves, we thought they were flipping the house (because of all the work they immediately did to it), so we didn’t greet them when they first moved in.  In short – she was lying.

I told her that we don’t know those neighbors.  She evaded some more then said, “They know you have kids.”

She then told us, “I’m going to show the books to you, then you tell me yes or no as to whether you want them or not, okay?”.  She seemed to be asking us to agree ahead of time not to ask any questions about them not answered by her brief presentation.

She showed us the books.  They apparently have selections for all stages in primary education.  The sample she showed to us was a vocabulary dictionary for children preparing for grade school.  She turned to the entry “cow” as an example, while she explained that it had been developed in part by someone associated with Sesame Street programming.  Turns out that she chose a bad entry to start with.

The definition for “cow” was (this is from memory): a grass-eating animal that makes milk in a way we do not understand.

I said, “That’s really strange wording.  Milk production is well understood.  That is really weird. It sounds like a deliberately unscientific way to present information to a child.”

She had no answer to this, and closed the book.  She seemed to know at this point that we were not going to be spending money on her products.  She went through all that work to get into our home under false pretenses, then she showed us an example from her ‘educational materials’ that was the equivalent of “nobody knows where electricity comes from.”

Here is the result of two minutes research online – google: how do cows make milk:

http://hubpages.com/question/12747/how-do-cows-make-milk

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-do-Cows-Make-Milk

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_cows_make_milk

http://www.ask.com/q/How-do-cows-make-milk

I was curious to see more, but she knew it would be a waste of time, and Mom was eager to usher her out to stop the madness and awkwardness of the whole encounter.  I wish like crazy that I had gotten more of a look at these so-called reference books.

Turns out that Southwestern books are widely described as a scam.  Salespeople can earn tuition money by working hard, far from home, in a dishonest and deceptive manner.  The company was founded selling bibles door to door using these techniques, and its founder is a Baptist minister.  Some student unions have banned Southwestern due to ‘improper business actions’ and there is controversy over the terms agreed to by their work force.

I care less about the students duped into pursuing a scam as their summer job, and more about the manner in which they pry private information from neighbors under false pretenses.

Learn about these guys.  Tell your friends about them.  If one is talking to you – whatever you do, don’t let them mine you for private information about your family, or your friends and neighbors.

My first impression was that I had somebody advertising a religion on my door-step (she wore a large cross on her necklace), she said otherwise and showed some papers to assure me that I was next in line on her list of families in our school district.  She said she was here to help us prepare for the upcoming school year, and strongly implied that it was under an official capacity not only endorsed by, but a part of our local school district.  Turns out she was selling a product, in a more insidious way than I’d yet encountered – representing that they are the standard in educational reference materials, and implying that they are endorsed by our school district.

Buyer beware!

Some links for more information about Southwestern:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwestern_Company

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february232010/southwestern-company-ew.php

http://southwesterncompanytruth.com/

http://www.southwesterndifference.info/southwestern_company/not-a-scam-if-you-get-what-you-ordered/

(From Southwestern’s own website –emphasizes how they rationalize what they do by saying it is their right to sell you things in a deceptive but technically legal way.  The comments are worth reading, as they indicate that the salespeople are ultimately the ones being scammed)

http://www.homeschoolreviews.com/forums/2/thread.aspx?id=62556

I’m including this link to be inclusive… it is a question “Are Southwestern books a scam?” on a homeschooling site.  With positive answers followed by “blessings” as a departing platitude, I think it is clear that some homeschooling families are happy with them – particularly (?) religious ones.  I cannot speak to the quality as well as I’d like to.  The book I saw called milk a mystery beyond comprehension.  If my kid’s first grade teacher called milk a mystery beyond human comprehension, I’d have to meet with that teacher and probably their supervisor.  There are books in the Southwestern line which claim to explain why leaves change color – I can’t tell you what answers they give.  I am only guessing when I assume they say that it is inexplicable (extrapolating from my abbreviated experience with the product line).

I find this article to be of interest, too – again, from the Southwestern site:

http://www.southwesterndifference.info/southwestern_company/facts-matter/#idc-container

from the article:

“the headline read, “Residents Warned of Book Scam”. The article was actually the school district letting the community know the person selling educational books in the area was not endorsed by the district. With the misleading headline, the article actually caused a problem for the legitimate college student running her business selling Southwestern Company books.”

The next day, under pressure from Southwestern, the paper ran what amounted to a retraction, calling the sales legitimate.

Do you follow what happened there?  The Southwestern sales scripts push fast and hard to give the impression that the salesperson is working for the school district, without ever actually saying it. The district wanted to warn that this was going on – but that fact doesn’t technically make the book sales a scam – it makes the sales technique technically legal while relying on misconception to get the salesperson in the door.  The (apparently effective) hope is that you will forgive the misunderstanding, attribute it to yourself rather than what the salesperson said (factually misleading since the salesperson certainly guides you to fill in the blanks incorrectly), and then pay 400 bucks for a dozen books that seem likely to be startlingly substandard educational materials, while pushing an agenda in keeping with the founder’s motives and the (republican) politicians the company funds.

Bottom line: Milk is magic.

No, wait – bottom line:  A company can still be scummy if the way they mislead their customers is technically legal.

update 7/29/10 –

Here is another’s account – I’m pasting it directly from my comments:

I just got a visit too and decided to Google the company. Thank you for posting this. They did approach me EXACTLY like you said, making it seem like they were an employee of the school district. We’re homeschoolers, so I immediately assumed the district was phishing for information. She asked very personal questions and I became skeptical. She wanted the specific curriculums we use, what kind of grades my children get. It just seemed like a very invasive line of questioning. I did not invite her in, but made her give her pitch on my front porch. I told her I could not make buying decisions without my husband and she wanted to come back. I finally got rid of her, but not before she asked about my neighbors. I know who they are, when they are home etc. But I only told her I *think* they might have children. Now I feel like I should not have said anything.

I just called my districts public relations department and hope they can do something about people deceptively using their name to sell books.

I’m really struck by the description of a perfect stranger, posing as an agent of the school district, asking people about their neighbors children and when they are home – – I mean, how obviously scandalous can you get in this day and age?  This is a standard practice for a successful company?  Prying private information from neighbors?  Who is to say they don’t later come around to rob these homes, going by the information shared (from well-meaning neighbors) about when people are and are not home?!  Truly insane.

Thank you for the comment – and I’ll keep this post open to ongoing updates, as it is heavily trafficked and informative about a serious problem company.

New Update 9/8/11: 

Be wary of these people asking for a drink and to use your bathroom.  Several people are  commenting on this common behavior among their Southwestern agents.  It sounds harmless enough – but it is clearly a way an agent can further insinuate themselves into your home, and gather further private information about you and your family (the contents of your medicine cabinet – the layout of your bedrooms and windows, etc.). 

If another Southwestern agent comes to my home, I plan on calling the police. 

It isn’t enough to kick them out – they are preying on our communities and gullible people who give out the private information of others.  There is no way that a business model like this should function in today’s world – it is a testament to how lonely people are at home with their children, to low education standards, and to ignorance about the potential abuses of private information.
Taking these disadvantaged students away from their homes in order to make desperation their primary motive to sell substandard materials in a dishonest fashion is despicable and should never be rewarded.  Any money spent on these materials is money used to continue this abuse – not benefit poor students.

At the time of this update – over 6,400 people have come here to see this information.

Update 3/30/12:

In response to some rude messages from Southwestern salespeople, I thought I’d share some more links to help those stopping by to look for information.

The story is repetitive.  A family taking umbrage with the sales techniques and rightfully being suspicious of people coming to them asking for private information about neighborhood children and when their neighbors are at home.  They inform local parents and the police – and if the news makes it into local media – Southwestern takes the time to do damage control that fails to address everything that is dishonest about their approach.  Apparently, it remains profitable for them to put out scattered fires, and people ultimately don’t care enough to get out the word about Southwestern to effect change.

http://blog.seattlepi.com/ingreenlake/2011/06/

http://www.lazylightning.org/southwestern-book-reps-not-licensed-not-wanted  This piece is useful regarding the fact that the salespeople are not always properly licensed – in which case the local police have more options in ending the harassment and preventing the gathering of information under false pretenses.

http://www.desototimes.com/articles/2007/08/22/news/news02.txt  A piece about a Southwestern salesman arrested for his suspect behavior and selling in an illegal fashion.  There is a “balance” counterpoint in the piece explaining that he was a NICE Southwestern salesman arrested for his suspect behavior and selling in an illegal fashion.

Useful information about Southwestern from the Better Business Bureau:

INFORMATION FOR CUSTOMERS:

By Federal law, customers who purchase Southwestern products from the student dealers have three days from the date of purchase to cancel their order. Saturday is included by Federal law as a business day. Southwestern is a third party to the contract between the students and customer and can only act on the student’s behalf within the three-day cooling off period.

After ordering products, be sure to keep the sales receipt given to you by the student. It is a contract with the student of your intentions to purchase the product. If in the event you do not receive the product you ordered, Southwestern will guarantee delivery if you have a valid receipt. Call Southwestern’s Customer Contact Center at 888-551-5901 or e-mail at customercontactcenter@southwestern.com.

Alternate Business Names

The Hadden Group, The Southwestern Company, Southwestern Publishing Company, Southwestern Business Resources, SBR-Southwestern Business Resources, Southwestern Advantage

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february232010/southwestern-company-ew.php This article was subject to a partial legal retraction by the Southwestern Company – but, this depiction wasn’t forcibly retracted: The group operates a web of companies and employs hundreds of independent contractors who are used to disguise their criminal activities. When an accusation of criminal activity isn’t required in a retraction – what does that tell you?

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/southwestern-company-nashville-tennessee-c219581.html

http://radicallydreaming.blogspot.com/2009/06/southwestern-company-scam_08.html

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february252010/southwestern-company-2-ew.php

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february262010/southwestern-correspondence-ew.php

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february282010/southwestern-company-3-ew.php

update 5/24/12:

A recent Southwestern “intern” posted about how the police advised her to leave the program.  Here is a sample of her post:

This is a horrible company which takes advantage of young people. I’m so thankful the cops talked me into leaving and wish I had found this blog before I had agreed to do this. If nothing else, they need to figure out a way (maybe a buddy system) to keep the students safe and they need to be much more transparent about their operations and charges. It’s amazing this company can get away with all the stuff they do. It is disgusting they can work someone 80 plus hour a week and not pay them at least minimum wage for when that person doesn’t make a sale (which, other companies do have to do. But because this is considered an “internship”, this doesn’t apply).

The “interns” (can’t legally be called employees – because then they would be assured minimum wage) are all-too-often well-meaning college kids trying to take financial burden off of their parents’ shoulders – while endangering themselves in ways the parents would never approve of.

 

Update 8/6/12

The Southwestern Company itself (or some of its enterprising “interns”) have been attempting to post promotion for the company on this page.  If the posts were replies to the contents of the OP or the comment threads, I’d be happy to approve their inclusion (sans the half dozen links to SW promotional/subscription sites online).  They aren’t – so it ain’t happening.

Also – there is a particularly daft person who has tried on several occasions to post the accusation that this blog is run by a competitor book-seller.  By all means, look over the blog.  Find a single reference to any sales network, publisher of educational materials, or other potential competition to Southwestern.  She (assuming gender) shouts to the rafters that is is obvious, says to check the comment thread, etc.  Nope – won’t be approving weirdo conspiracy theories or outright lies designed to invalidate the feedback of the many people who experienced the same thing I did – and continue to every day despite claims that it doesn’t happen and that I’ve misrepresented anything at all.

This individual also makes the claim that this is the only place online where anyone has anything bad to say about Southwestern – ignoring the 20+ internal links that prove the contrary, and the whole communities online devoted to exposing this company for what it is (some run by ex-interns, happy to describe how hard it was to leave and overcome the lasting damage of SW’s influence in their lives).  She says that her posts not being included is mysterious, suspicious, proof that she’s right.  Hate to burst her bubble (just kidding, I like that part a little bit).

Another asked, in an unprintable diatribe, why I would maintain this web post after just one encounter with the Southwestern salespeople.  The answer is: because thousands of people visit to look for the information every month.  I wish that information had been more readily obtained when I did my own web search the day my home was compromised by someone pretending to work for our school district.  Maybe someday it will make sense to you.  When you have kids, maybe you will understand if someone enters your home by telling lies designed to prey upon your parenting instincts. Maybe it’ll irk you when they display a disturbing amount of information gathered dishonestly from your neighbors – about your kids, your job, and your daily schedule.  It struck me then, as it does now, how destructive that intrusion could be for someone less prepared to question the sales pitch.  For someone who blithely takes the salesperson at their word when they claim to be buddies with the principle sent to talk to us about our children.

It surprises me that you would even ask why I’d find this page valuable.  It’s a rare day when less than 50 people visit to learn what I learned, often sharing that the exact same thing happened to them.  That’s why.

 

Update  7/28/14

Hello – it’s been a while since I checked in, and there was quite a backlog of comments to approve.  As I mentioned earlier – the company has salespeople who’ve felt that this is the place to promote the program (maybe going with the “there’s no such thing as bad PR” philosophy), and I don’t publish those posts.  Posts come in with positive experiences with the company (from employees and customers alike), and I include the ones that seem genuine and aren’t name-calling rants.  Granted, this requires discernment – and I won’t pretend that’s something I can do entirely without bias – but I’ve tried to be fair.

Apologies to anyone who has been interested in seeing their comments included, or people seeking to see more current comments.  One new SW development seems to be that they have business cards now.  For all I know, there have been other such improvements.  I found it hard to believe such a sales model worked 4 years ago – the fact that it operates today is fascinating.  Surely, they are adapting their approach to a more technologically savvy consumer base.  If you’d like to post what these changes have been, in the comments, I encourage it.  At a certain point, misleading people has got to do more harm than good.  Especially in an age when claims can be checked on your smartphone while the salesperson is talking to you.

Judging from the nearly one thousand hits a day during some stretches of the summer – the salespeople are still out in force, and people are still trying to figure out if they’re legit.  I hope this page has continued to be a valuable resource to people deciding whether or not to be involved with them as a potential customer, or employee.

Update 1/4/18

Again – a long while since I’ve stopped in to publish comments.  I’m sorry that those of you who take the time to type out a helpful experience or perspective may feel that it didn’t see the light of day – – they do, eventually!

I *think* their business model must be going increasingly extinct, as people are doing background checks and becoming more savvy consumers – but as long as this information remains helpful, I’ll keep it up.

I could not maintain this post and also continue the blog in a way that felt safe or responsible.  The vitriol and attention makes it clear that I could reasonably expect to face repercussions against myself and my family if the individuals commenting saw an opportunity to attack us.  Indirectly, to be sure, Southwestern has cost us that option.

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383 thoughts on “The Southwestern Company – Door to Door Deception

  1. I got a book salesperson too, also a college student. I pointed to our large library inside, explained I was a teacher and had better books, and sent her on her way. She must have been a newbie because I didn’t get the full pitch.

    Scary.

    • Yes this is a scam !!! They took money from my account 2 different times now. Fought the first fee , Guess i have to do it again. Beyond irritated.

      • I just caught them taking money from my account! 4 times and the changed their name slightly each time. They use your routing number from your check and send it to your bank as a monthly withdraw!

    • “I got?” That’s certainly not grammatically correct for an educated person who supposedly teaches our kids. I’m sure your “better” books reflect the same level of education you’ve received. Also, because you didn’t get the full pitch doesn’t mean she must have been a newbie. In fact, you’d expect the opposite. The most experienced and most service-minded sales rep. attempt to read and adjust their “pitch” to your level of interest, i.e., if you clearly convey your disinterest, then the rep. should wrap up the demonstration rather quickly to make better use of your time and theirs.

      • It’s colloquial phrasing that I wouldn’t have used myself, but it’s not necessarily incorrect. The post in question uses “got”, a past-tense synonym for received, and the comment clarifies the poster is referring to receiving a house call from a Southwestern agent. But, by all means, pick apart a single colloquialism somebody used in a short comment and declare that they clearly need books that contain so little valid information that milk production is referred to as a mystery. Your Southwestern internship must be a real stepping stone for you!

      • I actually worked for South Western door to door book sales company during the summer after my freshman year at college. They said the average college kid made $10,000 over the summer, blah blah blah. I was sent (on my own dime) to “sales school” in Nashville, Tennessee. This was the summer of 1996. The sales school was so lame I almost quit…seems like what they’d teach sleazy car salesmen to lure in customers. What to say to every possible situation or denial (My husband isn’t home, I don’t have any money right now, etc etc). They say if you get into the house past the door, then you have an 80% chance of a sale. Sleazy and underhanded tactics at their worst. PLUS, we were told to ask about neighbors that might have small children.. I had the cops called on me twice in 3 weeks. I was in a small town in Ohio called Mansfield. I had to go door to door initially to even find a place to live. They called it a “growing experience” LOL. I don’t believe this company is still in business. The Internet should have killed it off 15 years ago or more.

  2. I just got a visit too and decided to Google the company. Thank you for posting this. They did approach me EXACTLY like you said, making it seem like they were an employee of the school district. We’re homeschoolers, so I immediately assumed the district was phishing for information. She asked very personal questions and I became skeptical. She wanted the specific curriculums we use, what kind of grades my children get. It just seemed like a very invasive line of questioning. I did not invite her in, but made her give her pitch on my front porch. I told her I could not make buying decisions without my husband and she wanted to come back. I finally got rid of her, but not before she asked about my neighbors. I know who they are, when they are home etc. But I only told her I *think* they might have children. Now I feel like I should not have said anything.

    I just called my districts public relations department and hope they can do something about people deceptively using their name to sell books.

  3. I am a college student and a good friend of mine just did this internship this past summer. I was skeptical when she told me about it because she was very vague about what she was selling. She left the day our classes were out in the spring and returned two days late when the semester started in the fall. I talked to her when I could over the summer, which was about once every three Sundays. I know that she was a top seller in the company and that the sales aspect fed through her competitive nature. I don’t know anything about Southwest, but what I can report is this. She is baptist. She is a very Christian girl, at least she was before she started with Southwestern. I can only the describe the change in her personality, by comparison to a cult, I guess. I myself sold Amway in my early 20s and know what these businesses thrive upon. A sort of rouse of Christianity that fills somebodies pockets in a very un-Christian manner. My friend made a lot of money in this program. She has a new car, a new apartment, a new flat screen TV, and several other toys. She was invited back and offered a promotion in the company, which she accpeted. She is now recruiting other college students to come visit your homes this next summer, and she plans to sell books again as well. I really liked this girl before she left, now I just wish her the best.

    • Sales in any field can change a person. My husband and I are christian as well and he is in sales, and yes he changed. He is back on track, but sales does that to lost of people in alll sales

  4. Same story, same cow example. I was so sketched out by the kid that came to my house that I felt the need to Google info about the books. I’m relieved to find out that there actually is a scummy company that exists behind him.
    “Justin” ,with his official looking badge that he held up several times before I would even go out to talk to him, also implied that he was sent by the school district. He listed off school names and teacher names and names of our neighbors and friends. A red flag went off when I realized he had a hand drawn map listing all of the houses in the area and names of their occupants. when I told him I would have to think about the books since my husband was asleep (he knocked on my door at 8:30 at night), he told me he did not have any email or phone number or any contact information.(super sketchy red flag).
    For some ungodly reason I allowed him to use the bathroom…probably because I felt so bad about shooting him down on the books and seeing him get upset. He spent about 10 minutes in there, repeatedly using the sink and flushing the toilet etc. When he came out, he picked up a magazine in my house and kept holding it and wouldn’t leave. I finally told him to take it and held the door open. He still stood there talking about the magazine until I finally said, “you need to go before my cat gets out.” He finally went back to the porch and I shut the door behind him without saying goodbye.
    Maybe I watch too many Forensic Files episodes but he had a Danny pack and a backpack with him and acted like he wasn’t going to leave. I actually almost called the police but I wasn’t sure what to say since I let him come in to use the bathroom. If you are reading this and one day someone creepy comes to your door, don’t worry about being polite…just tell them no and don’t open the door. Crummy books aside, who knows what type of unsupervised people that this distant company is hiring.

    • Wow! Your accounts are exactly like mine… student from Colorado, the drawn map, use of neighbors, holding up his badge, 8:00pm. My teenage son answered the door. (I could have killed him!) I did not let him in and politely declined several times before “Matthew” left. Each time I said, “No thank you” he kept talking. He is lucky, I saw him pull up the driveway and immediately grabbed a firearm. We live in a fairly remote neighborhood, weren’t expecting anyone, and don’t ever have company. I stood half in and half out of the door with a (safety off) loaded weapon on the other side of the door. If you have seen the news you would understand that there are crazy people and a mom with kids is going to protect them! I am sure that he did not realize the dangerous position he was in. I started researching the company a few minutes later and found this site.

  5. I just had a SW advantage saleswoman coming door to door too, and after ordering a few books I’ve now researched and cancelled my check. she was very nice, not very pushy, and felt normal, BUT after she left I noticed the date on the cancellation policy was backdated 3 days, meaning TODAY was already my last day to cancel even though I only ordered a few hours ago. Crazy. The books looked good, but I should’ve known better. SCAM SCAM SCAM!

  6. Same thing, a young college student selling books with lists of people in our area that have already agreed to buy books. My husband sent him away the first 2 times he showed up because I wasn’t home. The 3rd time he showed up at 7 am and was knocking on our door! Needless to say we didn’t move to answer it. He just showed up again, I said I would let him talk to me on our porch but any final decision would have to be made by my husband. He had some speech about being from Nebraska, while 300 of his “class mates” came here…. 300 of the people from my state went there? I would hate to think that there are 300 of them stopping by at all hours of the day and night! He asked questions about our children named names of neighbors and teachers and literally rushed through the whole thing. Said he only has a certain time allowed to each of the 50 houses he had to see. So in my eyes if this comapny was legit the sales person shouldn/t be running off in the middle of his sales pitch? I have since read tons a blogs including this one and contacted the principle at one of the districts he mentioned. Her reply “IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM ARE THESE BOOKS THEY ARE SELLING AFFILIATED WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT. THEY ARE NOT APART OF THE CURRICULUM AND OUR INFORMATION WAS NOT GIVEN TO THEM” so the creepy thing is how DO they get our info? My brother in-law lives next door with his 2 children, but he didn’t stop there, ever? I won’t being buying anything… I only feel for the young soon to be adults being used and abused by this shady company!

  7. The young woman who came to my door a few months ago (after dark) stammered her introduction, “You may have sen me working with kids in the neighborhood” (!!!). She implied she was with local school district (my kids attend public school in a different district, at their dad’s address). I jest kept asking what company she worked for, until finally (after 5 or 6 repetitions), she squeaked “Southwestern Company?” as she backed down the walkway.

    I worked as a canvasser back in the 80’s (different, more legitimate group), and door-to door “fundraisers” were always sent in TEAMS of TWO. The pairs worked the opposite sides of the street (unlike Mormon Missionaries or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who approach doors in pairs). This simple policy was for the canvasser’s SAFETY. If there was trouble, it would be simple to figure out where to find the person.

    After she headed up the next driveway, I walked out onto my block and watched awhile, frankly out of concern for the girl’s safety (my neighborhood isn’t that great) and never spotted another “agent.” The young woman (maybe 19?) who had approached my door seemed to be all alone in a strange, sketchy neighborhood, after dark.

    Even if their products were fantastic (the “cow” story exhibits otherwise), Southwestern’s methods– recruiting young people, putting them in strange cities (possibly in real danger), and getting them to trick good people is repellant.

    If another rep comes to my door, I’ll have very different questions. I’ll ask, “How can I help you — short of giving you money — to get back to where you belong?”

  8. It’s crazy, I found your page from Google after I had THE EXACT SAME VISIT this morning. Even down to the cow example, which I found sort of perplexing too. I listened to the pitch, thanked her and sent her on her way. I was a little put off after it was clear that she was not from the school district as she had me believe. She said she needed to visit 35 families today and kept dropping the names of all my neighbors, not one of whom I knew. Her pitch was exactly as you describe, almost verbatim.

  9. it was a really weird thing! this really sweet european (estonia) college girl came to my door. she convinced (indirectly at first) me that she was a legitimate intern doing something with education and kids in the neighborhood. She asked personal questions (ages etc) about the kids, but it didn’t seem tooo weird….

    my kids go to school that are a few districts away so that didn’t help her because she was naming the schools close by….then she wanted to show me the books and so we sat down on my porch. she had a strange map of the houses in the neighborhood with names on it.

    I asked her if she was studying to be a teacher and she said “No!” – that was kind of weird so I asked her what she was studying and she said environmental science. Well, I’m an environmental scientist so the exchange didn’t go quite like she thought because I started asking her what kind of environmental science she wanted to do and she had no thoughts on that. So I asked her where the book company is located. She said Memphis, TN. hmmmm….

    The BIG moment came when she handed me the book to look at and I flipped around until I found the beginning of the Biology section and SURE ENOUGH Intelligent Design was front and center. I read it, shut the book, told her that I wasn’t interested in fake science and sent her on her way. it was CRAZY!!

    • Wow tough crowd! I worked 2 summers for SW in 97-98 and it sounds like it was less deceptive then. I was never told it even vaguely suggested to pretend I was with the school district. I told folks I was a college kid from Texas and this was my summer internship. And to be fair 99% of the people I talked to were very nice, and did not seem weirded out or threatened at all. There’s no reason to be paranoid about kids selling study guides written by the same folks who design the SAT test. The company does work you VERY hard, and most kids quit the first couple weeks. They’d tell us our mantra was “7:59 is knockin time and I don’t stop till half past 9.” Which means you’re working 84 hours per week, you sell Monday-Saturday. You don’t pick the town and don’t have any money and don’t know where you will sleep; you have to talk to people in the community and find a nice family ok with putting you up for the summer. Myself and two buddies rented a room together for $300 a month from a sweet elderly couple my second summer in Michigan and I have fond memories of them.
      We did have to canvas the neighbors and get “pre-approach” on a house and info about the kids so that we wasted less time with people. I am pretty folksy so I talked longer than i should but I never used trickery to get in and never outlasted my welcome that I could tell, usually jumped up and headed out when I could see the kid was bored to tears and wouldn’t use the books if his mom bought em, in which case selling would be unethical.
      These days I’m a game developer and have zero interest in sales, but that internship helped me get over a lot of fears and learn how to really work hard, and I’m very grateful for the experience. I also learned that 99% of America is rural county, not cities. What you see on tv doesn’t accurately represent the USA lol.

      Anyway it sounds like they’ve been getting more desperate since the days I worked for SW largely because of Wikipedia the internet ebooks I imagine. It definitely is a Christian company and when I called my sales leader a year or two later at a low point and looking for advise he was a total dick. So I guess “mentor” for them only applies while you are earning them money.

      Still, I never felt I was scamming anyone even for a second, and I would not be where I am now without learning the lessons that I did.

  10. I had the college student come to my door today, it is July 12.
    My receipt says cancel before midnite July 15.
    I did buy the 6 books for students. All math formulas looked to be correct through calculus, all Latin declensions were in order, as were Spanish. I just glanced over them.
    There were examples in the SAMPLE book that dealt with daigramming sentences which were correct. THey had extraneous prepositions beyond the 49 that are in the regular textbooks.
    THe book that I saw had no cow example but the ones I saw were correct, historically, mathematically, grammatically. I did not look at the science section.
    The young man was very personable and introduced himself as a senior from U of Ky. I did not give him my kids’ names or school but since I was wearing the HS swim team shirt he put 2 and 2 together very quickly. My neighbors told him I homeschool the younger children. He was polite, professional and excited about his books. I have been looking for more homeschool books for the kids, these looked good.
    I have sent kids away who gave me the push about how they were employed by the school district before, I have called police on one even, he was gleaning too much info on our neighhborhood, asking too many personal questions. He even had a map of where the kids lived. THat was weird.

  11. I got a girl at my house too, which is hilarious because there are no children in this house. Creepiest part was she asked me about all the kids in my neighborhood- what neighbors had kids, how old they were, if they were male or female, etc… I refused to answer anything and told her several times that if she needed that info she’d have to go directly to them. She was adamant that I at least “help her out” as she put it, since I was not interested in her services. Eventually, I said “i’m not interested. you have a nice day” and shut the door on her.

  12. I had some girl at the door last week and gave a lecture about some books and even kaplan program for my older kid. She said she is from Nebraska and is here for exchange program. She did the same cow stuff with me too, haha. But we did not bought any books as we already have plenty of them at our home. She asked about the neighbors info, who has kids etc etc.. what a shame that young girls like that luring people to buy books and fooling people around some educational material. Guess what she gave her number too !!!!
    -Balaji

  13. Hey all – I’m a repoter with The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. I just interviewed three college students from Estonia who work for Southwestern.
    I’m waiting for a call back from the company as I type this.
    The scenarios above all look very familiar.
    I’ve been trying to find someone in the greater Spokane-area (Eastern Washington) who has purchased the books and is willing to talk to me – but with no luck.
    Please, if you leave in Eastern Washington and are willing to talk to a reporter about your experience – good or bad – with Southwestern, send me an e-mail at piah@spokesman.com. Thank you.

  14. I just had a young male college student give me the same pitch. He had parked in my neighbor’s driveway and walked to my house. That was the first thing that didn’t impress me. He wanted to know what I do, where I work, how old my kids are, etc. He said he is staying with one of the local public school principals and gave her name. I told him I wasn’t interested from the start, but he still wanted to give his pitch. I refused the books.

    On the surface, what I saw was a short, concise explanation of biological functions, some math functions and a history timeline. When I asked about updates, he told me it is all static information. When I told him most textbooks are already 6 years out of date when they hit the presses, he informed me it was just printed in 2010. Nothing changes, though. No information is ever updated. Weird!

  15. Wow!!! When I was approached – given the same “school district” misrepresentation – I was very skepitical and decided not to buy any books. After asking tons of questions, I realized that she wasn’t what she wanted me to believe she was. She flashed the DK logo and the Learning Company logos. I was still interested in the CDs/DVDs that I decided to buy the set of 8 for $144.40 including tax. They got in the car to leave, drove further down, stopped and decided to do the pitch for my neighbors. Well, I decided to try the DVDs. They didn’t work. Tried on a different computer, same thing. I tried the spelling computer and that worked but the graphics were horrible. And it didn’t self install, I had to launch it manually. I decided I didn’t want the CDs/DVDs anymore. I drove down the street and asked for my check back. She wanted to give me a story about since the CDs where open, she wasn’t sure she could take them back. That’s where my big husband came in to the picture. He demanded the check, She gave me the check and I gave her her CDs and left.

    But later in the night (after 9pm) I saw the same red car drive to front of my house and stop. So I turned on the light at the fron tof the house and waited to see if either the lady or her “bodyguard” would step out. Instead, they turned the car around and drove off!

    I’m happy and scared at the same time.

  16. i share the sam similar story; a lady claiming to be fom Europe came to my door saying my neighbor down the rd referred her to me, i told her i don’t know them and she said pehaps you know (such and such) i said i don’t know anyone in this neighborhood well she proceeded to go on sayng she had to come see me because i was next on her list. she was polite but very adiment about getting in to my house. i stopped her and she pulled out her ID, i looked @ it and told her i wasn’t interested she continued and picked up her bag again to come in. then she asked me about my kids and and said this will only take a few min. i told her i wsn’t interested again then he pulled out the book for (high school students) and showed me examples but told her nice but not interested, she then asked me can she come back when my kids get out of school i told her yeah and then she asked me about my neighbors. she then left. i came in the house to research them online… Thank you all for your post ’cause when she come back it will definantly be NO! and i’m only gong to say it one time. i told her my kids are a senior and junior in high school straight A’s, so your service will be a waist of time for me and you….. Thanks again

  17. How sad! All of you are so closeminded and have no intention of helping a college kid simply b/c they use a ‘cow’ example? Or you think they are hiding something? I am not associated with this company at all nor do I know, personally, someone that is affiliated with them. But I’ve bought a set of books from them twice, because I was willing to listen to the young girl that came to my door. She didn’t act “shady” or “scummy”. She never misrepresented herself. She simply talked about the books. I looked at them, and bought them. I have three kids and they love them. And have ENJOYED reading them. The books are full of accurate and descriptive information, which is hard to find in this liberal world of ours that tends to rewrite history.

    Not sure if any of you went to college, but I am still paying for my student loans. It is hard. So just because a college kid travels HUNDREDS of miles to sell a good product, offending you b/c she isn’t from your area, doesn’t mean you need to badmouth the entire company or label it as a scam. Think about what you are doing! What if others do not buy b/c of that! Just sad.

    • I had the guy in my living room a few minutes ago…Told him up front that
      I was willing to give him $50 to get out oif my house…He continued with his spiel, promising this and that but when I was finally suckered into writing a check I read the fine print…They were going to automatically bill my acxcount for $19.95 per month!! I crossedf that out and signed my name…Then I thought about Google, why not google this company? I told him that and he really about freaked out. After seeing this thread I said “No thank you” and his whole demeanor changed. I felt sorry for him as an individual but hey, he’s being played but it doesn’t mean I need to be played. I should haver stuck with my rule of “NEVER OPEN THE DOOR FOR DOOR TO DOOR SALESMAN.” I may miss out on the occasional deal but I will also alleve myself of future headaches.

      • I was questioned without true sales skills – poor kids – too was a kid from minnesota (without an accent, mind you), that when I started asking him questions, he stumbled throughout his presentation… it became clear when he showed me “names” of kids in the disctrict I NEVER heard of and then started asking questions about my neighbors and kids in the neighborhood that when I said “are you a psycho?” didn’t even phase him, I knew there was a problem and sent him on his merry way – scarry!

    • I agree with you Stephanie, today I got a visit from a college kid, I bought him the school dvd set, I know it will help my kids be better prepare for school but also I did it to help out the college kid earn some money. Not all sellers are liars.

    • Thank you! I was a college kid that did this and I think you describe my situation accurately. I would say I was talking to all the families in the area about education. You don’t have to be sent by a school district or even be affiliated with one to do that. All the comments here say that the “inference” was that the student was sent by the school district. We would get to know families and schools in our areas. It’s called “doing your homework”! It’s part of your job. If you want to get on a rant about collecting information, maybe it’s Facebook you should target. They advertise to you based on information they collect from your profile and home page. Or how about credit card companies that record your spending habits and use that information for advertising purposes. Talk about invasion of privacy. And you’re complaining about your neighbors telling someone you have kids? The area you live in, the mini-van in your driveway, the play-structure and bikes in your yard already do that. These college kids are just trying to eliminate the people not to bother (people with grown/no kids). These are great books and I would recommend them to any family that would put them in front of their kids…and that’s coming from an elementary school teacher.

      • I got a book( history) and i love it bought it for the children but after looking at it. I keep going back in 1/2hr and reading more i think this book was a great investment i got mine from a really nice kid BIll Grinde not pushy at all in fact just the oppisite he asked me if i was interested cause he didnt want to waste my time or his i wish i had more money for the whole collection as i love em and after he showed me how to use em i loved them even more ive kept his card in case i run into some extra cash i WILL be calling him…… thanks bill for stopping

    • If you were really concerned about these college kids, you should be concerned about the company that is putting them through this scam and not the people who are refusing to be ripped off.

  18. Stephanie – I not only went to college, but I did so as a single mother of 3. I am also still paying off my student loans.

    I did not appreciate this young man trying to push his way into my home and lying about staying with a local female principal when he was doing no such thing. I told him straight up I was not interested, but he insisted on wasting 40 minutes of my time. I don’t feel bad about not purchasing his wares after that at all.

    He did not raise the cow issue with me. However, he DID ask many personal questions that would lead many to believe maybe he was actually casing the house to come back later when no one would be home.

    I’m glad you like that materials. However, most of that information can be found on the internet. If others don’t lose their hard earned money on this because the realize this information is readily available for FREE elsewhere, that is fine with me. You are happy with the product. Good for you. It is not my job to subsidize every college student’s education just because they come to my door.

  19. My wife and I both were here and had a interesting conversation with both of the persons that represented the company. Neither one of them said anything about being or even representing the school district. After purchasing three of the four books offered and reviewing them, and showing the various ways that the kids can resolve the problems to me is better than that of the time that I spent at school. I remembered the teachers as they were good instructors they only taught one way that had me confused by the time it was to do the assignment and doing it wrong if discribing it a little different (the way these books have done would have made it easier for me to understand as well as my teen age son. It is to bad that you persons are only one sided about how to recieve information and not to bad mouth the internet but these books are a lot more easier to reference than that of the internet.

  20. I too had an incounter with this company which I was online doing research. The funny thing is in the above article my salesrep also mentioned that Cow definition as being his favorite. It did not matter how many times I said no, I could not afford this he would still try to come up with ways to get me to purchase them. Finally was able to get him to leave and 3 weeks later got a bill for $244.10 and I did not keep a single book, then the kids shows back up again, when questioned about the bill he said no don’t worry about that, you are not being billed, I don’t trust this kid and think I am being billed, I tried to going to their web site but there is no contact info anywhere so I can’t even complain, I did complain to Lisa Madigan our States Attourney General in hopes she will check into it.

  21. I had this exact thing happen to me today. College age kid, foreign, represented himself as an intern implying he was somehow with the County?? I was having a bit of trouble with his accent…

    Anyway, he got out his list of names, I was getting quite suspicious at this point. We home school and I’m leery about things like this. I sent him on his way after he showed me a book, telling him that we did not need more curriculum, we were happy with what we have. He had asked my about my kids ages early in the conversation. I was glad to finally be able to wriggle out of the unwanted intrusion. I too immediately came inside to Google the company he was with, and found this BLOG. Thank you so much for creating it! I was feeling like I was being too suspicious, nice to know others felt that way too. 🙂

  22. Well crap. I just wrote a check for $150 for 2 books. He’s already gone. Should I cancel my check? Why didn’t I look this up first?

    • Did you get your money back? I just got the same spiel and I’m too nice to say yes. But I had second thoughts the moment he left at googled this product reviews. So far I’ve seen nothing positive and it was early when he stopped by so I didn’t ask questions like a good consumer should!!
      Anyways I’m canceling my order, stopped payment on the cheque and going to try be not so easily swayed by door to door sales people I the future.

    • Buffy IL
      Put a stop on it NOW. I got screwdriver out of 280.00. I had to get a new debit card so they couldn’t take anymore.

  23. Yeah. Similar story here. The kid cornered my wife during the 2 minutes when she had the garage door open, and would not leave her alone. Had way too much information about everyone in the subdivision. Names of each of the family members and where they work and when they’re home, kids names and where they go to school, etc. The kid also canvassed the subdivisions where our kids are in home-school & daycare. At the home-school, he apparently tried to pass himself off as a researcher and wanted contact info / personal info about anyone and everyone. In the subdivision of our daycare, he was hanging out at buss stops. He’s had a different rental car every day. Our neighborhood is close knit. We all talk, and after a short discussion it became apparent that he was lying often- stating that neighbors had given the info or bought things that they hadn’t, etc. Oddly enough, some of our mail has been pre-opened upon arrival. I don’t know if that kid was responsible, but it’s an odd coincidence. This is not normal business practice. I agree that the kid is probably gathering info for later break-ins or home invasions. We called the cops for a suspicious persons report and they said they couldn’t do anything. One of the neighbors tracked him down, made him show his license and papers, and warned him to never come back. I don’t know about you folks, but I consider this kid a direct threat to my family and neighborhood, and he will be dealt with as such if he comes around again. I sincerely hope, for his safety, that he has enough common sense not to.

      • You are the direct threat to your family; not these KIDs. Lower your paranoid thoughts or end up in jail (away from your family) for “dealing” with these kids. They are simply college kids (some from different countries). If you feel threatened by questions, then call 911!

  24. I wish I would’ve researched this company before I paid for these books that I NEVER got. It’s upsetting to think I was trying to help this young lady for her college tuition. Lesson learned.

  25. Today a young Chinese man (good English but thick accent) showed up at my door with a pack full of books. Claimed to be from Seattle. Seemed like a nice guy but I had no intention of buying anything. He showed me a list of names I didn’t recognize and talked about schools in the area. We sat on the porch and he showed me the books, and before he even clarified the price of the full set ($359) he had his order book out and was asking for my name and address. I said thanks but no thanks and he was cool with that, but then asked for a bottle of water (it was very hot today). I didn’t have any so I offered him a diet soda and he asked instead for a juice box. (That was probably to butter me up so he could ask to use the bathroom.) To my eternal shame I’m very trusting, so I let him use the bathroom (he was brief, and I didn’t notice anything missing afterward) and answered some of his questions (a little vaguely) about other families with kids in the neighborhood.

    The next salesperson to come to the door is going to get a much chillier reception.

    • I’ve been reading these comments and keeping an eye on peoples’ experiences with Southwestern for a little over a year now – and it wasn’t until I read your message that I remembered that my own salesperson asked for some water, and then to use the bathroom. More ways to gain access to your home, with the opportunity peruse your medicine cabinet and take a look at the rooms on the way to the bathroom, etc. It boggles the mind that Southwestern is still legally able to operate with this system of lying to people, information gathering about whole neighborhoods and groups of people without their consent, and engaging in behavior any law enforcement officer would acknowledge clearly fits the description of casing homes and potentially endangering your family.

      • All of you are over analyzing an over thinking this. These are just college students, not career criminals canvassing your neighborhoods. They are selling books, just books! When they ask for a bottle of water it’s probably because its 100 degrees outside. When they ask to use your restroom it’s to they don’t have to pee in the bushes. What does a college student working 80 hours a week to pay for college want with your medicine cabinet? They are just people. They are sons, daughters, brothers and sisters working extremely hard trying to pay for an education. Simply human beings that do human things like drink water and use the restroom. If you don’t want the products then just say no. It really is that easy. If you don’t want to give them any information then don’t. It’s that easy. There is nothing wrong with simply saying “no.” If you are upset that your neighbor gave them information then should you not then be upset with your neighbor?

  26. i dont know why I didnt do research on thdm before, but i but I gave the foreign college student a $20 down deposit back in august & they are suppose to be showing up tomorrow morning to give me the books and collect the rest of their money. Is it too late to refuse the books? They can keepo the 20, dont care, as long as they’ll leave me alone.

  27. just FYI

    sales people are not an employees of the Southwestern that way they are covering they asses.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwestern_Company

    “Southwestern Company recruits and trains college students to sell educational reference books, software, and children’s books door-to-door. Students participating in the Southwestern program are independent contractors, not employees of the company, purchasing books at wholesale from the company and selling them direct to private families at retail, for delivery at the end of the season.”

    • nerf, I doubt that they are selling these books at retail, because an entire set is only worth $210.00, with many more of these sets of books only being worth between $15 to $45 dollars tops. This company is ripping off people of thousands of dollars!

  28. I had all the same happen and did order a set of books. I only ordered the small english/spanish set of 4 (colors, shapes, numbers, words). I was very cautious in the beginning but once she informed me she was living with our cities Chief of Police while she was in the country I started to let my gaurd down. I guess I figured if he was ok with what she was doing around his city then it should be legit. Wish I would have found this website before ordering but I am happy with the 4 books I received. They will be helpfull in teaching my toddler some of the basics.

  29. I just ordered some and when she said she couldn’t take a check because her back account was closed and wanted cash I should have canceled right then. She said she will come back Friday at 9pm (?) and I should have cash. Sheeeesh…why did I get bullied? She was from Europe and used my bathroom Stunk of boy pee and is at the front of the hallway so she can’t check out the other rooms.

  30. I had the same thing happen, she said she was interviewing parents that had kids at the local school about it being the first day of school. Of course I let her in with saying she was from the school and she had a tag on too. I ordered some books and liked them but they also charge you $19.99 a month to use their website which I didn’t agree to. So I will be canceling my credit card today and never answering the door to people I don’t know again. I think they are being very misleading in everything they do. I also tried to email them and got an out of office reply. I called them and asked them to take my credit card information off of their wensite and they said only IT can do that. I asked to talk to IT and they said they never allow that. I am irritated because I didn’t input any credit card information onto their website but they put it on there. I believe its a scam because everything they are doing is misleading. Thanks for this post

    • Okay – I just received a call from our bank and they have begun withdrawing $19.99 a month from our checking account. I have no idea what this is for and I’ve read every bit of fine print on my receipt! BEWARE people! I will be cancelling the draft and will make sure they aren’t able to withdraw in the future! CRAZY!!

      • I just had this happen, too. If you read the very fine print, they give you a few free months of skids.com, an online educational site they host. Then when the free months are over (depends on what you bought), the charges automatically begin. They were good about cancelling and assured me that no further charges would happen and that they deleted my payment information, but I will keep an eye on it.

  31. bought some books from a very nice girl. didn’t ask to use bathroom, a drink ,anything. the isue i had was that i wrote a check for a product and they automatically signed me up for their 19.99 a month website. called number they are required to give banks for autodrafts and after waiting on hold FOREVER got someone who “canceled ” and gave me a confirmation and refund no problem. we’ll see if it goes through. the issue is more with the students doing the selling than anything else. the gal accidentally left her training book and i looked throuh it a little before i tracked her down (she was walking door-to-door) and didn’t see anything underhanded WRIITEN but the techniques like asking questions to gain rapport, and such. all in all i still give company an F.

  32. Noticed a charge for $19.95 out of my checking acct today. It was a pre-authorized charge according to my bank. BULL! I logged onto their website and they have my checking acct number, routing number, etc in their information. This is not ok people! I will never buy from anyone like this again.
    Contacting the BBB on Monday morning about this company.

  33. I have been reading all of the comments and am glad I’m not on any lists. I recently graduated from college (east coast). But in my Jr. year I was approached with a “great offer” to make “as much money as you want”. As a college kid it is easy to get pulled into the idea of making lots of money and I went to the seminar….. After the first 10 min I realized what I had been sucked into and backed out. I told my dad about it and how you have to find your own host family (they don’t even help with that) and then travel to TX (I’m in NC) to sell books door to door. My dad agreed that I shouldn’t get involved and it sounded like a scam and completely unsafe. However, later I was approached by a guy in my class who said he had done it and pushed and urged me to do it. I guess he had been selling that for a while, because he had the pushiness down.
    Also, there is a company that sends college kids door to door selling magazines. The guy that came to my door tried to force himself into my apartment. He wouldn’t go away unless I purchased something. I finally had to rudely shut the door on him. I felt bad but it’s my house.

  34. We do not ask to use your bathroom to look in your medicine cabinet, as human beings sometimes we just need to pee!!!! And working in 100 degree heat, I don’t think asking for water is really a strange thing to be doing. Sorry but it is not a scam, your books were delivered and often we do know the teachers in the area after speaking to them and having them as customers.
    As for the ‘cow’ story it does not mention anything about “making milk in a way we do not understand”.
    I think some people just like to moan and it would do you no harm to see that these are real people with real feelings just trying to do their job. If you’re not interested just politely say so and that’s fine. However calling the company a scam is extremely unfair and untrue.

    • If your copy doesn’t say milk production is beyond scientific explanation – you have a different edition to the one I was shown because that one most definitely did.

      Also – yes, people need to drink and pee. It’s when those people are lying about who they work for, evading questions about where they get the private information about your family, asking you to give away the private information about your friends and neighbors without their consent, and are being reported to local police as well as the better business bureau for fraud and scamming… when those people ask to come into your home unsupervised, that is when it becomes concerning.

      Do yourself a favor and work for a company with integrity next time.

      • Hey there! I usually don’t fill these things out, I just like to read and giggle. But I’m with Rara on this one. I am currently an independent contractor for the company. You can look me up on southwesternadvantage.com under verify a dealer (it’s in the top right corner) if you’d like (My picture is awful, forgive me for that. It was 100 degrees in Nashville the day the photo was taken).
        This company is not a “scam”, but I can see how frustrating things happen to lead you guys to think that way. I have been hiring and training my own team for this program for 2 years now and nothing will give you a better kick in the butt to do things the right way than leading a 13 person sales force across the country.
        I think the important thing to remember is that there are 3,000 young college students participating in this program each summer. Around 2,000 of those are doing it for their first summer (Go them! They actually desire to work 80+ hours a week, away from home). In any company with 3,000 employees there are bound to be people who mess up. People who say the wrong thing, or get nervous when they are with you and maybe forget to say what they are supposed to.
        The way our training works is by meeting with a Student manager 1 hour a week and then we have about 80 hours of training at Sales School the week before we start selling. Now, logic says that most of that training would be about how to respond to comments like “well that’s silly, we know how cows make milk” but 90% of the training we do is not what to say if someone asks a certain question (we do teach students, and I was taught, to say NO if asked if we are from the school. They were probably nervous and thought they were making it clear. I promise we get nervous and forget how to speak sometimes) the training is on the emotional stuff like how to be okay with people who shut the door in your face. How to set goals, why to set goals. How to keep a smile on your face, because what we do is abnormal and people don’t like abnormal.

        I know it’s frustrating when you have a bad experience, but if these kids stop by again please try to remember that we are just college students. We miss our home and our friends who are lying on the beach while we work 80 hours a week. We miss going to the movies and relaxing. But for the college students that are stopping by your door, giving up the relaxation is worth it to learn things like how to motivate yourself when it feels like the world hates you, or like success is never coming your way (emotions are normal. When 5 people slam the door in your face, you’re gonna feel like a failure. It passes and the next day you’re walking on clouds). We already know that when we graduate we are competing against over a million other graduates for jobs, and the types of people who do this program are not the types who are going to settle for anything less than their dream job. They are willing to work hard to differentiate themselves before it’s too late. Those are college students (usually under 23) who already know who they want to be in 5 years and are willing to give up sleep and comfort so that they can become who they wish to be.

        I’m sorry that you guys have had subpar experiences. If I could follow every sales person to make sure they are doing this job the right way, I would! But then I wouldn’t learn anything myself. I am biased, I obviously love this program. This program has helped me become a more patient, caring, and understanding person. People have bad days, we see that when people yell at us our slam the door in our face, and you see that when we stumble over our words or don’t explain things properly. Maybe you saw them on a bad day, and we are just college students doing our best to set ourselves apart and make a little money to pay off college at the same time. If you only take one thing away from this, remember that Sales People are People too.

  35. I made a mistake and ordered the cd rom set. The “company” is now taking money out of my account monthly. I have tried to call the customer service center numerous times and all I get is a recording saying they are closed for the day. I now have to file a claim with my bank, cancel my card and order a new one. I have learned my lesson for sure. South

  36. My situation was the same. The girl gave me the impression that she was from the school district. That is the only reason I let her in my home. I could not get her to leave and even told her that my husband and I consult each other on big purchases. She still wouldn’t leave but told me that I could always cancel my order after I talk to my husband. Big mistake. I did cancel my order but noticed last month–4 months after I cancelled it–that they were automatically withdrawing 19.95 a month from my account. They said they would fix it. I got the 19.95 back and the same day they withdrew 19.95 again from their online program that goes with the books…that I don’t even have. I have called the bank and they put a stop on my end and now we are going in and changing our account number since they have taken out money from a few different places and the bank said they could just do it again with a different name. I normally do not open the door for door-to-door salespeople and that is what is frustrating about their tactics. Such a nightmare over books I didn’t even want.

  37. I have the money being taken out monthly as well. It was a free thing with my CD purchase that was supposed to end in Sept. I believe I paid with for my merchandise with a check. I noticed I was getting charged monthly for this web learning and we never use it and it should have expired. Well so far I’ve called 2x to cancel and they tell me its canceled. I just checked again and we got billed again! Anyone have luck or know who we can turn them into? I’m not sure I want to go as far as changing bank account numbers, but I guess we may have to.

  38. This is CRIMINAL!! My story is the same as many above. Particularly Jess’.

    I was home alone in June 2011 when a college kid from Eastern Europe selling books (he was thirsty, so I gave him a bottle of water) came knocking on the door.

    It was so much money I told him I couldn’t afford it. He told me I could pay 1/2 now and 1/2 when they were delivered at the end of the summer.

    I wrote a check for 1/2 ($159.40).

    Later that day, I thought more and decided I REALLY couldn’t afford them.

    I called the company and told them to cancel my order, which they did. I did get my money back (August 2011), but…

    They have been withdrawing $19.95 from my account under different names (swadvantage.com, southwestern, etc.) for the last 3 months. Apparently, they cancelled my order, but decided to keep my checking account and routing numbers on file!!

    We have put a “block” on our account. But, the bank warned us that they can just keep changing the name of the company, so the only way to “actually” take care of the problem is to change our account numbers with the bank.

    So sad, that a greedy, dishonest company can take advantage of honest, hard-working people and make us less trusting.

    I will also be calling the BBB and state attorney general.

    • This is such a horrible copy. Four times they took money out of my account I thought it was only 2 times ,But no 4 times., i had to talk to my banker, and my husband has to get direct deposit into a new account. THIS COMPANY SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN.

      • We keep having a kid come by and told him we’re not interested. Doesn’t work – he keeps on coming. When I told my husband about it he told me that he had told them that I’m a teacher so we aren’t interested. Now it seems like he comes by more. This time he told my son that he was with the school and he had important information to tell me about my school! I am not teaching at any school right now so since my son knows that, he just got rid of him. This time though, he left his business card so I was able to look up the company. Luckily, I found this site. The reason why I am posting this is because they have the Better Business Bureau logo printed on the business card. To me this is fishy because it can lead people to believe that they are dealing with a reputable company. Think about it this way – reputable companies don’t bother with putting the BBB logo on their cards. They don’t need to. I wish now I would have looked at the materials but I didn’t.

  39. Same scam in Port Matilda, PA…Sweet college gal sold us some children’s books. A few months later, I started getting $20 charges on my credit card…Now, I’m dealing with disputing the charges, blocking the merchant from making additional charges, etc. I also contacted SWADVANTAGE and the gal said she’d cancel stuff and issue a credit in a couple weeks…we’ll see.

  40. SWadvantage SCAM up in Alberta, Canada also

    Useless overpriced books for a subscription based fee and they never cancel the subscription. The cancellation form asks for more personal information so they have more back-up to keep on billing you. American Express has been willing to refuse charges on a transactional basis but will not permanently block charges from them.

    Has anybody contacted the attorney general for the state that these creeps are hiding out in?

  41. Same thing in Osterburg, PA. It is my husbands account and they are taking $19.95 a month. I contacted them through email and they have not responded.

      • Yeah, this whole 19.95 a month being taken out is something that we are working on training our students on better. See my comment above if you want my back story. But if you call to cancel with the company or click on the big red “cancel” button at the bottom of your profile on the website the company is pretty dang good about stopping automatic withdrawal. The summer program is pretty old but the website is extremely new, so we are still trying to get First Year sales people to understand that they need to make it VERY CLEAR that once the info is in the computer automatic withdrawal starts. Chances are you had a First Year salesperson stop by and they were not very good at explaining the process.

        There is a new process where you (as the parent) have to physically enter all of the payment information yourself and confirm that you know the billing is monthly 2 times. It should clear up the confusion. As with any new product offering a company has it takes a few business cycles to get it right, our business cycle is just a year long so it’s taken a little while to work out the kinks.

  42. I received a visit in the summer of 2011 from a kind foreign college student. She seemed honest and not too pushy, but did come across as someone who was working with many respected families in our school district. I purchased two of their math books. After looking through them, they seemed to be pretty decent books with a wide range of math instruction covered. The books were expensive, and I soon regretted paying the price I paid. We have used the books and they are helpful.

    My main problem with the company is that I am being charged $19.95 a month now for a kids website that I was never aware of. The college student never mentioned the site, never told me that it was “free” for a limited time, never directed me to a web address to access the site, etc. I’ve been charged for the past three months and when I called the company to complain, I was told I would be refunded for the past two months but that was all they could do. I have emailed a formal complaint to them and I will wait to see what happens next.

    I am certainly reporting this company to the BBB and other consumer watchdogs. I can’t stand dishonest and deceitful companies. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

  43. I had this happen where my checking acct was charged 19.95 and I had bought computer games from a college student going door to door about a year ago. This person also used our bathroom as well. I will be looking further into all of this!

  44. Ugh!! So frustrating to see that this is happening all over the US! We purchased last summer here in Central CA and just this morning I recognized the $19.95 that “Utah” mentions above. The first 2 charges were in line with a trip my husband took and holiday purchases, so the amount was not a flag – I was able to file a claim with my cc company and was told that all 4 – $19.95 charges will be refunded. I’ve been calling everyone I know that purchased from him – the “Bulgarian student” who oddly enough seemed to know Way. Too. Much. about the local geography for only having been in the US for 3 weeks! He knew things about little towns people don’t even know exist. A girlfriend of mine paid 2 payments – by check – and when I called her, she realized that the $19.95/mo was coming from her acct each month. Now I’m very interested in digging more into the materials, they seemed great at a glance, now need to see if they are the quality that I understood them to be at the time of purchase… I may be sending them back for a full refund!!

  45. Just found fraudulent $19.95 charges on my account today (2/8). Researching through bank statements, I discovered this had been happening since November. Contacting my bank / credit card company now. Seems they have gone form mis-leading sales pitch to flat out stealing. Neither my wife or I have had a visit from any sales person or ordering any educational materials. They are just stealing now.

  46. These people came to my house and i was so scared because my husband wasn’t home that i just gave him a 20 dollar check and he said he would be back with the books but never came back. Now the company is trying to take $19.95 a month for some online education tool. I called them and explained what happened so they gave me a refund. I changed my atm card number which i never gave them in the first place. Now a year later they are taking the money again. I talked to my bank and asked them how that’s possible and they said that the company called visa and told them they had prior authorization from my old card number and so visa gave them my new number. Big scam…. Call the police if these people come to your door… Maybe they will stop if enough people run them off with the police.

  47. Hello ,

    Im so glad you guys think that way. My name is Stan and yep , I too work with SouthWestern as a “shady , creepy , scammy , badass” college kid. 🙂
    Honestly , you guys just ran into 1st years that are embarrased , lack confidence , forget parts of their presentation , are in debt because of expenses (the program is free , so the company only wins if you a purchase is made) and afraid of the No’s you’re giving them. But you dont care about that. “It’s a scam” That’s it 🙂 . Nevermind the people who actually told you , they got the books , the used the books , the books help. Plus people love conspiracy theories to no theiories at all …. so It would explain why you feel that way.

    Thank you for being honest. Still , I feel like your honesty is a result of self-deception.

    Stan

    • There was nothing embarrassed, insecure or apparently inexperienced about that woman who got into my house under the guise that she worked for our school district and was personally acquainted with our school principle. A business that routinely deceives its customers (aside from the complaints in the blog entry – see the many reports of unapproved recurring charges) isn’t a big scary conspiracy – it is a lousy business that people should be forewarned about. If there is any self-deception going on, it is in your ability to rationalize, defend and work for such an organization.

      • The person who stopped at my house did seem a little inexperienced and nervous. However, my concern is that he used the same tactics as many others here have described…asking about neighbors names and whether they are home. He also mentioned names of some of my daughters classmates like that was an endorsement for the company. Thanks to our school corporation and the parents who had the initial visits, we received warning that someone may come by to sell. They were initially implying the the school sent them.
        And the water thing…he asked if I had a bottle of water. I said I could give him a cup of water. (I thought he was thirsty now.) He said no thanks. He made some excuse about his car and that it would just spill. ??? I’m not necessarily saying that this is shady behavior, but it certainly is odd! I felt like it was a ploy to pause, then give one last pitch.

  48. my son is thinking about doing this job with Southwestern over the summer, but after reading all the comments, I don’t want him anywhere near this. Their website says 7 days a week sun up to sundown – the whole summer – 13 weeks, staying with a “host family” in an area far from home. The website looks legit, but all these comments are very scary.

    • I wouldn’t allow my kids anywhere near this company. They would appear to be perpetrating widespread (but technically legal) fraud, while working their staff to death for peanuts.

    • There is no way I would have let my college kids do this kind of job! The kid that came here had a foreign name and I am not sure where he is from but he had a strong accent. Maybe they are having to resort to foreign students because people here are catching on to what they are doing? I feel sorry for these kids. They are putting themselves in a dangerous position because they work for a company that encourages them to go into people’s homes. That is dangerous because you just don’t know who is out there.

  49. I had a guy come into one of my classes and have everyone fill out this card about their summer plans with their phone number on it. I filled it out like everyone else and it was this company. He called me a couple weeks later asking if I would like to attend an informational session. I did. Then I ran as quickly as I could. Saying that students would make around $8,000-$10,000 in one summer. I knew this was too good to be true. I definitely made the right decision in letting them know I was not going to be at anymore interviews.

  50. Southwestern came to recruit at my UK university in 2002 and I took the bait about ‘travelling in America’ and eventually paid out over £1500 to ‘work’ for them. This included flights, J1 Visa, accommodation in Nashville for Sales school…the amount we had to pay out was endless! After 7 days of Sales School we took a Greyhound bus to Colorado (which we also paid for) and then spend time in a Ramada Inn (also funded by us!) while we looked for a place to live. The recommended way of doing this was knocking on people’s doors and asking if they could accommodate you. Luckily for me my housemate was a bit more organised and had a list of parents of previous Southwestern alumni and we visited those addresses as they would at least know what I was talking about.

    The job itself was a nightmare – 12 or 13 hours a day on foot or on your bike, trying to force these books on people. They have obviously updated their sales patter as when I was working for them you did a spiel about the books and then said ‘Can I have a sit down?’ and then you were supposed to walk past the person who had opened the door to you and sit down in THEIR house! You were then supposed to find out what grades their kids were in etc. I could never muster the nerve to go into people’s houses and usually talked to them on the door step as they were obviously all complete strangers. Back then there wasn’t a ‘debit’ system for when we collected deposits – the person either gave you part of a deposit for the books that you had to pay in and then go back and collect the rest later, or they paid for the books in full and you delivered them later or they gave you nothing and you had to deliver the books and see if they paid you. I guess this new element of being able to debit directly out of people’s accounts is a new scam on the part of the company and a way to make money.

    Southwestern were supposed to look after our safety but they never did. Twice I was followed home, and once in broad daylight a guy in a truck followed me in his car and then exposed himself. I was 19 at the time but being small and wearing shorts and T-shirt with my hair in pigtails he must have assumed I was much younger. I am only glad that it happened to me and not someone who was actually a child. I told my parents over the phone and they freaked out and called Southwestern who were absolutely nonchalant about it. About a week later my friend was sexually assaulted while out selling books.

    A lot of my Southwestern peers from that cohort came back feeling depressed and some had to have counselling. I couldn’t even face looking at my book bag at the end! I was so happy when it was finally time to go home. I ended up making a profit of $3500. You buy the books on credit with your own money and then Southwestern give you any profit you make. A lot of people ended up owing the company money. In the UK we didn’t even get college credit to go towards our degree! Many people left the programme early on and actually went travelling around America – I wish I had done that. For three months all i saw were the suburbs of Aurora – I really wanted to quit but I needed to pay my dad back as he had given me some money towards my £700 flight and so I felt like I couldn’t.

    The only good thing to really come out of this experience was the kind people I met. Some days I was so tired I would sleep on pavement and so many people from the kind neighbourhoods of Aurora helped me. I really couldn’t believe how kind complete strangers could be to me – once when my bike tyres were punctured repeatedly I ended up tying it to a lamp post and leaving it and when I came back someone had gone to Walmart for me and bought tyre gunk and a pump and just left it on the handlebars. I still keep in touch with some of the families I met that I became friends with (and started to hang out with towards the end of the summer instead of selling books because I hated my job so much) and they actually went from being strangers to being firm friends.

    So there it is -my Southwestern experience. I would NEVER do it again and never recommend anyone to do it. Go travelling, make an impact in an ethical organisation, work in a shop if you want, but don’t do this. You are just benefiting a huge corporation that couldn’t give two hoots about you and also taking people for a ride at the same time.

  51. Our son was just invited to an interview for an “internship” and was “invited” back for second interview. He was told that of all the people that were interviewed, he was the one that the interviewer was hoping would show up! My son was all excited (freshman at a large state university). We did the research and this blog has been very helpful. It’s amazing that with everything we know about SW, there are still people out there who can sell this stuff successfully and people out there willing to buy it…………..the company is rich!!!!!!!!!!!!

  52. We are parents of 2 college students that were approached by a Southwestern recruiter… I looked into this company & discovered that these students arrive in another state without a place to live… They are told to knock on doors to ask for a “room for rent” before they actually start selling… It’s crazy how these poor college kids are taken advantage of in almost a “slavery”… They are told to work 80 hours a week, and some of these kids LOSE money that summer instead of making any money!!! Pass this info to any one you know with college kids do they don’t get scammed!!!!

  53. The nature of my comment is to not only tell you briefly about my experience but also to clear up and illustrate to you all why and how some of you may have felt deceived. I am a 23 year old college student and have worked for Southwestern for 5 years now. I started as a frightened, broke, insecure pessimistic 19 year old kid. Typically the students that do the best with this job are motivated, hard working, ambitious, open minded, competitive, athletic and personable. Thank God for me the student manager that put me on his team happened to be a close friend of mine and decided going throught the southwestern experience could be a life changing event and indeed it was.
    I am now a completely different person because of my experience. I am confident and almost annoyingly positive in every aspect of life. I understand and value hard work and unconditional dedication to goals i set for myself. Through recruiting, training, motivating and managing over 36 different college students in the past 5 years I understand how to develop and maintain relationships with people and have successfully built and RAN a 7 figure bussiness during my college years. Powerful on a resume? Yes I think most would agree so. Common denominators of the most successful people in the history of a country that was founded on free enterprise? Absolutely. If I didn’t have morning classes tomorrow I could go on and on about how priceless this experiene is and how one truly sets themselves up for success after working for our company. However, the majority of people on this blog have already made up their mind and me doing so would be a complete waste of time and effort.
    The nature of my comment is not to brag about myself. A small portion of it is intended for the parents who believe that it is absolutely crazy for their kids to get involved with us. I understand. You love your kids and the last thing you want is to see them not only get “scammed” but also to see them fail. I truly do understand. This job is not for everyone and we do appeal to a niche type of student.
    Please let me make this clear. This is a business that students get into (preferably 2 or more summers) in order to grow personally. In 5 years I have attended over 600 hours of training. This training includes sales, running your own business, effective communication, how to motivate and train people, building HEALTHY LONGLASTING relationships and positive success principles. In over 600 hours of this AT NO POINT does ANYONE from the top down tell us to go about our business in a shady, “scummy”, unethical way. Yes Yes i know what your thinking. Obviously I am saying this because I work for southwestern and have dedicated 5 years of my life to them. Some of you may even be thinking the point of my response is to benifit and further our recruiting efforts. This is not the case. I took the time to read through all the responses and stories as I have done on MANY websites over the past few years and I just cant sit back laugh to myslef anymore.
    I am not here to argue that some of you have truly been deceived or wronged by a student that visited you one summer. Are there cases when a family ACCIDENTLY does not receive their products? YES. Are there cases when a student intentionally (like an idiot) tells parents they are from the school district. YES. Are there cases when a student is excessively pushy. YES. The fact of the matter is simple. All Southwestern can do is give students the correct ethical way to be successful (which we 100% do) but ultimately southwestern has little control over what a student does or says while they are working BY THEMSELVES. This is of course until the matter becomes aware to management and then management always acts accordingly.
    Another reason why families feel the wierdo college kid knocking on their door is being deceiving or shady is a simple and logical one. PEOPLE USE SELECTIVE HEARING WHEN A DOOR TO DOOR SALESMEN IS ON THEIR FRONT POARCH. Im sorry but in 5 years I’ve knocked on a ton of doors and that is a FACT! As a door to door salesperson goes through their approach the prospect (most of the time) is thinking…why is this person here, oh my gosh another door to door guy how can i get rid of them, i have food on the stove when are they going to leave, im already 5 minutes late to pick up the kids. The list is endless. My point is is that is only natural for people to do this however, in the process you MISS a lot of what we are saying. This is why we we try again (being “pushy”) and why our message can sometimes be misunderstood. I PERSONALLY received a phone call from my manager at the company last summer. I had just ran into a very upset dad. He was telling me that his neighbors had warned him about me and that it was awful businesss practice to go around telling people i work for the school. hahaha. sound familiar? Guess what? I SPECIFICALLY say in my approach as we are trained to do “I AM NOT WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT”. But because i know so much about the school district ( i am selling educational products. doesnt it make sense that if i am selling a book to help your kid with school i should be familiar with what your child will be learning next year) and the community some families AUTOMATICALLY assume that i said i am with the school district. Also we do carry a list of names of people who bought from us and show it to the famiies at the door. Obviously most people are more willing to listen or buy a product if they know their friend or someone they respect has done so.
    Hopefully a few of you are still reading and have understood my message. Again I do not doubt that many have had bad experiences with our company. These bad experiences are not a product of shady teachings by southwestern. They are a product of THE SMALL PERCENTAGE of students every summer who are not acting with the integrity that southwestern attempts to instil in them. This a great company with many success stories and in over 150 years of business endless testimonials both from buyers and participants. I want to apologize to those that have had a bad experience. I also encourage you to understand that we are doing a great thing from the inside out. If you dont like our students, our product, or how we do business thats fine. Just dont buy the books. But for those of you who intentionally spread devastating PR around your communities about a college student working 3 times as hard as any other student around the country only in hopes of bettering themselves, their futures, and their finances. Then shame on you.

    • This is a note from someone who thinks they can describe Southwestern in a way that will make people feel better about the company and its salespeople.
      They then say “shame on you” if you are “intentionally spread devastating PR around your communities about a college student working 3 times as hard as any other student around the country only in hopes of bettering themselves”. when it would be foolish to spend one minute discussing the company with that motivation.
      People write in with their shared experiences. This person also allows for the fact that these experiences are ones they are aware of – yet, cannot seemingly understand how the plight of hard working students (by all indications being taken advantage of by a unscrupulous company) isn’t endearing enough to have everyone overlook the sales practices.
      The concept of lying by omission is lost on these salespeople – it would seem to be a deliberate outcome of their Southwestern training. Will they come to understand honesty and integrity later in life – or will the Southwestern training techniques steal more than just a few of their summers from them? Likewise, they are trained to work very hard, for very little, only to blame the discerning customer base rather than the business model for their difficulty. What kind of company will this mindset lead them to work for in the future?

    • What 7 figure business did you start and run while in college? I don’t think the people are intentionally spreading devastating PR around the communities just telling their experiences with the company. I do find it funny that the cow thing seems to be the go to definition in the dictionary. Why can’t you tell them the cow produces milk from the food it eats? You want to advertise this as “educational” but make it my responsibility to fill in the blank as to how milk is made. I also find it funny that you assume these kids are working 3 times as hard as any other student in hoping to better themselves, their futures, and their finances. As a college student, I not only took 20 credit hours a semester, I worked 40 hours a week. I can guarantee you that the students getting scammed in this program do not work 3 times as hard as I did. And after reading the posts on here not only from people approached but other people in the program. It seems like they take advantage of the students.

    • This is for your MDUBBS Student!!!! If you are so honest and work for an honest company why didn’t you give your direct line or other direct contact information so people can contact you about these serious complaints! Being of good business practice and above board you would deal with any complaint seriously and efficiently instead of having to go online and have a joke about it.

      Sounds like this company is a really big joke since you laugh at the publics response and then decide to write some blurb about how you have been taken as well for the past five years (must be good to have a friend to watch over you and protect you, not like the others that have been taken)…I guess you don’t realize you have been taken!?!

      It is easy to influence young desperate adults who want to do better in life and don’t realize that they are being used to further the guy at the top of the pyramid. Sorry you are now on a rung of the pyramid and benefiting financially off others backs!!! I find that unethical and shameful. Also, sorry to hear that you never became wiser but greedier! Hope you enjoy the money that you have so called earned by using others to do your dirty work…if this is a legit set of books and full of accurate information then sell them at stores or online and have a proper return policy and billing procedure and no excuses for not doing so…you are greedy and so is the company! The worst part is your company doesn’t care how they get the money, as long as it pours in with very low overhead! Even feeling right about taking money out of people accounts when it should have been stopped!

      This is serious! Any company to have these allegations put to them is serious! SW must do something to protect their customers and their employees (mainly the door to door students), each complaint must be addressed by SW immediately! On the next agenda must be new Training and Management procedures which include no outsourcing students what so ever! Put books on store shelves and deal with all complaints whether they seem small or big! Teach all in the company proper ethical procedures not the companies current no ethical procedures. I find it hard to swallow that you feel it is okay for the students to act as if they are affiliated with the local school system or to even imply such a thing!! This is intentional misleading and an outright lie even if you feel it benefits the company or sales pitch!!! OUT RIGHT WRONG!! the words School District should not even be mentioned by these sales kids, there is no need if they are just selling reference books…the books should sell themselves without all the lies and misrepresentations…that is where SW loses its integrity.

      Sending children out to other countries is ludicrous…The young lady that came to my house today talked a lot about being associated with the school district and because I deal a lot with the school system, I asked her more questions, it turns out she just does her research about schools in our area and tries to ask me and others more about the school, trying to find out the principals names and so on and wanted to know what the school taught and when they opened (interesting approach on her end!). But, it seemed the more she knew about the schools, the better she can convince the next victim that she was actually affiliated with the school district from the inside. She was determined and asked about my family and the neighbours and wanted to even know when they get home and what type of jobs they do. I found that she was here to get information to help her sell to the next person just as much as she was here to sell the books laying on the fact that she was a desperate student trying to pay for her tuition and that she was from British Columbia (so far from home), the other side of Canada! Why make them switch provinces? I guess that will force the students into working the full summer job when their family and home is too far away to turn to for help! NICE !?!?!?!?! Kind of like kidnapping! I wonder if these students could easily get a plane ticket back home if they wanted to stop going door to door? What a way to trap someone, now that is the most likely reason they send them far from their home and give the spiel that they are doing them good (that is a cover up)! There are safer and better ways of turning into a strong adult than having to go through this kind of entrapment and trying to survive! Great for all of you students who grew up and got out as soon as you could and sorry that you had to learn the hard life through SW!

      you don’t have to go through all that to succeed, but it depends on your definition of success…like MDUBBS likes to make a profit off other vulnerable young students and actually trains them to work for him! If you feel at peace with that, then there is no hope in having you see the light of what you are doing wrong! Read the bible and don’t take in only what appeals to you and seems to justify your way of wrong doing, read it all word for word and you will see where you have been blind!

      Hope someone puts a stop to this type of practice! Spare the vulnerable students and give them real jobs near their home and families, anything but door to door sales!

  54. For all of you that are so sure that you know things about Southwestern, you clearly do not. The summer that this blog was posted, I was selling books door to door in the scorching New England heat for Southwestern.

    I have struggled in school since I was 12 years old, and at the time was funding my own college education…even more difficult to complete, given my inability to do math as I was majoring in business. A friend recommended that I be interviewed by Southwestern, as they DO in fact get tips for contacts with whom to associate in order to grow their business through networking. (GASP!) Just like any other real business! It was the summer of my graduation, and I had a decision to make if I was ever going to get a shot to get out of the midwest and have a real career. So I did a ton of research on the books (unfortunately not enough on the training progam itself), and borrowed a car to go to Nashville for a week of intense training before setting out to New England. Had I not wished that I had these books for myself for all of the years of struggling in school, and never having a single teacher to could explain things to me in a manner that I could understand, I would have not thought twice about turning down the internship. But I knew that I would be selling books that would legitimately help a child like the one I had been; and that there may just be parents out there that would take a moment to truly listen to their children and buy them a tool to beyond that provided in the egregiously low budget public education system.

    Southwestern itself- yes, it is intensely difficult…and to be frank, I loathed my managers. However, it gave me an out. An opportunity to try something different and learn something about myself. And I know I sold books that were excellent quality. More than I few times I spoke with parents who had bought the educational set more than a decade before and STILL used and loved them. It also taught me a TON about self-motivation, sales and business in general. I did leave the program early, because of so many parents like “Dad” here. The sales I made were from lovely parents who took the time to listen, rather than immediately being skeptical and – clearly – amply rude. I feel sorry for the poor hard-working girl that wasted her time on your sour puss, “Dad”.

    • Please describe to me how reacting to a person making their way into my house by misrepresenting themselves, trying to sell me books containing untrue information, and asking for private information about my friends and neighbors, their children, and the hours they are likely to be home, makes me a “sour puss”. Is it because the person doing these things is an underprivileged, hard-working college student taken away from their home and put into debt by Southwestern? Can you understand that one has nothing to do with the other – but that both are undesirable to many people for different sets of reasons?

      I did nothing at all “amply rude” to the salesperson. I’ve only described the experience I had, so others can learn from it. As a result many many people have shared similar experiences.

      I’m sorry that your public education was so poor that it was worse than the Southwestern overpriced and inaccurate materials (judging by ones shown to me on the day the girl tricked her way into our home). I assure you that my own public education was excellent – and my children have an even better one.

      Thank you for your honesty involving how you felt about your managers. Coming out of such an experience with resentment for both your employers and any customers who do not purchase things from you is another disheartening example of Southwestern’s effect on people’s lives.

      I hope you have since found people who you can work for and associate with that are more positive and fulfilling for you and your life.

  55. “This is a note from someone who thinks they can describe Southwestern in a way that will make people feel better about the company and its salespeople.”

    “DAD” Cmon now man. please take your head out of your a**. You and a few others obviously had a terrible experience with a southwestern salesperson. My note was a complete factual honest representation of Southwestern teachings and practices as well as 90% of our student dealers. We did over 50 million in sales this past summer! In the summer of 2011 we had over half a million customers! There are less than 100 people on this website that have had a bad experience with us. Do you not think you are making a complet over-generalization of our company and our salespeople?

    “Likewise, they are trained to work very hard, for very little, only to blame the discerning customer base rather than the business model for their difficulty.”

    Yes you are absolutely right. We attract students every year to come work for us and the crazy part is they come back all because we train them to work very hard for very little. Oh and if all else fails little timmy. It will make you feel better if you fail to just blame the customer. Your ignorance truly does suprise me.

    “DAD” please use common sense. We have a great product! It actually has been the number 1 sold reference book in the country for years! We have ENDLESS testimonials from customers and teachers to attest to this. Southwestern salespeople (most of them) sincerely care about our customers and not only IF the product is right for them but exactly WHICH product will be best for them. WE HAVE A TON OF PRODUCTS. How in the heck could we possibly help you make the best decision if we dont ask you questions and your kids and how they are doing in school? We have only good intentions but your skepticism is prevents you from realizing that YOU HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH ONE PERSON! Most people have great ones. Dont be an idiot. EVERY SALESPERSON ASKS PERSONAL QUESTIONS.

    • Gee only 100 bad experiences. That’s impressive. Good,bad, or otherwise I don’t want anyone from this company at my door again. The last guy parked, uninvited, in my neighbor’s driveway & made his rounds of the neighborhood. He lied about who he was staying with, claiming to be staying at the female principal’s home of a neighborhood elementary school. The principal is neither female nor carries the name given. When I told him I was not interested, he insisted on wasting an hour of my time with his hard sell techniques. He left mad when I stood my ground, after accusing me of wasting his time.

      What he didn’t know is I grew up with a salesman who could sell a bikini to an Eskimo on a -40 degree day for immediate wear to the local snow beach. I recognized every one of his tactics. If he had respected my time & initial answer, instead of pushing me, he might have had time to make a sale elsewhere.

      I owe you students nothing. Neither does anyone else on here. Get over yourself.

    • Thank you for your colorful reply “MDUBBS COLLEGE STUDENT”, it helps to put you into context . Including your descriptions of me as a senseless idiot with my head up my ass. Do you end many failed sales attempts in such a respectful way?
      I feel you have personally done more to make the case against Southwestern than the people who have written in with complaints, concerns and reports of fraudulent bank charges.
      There is little to no indication that my experience was not a typical one with Southwestern. Thousands of people have viewed this post for information, and a significant number (if only a small percentage of visitors) have shared identical stories to my own as well as alarming variations.

      “Don’t be an idiot. EVERY SALESPERSON ASKS PERSONAL QUESTIONS.”

      Pretending to work for our school district to get into our home, then asking about neighborhood children and when their parents are home. If this strikes you as acceptable, we share very different values.
      Since, to you, this seems like the idiotic concern of someone with their head up their ass – again, I want to thank you for your Southwestern affiliated opinion on the matter.

    • You’re basing the “fact” that “only 100 people” had a bad experience on this blog alone? You can’t be serious. There are over 100 homes in my subdivision alone and at the last HOA meeting, nearly every homeowner was present, complaining about the SWA student scamming the neighborhood. The most horrible part was, a local HS principal lives in this subdivision and because he was her principal in the past, she named dropped like crazy to get access to people’s homes and information.

      Despite their rating with BBB, SWA has had 138 complaints within the last 3 years, 98 of which were this year alone. Again, that’s not a real judgement on their target demographic (read: anyone with a bank account), but rather the # of people who know to go to the BBB to file a complaint if their issues with the company have not been resolved via customer service. I also suspect that their BBB rating has more to do with their location, and folks filing with the BBB in one area vs. having a SWA contact in each state.

      As someone who worked in retail management for years, NO – not ALL salespeople ask you personal information related to your children, what time(s) you are home/away, if your husband has control over your financial decisions, etc. Imagine if you walked into Barnes and Noble and a CSR asked, “So, I see you’re looking at children’s books. How many kids do your neighbors have? Who are their teachers? What track are they on? Are you usually out at this hour or do you usually stay home?” That is weapons-grade CREEPY, and would not make a sale.

      I really don’t see a difference between the way SWA and Mary Kay attract their sales force. It’s a shame that so many get roped into it every year, Mary Kay also recruits on high-$ promises to women as young as 18 years of age, and has the same A+ rating with the BBB that SWA does.
      … but there are a helluva lot more blogs dedicated to the “pink lie” than to SWA. Give it time.

  56. I am considering working with Southwestern this coming summer. I really like all of the people I’ve met in the program so far and the products seems legitimate to me. I’m having a hard time making up my mind about the program because there seems to be so many mixed reviews on the internet. As I am trying to make an informed decision, I am only becoming more bewildered. I do feel that perhaps you just had a bad experience, “Dad.” There are obviously hundreds of sellers with Southwestern every summer, and not every one of them can be good at what they are doing. I think that if I am honest with the people I meet, do not misrepresent myself, and try earnestly to only sell them what is best for them, how can I go wrong?

    • How you could go wrong is by working with Southwestern, who clearly have a sales technique/script that is dependent upon lying by omission and the encouragement of misdirection as a sales tactic – in a sales force that is in debt, living in questionable circumstances with questionable security and safety, selling in an antiquated manner that all but the most gullible (re: unsophisticated or savvy) consumer would be suspicious of (rightfully – seeing as the techniques include misrepresentation and information mining from unsuspecting targets under false pretenses).

  57. I also was approached by Southwestern and offered an internship. This has been my experience for the day that I’ve been in their circle.

    Yesterday, I recieved the most random phone call from a student manager about this internship and I decided to go to an information session and find out what it was about. I went there today, and I listened and saw the book, and I decided that I would give it a try. I was briefly questioned by one of the student managers and he said he was looking for maturity and independence. Apparently, he saw that in me, so I was invited back for an interview tomorrow.

    However, I read up on this company and though I don’t agree with a lot of the bad things stated, I did come to my own conclusions:

    1. Those who are hired will have expenses to pay. As my parents don’t pay for any of my schooling and I am responsible for all my finances, I can’t very well ask them to help me pay for anything during the summer. So the hotel stays during training and Sunday outings were my first clue.

    2. So many people dislike this company. I’ve seen many comments saying that if another Southwestern person comes to their door, they will call the police. Since we are technically not employees of Southwestern, who will help us if we get arrested for trespassing?

    3. Again, we aren’t employed by the company Southwestern Advantage, so if something were to happen to us, they aren’t liable. Even if all the stories aren’t true and no one has been attacked while out selling (which is what they told us at my info session), what’s to say that it won’t happen? I live in Texas, as do my parents, so if anything were to happen to me, who would help?

    So I called the guy and cancelled my interview. I just didn’t feel like it would be safe for me to participate in this. He was very rude over the phone, but I decided that if I had to step on his toes to ensure my safety, I would.

  58. This reminds me of Vector Company except it is much worse. My boyfriend is actually at an information session for it right now…He is NOT going to do this after reading about the negative experiences people has had with this company.

  59. Thank you for this blog. I was going to do this Southwestern thing till people had told me how it was a scam. Then I read this and turing it down seems to be the right decesion. Thank you so much. 🙂

  60. If anyone has any information on whether any parents or students have filed a claim or taken any kind of legal action against this company and what has been the outcome, I would appreciate an email. Or does anyone know if the company has been investigated for how the program is promoted and implemented and how the college students are compensated? My son has signed up and is currently starting work. I am worried for him and need some facts. dwightmaron@yahoo.com

    • There are several reports and resources listed within the post. Reports of Southwestern salespeople being arrested for their lack of certification, improper licensing, and for lying to their target market are among them. Also detailed is the manner in which the company uses tried and true methods of cult-like conditioning to assure devotion and allegiance. There are also links to investigative reporting attempts resulting in legal maneuvering that forced retraction of certain statements while leaving other blatantly damning allegations intact. If those allegations had no merit – it stands to reason that Southwestern would have had them retracted as well.

  61. I was visited this evening by a college student intern who was selling these books. She made it very clear up front that she was not affiliated with the school district but that she was selling books that were fun and educational …. think kids national geographic … maybe the quality of the books has gotten better because I didn’t see the magic cow example as described above but there were a section in the book for 4th graders about Noah’s Ark (being Christian I don’t have a problem with that but I can see where a lot of people would). Se was very nice and didn’t ask to use the facilities or for anything to drink … although now I feel a little bad for not asking if she wanted something. It does seem to me though that Southwestern takes advantadge of these young people. I was discussing with her for a few minutes about the neightborhoods that she’s covering and some of them are far less than desireable. Not a safe place for a little young lady to be after dark. When she had me sign the purchase contract I noticed a little fine print blurb about $19.95/mo for the website access and she said don’t worry about it, we didn’t put in any credit card info ….. my final thought on that is we’ll see. I think that what this all boils down to is that potential buyers need to look the books over well to determine if it’s something that they want to spend their money on and just like anyone else there are probably decent salespersons who’re just trying to make an honest buck… and there are probably those who take all the deceptive sales practices that the company teaches and takes them a step farther…. as for the company itself … they’re dumping these poor college kids in a very dangerous situation and that alone is enough to give me a bad taste for the company itself.

  62. Hi….two guys saying they r college students and having a summer job with S W Advantage…..blah blah blah…i did not order anything…im a woman..but not an idiot. Everyone Be Careful!!!

  63. My daughter got involved with this company this summer, but fortunately she only lasted a few days and came home, although she experienced tremendous feelings of guilt and failure because of the indoctrination she was given by the company that if she didn’t make a lot of money or gave up it was because she was weak and lazy. The week-long training school in Nashville was very stressful and she wanted to give up at first, but sincerely wanted to do a good job this summer to help pay for her college expenses. She had tried some of the math materials they gave her to sample and found it was helpful for her trigonometry final, so she really did think there was value to the materials they were selling. She was fortunate to have a nice host family (whose son has successfully participated in the program in another state) with two other sales people staying with her. Because she didn’t have a car, one of the other girls would drop her off in a neighborhood at 8:30am and pick her up at 9:30pm. (Their information for the parents of the workers would lead you to believe their day ended at 4pm. Also, it was not made clear to us that she would be alone, going door to door. She, and we, were given to believe that local schools would be providing the names and contact information of families that might be interested in their materials, so it would be directed marketing.) I can’t imagine who Southwestern thinks wants to open their doors to complete strangers after dark or that it would be safe for their “interns” to be doing that. The first day, she just shadowed one of the student managers, who was very rude to her and kept all the profits from that day for herself. The second day, she was left by herself in the pouring rain all day in a neighborhood, which as it turns out, was one of the worst in the area. As she was walking door-to-door, a car started following her with a man inside who was saying incredibly rude things to her. She finally sought shelter in a public library and called me crying that she wanted to come home. After calling her dad at work to get his advice she dediced to give it one more day if she could go to a different neighborhood. Since she still had hours to wait for her ride, she decided to try selling again since people would be getting home from work. The same man was circling the neighboorhood looking for her so she hid behind a fence until he left, then went back to the library. When that closed, she moved to a nearby Target to wait for her ride, who got lost and didn’t get her until 11pm. She contacted her student manager who gave her a different neighborhood to work, but advised her to go to their city hall to get a work permit. Turned out that would cost $100 which she didn’t want to pay, so she decided to give up. The nice lady at city hall was appalled at what my daughter was going through and gave her a ride to the police station of the previous day’s town so she could file a report on the creepy predator (it was 14 miles away and otherwise my daughter would have had to walk). Turns out the police were well acquainted with the man, he was a registered sex offender who had just been released from prison about a month earlier for assaulting several girls. My husband made a plane reservation for her to come home the next day and her host mother was kind enough to give her a ride to the airport. My daughter, and probably the majority of the students in the program, really have the best of intentions in entering this internship. Summer jobs for students are extremely hard to come by in this economy, especially for those who attend school far from home and can’t really begin looking until they arrive home after exams. She was excited to have something all lined up. She was prepared for it to be challenging, but that was just downright dangerous and I don’t advise anyone to try it. Fortunately she gave up before she had invested too much money in it and before anything really bad happened to her.

    • This story just saddens me. I’m so glad your daughter is safe! It’s terribly wrong for this company to deceive young adults, and their parents, into thinking this job is legitimate. I can understand that a lot of kids come from rough back ground and have had to work hard under some very difficult circumstances. To them, this job might be ideal and they may be used to dealing with being treated poorly or risking their safety in order to make a buck for food. Kids who are in this situation and want out; please understand that there are scores of other options. Don’t be afraid to quit because some people might think you’re weak. Being smart, standing up for yourself and seeking something better for yourself are not weaknesses. These are signs of strength of character in someone who will not take less than they deserve. Everyone deserves safety and access to family, food, water, rest, and a reasonable income, even when sales are not made. Be brave and ask for help. Some people might push you off the porch if you’re making a sales pitch, but if you ask for help, a large percentage would bend over backward if they understood the situation you’re in.

  64. As someone who recently quit the internship, I can address some of the things the company coaches us to do.
    For one thing, if you feel like this company somewhat brainwashes it’s interns then you are correct. I began my training months before I even left for Nashville. I had to meet with my student manager at least an hour every week; every week I was fed all the glamour of the company. When I got to sales school, they spend half of the week working to pump you up and to be terrified of being a failure. If you talk to people who are in this program, they all say the same things about how incredible it is and they teach you to look down on anyone who is too weak to do this. They have 150 years experience brainwahing students into giving up their summers.

    Second thing, as soon as we get to a house, we’re suppose to put our bookbag right next to your door. Then once you answer, we’re suppose to spit out our approach to you quickly and then at the very end when we ask for a place to sit while reaching for our bag; we basically are suppose to be prepared to barge into your house. We have a designed sales talk for every aspect, even some of the talks we have almost belittle people for not having money supposedly to buy these books. We give the same examples to every person. Our business is designed to keep on chipping away at you until you finally give in and buy.

    Third, we’re suppose to rush you. We’re not suppose to come back later. We try to sell you the feeling that your being a wonderful parent before you get a chance to really think about it. If you feel this is deceptive, then sadly again you are right. We don’t even straight ask you “do you want to buy this?”, we give a demo, do price build-up and then go into the close by asking for your address. It is designed so it’s almost like you don’t even know your buying it. We don’t want to give you the chance to do any research, we don’t leave any info about us for you to get in touch with us.

    Fourth, we are told to get as much info about people as possible. Alot of the sales practices are psychologically based; we are suppose to pressure you from every angle especially socially. We need to not only figure out how to get into your life, but also your neighbors life so we can try to sell to them.

    They claim they keep the students safe; no business who honestly had their workers best interests would send them to go door to door by themselves for 14 hours a day in an area they don’t know. I had safety issues and the cops begged me to leave. The cops were amazed this company would send a student to work in this area again, after they had had issues before. The company got me to believe I would be an absolute failure if I were to leave; I sobbed for days until the cops begged to leave. If you think my managers were the least bit sympathetic towards my safety being greatly jeopardized, then you are dead wrong. I got screamed at for not working hard enough after I was almost attacked. I finally decided I would be fine with being a “failure” if meant I was still alive.

    This is a horrible company which takes advantage of young people. I’m so thankful the cops talked me into leaving and wish I had found this blog before I had agreed to do this. If nothing else, they need to figure out a way (maybe a buddy system) to keep the students safe and they need to be much more transparent about their operations and charges. It’s amazing this company can get away with all the stuff they do. It is disgusting they can work someone 80 plus hour a week and not pay them at least minimum wage for when that person doesn’t make a sale (which, other companies do have to do. But because this is considered an “internship”, this doesn’t apply).

  65. NO doubt this is a scam but you kind of blew your credability when you had to bring politics into it and somehow blame Republicans. Now there are two scams; the books and you!

    • How is mentioning Southwestern’s political affiliation a scam? Perhaps you missed the pertinent information. Here you go.
      fta: “Southwestern Company owners and executives have spent $151,398 dollars influencing Federal elections since 2000. Of their individual contributions, 86% have gone to Republican candidates.”

  66. 5-23-12
    I just had an “intern” visit my house. We live in the country, so you can imagine that door-to-door salesmen are not a common thing. He approached me the very same way it was described above. He claimed to be visiting all the families in the county with children. He kept giving names of people I was supposed to know who I would guess live on our road, none of whom I knew. The young man claimed to be a college student doing an internship (though he did not specify with whom) to gain tuition money/credit. He tried very hard to ingratiate himself to me and get me to sit down on the porch with him for his pitch. He asked personal questions about being the mom of the house able to make spending decisions, what grade my kids were in, what curriculum they used in school, etc. When my answers and cooperation weren’t forthcoming, he decided to proceed with his salespitch. He then asked what I liked about the product he showed me. It looked decent so I asked for a brochure to further investigate. He claimed not to have anything and that the website doesn’t sell products. This seemed extremely questionable to me. If you’re selling a legit product and actually trying to make legit money, wouldn’t you have a flyer of some sort for people who might want your product? Or for people to share with others if they are satisfied with that product? Well, I then asked who published the curriculum. He said it was published by Southwest along with Cappa, Scholastic, and McGraw-Hill. But the information was vague at best. When I tried to look up the company, I came up blank. So, I called the sheriff’s department to report their actions. They had contacted the sheriff’s dept. to let them know they would be in the county. I was given the full name of the company – Southwest Advantage – and a phone number. I did not call the number as the operator could not say what the number was for. When the young man and his friend were about to leave, they asked about our neighbors. Who has kids, who would be home, etc. I wasn’t very helpful. There was just something very suspicious about this guy and how he was acting. Needless to say, we didn’t buy the product.

  67. The sales rep visited our house 5 mins ago.He was not deceptive or misleading.He stated that he was not associated in anyway with the school system.He moved on after his sales pitch and did not pressure us.He did ask questions about if we knew our neighbors.I discounted my neighbors endorsement because my neighbors are kinda stupid anyway.We are both college educated and did not see the advantage of spending money on these books and cds and website. We purchased this 6 yrs ago when our kids were in 2nd and 3rd grade.They did not use the books but they did play the cd games and learned nothing.We gave the books to the school library.

  68. I had these people at my door yesterday. Seemed really nice young students but many things didnt make sense. I asked if she could leave me a business card or if there was a website because I don’t make rush decisions. She gave some excuse why she didnt have a card and didnt give me the website info. She wanted yes or no on the spot which to me a proper business would leave information for a potential maybe. They said to me “most moms know right away if they want it”. These girls said the company was started by a group of teachers. They said they were from British Columbia and
    were talking to moms in Ancaster Ontario

    • We have business cards now! Yay! So that solves that issue. The reasoning behind not having business cards in the first place is because we try to see thousands of families per summer and don’t really have much time to backtrack. But we decided that business cards and backtracking are effective if ti helps our customers to feel more secure. 🙂

  69. Most of the college kids recruited for Southwestern are good, honest kids. What happens is that Southwestern and the student managers who become part of the “management” are deceitful and mislead students into thinking that this is a great opportunity. The students in the book field end up thousands of miles from home with no money (because of SW’s tactics) and without a support system. The company goes as far as to instruct students not to call home. MY ADVICE TO THE STUDENTS IS TO LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING AND TO TRUST YOUR PARENTS’ ADVICE. These people from Southwestern are only interested in making money from your hard work. I told my daughter (who got in this mess) that if anyone from the company ever comes to my home, I’m going to feed them and make them call their parents.

    • I actually got in trouble for emailing my dad during sales school. They really do try to cut you off from your support system entirely. Before hand I was told to be very limited in what I told my parents about this, as they would talk to them for me. Needless to say, they completely lied to my parents about what I was going to be really doing. This alone is troubling. The word needs to get out that this is a dangerous company using kids as a source of cheap, expendable labor.

  70. One more thing for parents to look at about this company is the executive blog by RRyan Davis or Ryan Davis. Here is an excerpt for Southwestern Advantage’s own website:

    “Listen up, kids. You need to hear this. I’m telling you because many of your parents are out of touch with how our society works, and I want to see your generation grow up to be productive members of said society and not walk around protesting with your hands out screaming about how you’re entitled to things. I know, it sounds hopeless, but I’m trying to fight the good fight.

    Anyway, here’s what you need to know: There are things you suck at.

    Now you don’t suck at everything, but the fact of life is that you suck at some things. Really bad too. And it’s not just you, it’s everyone. So don’t feel bad. Just be aware of it.

    See, what many of you have are what we call ‘helicopter parents’. Their intentions are good — they want to see you be safe and do well. The problem lies in that they’re overly protective and won’t let you screw up, get your feelings hurt, be rejected, or take risks. You probably don’t understand this yet because you’re a kid, but that’s how you learn things: by screwing up a ton and having both positive and negative interactions with a lot of people. This is still over your head, isn’t it.”
    ——————————————
    The company tries to separate the college students from their parents. Take a stance against this company. Don’t let them manipulative your child. This is one of the reasons that my child participated, MANIPULATION. Look up Southwestern Advantage’s Pony Sales School. A video shows an older man giving a lecture about pessimism and optimism. In his example the optimist (child in his example) will dig through horse manure to find a pony while the pessimist will only complain. Well, I think the only manure that these students should be digging through is the manure being spewed by this man (Mort Utley) and Southwestern Advantage. The one factual component to his lecture is that he is partially honest. Students will be digging their way out of a horse load of crap.

    • Let me start off by saying I can’t stand this company and what they represent. However, they are correct about Helicopter parents. They are way off base by using this to take our older kids from us, so THEY can educate them.

      Now, we do need to allow our kids the opportunity to fail, have their feelings hurt, & experience disappointment – While they are in the safety of our homes. This is how we raise responsible, independent adults, who are able to make good decisions & who are not afraid to come to us for advice. This company preys on those kids that do not have this ability.

      • I think this goes to Anne’s point. Southwestern wraps lies within truths to sell the program to “interns”, and their products to potential customers. They preys on inexperience and the budding independence of young adults. Asking a young person to avoid informing their parents when they are in trouble is dangerously irresponsible.

  71. I had visitors today, a male and a female. Your blog described the situation entirely.. They claimed to be visitng all moms from my school district, to know the princaple of the elementry school, and that all of the families who care about education are ordering. Truth be told, I wasn’t spending $290.00 or whatever it was today, especially not on things I hadn’t researched myself. It was a now or never situation, I’m glad I chose never.. They came around last year but I told them that I was busy, which I was, and they never came back until today.. Yikes.. It was completely uncomfortable and they had a subtle way of making one feel like a horrible parent. Unfortunately for them, I’m not the typical ignorant suburban mother that my neighborhood holds and I research before I buy, and I’m far from easy to suck into a sale.

  72. Oh you signed up for books . Did u sign anything by chance? Oh you did? Did you read anything on the receipt ? Yeah you should do that before signing anything

    There is a website on the receipt .did you check that? Oh you havr such a cool blog but tou may have forgitten right? Did the saleswoman point a gun to your head and say buy the books? No. So she didn’t force you to do anything and lied to you? My name is timothy devance . I worked as a college intern for two summers and earned 30,000 to pay my moms cancer treatment. 6 years later I had a kid and bought books for them which is very good material especially for young kids . I had a college kid come to my door too. But I knew the whole schpeel she was going to tell me. I bought. Don’t regret it.

    You let these “kids” into your house and buy the books and you’re blaming them?? Oh are you mentally challenged or something ? Keep complaining . Blame mc Donald’s for fatty food not the people for going there.

    Sounds like a plan? Best of luck . You have 3 days to cancel or not I’ll personally give you a refund.(yeah I make a lot of money)

    • Pretty amusing that you assume the exact opposite reaction from reality in each of your questions which appear to be attempts at being rhetorical. Maybe reading isn’t your forte. No I didn’t sign up for books. No I didn’t sign anything. Of course I would have read the agreement (not the receipt) before signing. Thanks for thinking the blog is cool. That’s real nice of you. Only the use of guns would make these sales dishonest, aye? If your intelligence and grammar are indicative of these quality educational materials – I am all the more certain that they are trash.

  73. I was approached today by an intern for this company who did actually say that he was not affiliated with the school disctrict. I was leary of the whole thing from the beginning, he politely invited himself into my home & started with the questions/sales pitch. I have learned that anything where you have to sign right away for is not on the up & up. Sent him on his way with a polite no thank you. I also figured any legit company could be googled & if it was worth it, I could order later on. I’m glad that I sent him on his after reading the reviews.

  74. Two Southwestern Advantage males just left my front porch. I do remember having a girl visit by herself in my very rural neighborhood 2 summers ago. Same speel everyone has described. I’m typically a hard sell, and had no problem saying no to $119.00 series of books. I actually pictured them piled in a corner, collecting dust while the boy talked. He was very nice. I asked him questions about his company and mentioned my shock about the girl 2 years ago selling by herself. His response was that his company has been doing this for over 100 years and has never had anything bad happen during sales. I guess he hasn’t read this blog! They did ask to buy a bottle of water at the end. What’s up with that? PS – I just gave them both water.

  75. Just had a nice young woman from Montana stop by and give her spiel. She did identify herself right away as selling books and not being part of the school system although she did allude to it upon her introduction. She told me it was her 2nd year selling for Southwestern and that 40% commission went toward her college tuition. I didn’t feel pressured but felt a bit of a red flag when she didn’t have a business card and thought it was odd that there wasn’t really a website or easy way to contact her after thinking it over the next day. She did write her phone # down for me on paper when I pressed her for it. I let her use the bathroom when she asked and she wasn’t in there an abnormal amount of time. She did unobtrusively inquire about whether there were young children at the neighbor houses or whether to just skip them. I realized my back door was open after she left which made me uneasy but nothing is missing and the likely culprit is my 3 year old not latching it on his way inside. I’m glad to have stuck to my initial reaction of not deciding until the next day. After reading all the other negative experiences, I’m not inclined to purchase the product but have no complaints with the sales presentation. It does seem unwise for her to be solo in a rural area but hopefully the low crime will be in her favor. She seemed happy with the job and didn’t mind the hours in return for paying for her tuition. It may be a lousy way to make commission but can’t possibly be much worse than selling life insurance or other sales that include cold calls and pavement pounding!

  76. I had a young girl stop at my house a few hours ago. She didn’t ask to come in but that could have been because she saw my 90 pound German shepherd barking and growling at her! She was in a very thin sweater, capris, and flip flops. It was 50 degrees out this morning. She said she was NOT with the school district. She showed me the product, which actually seemed really great (yes, I saw the cow example). I told her I would love to buy some but my husband wasn’t home so I couldn’t make the decision (not true, I could have made it without him, but it was a good excuse). I found it odd that I couldn’t contact her later in the day or buy products off the website. After asking about 5 or 6 times she finally did give me her phone number but she said she couldn’t check her messages until late tonight. What college student do you know that doesn’t have a phone on them at all times? When she asked what my favorite products were/what I was interested in purchasing, she got out her sales sheet and tried to get me to buy right then and there after I repeatedly told her I couldn’t without my husband. I felt bad because she was really sweet. She told me my neighbor had told her I had kids. I have never met this neighbor (after talking to my neighbor, she didn’t even know I had a baby). She told me that this neighbor and one other had purchased books. After reading the reviews, I went to these neighbors (whom I have never met) and told them about what I had found on the product. Both of them are canceling today!

    • Canceling seems like the wisest idea – just remember what the Southwestern agent on this comment thread said:

      You let these “kids” into your house and buy the books and you’re blaming them?? Oh are you mentally challenged or something ? Keep complaining . Blame mc Donald’s for fatty food not the people for going there.

      Sounds like a plan? Best of luck . You have 3 days to cancel or not I’ll personally give you a refund.(yeah I make a lot of money)

  77. I had a college student (female) visit my home 2 days ago. She introduced herself as someone I “may have seen, working with the other kids in the neighborhood” and listed their names, their parents names and where they attended school. She also referenced my next door neighbor – principal of a local high school – as her former principal and that she was “very close” to the family. When I inquired about her sales (she was still on my porch) she stated that she was “doing this as part of [my] graduate program”. She asked if I had a place we could talk, that it would only take 5 minutes of my time and that she was in a rush because she had 35 other moms to meet with. She had an appointment book with her, and I am quite close to my next door neighbors (being new to the state I often ask them for referrals) so I didn’t question her approach.

    Inside, her story changed a few times. She had stated that our neighbors had purchased the products from her for homeschooling … but their children attend public schools. On the porch, she had mentioned this being part of a graduate program, then it switched to her being a FRESHMAN in college. On the porch, she stated this was for college credit, then it switched to her needing to pay for her education … even though she had a full scholarship. (???) She also stated that her own parents purchased the entire kit and kaboodle (around $600) for her high school-age brother because it was so much like her college text books.

    I wasn’t sold on the elementary age series; we have 4 children with a 5th on the way and plenty of age-appropriate learning material. She got my interest on the SAT/PSAT pack, though, after telling me that our local high school (remember, my next door neighbor is the principal) charges $600-1200. Who wouldn’t want to save hundreds of dollars by purchasing a $119 home-study program vs. sending a high $ check to school with a teenager? (note: our daughter had brought home a notice just the day before that the freshman would have to pony up the money for PSAT registration during freshman orientation)

    After questioning her and looking over her sample materials, I realized I needed to pick up my kids from school. We quickly wrapped up, I gave her a post-dated check, and gathered my receipts. I was rather excited about the program, as my parents and grandparents purchased me every educational program under the sun to help me succeed. (and, I thought they were fun) My kids were excited, but we found the website to be lacking a lot of the promised features.

    My husband and I looked up online reviews and while much of them are about the sales tactics and student “interns”, we found the products for $7.00 (SAT/PSAT) on Amazon.com! We also found 2011 reviews from parents that stated the SAME missing components on the website. One year later and the company still hasn’t figured out their online bugs? Hmmm.
    We emailed customer service our required cancellation note **within the 3 day cancellation period**. The young girl didn’t leave any contact info with me, so I looked her up online and found her twitter and facebook. I messaged her that we’d issued a cancellation and not to deposit the check.

    Customer service responded that we would get a cancellation confirmation within 3-5 business days. I will be calling customer service on Monday to request that # and to make certain we are not charged for the website access. If anything goes awry, I can always contact the BBB. They’ve already closed over 100 complaints in the past 12 months.

    • I would also mail a request to the company, TODAY, and send it return receipt mail to add further proof of your cancellation. If you review the posts, you will find this company continues to charge your bank account even after requests to stop.

  78. I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time reading the various opinions of the company and quite honestly it fascinates me.

    It’s clear that the majority of the comments here view the Southwestern company in a negative light which is certainly OK; everyone is entitled to their opinion, that being said, I feel that the majority already had a negative view of door to door salesmen from the get go which obviously leaves one predisposed to view the company from a negative lens. Certainly the company does have its vices but at the same time it does do many things well IMO.

    I recently decided to return home after three weeks of the program, so I’d like to share both the pros and cons of the organization and why I decided to return home.

    First and foremost, I firmly believe the company is NOT a scam.. to be clear I can only speak of my regional organization (I was recruited from the midwest..) but I feel the company is fairly clear in what is expected and that the there is nothing guaranteed.

    According to the dictionary: Scam is defined: a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.

    I was told numerous times: NOTHING IS GUARANTEED. YOU WILL WORK HARD. THIS WILL BE THE HARDEST THING YOU EVER DO.. ETC…

    I was never told it would be easy, or that I would become rich overnight. I was told that if I worked hard and focused on the controllables I would see success.

    IMO Southwestern does not meet the criteria of a scam.

    I’ve noticed that many of the comments here have been focusing on the prying of personal information. I mean this with all due respect, but in todays day and age privacy does not exist.

    Go to spokeo.com

    Tell me that isn’t ten times worse then asking your neighbors if you have kids so we can better SERVE you.

    Nothing is private anymore. I personally feel it’s a little silly when people overact to college interns asking where children of the street live so they can sell educational products to people who use it.

    The reason we get that information is so we can A. Serve customers who could potentially use our products and B. So we don’t waste time knocking on doors of people who don’t have children.

    For those who don’t like solicitors knocking on your door this actually benefits you.

    IMO we don’t ask overly personal information. We simply ask what grades the children are in and whether or not mom or dad are usually home during the morning and evening so we can catch them at the right time. Because we have a full spectrum of products from the little guys all the way through high school that is our way of doing market research.

    Obviously at first glance this information may seem suspect, but we ask that so we can catch mom or dad home, not so we can rob the house a later date.

    Perhaps it’s just me, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Certainly, the information could be misused no doubt, but as far as this company goes, their intentions are in the right place IMO. They believe in their products ( I will discuss more on this later.)

    I’m perfectly OK with those who don’t believe in the company, but it frustrates me to no end when some people suggest that we ask to use the bathroom simply to get more information about your home or to steal from you.

    That couldn’t be further from the truth. We ask to use your bathroom because we work our buts off and don’t have access to a restroom, not so we can steal from your home or get even more information about you.

    First off, once we are in your home we don’t want to come back. So getting more information about you would mostly prove pointless. Is it really that hard to believe we actually just need to use a restroom?

    If so I ask that you question your faith in people. I’m not even trying to be factious here, I genuinely ask that you question how you view people in general. Yes there are some bad eggs in the world. There have been individuals who steal from homes, and they are obviously kicked out of the program when caught and go to jail. But I’d say 99.9 percent of the individuals who ask to use your restroom really just need to relieve themselves, so for families who have people ask please say yes.

    Having worked on the east coast this summer, I can honestly say that many of the gas stations did not have public restrooms. Considering that we are working from 8AM – 9:30 at night I think it’s reasonable to ask one or two families to use their bathroom facilities throughout the day.

    As far as misleading individuals to thinking the we are from the school district I can see why people are wary. I wont’ go into specifics as far as the sales talk goes, but I can tell your for 100 percent certain it does include a clause that says ” I’m not from the school district and this is nothing you’re required to get..”

    Whether or not the individuals choose to follow the sales talk word for word is a different matter but I personally never heard someone tell me to omit that. We were always told to say the sales talk word for word.

    I can say that during your first few weeks on the job, you DO FORGET your sales talk. So while some may omit those words on purpose I’d say a the majority simply forget because of nerves. Knocking on strangers doors isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do you know.

    Again the sales talk specifically says to say ” I’m not from the school district.’

    An example to how I messed my talk up: I once told a dad.. ” My name is books and I’m showing school do you have a chair to sit on?”

    As far as the the actual products go, I felt they were solid enough to sell. I 100 percent believe that if you use the products they will help. That being said, it isn’t a small investment, and many people who buy them will never open the books. Though to be fair we specifically state they should only buy the products if they WILL USE THEM.

    I can say this years products were a significant improvement over last years. I honestly would have used them in high school.

    And though the web component is a work in progress, I do agree it could be improved more. I really liked the kids books, i met many moms who bought years ago and still use the books today. That made me really happy.

    Dad: as far as the cow example goes, IMO I believe you took it on of context. The examples in the books are supposed to be funny for that particular product. Obviously ” Nobody knows how cows make milk” is not true.

    But you have to keep in mind the full sentence is as follows:

    “Cows eat green grass and make white milk. Nobody knows how cows do this because cows don’t talk about it.”…

    The sentence is obviously intended to be funny and humorous. I had many moms laugh at the sentence, and at the end of the day the little one knows that cows make milk.

    The intended audience of 3-4 would not have any use of knowing a scientific break down of how milk is made. Perhaps if that was pushed in a high school book, then it would be different and I would be 100 percent in your corner, but considering is was a toddlers book, I personally feel you are overblowing the issue.

    Something you also may not know is that the author of the cow book helped produce School House Rock. I don’t think many would argue that School House Rock is a scam. Just something to keep in mind. If a guy who worked on school house rock wrote the cow example it’s safe to say it had a good intention behind it eh?

    Ultimately I decided to return home, because I had higher priorities (such as finishing an online class) and I didn’t feel like my head was in the right place. But I can honestly say doing the program was one of the best things I’ve ever done. IT WAS HARD WORK, and it was TOUGH. But I’m a better person for it, IMO.

    The company does go all in when it comes to being positive etc, which inevitably makes it carry some cult like qualities but IMO the company does a good thing and many many people are better off for it. On the other side of the token I can see how it isn’t for everyone and that some people will have a terrible experience. It’s not for everyone.

    I have no problem with the company, as I know it’s an amazing for opportunity for some but it is absolutely NOT for everyone. I met many many amazing people and I look forward to continuing to build those relationships. As of right now I came close to breaking even even after a month of living expenses etc.

    I did not write this to convince anyone of anything, simply to say that those kids knocking on your door are human beings and should be treated as such.

    I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions. Whether or not you think the products are valuable is for you to decide, but I ask you simply have a little more faith in humanity. If you have any questions feel free to email me.

    -B

    • I consider this another good example of the reason they hire college age interns rather than parents. When you can acknowledge the company is cult-like, promotes inviting strangers into primarily stay-at-home-moms’ homes to use the bathroom, suggests that asking when people are home and what ages their children are (where they go to school, their names, etc.) is good for anyone but the company – you’ve clearly never had to protect the well-being of your family. You are still in Southwestern Speak territory, and can’t even see the meaning behind your own words when you suggest that putting your family at risk so a sales technique can remain profitable is a mark of “faith in humanity”. If you need to dig up the definition of “scam” to try to defend against the accusation of scam – it comes across as evidence of a scam. I never make a scam accusation, by the way – being informed of what the word means. The words “scummy and dangerous but apparently legal” are more fitting.

      Thank you for the direct quote from the book for toddlers that tells them that how milk is produced is unknown. Despite who had a hand in writing it (fallacy of infallibility), or how many editors tweaked the work to make it read that way – teaching that we can’t learn about animals… b/c they can’t talk – in a book that is claimed to be educational? Huge red flag to anyone interested in raising intelligent kids.

      I appreciate your taking the time to write about your feelings and experience with the subject. You come across as someone who has good intentions and truly doesn’t see anything wrong with the company and the sales techniques they use. I would suggest that you recheck your “faith” in the corporation you promote. At the very least honestly ask yourself if a potential patron should trust a company (any company) vs. using their sense to see that information mining about families without their permission is obviously irresponsible. Saying something akin to “you don’t know them like I do – trust them” – is abysmally naive. The product could be pure gold and I would reject it outright because of the institutionalized predation on college students and unsuspecting families. As it stands – the materials are shown to be blatantly counter-educational as well.

      It is essential for them to harness lack of life experience and uninformed idealism in young adults for the program to work. Having a sales script that is so precisely geared to barely skirt outright lying isn’t defensible either, IMO. They know full well that after 9 hours of trudging through strange neighborhoods needing to pee – anyone might tweak a convenient script if it means a boost in sales or even just access to a bathroom. Nothing about their sales applications are accidental – it is the primary focus of the program, and the product itself wouldn’t exist without it. Greasing the wheels of commerce with positive, trusting, young idealists and making it likely that they become cynical, dishonest, young businesspeople is reprehensible.

    • SERIOUSLY – THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FAITH IN HUMANITY – BECAUSE IF IT DID YOU WOULD GET A MORE HONORABLE JOB AND NOT PRY INFO OUT OF GULLIBLE PEOPLE. YOUR LIFE IS REALLY SAD IF YOU DON’T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THE WAY THIS COMPANY AND YOU WORK AT IT —–

  79. HaHa We just had a “college kid” from Maryland, posing as a respresentative working with our school district. LOL I’m a sceptic and knew he was not! I told him we did not have the money for the books, but he continued his sales pitch. He asked all the same questions about the kids and who bought them and where do other kids live in the neighborhood. I did not let him in the house though, because I was not ready for the day and the kids were still in bed and I have two big dogs that wanted to dart out of the house after squirrels! Like everyone else, I wanted to google tham ASAP and look the books up on amazon!

  80. Just had that same experience. College girl from tennessee staying with a family on an “exchange” with students from mizzou. She also asked for a drink and to use the bathroom. I kept her on the porch but did give her a can of warm coke and sent her on her way.

  81. The other day, a kid on a bicycle was lurking outside my house. He had a notebook that he was writing in. From what I could see of the notebook, it looked like the page he was on had a picture of the next-door neighbor’s house.

    I went out to get the mail. The kid struck up a conversation, asking me if I was “the pops”. I just smiled.

    He then said that he was “sitting down with everyone in the neighborhood” as the “Southwest Advantage” representative.

    I said, “no thanks.”

    He said, “do you even know what that is?”

    I said, “doesn’t matter. No thanks.”

    About an hour later, I was walking the dog and the same kid was at the other end of the block. Doing the same thing — just standing outside on the street with this notebook. Looking all “official”.

    I wonder if this is the new marketing scheme. Just lurk until someone comes out and then pounce.

    I had half a mind to call the cops, but didn’t. Now I regret not doing so.

    • Sounds like the same obnoxious brat that was at my house last year. The only difference being he parked his car in my neighbor’s driveway, as if he lived there. Was just as disrespectful in his tone and manner.

      Thanks to him, I have a very negative impression of this company and their sales tactics. Had he left when I first asked him to, I might have been open to purchases later. Unfortunately for him, I grew up with a master salesman. I was able identify & deflect every one of his changing tactics…much to his surprise. It was all about wearing me down so I would make a purchase. He was quite angry when he left when I firmly told him “no” for the umpteenth time & dismissed him.

    • This makes me giggle because I can only imagine what people have thought about me while I am drawing my maps! They probably think I’m nuts. We actually use purely information that we gather on our own to figure out which houses to skip, and more often than not we get confused by our very own hand drawn maps and have to pause to figure it out. So yes, I would say it’s abnormal that he was paused outside the street. While he was looking official, he was probably confused as all get out and trying to figure out which way was up on his maps. 🙂

  82. thank you very much for your posting. I had for the first time one of these representatives at my door today. She was very innocent in appearance asking very personal questions about my child, not only that, but sharing information from other children’s homes that they had visited from down the road. She tried to give the impression she was from the school district, but would never answer YES or NO if she actually worked for the board. It’s a dirty scam selling technique and I feel very sorry for anyone who has been unknowingly duped.

  83. When I was a sophomore in college several years ago I was almost convinced to do this by a kid I worked with. Whether the practices for recruiting these kids are ethical or not, they are certainly selling these kids on the “opportunity” to be successful. The recruiter that sold me was as slick as they come. After 2 hours of not taking no for an answer from me, he had me so twisted around that I was ready to admit to being the second gunman on the grassy knoll. Even though I hadn’t been born yet. He had 4 other kids there that had done it the year before that all had made between 8 to 12 thousand dollars doing it over the previous summer. They all told me how great the experience was. Yes they tell you its tough and that you have to earn it. But they also portray scenarios that make you think its a really good deal. At no point did they do any sort of screening or aptitude tests to determine if you have the right personality or temperament to do this kind of work. It was a severe warning flag for me when you apply for a job and are hired immediately without any sort of interview. Of course, why wouldn’t they. They have no risk. If you succeed, great. If you fail, they are not out anything. I feel sorry for the poor kids that get into this and realize that its not for them and they feel duped. I am so glad that I didn’t go through with it.

  84. I don’t understand what people think is so different or scary about these people from any other door to door sales people. My neighborhood is visited frequently by people selling lawn care,cleaning products, alarm systems and many other things. They all ask questions about people in the neighborhood so that they don’t waste time going to doors that don’t represent thier market. It is just a job. If they don’t want to do it, they won’t If you don’t want to buy it then don’t. Also I am so sick of people saying that money was taken out of thier accounts without permission. You signed up for a free trial and forgot to cancel when it was over. It is not misleading. You just didn’t listen or simply forgot as I probably will. However, I will blame myself not the company. I purchased these books just as my Father purchased some for me from the same company many years ago. The only scam would be if the books never showed up. I am fully confident that they will and I will enjoy them with my children. Maybe some people should spend more time and energy researching and doing something about real dangers. Silly!

  85. I had a student come to my house a few weeks ago with the same type of gimmick. There are no children in this house and he was using the name of one of the elementary teachers in the local district. He had not had any lunch and asked for a PB&J. I never really thought anything about it until today when my neice called me & she had a student at her door that then asked for a PB&J, to use her bathroom, and then asked for a towel to take with her.

  86. Wow! This has been very enlightening! Just had a nice young man at my door doing the same spiel (less the part about being from the school district). After putting him off (by saying the money bag holder was not home), he did ask to use the bathroom. I gave him a bottle of water (without him asking). After holding my big yellow dog away from him, he agreed he would come back when my husband is around and went on his merry way. I think if/when he does come back, I will strongly advise him to look for other work. BTW, my son searched the bathroom for hidden cameras! No paranoia on his part:)

  87. The problem isn’t with the college kids. Most of us have been there and taken any job that sounds like it is a decent way to help get through college without too much debt. The problems, as I see them, are:

    1) that the salespeople are trained to not take no for an answer, and pry for personal information;

    2) that the business practice of the company exploits these interns who may or may not be aware of it;

    3) that the business operates in a way to obtain bank information and make fraudulent withdraws; and

    4) that the actual material being hocked as educational is neither complete nor current. While I agree with some that some facts are concrete and static, the reason that history and science keep getting rewritten is that there are constantly new exciting discoveries to account for! Any parent that does not encourage their child to know about the new horizons of the world is doing their child a great disservice.

    Businesses with practices that take advantage of both the people they hire and the customers they prey on are unfortunately quite common. Just be sure to do your research before purchasing anything from a door-to-door salesperson. (smart phones are great for this).

  88. We had one visit us when we lived in California last year. We’re homeschoolers and like your other commenter, we also thought it was just a sneaky way to get info about our curriculum.

    This company is a total scam. Thanks for writing about this!

  89. I had a girl come to my door selling books. She told me my neighbor sent her and said that I would be interested. I have a no solicitors sign on my door because we frequently get salesmen. I pointed it out to her and she said, “Sorry, I’m from Denmark, I didn’t know what it meant.” Then, asked to come in to talk about the books.

    I told her I didn’t have time to talk to her at the moment, and she returned the next day, literally as soon as I came home from the store, as if she had been watching my house. I had just barely made it upstairs to put my son down for a nap. By that time, I had spoken to my neighbor and she told me that when the salesgirl came to her door, she told her I sent her. Neither one of us are sure how she got our names, or how she knew we had 1 son each. I think she looked in our mailboxes, since the couple days before I noticed the door was left open on it, but I just assumed the postman didn’t close it. Neither of our children are old enough for school yet.

    Anyway, when she returned, I had my brother answer the door since I was putting my kid to bed, and she tried to tell him that I had already BOUGHT the books and she was there to pick up a check. When he told her he didn’t have a check from me, she tried to talk him into paying and having me pay him back. When my brother said he’d run upstairs to get me to write a check, she left before I got to the door.

    I haven’t seen anyone so far this summer, but if I do, I’ll be calling the police to file trespassing charges since I do have a sign up. She’s lucky my husband wasn’t home. I usually will at least let them finish their pitch before I tell them no politely, I never buy anything from door to door sales. My husband has been known to just slam a door in a face if they don’t take no the first time.

  90. Thank you so much for this artile and for sharing your stories with me I was just approached by one of these salespeople and it was exactly like you described it and that is very scarry but I am glad I was sceptical and didn’t order anything it is funny you used where does milk come from in your example because the man of our house works for a dairy farm so we know milk isn’t magical any parent should know this but they think were all stupid anyways thanks again for sharing and keep up the good work busting these crooks

  91. I had fed and walked the dog and was just getting ready to enjoy my morning cup of coffee on the front porch when a strange girl came to the door. I was irritable and short with her because I thought she was there to try to sell me something, and she quickly said something about how she was with the school district or something, and that I might have seen her working with kids in the neighborhood. I asked a few questions and it became clear that she wasn’t actually with the school district, but she still made it sound as if she was a part of some college internship or exchange program — she said that 100s of college students from MSU were down in Georgia, and that 100s of kids from Georgia were up here at MSU. I refused to let her in the house, so we sat on the porch, but she wanted my 9-year-old son to listen to her sales pitch with me, which I thought was odd, and she seemed to know that I was a single mom without me telling her. I offered her coffee without her having to ask for a drink, and she didn’t ask to use the bathroom. She set her watch before we started talking, which also seemed odd, and she provided very little detail on what was actually in the books she was selling.

    Now that I have read the stories on this website, I realize she sounded strained because she was working hard to remember and stay on script. The things she said were nearly identical to the things reported by others. I am not a person who likes to be coerced into buying anything, so in response to her repeated offer, “I can take your order today!”, I asked for a brochure to review. She said she didn’t have any literature she could leave with me. (Odd, no? This was my fourth or fifth warning bell, by this point.) I asked if they had a website, and she said yes, and then she hesitated, and she said, “If you Google Southwestern Advantage, you will see some negative comments by people who worked for SW Advantage, but the comments aren’t fair; this is a great place to work, and it’s not that hard.” Also odd, no? After that, she literally RAN to her next house — and because she didn’t go to the next house, I have to wonder, how did she canvas the neighborhood to find out which houses had children and which didn’t?

    She totally played on the mom-guilt thing, too. “You want what’s best for your son, don’t you? And all the moms are finding that these books really help their kids get ready for college… ” blah blah blah. Well, my son is a straight-A student, and doesn’t need the help of any over-priced “textbooks.” Our public schools are actually quite good here.

    She is coming back tomorrow — I told her I would need at least a week to think about it — and I am DEFINITELY not going to buy anything. I half considered buying the CDs but after reading the reviews of others, I won’t be purchasing anything. I agree with the other commenters here who say while this doesn’t seem to be technically illegal, it sure as hell seems unethical.

  92. I like many others mentioned above had one of these interns knock on my door. We stayed outside. She went through her whole pitch. It seems like she was fishing for more teachers names to make it appear she knew them. I think she pumps info from each door she knocks on. She asked me if I knew other houses that had kids.

    I am sooooo glad I did not give her any money. I have now read these comments from so many others and I will pass this site on to others!

  93. Although the girl that came to our door was very nice, and not pushy, she also was not willing to give me time to think about the product, and would not give me her phone number, saying she didn’t have time to answer because of all the families she had to visit. She did make it sound as if she was interning with the school, and that she was getting credit at her college (MSU) for selling the books. She followed the script almost word for word, and showed me the list of names of people in the neighborhood, noting that they had written down their own names, she had not written them. I don’t begrudge anyone trying to sell something, but my irritation comes from presenting as if they are from the school. When directly asked if she did work for the school, she was honest and said she did not, but she was willing to put the impression out there that she did. I hope she is able to do well enough to make the money she needs, but the sales pitch does not come across as completely honest.

  94. We had a young lady from Southwestern Advantage come into our close knit community yesterday. She wouldn’t show anyone her ID, she was snooping in and around our homes and garages, she grabbed a neighbors arm when he asked her to leave, she wouldn’t leave our door steps even after we closed our doors, she said she had no parents or anyone, she lied constantly, and was creepy!!! After my neighbor and I compared notes, I went around the neighborhood asking neighbors about their experience…all were upset, gave similar stories, but her “pitch” and reason for being there was different most of the time. I believe 4 neighbors called the police and the lady was tracked down. One neighbor demanded to see ID and she took off!!!! Finally 3 neighbors stopped her and told her the police were coming. She stood there lying for about 3 hrs! We asked for her phone number for the police. She said she was told her phone had to be shut off during the day because she had to see as many families as possible in a day. She wouldn’t tell us much info at all and tried to keep her ID hidden. (nice thing about cell phones is we got video and pictures, lol). All of us told her that her behavior was suspicious, creepy, that no one should be asking about our children, that her actions were not welcome in our community, and that by her lying she was just digging herself a bigger hole! I’m sure this young lady will think twice about coming around our community, lol. She was tracked down around 6:30pm and I think the last neighbor left her alone at a corner at 9:30pm! We’ve warned all the other neighbors and if she comes back it will result in round 2! I don’t really care if she is not technically an employee of Southwestern Advantage…she represents the company and their shady tactics, pitches, and I wouldn’t trust anyone that has anything to do with Southwestern Advantage!!! I hope the police had a good talk with her after the 3 hr chat she had with our upset neighbors!

  95. We had 22-ish student from Estonia come to our house last night around 9:00 and make a pitch. She was very nice and just a little pushy, asking us to please answer yes or no tonight and not make her wait for an answer. She didn’t ask many questions about our neighbors (there aren’t many kids on our street) but did say she had to meet with at least 40 families a day. She spent twenty minutes at our house alone, which means that she would have more than 13 hours of time EACH DAY meeting with people who actually let her in to listen to her. And we didn’t even take the time to fill out the paperwork!
    We did look at one of the books she had. It seemed good quality, and had pictures and words in English and Spanish (no weird facts or anything, since our oldest daughter isn’t quite two years old). My wife and I were impressed at what she showed us but we balked at the price tag. Anything over $100 is a lot to spend on six books for a child who’s not even two. We asked her to call in two days and we’d give her an answer then because we had to think about the investment. She was polite and took our phone numbers. This morning, my wife emailed me this and a few other links about Southwestern and When she calls, we’ll definitely be saying no. Thanks to everyone who commented on this blog for the information!.

    • In my opinion spending money on the books supports a lousy business that takes advantage of people, and that is the bottom line. If a very nice kid came to our house after 14 hours on their feet and was sincere and honest (dehydrated and hungry) and even if the product was appealing (and priced reasonably) – I would still have to say NO.

  96. All I’d like to say is that it’s a shame to hear how some students are really not doing what they should be doing and leaving many parents with an awful experience, however I also wish people wouldn’t use blogs like these to over generalize. I am a student currently interning with the Southwestern Company. I will admit that this is pretty much the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. What keeps me going is not the money, but the fact that I am being broken down now in order to build myself back up as a better person. Sounds like brainwashing? I figured on my own that if I can talk to 30 strangers a day for one summer, then I can give my mom the talk about Jesus that I never had the strength to do before. I know the expenses are high, but I have concrete goals of my own that I know can be reached through this internship, and so I would not recommend this experience to any student without goals bigger than a door slammed in your face multiple times a day.

    Now I’d also like to walk through how I approach houses. When I give my sales pitch, I am completely open to questions and have no problem stopping to answer them. The fact that I am not with the schools is one of the first things I state. I offer people the website when they want more information. I ask for information about the neighborhood only so I know where I’m going and which houses to skip. I’ve even gotten in the habit of asking people if I can show them the books outside instead of inside because I know I’m still a stranger and they may not be comfortable letting me inside. When I take orders and have people sign, I read everything to them so they know about the $19.95/mo membership and about the fact that they can cancel the online part before the October 1 deadline free of charge. I honestly believe that these books can help all types of students,whether they’re struggling in school and looking for help or straight-A students looking to save time with their homework, and are well worth the price. Even if people don’t get the books, I don’t take it personally and still do my best to leave them with a smile. Now I know not all interns have a similar approach, and I myself am not perfect, but I felt that the interns who are in this program for the right reasons and are genuinely honest in their approaches are being seriously under represented. Nonetheless I know people are still going to protest and throw nasty remarks at me, but I’m still going to finish this summer, and can’t wait to bring books back to the awesome families I’ve gotten to meet 🙂

  97. A girl from Lithuania dropped by today. She never mentioned working with the school district or anything and she was obviously selling something. I’m fine with all of that. There are lots of companies that have independent contractors do door to door sales. She was nice, but the quality of the books was crap. Apparently flamingos are pink because they eat shrimp (which I already knew) but in the book it said they eat “pink shrimps.” I thought it might have been a typo (but in a book with such big print and bold lettering it’s hard to have a typo that obvious and someone not notice it) but I opted not to buy the package. After reading this, it seems like the whole series of books is probably sub-par either in writing or in publishing or in both. Glad I didn’t buy anything.

  98. My first experience with Southwestern Company (SW) was last year when an Estonian student knocked on my door last summer. It was at the end of a month that we had record breaking heat wave – over 100 every day for a month. I felt sorry for her. She stunk to high heaven from working out in the heat all day. She told me what she had endured, including what I see as a form of brainwashing (she called it such things as sales school, execs, Sunday meetings). She had spent the summer working in the heat, selling books door to door, 13 hours a day, six days a week, out of contact with her family. She was physically and emotionally wasted. I pray that she recovered. I bought a book, and it continues to collect dust. I have no idea what’s in it. However, it did lead to one of the major complaints I am hearing -automatically billing from some web site I didn’t know about. I read through my paperwork and nowhere did it mention automatic enrollment in a website, or automatic charges to my card. I do remember her mentioning a free trial to for something, to which I said no. I called SW, cancelled easily, and forwarded the information to the state attorney general. Buying a useless book that I have a chance to review is one thing, but the web site thing is dishonest (IMO). However, I don’t think it’s the “intern’s” fault. It’s SW’s way of conducting business. Funny that they claim to have started out selling bibles. On the other side of the coin, just I received my credit card bill and have an automatic billing from an auto-repair advice website that I used two months ago. I distinctly remember siging up for a single use, not the “unlimited” monthly usage for which I was automatically billed. SW is not the only guilty party.

    I came to this website during my extensive research into Southwestern Company. What I have learned is that the truth about this company depends on what side of the fence you are on – whether you are a “intern” or a customer. The reason I am reasearching is because I have two Estonian college students staying in my guest room right now. They showed up at my house a few weeks ago looking for a place to stay. Both are intelligent, sweet, and attractive young ladies. The last part scares me a bit because of where they are currently selling books, which is in the worst part of town. I have never worked for the company, nor would I. I also would not allow my child to work for the company. I see it as simply too dangerous on many levels. However, in talking with the students, and their student manager, they knew what they were getting into and knew what to expect.

    I am loan officer at a bank. One of my customers owns an car dealership, and another an Allstate agency. I recently asked the insurance agent to provide me a quote for insurance (I am currently with a different company) and was quoted a policy twice as expensive. I also endured a long sales pitch about the benefits of buying a policy that was an “upgrade” to my existing policy. Well, I have been with my current company for 5+ years and have never had any problems with claims, big jumps in premiums, etc., so I passed. Similar story when I approached the dealer about a car. I have a college educated and very bright friend that owns a Rainbow vacuum cleaner that she paid $1,200 for from a door-to-door salesman. To this day, she believes is the best vaccum cleaner made – ever. This same friend also spent about 90 days as an Avon rep, which ended up costing her more than $5,000 (she has a lifetime’s worth or makeup now!) before she gave up and quit. SW Company is the same as Avon, or Amway (Quikstar), or any other MLM, but with a few exceptions. Most importantly, it focuses much more on making its recruits “successful” salespeople. It’s intial sales training, ongoing training, includng daily calls to a sales manager, and brutal tactics in general are very effective in what I would call turning these kids into “machines” to sell products. That’s what you are seeing at your front door. I am sure there are some weirdos, wackos, and some that are simply mentally ill from the conditions under which they work. I feel sorry for the students, but I can say it’s more effective in producing sales machines than the Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and Scentsy “reps” that I know.

    My point is that anyone working on straight commission, especially ones that do well, work hard to sell themselves and their products. Often they work with some form of deception, whether it’s intentionally not providing information, or providing information that may or may not be true. Not that I condone any form of dishonesty, but I believe that Southwest is NOT a scam (with the one exception – the automatic web billing). It’s just a high pressure MLM that recruits naive college students. However, I do feel the company operates on the fringes of what’s legal. It intentionally treats the “interns” as contract employees to skirt employment laws and distance itself from any liability. I don’t believe for a second that no one has been attacked while selling books. One of the girls that is living with my was chased by several dogs yesterday. Luckliy, she was not bitten.

    I can say they girls staying with me a (currently) mental and physical machines. I “rescued” one the other day after she rode to the other side of town, got lost, got a flat on her bike, and simply gave out. She was bawling. After a few minutes of doing what I could to comfort her, it was like a switch turned on and she went back into sales mode. I was very strange, literally like a switch was flipped. I dropped her off at her “assigned” area and she ended up having a succesful day. I don’t like what this company did to these girls, what they are currently doing to them, or what conditions (and places) they work under. All I can do is provide a comfortable and safe place from them to be until either they give up and go home, or the summer ends. Incidentally, my car dealer is begging me to send them to him. He thinks they would make a fortune selling cars over the next two months! I am sure they would.

    Bottom line, is that I feel that most of these students you are seeing are good people with the right intentions, and are simply trying to earn some money over the summer. They can earn $5-10,000 based on what I have been told. In Estonia, the average annual income is about $12,000 (vs. about $47,000 in the U.S), so that’s big money to them. They go into the program knowing full well that the work is very, very difficult. If you want to vent your anger, do so at the SW Company. These kids are a product of that company’s efforts.

  99. A rep from Southwestern just came to our door. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees today near Pittsburgh, PA…I invited him in to cool off and have some ice water…He told me UP FRONT even before he came in he did NOT work for the district and wasn’t affiliated with it. Told me he was working for Southwestern and wanted to show me some books and website subscription that may help my kids with their homework. Did not ask personal information about our neighbors. I offered him a glass of ice water and listened to his pitch. I very respectfully told him thanks but no thanks. He thanked me for my time and the water and went on his way. As a certified teacher and a homeschool mom I appreciate the opportunity to look at anything that might help me do a better job and help my kids succeed….However I don’t buy anything without taking time to think about it first and finding more information. I agree that there is so much FREE help online and other helpful resources and I think that these materials are very overpriced and unnecessary. However, Brandon was very respectful and in my opinion a very up front and honest salesman.

  100. So… we had a nice visit from Sydney from Montana this afternoon. Despite my college bound son thinking she was attractive I would not let her into the house to deliver her spiel. I did converse with her for about 15 minutes, but was direct that “no purchases are going to be made without research.” She was polite and did not mis-represent herself, but did break out the “neighbors names” pitch. In the end I sent her on her way with a cool bottle of water to keep her hydrated in the 100 degree temps.

    You can argue semantics about the use of the term “scam” here but these are the facts:

    – SW takes young, inexperienced (you might say… naive or even gullible), otherwise hard-working kids and throws them into the “sink or swim” world of hard-ball sales.
    – The perfect customer for SW are the less informed and those likely to be “taken in” by the “neighbors names” pitch. (BTW: This was an immediate red-flag to me… so I’m somewhat suprised by it. I would be much more likley to listen to a sales pitch from someone that was not dropping hints that they were trying to get an unnecessary understanding about my family, my house, and my schedule. I wonder if SW has profiled this pitch to know for sure that it is more a positive than a negative.).

    I have no doubt that kids that persever through this program are changed by the experience. But I’m 100% in agreement with *Dad* in saying I wonder really if those changes are good.

    This company essentially operates on the “user” principal, i.e. other people out there are simply fodder to be used up contributing to the growth of the “user”. You don’t necessarily need to be on the top of the “user” pile, but you definitely don’t want to be on the bottom rung of the ladder. That’s where these college kids are… and their first step up the ladder is on the shoulders and heads of the people that buy the companies books.

    I also have no doubt this principal can lead someone to achieving a certain level of success in their lives. The question is… when they wake up and look at themselves in the mirror in the morning… are they really the people they wanted to become?

    I’m sure some of them will say “Yes. Absolutely.” I’m glad they are content with who they have become.

    For me…

    – I strongly question a company that would advise young women especially, but young men as well, to enter into the homes of strangers. There was one report of a young woman being sexually assaulted, and another subjected to a flasher. I think it would be very interesting to gather statistics on just how many of these SW interns have that sort of experience.

    Too all you potential “interns”: Sexual harrassment does exist in the professional world… it is a very unfortunate thing… but there are many, many companies that take it very seriously and work hard to create safe work environments for their employees and their “independent contractors”.

    – Its cliche, and a line I’m stealing from the movie “Rob Roy”, but its a great line:
    “Honor is a gift a man gives himself”. Many, many of us are competent enough to get away with deceipt… but only a few of us are capable of deceiving ourselves so well that we think we are honorable when we deceive others.

    Choose the person you want to be carefully. Consider carefully the training SW offers and what kind of person it will make you.

    I sure hope Sydney comes back by the house so I can have this conversation with her face-to-face.

  101. Wow…on the $$$ …many comments testify to the scam that SWadvantage are producing. In today’s technological offering this is obsolete….carpet baggers of the 21st…..Don’t buy the snake oil people use your school, city or private libraries …don’t get bitten and DONT let them in your house….If you are interested ….haggle for a good discount when they say NO then give them the boot. They do come with decent young salespeople…they are nice…but hey they need to experience the world of NO Scams too!

  102. I had a female college student come to my home trying to sell these books. She didn’t misrepresent herself in any way and was also from Estonia. She was a very nice person but didn’t know too much about the company. I’m assuming she’s a newbie. Of course the thing that turned me off was that I could just pay 3 installments of $240.00. Really? Gee that’s so dang cheap. I know it sure as heck wouldn’t be saving me anything at all. She also told me that a lot of mothers can’t help their kids in school. Um I’m not like other mothers who don’t know anything at all. I’m the one that helps my kid out to the best of my knowledge. And I like Google cause if ever I don’t know the answer I can look it up. There was just no way in the world that I was gonna spend a total of $720.00 all together. Especially not to pay for someone else’s tuition if I don’t have enough money to go to college myself. I’m glad I didn’t pursue it.

  103. This happened to me yesterday. It is like everyone else said. The seller was from Europe, working here for an exchange program, visiting 35 families each day. He had visited some of my neighbors and they had all purchased his books from him. I tried to get out of it early on, but felt I would here him out and then end it. I ended up signing up for the math books, $260. (What was I thinking?) He didn’t have the books with him as he had run out, but would return with them later that evening. I even knew the host family he said he was staying with. Afterwards, I felt like I had done the wrong thing. I asked my husband what I should do. He agreed that if he came back, don’t take the books, tell him you changed your mind, and I wanted my original copy of the receipt back as it had my credit card number. The seller did come back, and with my husband by my side, I told the guy I had changed my mind, and didn’t want the books. He hesitated for a minute, telling me I had 3 days to cancel by calling the 800 number. I said that was going to be done, I had already contacted my credit card company to stop payment on the so-called order. When I asked him for my original paperwork back as it had my credit card number on it, he replied that he would just scribble it out. No, I wanted the original and now. He walked back to his pickup, with my husband and I following him halfway. He did give me the orignal slips and said thank you. So hopefully, I stopped this order before it was processed. I then came back inside and emailed the company about canceling the order and another to cancel the so-called free online membership. I will be calling the company in the morning to make sure all of this is going to end. Don’t buy anything from a door-to-door salesman!

  104. I had two very friendly Lithuanian college students come to my door. I actually offered them a drink because they were walking in the heat apparently trying to sell their butts off. It was just common courtesy to offer to someone visiting in high heat temperatures. They were extremely greatful for the offer and accepted politely. I asked where they were from and was able to chat with them about my own visits to Europe and where our families were from. They were only out here for the summer and they were pretty exhausted. I bought a book from them ( Im a sucker for books in general and the content will come in handy for my sons) and I am going to use it as my “home school” time with my sons since I spent money on it. Yes, I understand the info is out there but still…the interesting thing that (I will leave names out) our sales reps did was the approach they took. They didn’t pitch the material the way the company would probably want them to. We talked about their experiences while they were out here. I told them to check out some sights while they were here and asked for their opinions on how people were treating them as visitors and as saleswomen. I was curious how my fellow Americans are treating people these days, what can I say? I’m also a mom so I couldn’t help but worry for how far these two beautiful young women were from home and how tired they were. They were kind and did their small part in talking about the material but also sat with my sons and went over some topics with them. They were personable and kind. I sent them on their way with cute parting gifts of lip balm and toiletries (I work retail and I keep small favors around for random instances) and wished them luck with the rest of their summer in Chicago!
    I really do hope they stay safe and well during their visit here. I wish they would get a better job than this one but they are doing it well and with kindness. No worries about further charges on my part. I already have my card on a block for any other transactions from this company.

  105. We recently had an intern from southwestern come to our home. She told us she was a foreign exchange student, asking families what raising children in America was like. Said she was doing it for a school project. She was from Estonia and her story seemed very legitimate. I bought 6 books and was to pay 23$ every Friday. Sounds reasonable right? Well they charged my husbands card on the following Monday instead of the day we had agreed to. We called and tried to get our money back but they refused, were really rude ad said we could have canceled within 3 days. We didn’t want to cancel until they charged us and by that time it was too late anyway. So we stopped our debit card and told them to send their book “dealer” back for the books we hadn’t paid for yet. What a scandalous way to trick families.

  106. We had a girl from Europe come to our door last week. I have a “No Soliciting” sign above the doorbell (which is disconnected) and I never answer the door unless I know who it is, but unfortunately this time, she came shortly after my family from out of town arrived and my front door was wide open. This left me a little distracted to begin with (and I didn’t want to be rude in front of everyone). At some point, even my 6 year old came to listen to her at our door. (She used a kangaroo example with her.) I have decided to post here because after she left, I felt uneasy about the information she already knew, the information that she gleamed from me without me thinking about it and the information she tried to gain from me about my next door neighbor (which is when I started to get very vague). It was all pretty friendly, but I will be talking to both next door neighbors to see what had happened at their location. I heard the “I’m sure you have seen me work with neighborhood children”, etc. I was able to catch her up a little since my daughter had gone to kindergarten in another city in the district. I wonder if she ever comes back that I can get off their list for next year, or maybe I just need a bigger “No Soliciting” sign.

  107. Thank you for everyone’s comments on this blog, it was very helpful for me. I found myself in the same situation as you all have described. I was pushed into buying, the kid was nice enough. He already knew my name, my child’s name (thanks a lot neighbors) and told me that everyone on the street participated yearly in this “educational project.” He said he came back and delivered the books and all the kids on the street enjoyed it because he dressed up (anyone else get this?). I didn’t know if this was truthful because I had just moved in (probably something a neighbor told him as well). I didn’t feel comfortable paying outright for them so I sent him with a check for half (which I promptly cancelled through my bank once I had time to figure out this was not all truthful). I wouldn’t call it a scam, but I wouldn’t call it truthful either. In the end, I decided to cancel because the money was going directly to the student and I would prefer to use that money to donate to another organization that I contribute to yearly. It was that simple for me. He never had a chance to get into my house, I don’t care how nice you are if I don’t know you- you aren’t coming in.

    Also, I think it is important to note that I do not answer the door during the day. The only reason I did was because there was no one on my front porch after the doorbell rang so I thought it was a package from UPS or something. When I opened the door he was standing around the corner out of sight so I was caught off guard. If he had been standing on my porch and I could see someone was there I wouldn’t have answered it.

    I haven’t had any charges on my bank account and I have taken the extra step to log on to the website and go ahead and “cancel” my account even though it said I had a couple free months of use left.

  108. I left my bedroom to go to the kitchen to get something to drink. As I was passing through, I noticed there was someone sitting in my living room with my parents whom I didn’t know. He was one of these “interns.” I wasn’t in there when he first arrived, so I’m not sure whether he mentioned working with the school district or not.

    When I came in he asked me my name, then started asking me personal questions about school like “What kind of grades do you make?” and “What did you make on your ACT?” Then he started asking much more personal, and seemingly irrelevant, questions, like “Where do you go to church?” I wasn’t thinking at the time and stupidly gave him my church’s name, which is really my major concern, so if anybody could tell me why he would need it and what he is going to do with it, PLEASE let me know.

    He also told us he was from Texas and told us about other families who had bought this book, some of which we did know and some we did not, and this is a small town where everybody knows pretty much everybody.

    He sat in the middle of my living room floor, with no shoes on I might add, and showed me, my parents, and my two little brothers the book on all the subjects and stuff. What I thought was really strange, though, was that after he got done showing us the book, my dad asked to look at it himself, and the guy tried every way in the world to not let my dad look through the book without him showing it to us. Eventually, he reluctantly handed it over, but I still found it really strange.

    He never asked us to use our bathroom, but he did ask for ibuprofen or tylenol because he “had a killer headache.” My mother gave him some over-the-counter tylenol and asked if he needed something to drink, and he said he’d love some water.

    Even after all of this strange behavior, my father actually bought the book for me and my siblings to use. My mother and I didn’t want anything to do with it (both of us don’t trust salespeople of any kind), but the father went ahead and bought the book. The “intern” said that our total would be $520, but that we could make a deposit and not have to pay for the whole thing right now. Contrary to the stories I’ve read above, though, my father paid a $300 deposit in cash. He did not pay using a check or credit card, so as far as I know he can’t withdraw the $19.99 a month using either. However, upon reading up about this company after he left, we are looking to cancel the order, but paying in cash means it is harder to get the money back, I believe.

    If anyone knows how we can cancel this order and get our money back, PLEASE let me know. It would be greatly appreciated.

    • Natalie, you have to cancel the order within 3 business days (Saturday counts as a business day). You can email a pdf with a copy of the receipt, fax it or mail it with the form stating why you are canceling, your method of payment, date and signature. They will send you a confirmation email upon receipt of the cancellation. I did this within 24 hours of my order and I received a check from SWA about 2 weeks later.

      You have to issue a SEPARATE cancellation notice for the website.

  109. This guy came to my house in June. He was trying to sell me books for my 12 month old daughter! I’m working on a degree in ECE so I declined and told him to get lost. He then proceeded to come back when my Husband came home and asked him…. He told him to get off our property. While he was here the first time, he asked me for names of families in the area with Children. I contacted a sheriff friend of mine and he had been to her place too….as well as a few other friends of mine in the area. What clued me in was he had a new car, with a non local license plate…. I’m in NY, and I know what all the plates look like in New England, NY, NJ, PA, MD….and it was not any of them. He wouldnt give me the name of the company or a website….he said he wasn’t allowed. That was another red flag!

  110. Natalie — the yellow copy of the receipt the salesperson left you, do you still have it? On the back it clearly states that you can cancel your order within THREE days of the purchase. Fill out that side of the form and scan it in and email it to the company. You will check the box that says “need refund.” I don’t know if you will actually GET the refund, but the back of the yellow receipt is the “cancellation” form.

    GOOD LUCK!

  111. Just had the same exact experience with a young, female rep in Lower Merion, PA. Beware, they are are very smooth and persistent, even after I said twice that I need to get back to work.

    • I just had a young female come to my house in Lower Merion, Pa…same story as all the others. I had decided to buy one set but she had to go get her car as the books were in there. While she was away I found this blog, so needless to say I declined my purchase when she returned with the books. I called the local police department a nice police officer came to my house and informed me that she had a permit from the township allowing her to go door to door and sell these educational books, he assured me that they do through background checks on the individuals before they issue the permits. I asked him if they do backrgound checks on the company she is an “intern”/”independent contractor” for and he looked blankly at me and said “no”. So I gave him the low down on the company she is contracting for and got an “interesting” and an ok thanks for the information. Scary…..

  112. Ok so I just had a guy come and sell me the little kid books, the ones with the English and Spanish words, they were $40 for the 4 books plus tax and shipping, the total came out to $51.64. I did see the cow example in the other set of books, they were like a my first dictionary type of book, my kids already have that so I wasn’t interested, I also saw the $19.95 a month for website access after September 30th, I let him know I would be canceling it before then and he didnt seem to mind, I also paid in cash (a little nervous on whether or not I’m going to get my books) but I don’t use checks or CCs so he was lucky I had cash on hand. Once I see all 4 books and see if they will integrate well into the curriculum i have for my 3 year old, we are currently learning how to read so the example he showed me seemed like it would be a good fit. Also the spanish words were all proper and not slang, i thought that was really nice.

    Although I won’t be cancelling my order, I won’t be buying anything else from this company. I feel like if I cancel I will be hurting that guy and he was very nice and well mannered

    The funny thing is I am very anti MLM ever since my days of being in the Mary Kay cult, I never thought of door to door sales people as being in a similar brain washing experience, I am thinking about printing out some information for this guy to give him when he comes back to deliver my books (if he comes back geez I feel like a loser)

    I also found this website with alot of other testimonials of college students who were involved, it’s a little older but it seems like there is basic theme of mistreatment of the sales force

    http://southwesterncompanytruth.com/Testimony_Home_EFHZ.html

  113. 7/12/2012. A nice young man came to my door.He told me he was 25 and graduated from UCLA. He already knew I had a school age child. I homeschool but he mentioned the local elementary school. He showed me the books. Asked some personal questions about me and the neighbors. He then asked for a drink of water. I locked my door when I went to get him and his partner a bottled water. I told him I wasnt interested and he left politely. It just goes to show you how vulnerable and gullible young adults are today. I’m glad my 25 year old still asks for advice and has never fallen prey to such a scam.

  114. I had an intern come to my door today. All of these scenarios are all the same. What I want to know is how in the world are they getting personal information about us?? I asked my neighbors if they were approached as well and they do not know how they have our information. The guy even knew the nickname of my daughter, totally weird!!! When I was approached he did not ask me a whole lot of questions, instead he was telling me my kids names, the schools they went to and what grades they were going into. I also did not let him in my home although he tried several times to go in. I told him my dog was out, he then asked if my dog liked to jump or lick people. I said he was a stranger and I didn’t know what my dog would do to him and it would be best to stay outside and use the hood of my car if needed. He also asked me to get my daughter to come out so he could talk to us together, which I did not get her. So does anyone know how they get our information? I will be contacting the school district, TEA, and Dept. of Education tomorrow.

    • The SWA student that was going around my subdivision was asking kids playing outside where other kids lived, what their names were and when they would be home. There are only 2 bus stops in this subdivision so all the kids are pretty familiar with names. Since we live directly across the street from one of the stops, ALL the kids from that stop know who I am, what car I drive, who my kids are, etc.

      What really riled us all up was that this student was telling everyone how “close” she was to the other families and how she was “working with [names of kids she had literally just met on the street]”, to gain access to the homes. She even told me she was close friends with the principal (who is my next door neighbor) and spent a lot of time with him as a student due to activities and student gov’t. When my neighbors came home, they couldn’t believe she had been doing that!

      • I just found your comment after reading a bunch of these. I think they ask a lot of questions to the neighbors, but I also think some of them might get mail and hack into your online information. My Facebook account was accessed
        by someone with a foreign service near Poland about a week before an Estonian girl showed up at our home. She didn’t give children’s names or anything though. We changed all our passwords as a precaution.

  115. It is very simple. When someone rings your doorbell that you don’t know just say “do you have a permit to solicit?” when the answer is “no” you call you police stations non-emergency line and give a description of where the person went and what they were wearing. Problem solved. I lothe solicitors.

  116. I believe the group is in Bucks County PA. Approached today by a young college student visiting from Ontario, Canada. Asked to use the bathroom and she was really unaware of the market, using the wrong school district name. I called the police, but they could not find her ( Johanna). If you are approached- close and lock the door and call authorities.

  117. As a college student that was duped into this ridiculous internship, I advise everyone not to do this internship. I also advise all parents to not let these kids into your doors. Southwestern company makes profits off complete dishonesty. The kids who make a profit from this internship basically have to sell their souls to do so. It is so frustrating to me that such a company can exist in the US these days. However, I was one of those stupid kids that agreed to do this. Also, these people on this website that are advocating this company are completely brainwashed! It is so sad that a company can literally brainwash intelligent, capable students into thinking that they are doing something good for the community. Please do not buy these mediocre textbooks! They are a waste of your money! However, 90% of these students hate this job and would honestly just like to use your restroom. They are not trying to steal anything from you but are so desparate to use a toilet that they are willing to ask you. Please be aware of that when these students approach your door. But if they are pushy about giving you the sales talk, then send them on their way because they are one of the brainwashed ones!

    Sidenote: Southwestern company deliberately sends students to rural areas and encourages students to go to trailer parks and such because the people there are naive and will buy more books! It is absolutely disgusting to me!

  118. I AM ABSOLUTELY APPALLED. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE BADMOUTHING SOUTHWESTERN, YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NEVER SOLD BOOKS. THE WORLD IS WAY TOO SKEPTICAL THESE DAYS, WHICH I GUESS IS RIGHTFULLY SO BUT I AM A 4 SUMMER BOOK GIRL AND MUST SPEAK ON OUR BEHALF. THIS JOB IS UNDOUBTEDLY HARDER THAN ANY OTHER COLLEGE JOB, WHICH IS WHY I FEEL THAT ANY PERSON WHO WORKS 80 HOUR WEEKS, FACES REJECTION, IS CONSTANTLY PLACED IN CLOSING SITUATIONS, AND DEALING WITH ADVERSITY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WILL BE FAR BETTER OFF THAN THEIR PEERS WHEN FACED WITH THE JOB MARKET AND LIFE IN GENERAL. IN MY FOUR SUMMERS COMBINED, I HAVE MADE OVER $60,000 TO PAY FOR SCHOOL AND HAVE LEARNED MORE ABOUT MYSELF THAN ANY CLASSROOM OR WENDYS JOB WOULD EVER TEACH. THE JOB IS NOT HARD WHEN YOU HAVE AN AMAZING PRODUCT WITH THE BEST BRAND NAMES LIKE SCHOLASTIC AND KAPLAN UNIVERSITY. I HAVE DEALT WITH MANY PARENTS WHO ARE SKEPTICAL OF THE PROGRAM BUT I HAVE ENCOUNTERED MANY MORE WHO LOVE THE HOMEWORK HELP, SAT PREP, AND FUN LEARNING TOOLS THAT WE SELL. EVERY NEGATIVE PERSON IS FORGOTTEN WHEN EVEN ONE FAMILY SAYS “THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY.” WE DO A GOOD THING. I HAVE PRAYED WITH FAMILIES, HELPED THROUGH GIVING SIMPLE ADVICE ABOUT COLLEGE, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, I HAVE EXPOSED MY FRIENDS (AND BROTHER) TO DISCOVERING LIFE QUALITIES WHICH THIS GENERATION IS INCREASINGLY LACKING. SO FOR EVERYONE READING THIS AND BEING SKEPTICAL ABOUT THEIR PRODUCT (WHICH PROBABELY HASNT EVEN BEEN DELIVERED YET) OR THEIR KID DOING THE INTERNSHIP, PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS COMPANY HAS POSITIVELY IMPACTED MANY PEOPLES’ LIVES. YOU CAN FIND BAD GOSSIP ON THE INTERNET ABOUT ANYTHING..GOD OR AMERICA… BUT ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE TRUELY EXPERIENCED OR WITNESSED THEM WILL UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH. LONG LIVE BOOK KIDS!!

      • I don’t think so. I think the all-caps, bad grammar/spelling, and passion all point to a South Western true-believer. For hundreds of years people have fought and died for a 5 day work week, lunch breaks, 40 hour work week (with overtime to follow) and any number of other worker’s rights that South Western has managed to negate. Those things are for suckers. Time to enjoy your life, build relationships, care for your children, have memories at the end of your days – all these are for suckers. Work will set you free. Militias are built this way. From this girl’s account, religion seems to be confirmed as an element in the manipulation. A generation trained to grease the wheels of their employer’s machinery with their blood sweat and tears – using trained conviction of moral superiority as fuel. All because kids can’t afford higher education. Dishonestly selling overpriced school books to line the pockets of people who take advantage of the fact that young people can’t afford school. A horrible irony.

      • I think I should also comment, in training school they actually have a special “church meeting” to convince religious interns that they are doing the Lords work and that this is a blessing because it will make them a “better Christian”. I went to this “church service”, the majority of it was saying how the Lord was blessing you for allowing you to do this internship in which you would have to develop your faith in him since emotionally you would be shredded. In hindsight, working for a company that expects you to become completely dehumanized while the last shred of humanity you have to be spent crying about how much this sucks, is something you do not want to be involved in. You are expected to cry a lot but at least it will “build your character”.
        The church service also multiple times hit on the fact that “the Lord thinks you are far superior for being able to do this job and he will smile upon you.”, again, beating in the belief that anyone who doesn’t work 80 plus hours a week is a useless, pathetic life form.
        I think we can all agree this logic is absolutely terrifying.

  119. Just had a visit from “Josiah” an “intern” from Michigan who I wouldn’t let in my door, he totally weirded me out to be honest & even after I told him several times that I wasn’t interested he continued to pull out the books & the example he read was a definition of “collision” & it was weird talking about if you crash in to a goat it’s a collision… Odd. He did inquire about my neighbors, but I don’t really have any so I didn’t have any info for him. I imediatly googled it and found this site!

  120. Thank you for this blog. I just had an intern come to my door saying she was a law student from Scotland, yet had NO recognizable accent IMO. I told her I do not invest in anything without researching it. She was polite enough and went on her way…but now I really wish I did not discuss my family (even though I was deliberately vague) or our travel plans. I feel bad about students roped into this if they get involved in something unethical, but the Internet is a great resource for finding out information. They could easily google this blog as simply as I did. I think she’s coming back at the end of the summer to see if I am interested at that time. I’m considering telling her about the research I’ve done on the company!

    • Hi Laura, my names David. Was this in Colorado per chance? I was working there as a book boy last week with a group of southwestern interns know as the ‘highlanders’ orginasation. I left as I felt it was immoral in practice and that education (particularly at early ages) should be free. When I told the international manager of my decision to quit, he told me after about 2 hours that I could work for them in the offices back in Nasvhille. I flew back to Nashville to find him trying to convince over a period of 24hours to go back out to sell in CO. It turns out the only job that had been arranged was an interview 2 days later answering phone calls from worried parents such as those on here. Having told him of my decision he said that I was a quitter and would always be one and that his opinion was more important than my parents’. It was unpleasant to say the least, to see fellow ‘interns’ become brainwashed by the whole scheme.

  121. I may be the only person to have a positive comment. (I did not take the time to read them all…) We have bought from this company twice; once when we lived in TN and once when we lived in MI. Neither time did either student know anything about our family, make us think they were from the local school, or keep withdrawing funds. The students we had were very polite, asked no prying questions, and we received our product that day. Maybe different students act differently, or have a different way of doing things, but we’ve had only positive experiences.

  122. Wow I’m shocked. I bought a couple of books from these guys. They were very nice and the books are very well organized and well done. Excellent references but a little pricey. Yes, they asked for a glass of water, but only as they were leaving. Given that it was a 100 degree Texas summer and they were walking door to door in the late afternoon heat, I didn’t think it was an unreasonable request. Obviously Fox viewers on this site, afraid of education and their own shadow. As far as how they treat there sales students, I can only say that the young man I spoke with said he had paid most of his college tuition with it and was able to travel all over the U.S. He went further to recommend the program for other entering college that needed tuition money.

  123. Ok as a consumer I feel completely idiotic! I see from the comments that nobody has had a very positive experience. Which makes mr doubt mt decision to buy a set. So I’m canceling my order today.
    UGH, it’s one thing to be trusting its another when you feel taken advantage of and know at the time you should of just said no. Hindsight is 20/20!

    • I unfortunately am both too nice to say no and shut the door in people’s faces and easy persuaded into thinking something is a good idea lol. I did agree to purchase the book set, and although he gave me a few different payment options when I was adamant about not having the money right now he said I could pay in September when he delivered the books personally. He was very nice and easy to talk to and I regrettably gave him more info then I should have, but nothing I can do about it now. After doing some research I have already sent an email with a .pdf of the receipt requesting my order be cancelled and mailing the request as well. I have a sinking feeling he will be showing up in September anyway with my books or something. I have GOT to learn to say NO. Ugh.

  124. Had a young boy, claimed to be from Texas, and girl he claimed he was training show up at my place at 8 in the morning. Claimed to represent the local home school association as an intern. Wanted to come in and show me books for homeschooling. Told him my family is still asleep and we were just fine talking outside. Could tell this irritated him but I allow no body in my house unless I know them, this is due to being self-employed and the type of tools and other things laying around.He went into his sales pitch and I told him I was some what interested but will never pay for anything till I see it. After 20 minutes of trying to talk me into paying up front he agreed I could pay upon delivery. He wrote out a sale receipt and told me the day he would be back to deliver on. The whole time they both he and she were here the kept trying to look into my shop. He even managed to spot my Motorcycle and wanted to come in and see it. I told him no that my garage is my work shop and my insurance will not allow for him to be in it.Could tell again it made him mad. He then asked me for references to send him to. It is at that time I comment you are interning for the local home school group but want me to give you names of people to see. He said that they wanted him to possible find independent home schooled children that the group did not know about. I told him I do not give out other people info and that the area I lived in I would not be knocking on strangers doors cause the next one might shoot and ask ? latter. After finally getting angry and telling him time to leave he left. It is after he left I fount he had change the date on the sale receipt scribbled out the correct and predated it by 2 days.
    I called the company the next day and told them to cancel the damn order after checking to find he lied constantly. They told me that it was the third day and was too late. I told the lady funny he was here yesterday and that I have a receipt that he changed the date on. She told me it did not matter that i will pay when he delivers on the 19th of August. Told her we will see, she said they will turn it over to collection. Told her go ahead that it is not a legal contract till I receive the books which I have not.Told her do not bother sending him with them because I will not be polite the next time.
    Two days later some one tried to break in to my garage and house. Several houses in the area were broken into and the car seen matched his car. Also several live stock were shot and once again the info matched his car. I have given all info to Police and they are looking for him. I am not saying that he is guilty nor the company. I never have had a problem where I live being the last house on a mile long private road.
    He just better not show back up or any one from his company cause they will be getting a free ride.

  125. My boyfriend is doing this job. He is sent to Newyork. He absolutely hates it and wants to come back to the midwest as soon as possible. I feel so bad for him. When all he wanted to do was help his parents and pay tuition fees. And for that he’s been starving these 3months and accepting rude behavior from people. People literally slam door’s on his face, he has to pay for his own gas, food, living and possibly everything. He’s been working for 3 months now, 7am-10pm everyday!!! and then comes home and sleeps late after doing his accounts and calling his supervisor. He hasn’t been paid NOT EVEN ONCE!!!!! It is TERRIBLE how this company is taking these young adults and brainwashing them. My heart goes out to these college kids. Its very difficult paying for college. But using college kids like this is disgusting. Please dont frown or be mad at the college kids, you can just ask them to leave but please dont be mean/rude to them, they’re already going through a terrible summer themselves. I hope my boyfriend comes back to Iowa safely. This company should be shut down at any cost!!

    • I completely agree with you! I have nothing against the sales people. My guy was from Poland and looked like he was starving when he came in this morning to deliver my books. I had him sit at the table with my family and I and have breakfast. Seemed like he inhaled the food so fast! I could tell he was still hungry but was trying to be polite and not ask for more. I sent him on his way with some extra food for the road since he explained his situation that he worked from 8am to 10pm with no food or restroom breaks. It’s really sad. But I do love the books and I do really like our sales person. I hope this company can change their policies to make life easier on the back bone of their company, the sales people!

  126. Juat had a visit from an “intern”. I had to yell at her to “get off my property” several times. She would not leave. She was trained so pushy.

    • Yeah, but according to their brainwashed few, we are evil for turning them away and having the audacity to post our comments here.

      • I don’t advocate being rude. Not in the least. But if the “intern” is being rude – they absolutely invite an appropriately assertive response. IMO lying about who you are and what you are doing while trying to pry information about someone’s children and their friends’ and neighbors’ children is beyond rude. I don’t blame anyone who calls the police when this happens, in fact it seems like the most reasonable response. If there are, as some have claimed, “interns” who do not include the deceptive scripting and don’t mislead people – I can’t see any call for being forceful except if they refuse to take no for an answer.

        The descriptions of “interns” focusing in on the children and grilling THEM – – that situation calls for serious retaliation, absolutely involving law enforcement as well as serious complaint to the company encouraging it.

        I don’t care how nice anyone from SW may be. After experiencing my own interaction w/ an otherwise nice-seeming college student lying to my face – – the company is bad news for everyone involved. No way should they be given money, under any conditions IMO.

        For people saying “I’m too nice to say NO.”… that isn’t being NICE. It’s being gullible and manipulated. You’re taking a pinch of cheese from a mouse trap.

  127. I had a visit from an “intern” this afternoon. Luckily I had a kid who didn’t ask to many personal questions. He got my son’s name that’s it. He tried to come in but being young myself and being alone I said no and sat outside. He also tried to make it like he was from the school district. He went through all the books and asked which one I wanted and liked. I told him I had to talk to my husband first and he tried to say but you he will just come back to say its whatever I want dear. I asked for some kind of hand out or info to show my husband and he said he didn’t have any. He wanted me to go ahead and sign up and if u didn’t want it to cancel it within 3 days. Sounds like a headache to me to try to get a gold of a company that had no info about them to give to customer. It was pretty clear that it was buy today or not at all. So I chose not at all and he went on his merry little way.

  128. I just had my experience. I kindly explained to the student that as an educator I don’t agree with the purchase of a whole set of materials that already exists on the web. She was nice and I didn’t learn of the price of the material until I read a post from earlier comments. There are so many ways to help students academically for 500 dollars. No material is worth that because this is not new information. Online learning resources from established publishing companies are there. The library has a plethora of resources available for free. There are online resources that offer free and paid help for content subject matter. This is the 21st century. Save your money and invest in other ways to help your child learn. Everyone here seems passionate about the methods this company uses to operate. I get it and can agree. Product wise, I just don’t think the SW materials is a wise investment. As taxpayers we own this information already and our kids are already regurgitating it year after year. Today’s students need opportunities to critically and creatively use their knowledge. Spend that money on cooking lessons to apply math skills or let your child take a field trip in their own town over the year or summer to make local history come alive. As a now stay-at-home-mom and teacher on sabbatical, if I had 500 dollars to give my children more academically, I would use it to promote extensions of what they have learned and will learn. Education is not in a book. It is specific information in context with our experiences and surroundings, challenged by our inexperiences. Obviously those in reply here get that.

  129. I just had an experience today at my home, his name was “Daniel” and student from Missouri. He was sent here to sell these books, He stateed he worked for the school system. He spoke of others in the neighborhood and there children he was very knowledgeable of the “goin arounds ” of the city. Knew about the football league for the kids and spoke of many teachers inthe school system by name. He explained the whole book system he was selling. I kindly did not give him any personal info however he knew about my children and the schools that they are going to in the fall. I declined his sale pitch and told him that my children where excellent readers and students, he then stated they must to read the “Lightning Thief( Percy Jackson series) ….. it was on a table in my kitchen…….. Creepy !!!! Beware…

  130. OK, my question is HOW do they get information about our children? That is stalker typer behavior and I wouldn’t appreciate it. They have not made it here (although I heard they are on the way). I want to know the companies tactics for teaching them to get our information. Not acceptable.

    • At least part of the information they get about your kids is pried from your friends, relatives, and neighbors, often while the interns pose as employees of your school district (even w/o saying so directly – using creative placement of pronouns like “we” and “they” after references to your childrens’ teachers and principles).

    • I’ve posted this twice and I’ll say this again: I am in a rural area with a mail box…my online information was hacked by someone with a foreign mobile device just a week prior to the “intern” from a close region showing up at my door. I suspect a connection. I had to change my online account passwords as a precaution.

  131. ATTENTION::::: if you start asking them questions – it it really freaks them out because they are not really trained in the “art of sales”… I found out they make 60% of the purchases! The guy that showed up on my doorstep last week said he was from Minnesota – but had zero accent but did have Minnesota licensee plate on his car) but then said he can fake a good Minnesota accent… HOW WEIRD IS THAT!

    No wonder they will use whatever tactic – not a skill – to pry info from you. You can counter by asking him/her about themselves – they just think they have you engaged when really you are throwing their whole pitches off course and getting info about them without them catching on.

    Besides, they are skilled sales pitchers, they are skilled info takers…. very scarry especially when they start asking about other kids and families and names of your neighbors…. (yet all names on his list DID NOT recognize ONE!)
    I retorted by asking him if he was a psycho and that you don’t ask for names and ages – that is sick…

    Definitely a scam… I took pictures/video of him and his car just in case…. don’t think he’ll be back tho… I pretty much outted him!

  132. I was told by the “foreign speaking” guy that he did not have a phone for me to contact him for a time that might be more suitable for me. I said i will look you up online and if I want to order anything I will order it there. He said I could find out all I needed to know about him or his company by calling a phone number on his ID. The entire encounter made me nervous and I sent him and his bike packing without giving him any info about my neighbors or the ages and names of my children or which schools they would be attending. Please guard your info like it is gold folks. The more they know, the less safe your kids are out there.

  133. Post Card-

    I just got a post card in the mail that states that the books that I ordered are in and would be delivered on a certain day from 7 AM -10 PM. It also states that I should have the amount owed ready for them in a form of cash, credit or debit card. First of all….I didn’t order any books…..Don’t have any school aged kids…..don’t want any books……and after reading all of these comments…..I don’t want ANY of them at my home. Just letting folks know they have a new tactic apparently.

  134. Totally familiar to me, too, although my experience was at least 10 years ago. Interesting to know that things haven’t changed all that much. Even after realizing we didn’t even have a school aged child at that point, she still tried to show me the books and then also asked to use my bathroom, which I refused. It was just too weird. My MIL was with that time, and she also thought it was the strangest sales call she had ever seen.

    Another tactic, once you say you’re homeschooling, is to do exactly what was mentioned- ask about curriculum. The last time they came (different house, same town) I told them honestly that we unschool and don’t use a curriculum, I could tell she was starting to get mad.

    I specifically told her to take us off her list and stop coming. We’ll see. It’s been a few years.

  135. Great… I am just finding this blog and I am already passed my 3 day cancellation date. They are scheduled to deliver books to me on the 14th of this month. I refused to give them my credit card information or pay up front any funds at all. Is there anything that I can do now?

    • Review contracts you’ve signed, if any. I imagine you could cancel and refuse payment if you haven’t legally agreed to a transaction.

  136. These “interns” approached my then 8 year old son who was playing in the front yard and started asking him very personal questions..they duped him by saying that his new teacher sent them over to talk to him. I have never been more furious. I asked them to leave only to be over visiting friends of ours that afternoon and the same “intern” approached her son in the front yard under the pretenses that HIS teacher sent him…at that point we called the authorities..but all they could tell him was to not talk to minors. Unbelievable!

  137. These people know there going to be outside all day, thats what camelbacks are for. Bring your own water bottles. And go to the store or gas station if you need to use the bathroom. You will not be coming in ny house, this is absolutely a scam in every way.

  138. SAME EXPERIENCE HERE…….I HAD A YOUNG MAN FROM LITHUAINIA SAID HE HAD TO VISIT 30 HOMES APPARENTLY HE HAD A BUNCH OF CHECKS FROM PEOPLE IN OUR ARE THAT HAD PURCHASED FROM HIM. HE INSISTED THAT I BUY AND HE GOT UPSET WHEN I WASTED 45 MIN OF HIS TIME THEN I TOLD HIM NO ABOUT 3 TIMES……..HE WAS DRIVING A FORD EXPLORER WITH TEXAS PLATES

  139. I almost immediately regretted doing so, but purchased a set of books from the intern that visited us last month. He told me his presentation would “only take 3 minutes of my time,” but it certainly took much longer. After I had paid for half of my purchase and he left, I decided that the uneasy feeling he had left me with warrated a decision to cancel my order. I called the customer service number, spoke to a polite representative, and took the proper steps to cancel my order. That was in July. Last week, I received a postcard from this intern letting me know what day he would return with my books and how much was still owed for my order. So yesterday, someone knocks on our door, and because we were expecting a delivery of something else, my 12 year old son opened the door as my husband was walking toward the entryway of our home. This intern was carrying a plastic tote with “our books” in it, and as my son answered the door the intern was quick to say in a loud and cheery manner, “I’m hear with your books you ordered!” (My son wasn’t home when the intern had first been to our home, and I hadn’t mentioned anything to him about the purchase/cancellation so he was clueless and thought he had answered the door to a legitimate delivery). Having heard this from an adjacent room, I immediately confronted the intern that was inside our home by this point. I told him I had cancelled our order within the three day period, and asked him why he hadn’t been made aware by Southwestern. He gave a lame excuse that he had probably gotten an email from the company about it, but doesn’t check all his emails from Southwestern. He quickly proceeded to try to sell us the product again! Both my husband and I had to give several “No’s!” to him and my husband was to the point of telling him to leave, when he got the message and dejectedly left. I certainly regret ever falling for this to begin with. Word of caution: If you purchased, then cancelled, your intern may still show up at your door and try again!

  140. I had a great experience with Southwestern Advantage. Our salesman was very professional and courteous and not pushy at all. He did use some sales techniques such as mentioning the names of my neighbors, but overall, I thought he was quite pleasant. I had a million questions about the products and the website and also how his business worked. He was very open and answered all of my questions in-depth. I ordered the math books for high school and I will probably order more books as time goes by. The economy is rough and these kids are looking to make some money. They work hard and their job is to sell, but if you don’t want to buy…don’t! If they make you uncomfortable, be assertive enough to CLOSE YOUR DOOR.

    • Just about 5 minutes ago I almost got these books. The young man that came to my door was a very sweet young man. He showed me people in the neighborhood that had purchased and was very polite. However, while talking to him my daughter came into the house and did some research on the company. The negative things that were said about the company made me not want to purchase. It was not the salesperson. It was the negative things about the company that made me change my mind.

  141. 08/14/2012 Tuesday evening
    So weird it seems scary…a young man from Estonia named Fahool just left my house…same stories as above but I’d just been laid off and said no i can’t afford them. I met him on the porch and he talked and I listened but we never went into the house although I almost did invite him in cause I don’t like standing on the porch but I controlled myself. I said no to all of the discounts and offers and as he was about to depart he asked for a cold drink so I poured him a glass of sweet tea in a plastic cup that I said he could keep. So far so good…no checks written, no account numbers given out and all of my little bit of money is still in my account. But now I’m freaked out he’s going to come back and want to return the cup and start all over LOL

  142. Please everyone…Let’s try to focus on the “SW Advantage” the company they’re (for lack of a better word) the “SCUM” here. @ Dad, I truly understand ALL of your concerns, and that your main focus is to protect your children and family!! and YES it is scary when you feel like they maybe in danger BUT PLEASE, you have to remember that SW Advantages sales force is comprised of “children” (or very young adults) most of which come from other countries and do not understand our culture, laws, and have been told lies by this company. Stories of travel, “getting to see America”, and income potentials that are EXTREMELY exaggerated. They are giving false hopes, trained in sales tactics that are deceitful, and dishonest. They are scared, and told “IF” they do not produce, they will be sent home, get in a lot of trouble with their countries, lose their visa’s, receive NO MONEY because they broke their “contract” and will be a huge disappointment to their families. How do I know all this you may be asking…Well, I took 2 girls in this summer in from another country. I will not mention from where, BECAUSE they are so terrified of getting in trouble!!!! I met one of them as she came to my door to sell the books. She seemed sad, scared, and on the verge of tears. I replied “What is wrong, are you OK” Well let me tell you she was NOT… she broke down, her and her friends where kicked out of their original “host family” because they were not making enough money to pay “rent” 100 dollars a week PER GIRL, and at the time 4 girls were in the house. They ALL shared one bedroom with one double bed, and a half bathroom, for the bargain price of 1600 dollars a month!!! They were also responsible for their own food, and expenses, but could not use the kitchen after 9:00 p.m. and most nights had to work till 10:00 p.m… 2 managed to make other arrangements on their own, but the other 2 ( the girls now with me), where out in the street on their own with NO HELP from SW Advantage!! trying to make money, and find a place to live, not to mention scared to death. I was in shock, heart broken, and I knew I had to do something to help them. I am a mother, and my children are grown in their early 20’s, just a few years older then these girls. I thought to myself what if these where my kids, in a county 1000’s of miles from home? They were scared, hungry, broke, homeless, and helpless, that the very company I entrusted to take care for them, not only turned their backs on them BUT WERE THE ONE’S THREATENING THEM!!!!,. I would hope that someone would stand up and help them. SO, I let them move into the basement (full apartment, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, living area, kitchen, and a separate entrance) I charge them 10 dollars a week, ONLY BECAUSE they wanted to pay something, and I cook extra at dinner, and always make sure they eat. What I have found out over they last 2 months about this company not only makes me sick to my stomach, BUT I AM MAD AS HELL!!!! something has to be done to STOP IT!!!! These poor kids are a step away (and it’s a small step) from being SLAVE LABOR to a company making close to 75 million dollars a year in sales!!! They’re the sweetest, most respectful, intelligent, hard working kids, their work ethic is amazing, they STILL want to go to work and complete their contract. Although, I have stepped in, along with a professional net work of family and friends to protect them, including 2 attorneys, several people in law enforcement and government, OH and a brother-in-law who just so happens to work for the department of labor!!! ALL of which have read their so called “contract” They no longer work the “required” 16 hour a day, 6 1/2 days a week!!! as an “Independent Contractor” Or an Entrepreneur running their OWN business… What a joke!!! NOW, they make their own hours and We take one day a week to site see, shop, have fun and relax at the pool and their last week here a quick trip to the beach. I have promised them, they would not get in trouble for this, I mean it says in their contract and I quote “THEY HAVE TO DO WHAT THE HOST FAMILY SAYS, IT WOULD BE DISRESPECTFUL OF THEM NOT TO” These girls have touch my life, and will remain a part of it always. They will be returning to my home next summer, on a similar work Visa program we have found that is in NO WAY affiliated with South Western Advantage. Also I can assure you, once these girls are home, feel safe, and are out of reach from what they “THINK” this COMPANY can do to them, my brother-in-law, and the attorneys, said they wanted to personally check the “Program” out and find out what the ADVANTAGE in SW_______ stands for!!!! Sorry this was so long, BUT, ALL I ask is DO NOT blame these kids. IF they show up at your door,Ask if their OK, ask if the company treats them right, ask if THEY NEED HELP, REMEMBER your children that you protect, it could be them. These kids are someones children too, and they ALL deserve to be protected!!!!!

  143. A young girl just showed up here trying to sell these books too. She said she was from Europe. Mmmmm… “weird stuff – nervous girl”. A little research about the company and, seems like these students dealers are being victims of some sort of scam themselves . Poor girl

  144. Concerned4all, I appreciate your comment so much. Yesterday a girl from Estonia was here trying to sell these products. She was very nice, polite, had excellent people skills, and seemed so sweet, but a little lost in a foreign country. We home-school, so the low price was tempting, but I don’t purchase things that don’t have a reputable company behind them, or that I can’t think about now and buy later. Period. So we said no. But I liked the girl very much. Some things were fishy though. I too, thought she was from the school district (my husband greeted her at the door and told me she was). She had the hand drawn map, scores of cards with positive feedback, almost all from teachers, principals or other school personnel…with all the same handwriting. Now I’m wondering about another incident. Someone has been trying to get my personal information via the internet. Someone hacked into my Facebook account last week via a mobile device “near Poland”. I was floored and wondered who would have a mobile service somewhere over in that part of Europe. Why would they target me? I’m an unemployed mother in a very small town of about 300, but we are one of the only families here that use a mailbox instead of a post office box. We ended up changing all the passwords on our bank accounts and other online companies as a precaution. I have no idea if there is any connection at all. I hate to suspect such a sweet girl of that kind of behavior, but it’s possible that she or someone else “near Poland” was desperate enough to get into my mail and somehow figure out how to hack into my online information. These kids get pulled into this because, like you said, they are naive, and desperate, and have been fed false hopes. What a sad wake up call for them. It’s criminal that this company targets folks who value family and education, and flat out USES kids to push a product aimed at children, regardless of it’s quality or lack thereof. I hear some people are successful in this work, but it seems you have to be underhanded in order to do so.

    • We just had a person from Estonia this morning, too, except it was a guy. He spent about 30 minutes just telling me where Estonia was on a map and asking me what grade I was in and what kind of grades I get. Although I am a straight A student, I still felt it was a little intruding. Finally, he got to the book part. He showed me a thick sample book and asked me what subject I struggle with the most. I told him it was Social Studies, and so he showed me a huge timeline of the Civil War, which honestly didn’t look very attractive because all the battles on the timeline were described in one or two sentences. He also showed me a long list of people who had already ordered, and asked me if I knew any of them. There were also cards with feedback, like you described. I thought the books may be good, but didn’t want to make the decision right there. There are just too many books like this out there, and I was pretty sure that was not the best one. So I asked him if the company had a website and if he had any form of contact so that I could contact him later if I wanted to purchase the books. He told me that “he” didn’t have a website (even though I was looking for the company’s website, not his) or an email I could contact him with. I felt like I was just being forced to make a decision before I could do any research or find out more. Also, while he was telling me that there was no website, I noticed that the company’s website was printed on the sample book, http://www.SWadvantage.com. At that point, I pretty much decided that I was not going to buy. But just out of curiosity, I asked him for the price of one book. He took out a notepad which had ” I LOVE MY JOB” written on it in colorful marker and wrote down the prices for me. After I told him that I really could not just purchase right on the spot, he started getting all weird and he suddenly started packing all of his stuff really quickly as if my dad and I were vampire bears that were about to attack him or something. He rushed out the door before I could finish thanking him for his time and to have fun in Estonia.
      P.S. I saw a comment or two about how they try to spend time at your house and get you to give them food. Totally true. According to my dad, he had come the night before while I was out, and since I wasn’t at home at the time, my dad just told him to come back the next day to talk to me. He kept wanting to come into my house, but my dad insisted on him staying out so because it was dark and my dad didn’t want random strangers in the house. Before he left, he said he was really hungry and wanted food, so my dad gave him some yogurt and a peach.

  145. Still completely distraught after reading everyone’s posts. Thank you all so much.

    Deceived by a “Nick” from Glasgow, Scotland for $831. 30 year old dad here with 3 kids answered the door and welcomed him into our home. The guy was a great salesman, very polite, left us with a great impression, and most importantly had us feeling good about this great investment for my kids’ future. But now to reflect on it, it really sucks to know that all he saw in my 3 kids were dollar signs. We laughed and joked with the guy for over an hour and even gave him some Denver Broncos and other sports memorabilia to take back home with him to remember us by.

    It’s now been 3 weeks since the “proposed” 4 week delivery date, and then I come across this forum. All I have to say is “Karma is a real bitch!”. As a parent, your first instinct is to protect your children. And now, it feels like I allowed a child molester into our home and he did everything but that to our family. I just can’t imagine anyone backing up this company and what they represent. Whether you are a desperate college student or not, just imagine when the day comes after graduation and you become a family man and someone is welcomed into your home and takes advantage of you like that. I feel sorry for these guys regardless of their circumstance.

    The good news, my bank is reimbursing me. The bad news, we thought we genuinely gained a friend from the other side of the world.

    @Dad – I agree and support you all the way. Thank you.

  146. Ahh. I’m so sad to see this. I previously did this internship. YES! thats correct, I am one of these crazy college students you speak of. I was very weary about doing the internship because I read so many articles like this but I also knew a few people that had previously done it and decided to go for it. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had and the most I have ever learned in three months. They call it an exchange because literally you exchange states! Kids from every state move to another state to sell these books and people from across seas as well (the estonians actually are the highest selling group the year I participated!) My rent was 10 dollars a month and I never felt like I was a subject of “child labor.” I could choose to go home anytime I wanted. However, I choose not to go home because the hours we were recommended to work, the amazingly positive people I worked with, and the people skills I was gaining all attributed to the experience. All of these things together made me a much happier person upon leaving for the summer. I had learned how to work hard, be confident, stay positive and be a good person even when people are not accepting of what I did. Don’t get me wrong—was this a fun time? NOOO!!! not even close. I made mistakes. Parents can be so intimidating sometimes! I definitely pushed sometimes when I shouldn’t have in frustration, sat in my car one time for 5 hours afraid to go to the next house, I think I cried close to every day. But if it was easy and fun I’m going to take a good guess and say I wouldn’t have learned anything I previously mentioned. I’m glad I cried and sat in my car because it showed me quitting gets you nowhere! I didn’t have productive days those days. The days I said fuck it, I’m going to go to the next house even though I’m about to burst into tears were the days I felt myself growing from the internship. and those were also the days I sold a ton of books!! Fast forward to now and I feel these traits helping me excel more in school, be more confident talking to strangers, feel confident that I can do whatever the hell I set my mind to. Literally one of the last things my manager said to me before we left was, “I’m going to tell you one last time, this job is harder then anything you’ll ever do, sometimes it will feel like the worst thing you’ll ever have to do and sometimes it just FUCKING SUCKS!! but if you can make it through and work hard I believe the long term benefits will be worth it. Are you positive you want to come?” and I said yes. and he was right. it fucking sucked and he was also right in that the long term benefits were worth it. I’m not contesting for every student that has done this internship but this was my experience and the 50 or so fellow students I worked with and I just wanted to share a story from someone who has done the program and had an EXTREMELY positive and life changing experience. I’m going back when I graduate college for one more year to sell the books and I know its going to absolutely suck. and be absolutely rewarding. 🙂

  147. P.S. My guess about the “scamming” money from your account – The online subscription is a monthly rate. the books are a flat rate. Make sure you aren’t signed up online !

  148. I had to leave one more comment! after I posted I went back and read the messages more. Do you guys really believe this? Especially “Dad”? Listen to the questions you are asking? duh we don’t have cards WE ARE COLLEGE STUDENTS we aren’t pretending to be professionals its just an internship, duh we don’t give our our phone numbers what would be the point? so you could call either A. when we are sitting down with a family or B. when we are sleeping. Do you really think this company would be around for so long and be backed by the better business bureau if we had been hacking your cell phones and accounts for years and years. “Dad” like you guys keep saying we are COLLEGE STUDENTS and this is JUST a chat forum so our posts probably aren’t going to be 100 % perfect and you are right I am going to fight to spend time with my family and have a good job I like to go to every day and be a happy, positive, good mother and person and participating in this internship has only made it easy for me to do that. I remember talking with one of my managers about how to deal with such negative people and she said learn from them like you learn from the positive people. When I met a positive, happy, warm parent regardless if they bought from me I remembered it and aspired to be more like that person. It’s the same with negative people. When I met someone that treated me badly or when I didn’t agree with the way a child was treated I just remembered it and told myself I would work very hard to not let that become me. So I guess I will take my own advice now and try to not let any of the negative comments linger around my mind.

  149. I need to get ahold of these people she Robbed me of my 400 dollar pair of sunglasses. she came back I wasn’t here never left the glasses never left the books so I need to contact this little lady..
    Thanks

  150. Brilliantly said and could not agree more! I am a former teacher and currently I homeschool my two children. We follow a curriculum I have implemented on my own and it is very relaxed with just enough structure. We take many field trips that apply to our units and they are beginning some extracurriculars this fall.

  151. I live in South Carolina and there is a woman going through all the neighborhoods targeting homes with children in them. I have not yet finished reading all the comments on this blog but I can say it might be a misunderstanding but as a mother it is very uncomfortable to have someone come to your home acting out under a seemingly false pretense and to scope out homes for children & then want all kinds of info about them down to their shoe size ! A lot of mothers in my area are very concerned with the fact that it is a European company and specifically that the woman is from Estonia which was/is on our nations human trafficking watch list. I understand if this is a legit company it may make us sound paranoid but seriously you cant be too careful when it comes to your chilren or your money,they need some kind of customer service training and credentials present!

  152. We have purchased books from this company for the past 3 summers (2 different salespeople). My children (ages 7 and 4) love their books. I’m so glad I took a chance. It is difficult to find encyclopedia style books for younger children and these are wonderful. My son is particularly fond of the book, “Are my bones bendy?” and says he wants to be a doctor.

  153. Wrote a long comment on 8/17 that I guess never was approved bc I don’t see it. It doesn’t surprise me since it was positive feedback on my two experiences. Bottom line is that we love the books we bough (although very expensive!), college kids nice & respectful (no lies or anything else mentioned in this blog. ) Now if I were to have some shady kid, who straight out lies or doesn’t speak English, I wouldn’t buy.

  154. I just got a call from my wife. She signed up for Southwest Books and now feels like s schmuck, cuz they are so overpriced. She tried cancelling, but they wouldn’t let her, because it was more than 3 business days. They consider Saturday a business day.

  155. I am a stay-at-home mom of 2 children. Twenty years ago I was approached on campus by a Southwestern recruiter, went to an informational meeting and after a month of meeting with my potential manager decided to take the challenge/adventure of selling books for Southwestern. It was the most challenging choice I have ever made and the most rewarding. I am an honest person and have high integrity. Southwestern has high expectations, teaches good work ethic and how to keep a positive attitude among many other positive qualities.
    Let’s not forget that we all have a choice on how to represent ourselves…there are sales scripts (to give confidence) and hours set (to develop discipline) and people helping you achieve (to create accountability). I am so glad that I decided to give up my 6 summers to sell books (wasn’t that great of a recruiter-wasn’t my thing) instead of staying back in my hometown or college campus working 40 hours/week and partying my summer away.
    I have 2 children. They will not be encouraged to sell books. If one of them comes to me as a college student and wants to look more into it. I will do just that. I will look at the pros & cons with my husband (not a bookseller), but in the end my child would be 18+ and will have to make their own decision….successes as well as mistakes.

  156. I am not sure if you have more than one agenda or what is going on. The thing that caught my attention is your claim that home schoolers/religios people seem to like these. Being the Junior Detective that you are you ascertained these homescholler, religious people like these books because one of the positive comments had the salutation “Blessings.” Really? I only scanned through the first fifteen comments (many of which were supportive) and there was only the one with the salutation of “Blessings.” Many more of the possitive comments did not contain such a salutation. What do you make of that Mr. Junior Detective?

    Your condescending attitude towards people of faith is sad and likely rooted in some personal wound you carry.

    But thanks for the info on SW.

    • Saying I’m condescending after calling me names a couple of times, seriously?
      Here’s how I come to the conclusion that homeschooling religious people like the books: the majority of homeschoolers homeschool because of religious motivation, and some positive comments have been from homeschoolers.
      You saying that many of the first 15 comments are supportive of SW leads me to wonder if you have a reading comprehension problem. Out of the first 15 comments, precisely zero are supportive of the company. This took some elaborate detective work to ascertain: I looked. The Blessings comment isn’t even in the first 15.
      It’s a little strange that you would assume someone would need “personal wounds” to remark upon these plain facts.

    • The “agenda” of this site is to try to keep students and families safe. As an intern, I narrowly escaped being attacked by a registered sex offender, and many families have had issues with unwanted charges being forced upon them. The “agenda” is to stop unethical business practices. Religion or political beliefs have nothing to do with this. If you look statistically at the site, the overwhelming majority of the comments are against the business practices of Southwestern.
      Also, the company does target naive college students and parents, regardless of who that might end up

  157. I was almost sucked into the 19.95 a month scam, but then I googled Southwestern and I am thankful for this blog. I am nervous that this sales person was in my house, but I don’t think he was trying to case my house. I think he just wanted to scam me into the 19.95 a month business. I didn’t sign anything. I am a teacher, and from what I was saw, the books were in bad condition (the ones I was shown). I didn’t get to read them in depth. Colleagues of mine were given as references (other teachers). I just e-mailed them to find out if they knew they were being used as a reference. Anytime someone is trying to do a high pressure sale, that says you must make a decision in that moment, it probably is a rip-off. I have learned this the hard way in the past. But, I am upset that this company is researching who teaches in the area and then using teachers as references, possibly without their knowledge. I am actually going to call Snohomish County Sherriff’s office, because I am concerned.

  158. This company is very vague and acts like I can’t cancel my order. I have 7 dollars in my acct . and he wanted me to borrow money to pay the rest of the order. i asked the company to cancel it and I told wellsfargo not let any debits come through from this company.Did anyone listen? No! Why in the world did i do this?

  159. We had a guy named Peter come by, after 8pm, tonight. Wouldn’t let him in, he was very persistant until I opened my door and showed him my two red nose pits and said, they dont like people they dont know. I am calling my school district Monday am, he repredented himself as someone working with the schools. To bad things like this still go on and people dtill pay.

  160. I had someone come to my door yesterday. Really nice guy and seemed genuine. I actually bought a few things to help the guy out, and it seemed like the product was decent enough. FORTUNATELY, I was a bit suspicious so I decided to look them up and, BAM! The story provided here is the EXACT story he gave me. He was working “with” the district, starting name dropping teachers, principals, superintendents, etc. I thought it was some special program that the district was offering. It was very deceptive. The product was ok, but simply because of the overwhelming deception I decided to cancel the order immediately.

    DO NOT allow these people to come in and give their pitch. If what they said was truthful then it would be decent enough to buy. The problem is their whole sales pitch is based on half-truths, which, as we all know, are better known as lies. They use a lot of subjective statements and ambiguous words so as to not completely lie, but their goal is to get you thinking one way without explicitly stating it. It’s dishonest, deceptive, and I believe, illegal.

  161. Hello! I used to work for Southwestern during this summer. I quit after 2 months for personal reasons…(I think the company is a scam). Their system works like any door-to-door sales: “The most important thing is to get in the house”. It is known that it is easier to sell in the house, than outside it, and this basically works because people are good, and many people just don’t want to hurt the student’s feelings. These guys are trained to answer objections in a manner that the sale to occur. Although, it is not illegal.

    The main thing is that the company does not answer for anything:
    1. Students are signed as independent contractors.
    2. Students are paid only from commission.
    3. Students “understand” that they must work 12-14 hours per day, 6 days a week, in order to get a good paycheck.
    4. The company sends them to the territory, even though they should be given the opportunity to choose.
    5. The product is too expensive for itself(moreover, internet can find better resources for free)

  162. When I tell the person I do not want the website access, but the books are pretty and interesting so I will take those. I pay x for the books then my acct gets dinged for the web site repeatedly I call that a scam.

  163. I just had a nice, clean-cut young man from Bulgaria leave my house ten minutes ago. I purchased a set of books from him. He clearly represented himself as a foreign student working for SW Advantage (showed me his badge) selling educational materials to raise money to pay for school. He made no misrepresentations about working for or with the school district. He wasn’t pushy and he wasn’t giving me a hard sell. He did ask me about my neighbors – but so has every high school football kid coming around selling oranges and every local company selling siding and windows. In my opinion, that is a pretty common sales tactic – not a scam. He did tell me that he spent a week in Tennessee “in training” and this was clear from the “canvass” that he had memorized and which he delivered pretty well. I decided to buy the childrens’ beginner set because I wanted to help this young man out with his education and they look cute! He himself pointed out to me that if I signed up for the website and did not go in and cancel it – it would continue to charge me. He also showed me the thing about the cow and the milk and I thought it was funny. I know five year old boys that would HOWL over that line. I’m sure it’s part of their training to break the ice with people. These are picture books, people, not scholarly dissertations. They are supposed to be educational AND entertaining for kids. I mean, come on, anyone let their kids watch Dinosaur Train on PBS? Do you really think that dinosaurs traveled between paleontologic periods on a time-traveling train? Google it. I’ll bet you could easily find 10 websites that point out that this award winning educational television show on PBS for kids is not scientifically accurate.

    About 20 years ago I worked for a similar company selling encyclopedias. It was extremely hard work. I got the door slammed in my face a lot. I was far from home (in OH/PA – I’m from WA). The company (Educational Family Materials) sounds very similar to this one from what I am reading on this site – the sales tactics they taught us were questionable and they put us in pretty dangerous situations as 16 and 17 year old kids. However, I still thank all of those people that bought books from me. I learned a lot selling books door to door. It was extremely difficult work. I’m terrible at sales and I was really shy. But it taught me a work ethic, social skills, and opened me up to a lot of possibilities in my life. It taught me to read people, which came in very handy years later when I went into law enforcement and had to read situations extremely quickly. And, even though I think the company was not really as supportive as it could have been/perhaps predatory, I really don’t know how I could have afforded college without the money I earned over those three summers – it helped me keep my loans much lower than they would have been. By my second year I was one of the top sellers and I did it by being honest, making friends with people, and not pushing people to buy things they couldn’t afford. As a result I had ZERO cancellations when a lot of the other top sellers had cancellation rates in the 25-30% range. The kid that just left my house was an honest, hard-working young person and that’s why I bought from him – even having WORKED for a company like this in the past. However, if he had told me he was working for the school district or tried any of the crap described on this site, I think with my background I would have sniffed him out as a fraud immediately and sent him packing. He’s planning to come back next year, so the company must not be treating him too poorly.

  164. I had this happen to me in Tennessee a few months ago. The guys name was Taylor and he was from Florida. Wrote him a check for $70 and never recieved the books. What do I do?

  165. I wish I would have read these comments before I allowed the girl from SW come into my home. She used the same schemes listed above….a lot of name dropping. She would say “John Brown just bought the Math books…his daughter Kaylee is in Third grade too. Do you know Mrs. Holm? She bought these books for her family and she said that they would go along with her curriculum. Ugh….I just looked on my bank account and they have been charging me 19.95 for several months. I don’t even remember signing anything to allow this. Next year, we will not be letting her in the house. I am not dropping 300.00 on books that the kids can get online for free. SW I guess I learned my lesson….don’t fall for it.

  166. I am absolutely disgusted with SW Advantage. We live in rural IL where we were targeted by this scam a little over a year ago. My husband answered the door at about 7 am on a Saturday. I was still asleep in bed, of course. The only reason he answered was because it was so strange that someone was coming to our door so early on a weekend and we were concerned something was wrong.
    Suddenly, I heard a strange man’s voice downstairs. My husband said he pretty much just walked into our living room and sat down. Next thing I know, my husband purchased over $500 in books from this guy for our son. He said he pretty much just wanted him to leave and it was a small price to pay to get him out of our house. Ha – little did we know that once they’ve got you, they don’t easily let you go.
    Flash forward a few weeks – I was coming home from work when a man got out of a car parked in front of my house. He was obviously waiting for someone to show up. He said he needed to drop off these books and register our computer so that if our son wanted the online content he could get to it. I told him I was not comfortable with letting him in my house. He pushed and pushed and said that he “had to type a specific registration code into the computer for our son to use the online program my husband signed up for.” Eventually, I was so sick of this situation that I just let him in. I’ll spare you the details, but he went on and on desperately saying that he “had to” do this, etc. etc. He signed into the website. Then he just sat at the computer desk and asked me question after question about myself. I was actually scared and felt like such an idiot for letting him in the house. Finally I said that I had a lot to do and I needed him to leave. He tried selling me extra books he brought in the house with him. I said no and he kept on harassing me (yes – harassing). Finally, I got him to leave.
    A few months later my husband asked me why I agreed to allow this company to take $19.95 out of his bank acct every month when our son never uses the site anyway. I was shocked. According to the Better Business Bureau, you as the consumer agree to these charges when you register to the website after a trial. I was so angry when I realized this man had bullied his way into my house to register us without my knowledge by making me believe he “had to type in a code” so it could be used.
    This year we were visited again by a boy asking to see me. He would not speak to my husband, said he needed to see the mother. He was asked to leave, kept asking when I would be home. My husband told him not to come back and to leave me alone. Of course, he was waiting for me one day when I was alone and pounced.
    Please do not buy anything from these people or answer any of their questions.

  167. Hello,

    I am another former bookseller from Canada. This was by far the worst job I have ever had. I worked 80 hour weeks and I was incredibly unsuccessful(turns out I am not a good salesperson)! I still try to repress my memories of that summer, and experience mild nausea whenever I think of it! Haha.

    However: I think the sales pitches that booksellers give are pretty standard for door-door sales. I certainly never represented myself as being from the school district, and only mentioned names when I had actually spoken to those people. I didn’t have a list of names of people in the area, but I did ask people for information about the neighbourhood so that I could skip over houses that didn’t have any kids. I never asked for the names of children from neighbours, just whether or not there were kids that were school-aged. If someone didn’t feel comfortable giving me this information, I never pushed it.

    When speaking with families I asked for their names and grades and what subjects they like and which they find hard. How could I possibly have shown people parts of the books that would be relevant if I didn’t? The books themselves were decent, though overly expensive. I didn’t have any weird cow definition in mine. The books for younger kids, particularly the science ones, were actually very good. They had current and accurate information with fun activities and things for kids to do as well.

    A lot of the information people have posted on here does not sound like my experience as a bookseller, so perhaps there is another organisation that sends people out pretending to be from Southwestern? Then again, it was about 8 years ago that I did this. We certainly didn’t have any kind of website subscription that people were signed up to, unless I didn’t know anything about it.

    Bottom line, I think this is pretty much a company like any other that uses hard door-door selling as a technique. A technique I now absolutely disagree with and am terrible at. While I would imagine that it is possible that some booksellers are shady, most are, as some others have said, just poor college students far away from home with a terrible, soul-destroying job. People who offered me food and drinks(I never asked for these) completely made my day. People who let me use their bathroom(which I did have to ask for if I wasn’t near a gas station or other public facility) also made my day. I did not case their homes or try to steal. I was just miserable and needed to pee.

    Anyway, obviously don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and take appropriate action if you feel your family is legitimately being threatened. But, please, as Dad said earlier, if the bookseller is not being pushy or disrespectful there is certainly no need for you to be.

    Thank-you to CONCERNED4ALL. Your compassion is incredible and as a former bookseller, I know how much it must mean to those girls.

    I hope this was helpful.

    Kirsty :o)

  168. Thanks a lot for creating The Southwestern Company –
    Door to Door Deception Someday all this will be yours.
    , I just actually had been looking for anything similar and was glad to
    obtain the tips from this specific content.

  169. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment
    didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  170. Sad to read about your moaning guys 🙂 If you are so scared for people who just want to help for you, so lock your doors, close windows, turn of the phone, tv , computer. And stay in the basement.
    First of all you shouldn’t pay money for what you not willing to use, because usually all of you are buying the books and don’t even open them, do you think it’s gona do the job without using them ?
    Second, you don’t want you don’t buy, how simple is that? 🙂
    And finally , you can’t call the Whole company with over 3000 students scam, just by expierencing one guy or girl who just begining to work with it. Experienced students never make you feel insecure or something like thath.

    Thanks,

    P.S.: I dont ever come back to this website, so you dont need to write long comment’s or something, try to spend some time with your kids, rather the spending your time crying about people who are working.

  171. I really Feel post, “The Southwestern Company –
    Door to Door Deception Someday all this will be yours.” was indeed good!

    I actuallycould not see eye to eye along with u even more!
    Finally appears like I reallycame across a blog page very well worth looking through.

    Many thanks, Vada

  172. I had a guy come to my house in July 2012, selling the books. Since I homeschool and was looking to purchase new history curriculum, I was interested in the high school level history/english book. In my opinion, the book seemed good. I agreed to purchase the one book and received it in Sept 2012. When the guy returned to deliver the book, I allowed him in my home to show us the website service on our computer. I was impressed with the website and was eager to have my son try it out during the free trial month. I was told that we would be billed $19.95/ mo for the service, if we chose to remain members after the trial period. I didn’t think we would do it, but my son liked it and I liked how it tracked progress and scores, so I decided to continue with the membership. However, when the trial month ended, so did the tracking of scores. I tried several times to contact SWA via email, with no response and no change in service, but still getting billed. I also tried calling the number a couple times, only to get a busy signal, until I finally got someone today. I explained the situation and the girl I spoke to had no clue about how to help me. She had no knowledge of how the website works and she could not connect me with someone who did. She told me there was no direct way to contact technical support. This left me wondering exactly what her job was then. She told me she only handles billing and orders. What kind of website service has no technical support? Well, I can’t blame her, she was only doing her job and she did try to be as helpful as she was able. She finally asked someone near her who was familiar with the site about my issue and he told her that SWA no longer provides the service of tracking scores. I asked when this change occurred and she said he didn’t say. I told her that the reason I wanted the service in the first place was for the score tracking and I thought it was very wrong for the company to change what services were provided without notifying customers of the change and continuing to charge for those services, especially when those services were what was being advertised (and still are being advertised on the website) to promote membership. I do believe this is fraudulent. So, I asked for a full refund of the five months I have been billed for, which she agreed to immediately, as well as a cancellation of my membership. I am so disappointed because this has wasted five months of my son’s efforts in his school work. And, now that I think about it, I also think I should receive a refund for the textbook I purchased! I opted to purchase the textbook in place of other curriculum I would have otherwise used, which would have come with testing materials, etc. My son spent months reading ALL of the history in the textbook and I had assumed he would be able to complete the quizzes on the website and I would be able to have a record of what he has learned. If I had known in advance there would be no way to track his progress and scores, I would never have purchased the book. Now, I have to find some other way to test him that also fits well with this textbook, which means I will probably have to make the tests up myself, or make him do a whole new curriculum, which isn’t fair to him. I am NOT happy about this! And, other SWA customers should be aware. I posted a public complaint on the SWA Facebook page and also emailed the same complaint to Southwestern Company, and I have also filed a complaint with the BBB, as I feel this whole scenario is very wrong.

  173. Thank you so much for this website! I’m an European students and just now the company is recruting so called ‘interns’. They seem very nice, professional, and competent, yet I had some major difficulties with the whole idea – the materials they gave me seemed to be a bit, well, crazy, and it does sound as if they want you to sell their products no matter what. I told the interviewer I do not want to cheat people and be pushy, and that’s when he got really nervous. Also, after reading this and similar websites, I can see some major inconsistencies in the information he gave me. They did tell me that I would work in a school district and said to ask those personal questions to appear interested. I am certain now I will never do it, yet I would like to add, that I believe it to be a brainwash; even the guy taht recruits me seems like a good person, seriously, but like he had a bit too much of a motivation training. I’m sorry to hear about what you have experianced and I’m glad I didn’t decide to go, yet I’d like to point out to very difficult situations those students are in – going means spending loooots of money, and while one is so far and i debt, plus completly alone… I understand it is not an excuse, but these people are young and naive, I’m very sorry for what they go through as well.

  174. Dee -a parent of student being considered…
    Son was approached at in state campus to “travel, internship looks great on resume’, and make between $3-8 thousand dollars” He gets series of interviews (by now my kid is so pumped-brainwashed?) we get call from “manager”. She explains plenty but never answers questions in direct manner, droning on hoping we’d forget our previous questions. he “could hook up with others that have cars to get to training in Nashville” (really? can I have a copy of their car insurance & driving record?) Claims he only needs $25/month to live with host family & other interns(really? Can I get a copy of the host family’s background check?) Neither question was answered. Can we see a copy of the contract for the program? “After SW decides if he is hired we send a parent packet” . In meantime we discover a friends kiddo was duped into this 2 summers ago. The host had gotten fed up with different kids coming in
    at late hours, heard quarreling amongst the interns, they passed out her garage door code to others. The kid ended up sleeping in their car a few nights. Was almost arrested for not having a permit to solicit The police officer did a favor by not arresting & having kid call the parents- they quickly wired gas money to get home. Exhausted,mentally & physically, and down about 15lbs when got home.. Made about $1,000 but after the costs to get home, quitting before could deliver(the replacement intern who agreed to deliver sales items got the commission). money spent for food (They r told never to eat with host family) (And at 60-80 hrs /week she wouldn’t have had time anyways) the kid is in the hole -$several hundred dollars & still paying off the costs as SW only buys backat 90% no delivered products. If they dont pay, I am certain it will ruin the kids credit..Sundays were not “a day of rest & see the sights”- it was paperwork with managers and more grueling sales pitches that would beef up their success. Feeling guilty & like a failure most kids went right back out trying to make sales.
    We told manager that called our home we were not co-signing and recommend they tell our kid that he didn’t make the final cut. I will continue this post when we hear the outcome by Tuesday this week.

  175. Hi, I know i will get a lot of crap for this but I am a Southwestern intern and I want everyone to know that the accusation that we deceptively work for the school districts that we work in is completely false. Yes, the internship is hard work but it provides many opportunities for anyone who does it and opens doors for anyone who wants ti succeed. I have always been taught by my managers to be honest and truthful about what we are doing, and we work for ourselves, not a school. No, we dont get paid minimum wage, because technically we are running our own business. Anyone who stays for the whole summer makes an average of $9000, unless they spend it all during the summer. This job is about integrity and confidence, and we have no bad intentions. I have no idea what state I will even be going to this summer, and the only reason we know teachers is because we run into them at their homes. We are not trying to secretly pry private information from families and use it against them, we simply use the technique of networking so that families will be more comfortable with us having some knowledge about their community. Also, we ask families for recommendations of which homes to stop at and which to avoid, for safety reasons and also for convenience and time management purposes. Our goal is to reach thirty houses per day and we do not need to waste time at houses where people know we should not go to, but houses where there are nice families with children who are trying to get an education. Im sorry about the explanation (or lack thereof) about milk; I do agree it is a bad one. I do think the book sets for the older kids are much more helpful. However I am sorry if any of you were offended or seemingly deceived by a southwestern kid and i am pretty sure you will all think I’m just a filthy liar, I just wanted to try to clear things up and apologize for your misunderstandings and any uncomfortable situations.

    • Oh, and I would also like to add that we spend hardly any money on this trip except for gas and food, which we can afford using the money we make. Usually we spend about $3000, around one third or less of what we make for the whole summer. Yes, it is very difficult to rely only on ourselves for money, but that is why we work so hard. Not to mention the purpose of the internship is to gain independence and experience, even if sales is not necessarily in our future.

  176. Taking money from my account now, 2 years after they duped us into buying. That’s how I found this blog, I was searching for info for the name on withdrawls that have taken place. The second wd was taken today. I did not authorize these. Thank you for the info, and btw, same sneaky techniques used on my husband to get inside and sell the product.

  177. I simply could not go away your web site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual info
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  178. I had one come to my door here in South Charleston, Ohio. Bunch of scammers. if my neighbors fell for this it’s their problem.

  179. Thank you for your post!! I was visited and my husband was VERY suspicious (I am naive and didn’t think anything of it). I will be telling all my friends about this.

  180. I am a former Southwestern college door to door salesperson. I am angered by this article. Companies use deceptive and misleading tactics all the time and we don’t question it. Google and Facebook mine our profiles for information all the time. Retail stores specifically place carpet in certain areas of the store to slow customers down in order to keep them browsing and the music you hear over the sound systems are specifically chosen as well in order to speed up or slow down our shopping experience as well. Did you know studies show that customers tend to walk to the right when entering stores? Next time you go shopping notice how many stores are set up to lead you down a certain “path” through the store. The students asking about your neighbors are simply doing the same thing. Perhaps because it is in your own home that you feel it is a bigger deception than products that have labels showing “low fat” and “lite.” I am sorry that the young woman seemed to lead you on as associated with the school district. In my Southwestern experience we were never taught to deceive. Also door to door sales is an exteremly difficult business. As an adult I have also worked in direct sales as well. As in Tupperware or jewelry or candle party’s. All direct sales or door to door sales rely on your knowledge of your neighbors in order to keep getting customers. Otherwise the salesperson will be out of business pretty quick. We forget today that our mothers and grandmothers were very accustom to the Fuller Brush man or Amway representative. My great grandfather made his living as a door to door linen and dishcloth salesman. You didn’t have to go to Walmart back in the day. Salesmen came to you and provided customer service in helping you select the right products for you. That’s what these kids are taught to do. Speaking of Walmart, do you shop there? Talk about deceptive techniques. Ever watch one of their commercials where the teacher says how great Walmart is for getting cheap things for the class fundraiser? Walmart will not donate to local fundraisers or charity groups. If you ask for their support you are told to send a letter to headquarters. This is because they hope you either won’t do it or will get fed up when you don’t get a response back from corporate and give up. This is deception. Southwestern students are taught intensive business techniques. And just so you don’t think I was “brainwashed” 90% of Southwestern kids drop out before the end of the summer because it is really really intense. That is no lie, but it’s not a cult (ever watch CNBC’s shows on Walmart conferences? Ever see them chanting for Walmart? That looks like a brainwashed cult… but I digress…) My one friend left the program because her best friend was home dying of heart issues. Our supervisers were so helpful with getting her home. And when issues with my friend leaving and other issues surfacedand I still didn’t want to leave the program and go home my supervisor tried to find me a psychologist to talk to. Until his supervisor sat us both down and talked sense into me and I went home. And I know today that if I called Southwestern Headquarters and needed a connection or help with finding a job they would do what they can. Once you are part of the Southwestern family you always apart of it. And if that sounds like a cult than so be it. Most Southwestern higher ups started at the bottom. They know what adversity these kids face getting countless “no’s” and being home sick. I will never regret or forget the business training I had at Nashville Headquarters. The Puritans used to provide a bed and a meal to travelers if need be. Today we won’t even give them the time of day and a glass of water. What are we teaching our children about comapssion and being good humans if we won’t even offer an overworked tired college sutdent who is just trying to find a way to make money for all their bills (hmmm… just like we are in “the real world” after college) something to drink or a chance to use the bathroom? I sold the educational books and I still have some that I read to my children. In fact my sister used to work for a world relief organization that worked with companies like Warner Brothers and others to send irregular or counterfeit logo products to impoverished people the world over. Also some companies just simply made donations of their regular products. My sister was dubious when I decided to persue Southwestern, but when she saw the books she exclained “Wow, we’ve sent these books overseas. I didn’t know these were the books you sold. These are really good books” And it is true. The educational products and story books were great products. Next time a door to door college salesman comes by maybe ask them about themselves. Maybe your child can learn about another region of this great nation we live in. Maybe you can teach them about hospitality and sympathy for others. And Southwestern kids can certainly teach them about hard work and perciverence against astonomical odds. I think we single out direct sales and door to door sales as being dishonest and deceptive because they come to us to our homes and we feel violated. But we are the ones deceiving ourselves. Retailers do it every single day and we all fall prey to it. The fashion industry has been doing it to women since fashion began. But we still run to buy the latest gadget and get excited when we fit into a smaller size of skinny jeans. Did you know womens sizes are arbitrary? A size “2” today was closer to a size “12” in the 1970’s. The fashion industry wanted to make women “feel” skinnier ans so sizing has changed and evolved. I am sad that our neighborhoods are changing and evolving to think of the door to door sales person as an enemy to be avoided at the least and treated with rudeness and anger or more at the worst. These people are chasing the American dream of hard work paying off to bring you a better life. That’s something to remember in this fast moving world we have today.

  181. I have had students from this company come to my door the past 3 years, one of them being just a few days ago. I don’t remember them saying or implying that they were from the school district. This last time I immediately asked if she was selling books and told her I was not interested. She then asked to use my bathroom which I thought was odd but let her in since it was around 7pm and she had likely been outside all day. After reading this, I realize that was probably not a wise choice, but nothing was missing when she left. I will be extra cautious if she returns or if anyone else from that company returns. Scary.

  182. I was visited by one of this students today!…. I requested to see the materials they sell… After looking at their math section I asked her to show my the one on social studies .., I was astonished after seeing one page of it….It was nothing more than pure hatred for people from the Muslim world. I told the lady I will never allow my child to be thought anything like that and become a bigot…After finding what kind of reading my kid can be exposed to I felt angry but at the same time happy since this was an eye opener and I will definitely will be requesting to look at the materials the public school my child attends uses to prevent this kind of indoctrination…Perhaps it’s not that different than the one this lady was trying to sell to us….Thank you so much for your kindness and for sharing this info with us… I also want to thanks
    all the people who commented on it….This site was very helpful.

  183. Wow!! I live in a very rural area and just got a visit from a Southwestern salesperson. They made me very uneasy coming to my house with the neighborhood polling line they used. No one comes to my area and calls it a neighborhood. I was home by myself with my small children. Being a teacher I was able to quickly put an end to the sales pitch for the books in under 10 minutes. I was very disgusted with myself afterwards because of the personal information the sales rep got out of me as I was trying to get him out of my driveway!!! I had a very hard time getting him to disclose why he was even there as he slung a backpack down to the ground and used a clipboard to scribble notes on….I thought he needed directions! Hard lesson learned on my part…my kids security and my privacy are essential and I won’t worry about being rude again!!

  184. I came home from work tonight around 9:30 to find my wife talking to a young Lithuanian woman selling text books. Having 5 children I thought I should at least hear her out. Her sales pitch was very scripted and I soon became concerned of the legitimacy of this product. I politely told her we were not interested. Something just didn’t seem right so I asked some questions and was shocked at what I heard. It was 10:00 pm, obviously dark, she had a bike, didn’t know how to get back to the hotel several miles away, didn’t have a cell phone, and she was hungry and thirsty. Being a world away from home she had to be scared but she didn’t show it. We couldn’t just send her away. We gave her some dinner and I took her and the bike back to the hotel. All I could see was this was someone’s daughter, a precious soul regardless of where she was from, being put in grave danger….for what? After I got home a googled the product and found this site. Now I wish I had done more to help her. I am at a loss to understand how South Western continues to function with such disregard for the safety of the young people they lure here to the States to use for their gain.

  185. They are here in Pearland, TX for the summer, college kid by the name of “Kyle” I thought maybe he was an education major, and was doing research for school. Ha, was I fooled.. I didn’t blame the kid, cuz I would have probably done the same thing too in college for some extra money. But yeah, definitely not interested. All you said in your post was dead on.

  186. Just had a sales person stop by. Showed me a list of all my neighbors names and their personal information. I didn’t want to be added to the list. Plus he was name dropping…I don’t know all of my neighbors names and it doesn’t mean anything to me that you do, sir.
    Asked him if I could research the information and discuss it with my husband before making a decision but he wouldn’t give me any information or resources. If you aren’t willing to do that, I’m not interested.
    My biggest pet peeve is he kept asking to come into my home to present information to me. I said this isn’t a good time, I’m busy right now at least 4 times and then he’d go into his sales pitch again. You are a STRANGER sir, I’m not letting you into my house with my baby.
    Not buying this product and very creeped out right now.

  187. Just sent one charming sweet-talking girl away and wish now after reading about the magic cow’s milk that I had taken time to truly read the book I paged through so quickly. I love fairy tales. Glad my instincts were right, and thanks for the article. (

  188. My fb is blowing up about a European girl trying to sell these educational books to my neighbors. She stopped a couple of days ago when she saw me working outside. She asked me all kinds of questions about my neighbors and their kids and when they were home. I told her I didn’t know. After she found out I didn’t have kids she didn’t give me the sales pitch. Anyhow, my story is very much similar to all the other negative comments, but I do have a question. HAS ANYBODY BEEN BROKE INTO AFTER THESE PEOPLE VISIT? I read one comment about this. Many of my neighbors experienced an attempted break-in the night after this girl stopped. I am super suspicious! Please give me all the information you have!

  189. I young girl from Estonia came to my house. I didn’t buy anything. I was just concerned for her safety. Her and another girl are currently living in a sketchy hotel which is costing them almost $1200/mo. They are actually asking complete strangers to be a “host family” for them. My greatest concern is for the safety of these kids. I also can just imagine the money that is made for this company. Seems very wrong.

  190. This is unbelievable! I am very intrigued by all of this. I just had a nice college girl come by wanting me to buy some books as well. Pretty much the same story as all of the others. But it was a little disturbing the list she was pointing out to me asking whose names I recognized from my community. And the map I saw with all the houses on my street….along with the info she knew about my neighbors.I hope none of my neighbors are giving info about my family to her!!
    She didn’t want to tell me the prices, kept explaining the books were very educational and a great investment.
    After about 35 minutes, she finally left. I felt uneasy the whole time and did not purchase anything. I’m not saying she is a bad person at all, she was very nice and did a great job trying to “sell”. It is just unfortunate that she bought into this company.

    Thanks for leaving this post up, I think it will help quite a few people 🙂

  191. I got the first speeding ticket of my life last week because of these people. My doorbell rang, rather early in the morning, and I thought, surely it’s not a solicitor since I have a large “no solicitors” sign on my door, so I opened the door. It was a Lithuanian girl from this company. At the very start, I pointed to the sign. That should have been the end of it, but she nodded and smiled and introduced herself and kept on talking, and talking, and asking questions. Because I am a polite person, I didn’t simply shut the door in her face. When I made it clear I had no interest, then she took out a map of the neighborhood and started asking about specific houses on there and asked if I could help her with who has kids. Wow, the nerve. Anyway, as a result of all this, I was running late for a dentist appt. scheduled that a.m., was going a bit faster than I would have been if not for this total intrusion and ignoring of my sign. I’m wondering whether there is any recourse with the local authorities. Any suggestions?

  192. I just purchased a small set of books; and honestly, I had a fantastic experience with the young woman who came to my house. I understand all the criticism about this type of sales; but it seems like too many people are very eager to throw this company under the bus while most of you will willingly go shop at Walmart. Ever read the complaints about Walmart?

    I do not generally like MLN companies either; but everyone is simply trying to get by and earn a living; and if they really love the product they are selling than why not? We can always say “no thanks”.

    I was concerned about the monthly charge some have mentioned, and called the customer service #. A very nice woman explained to me that now you have to actually go on-line to sign up for that (which I did not); and I also did not use a credit card for my purchase. She was very nice and explained everything to me. I can only hope she was completely honest with me.

    I hope everything goes smoothly without any issues but at this moment I feel happy I was able to help a very nice girl earn some money. I have a small child who will love the books. Information aside, I am not looking at them to be our only source of information but simply as new books to stimulate his desire to want to learn.

    And I do have a sense of humor, so the cow example doesn’t bother me at all (and I was even a science major in college!!). That message can be easily explained to a young child. As far as the shrimp example; clearly it was a typo that no one caught.

    I read a lot, and editors frequently miss things. I see it all the time. I am not going to hold a company in the wringer because of it.

    So, if this company is a scam; then it goes along with just about every other hugely successful company in the world. When is the last time you heard of an honest car salesman or an honest pharmaceutical representative? But I am sure there are honest ones out there; but we only hear about the unethical ones. I do not think I was lied to in any way. She simply showed me the books. I decided to get them to help her out since I was considering purchasing a few more books for my youngest (since we homeschool) anyway. I do not feel like I was taken advantage of.

    Annie~

  193. My first experience with this company was probably about 4 years ago. The young man started out by saying that he was talking with families about educational opportunities (or something like that) but he did clearly state that he was NOT employed by or affiliated with the local school district. But even after he said that, it took me a few minutes to figure out that he was selling books and not talking about how to choose a good preschool or whatever.

    There was a young woman with him, but she just stayed a few feet behind him (on the walkway, while he was on the porch) and she didn’t say anything.

    He had caught me at a bad time and I tried to just shoo him away. But he got me hooked by asking a couple of trivia questions about animals and then acting all impressed that I got them right. I have to admit, it made me feel good that I was so smart, and that really warmed me up to him. When he stumped me on the third question, he told me the answer and showed me which book those facts were all in. So it was a pretty effective way of getting me interested. Pretty manipulative, but an effective sales technique.

    I ended up having him come back another time when I would have more time to look at the books. We ended up buying the Ask Me set, which was pretty expensive if I recall correctly. But we liked the books and have read them many times over the years. He asked for my permission to tell other people in the neighborhood that he’d talked to me and to tell them what I’d bought, and I gave it.

    At that time I would say that my main issue with the books is that it’s more fun to go into a bookstore and look at them and pick them out than it was to just order a whole big set all at once. We also like going to the library to borrow books, and I like buying books online so I can read reviews. So this was not really my favorite way to buy books even though overall we were pretty happy with them.

    Then about 2 years ago, another guy came by selling books. I knew right away that he was with the same company and I just wasn’t interested. I told him so, and he asked if someone had told me about him. I said no, but that I’d bought books from the company before. He seemed quieter and less aggressive than the previous guy. So I sent him on his way pretty easily.

    Then tonight at 8:30, another guy came. He was very nice and personable, but he had caught me at a bad time. I was running the bath for my kid, my dog was going nuts because there was someone at the door, etc. I did talk to him for a few minutes and told him which books we’d bought before and that we liked them. I said I wasn’t really interested in buying any at this time.

    After sending him away, I thought maybe I should have asked him to come back another time. We liked the books, they probably have something good for the age/grade level we’re at now, etc. After reading all of this, I am glad that I didn’t.

    The first and last guys did the name-dropping thing, telling me which neighbors they’ve talked to. The first one asked me if I knew which other households had kids. Overall I think my experience with them was not nearly as bad as many of the others described here.

  194. Just chased away a young salesman with a euro accent here in Eagle Rock, CA. Too suspicious had to call police. Met him at the porch and I was suspect from the start. Would not answer any of my questions. ..? Are you a tutor? Offering summer camp? Finally told him he was not coming in my house so stop asking. He had no business card, no pamphlets said I could not purchase whatever he was offering from website this was a one time deal and the only credentials he had was his little a southwesternadvantage badge. I thought my house was being scoped for a break in. Thanks for all of your input!

  195. I also thank you for this website! About a month ago a sweet (pushy) young lady knocked on our door at 7am on a Saturday selling the same lines of crap with “Southwestern Advantage”. She explained how my kids could benefit from from these lessons. She only showed me sections of the book and wouldn’t allow me to freely look through it, thats when I really became suspicious. She supposedly got our names from other families in our town, however she couldn’t name one person that I knew when I inquired exactly WHO gave her my name and address. After about 20-30 minutes of not being able to answer my questions, I flat out told her I’m not interested and she wasn’t happy. She slammed her stuff in her bag and left. The whole encounter bothered me – but the amount of information that she was inquiring about my kids was disturbing. Before she left she asked me to give names and addresses of people that have children that would be interested and I refused. This is not a way to do business and I’m glad I trusted my gut instinct that this was a scam.

  196. I just had some exchange student from Estonia come to my house to speak to me about education in our area, turns out she is staying with a classmate of my fourth grade daughter who goes to a charter school, and wouldn’t you know she seemed to know that my daughter had some problems in math and also knew her name. she seemed very nice kind of hard to understand, I started to fill out the form to order, then had a gut feeling that it would not be good so I told her sorry that my husband took my check book, she said she will come back tonight at 9. I agreed, from reading everything here, I am going to tell her I can’t. Thank goodness for the Internet.

  197. In 1980 several of my H.S. friends bought into this “internship” door to door sales. By the end of the summer, they were stressed out, burned out, and in need of psychology help. And they did not make enough money to pay for college books let alone tuition. This company (it changes its name from time to time) is nothing but a brainwashing cult scam. The kids and their families are harmed.

    Tell the kids that come to your door to go work at McD’s. They will make money, learn a skill, and work ethics.

  198. Just had a couple of “interns” stop by and try to sell me their books, using obvious sales techniques designed to 1) get me interested, and then 2) after I quickly realized that the samples being shown could not be proven to be substantially different from what our school may provide next September, changed their technique to “this may not be for you”…the old “oh, you can’t have this product” ploy, challenging me to prove them wrong. I didn’t. They quickly decided to leave, but not before asking about my neighbors. After a few “I don’t knows”, they trotted off (literally) to their car and left.

    Creepy, and I do feel bad for them. But they know they work for a dishonest company. There’s no way they can’t know their product isn’t what they say it is.

    I mean, I looked at the geometry section of their book. Yup, the theorems looked familiar, but, so what? Nothing about the book stood out as what they were representing…a way for kids to learn “quicker”. Nonsense. I told the intern that part of an education is learning how to find information, not learning how to take short cuts. Short cuts are fine later on in the process, but not for freshmen/sophomores in HS. They need to learn things traditionally.

  199. Wow! It’s amazing to see so many people with the same experience as me. Actually, it’s pretty scary. I’m also really surprised that so many people thought the books were worth purchasing, to be honest. But it seems like a lot of people agreed to buy just to get rid if the salespeople. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I don’t think I would buy anything from a door-to-door salesperson other than a candy bar or Girl Scout cookies. As for the supposedly quality of these books, the sample I saw was nothing special whatsoever. Granted he was showing me stuff suitable for my preschooler, so it was basic stuff but still nothing I would spend a lot of money on. I can find much more educational and engaging apps on iTunes for a couple bucks not to mention the thousands of other books available at the library or bookstores. Even electronic edutoys like Leapfrog or Vtech would be much better at a fraction of the price. I can research as much as I want and then purchased a book or other tool on Amazon and get it within a couple of days so why would I succumb to high pressured sales from some kid who tries to pump me for information about my neighbors. I’m thinking that just like this company went from selling bibles to educational books, they’ll have to change their product soon. Wonder what it’ll be. I’m thinking some kind of supervitamin packed with unsubstantiated claims.

  200. A Southwestern rep just hit our house (northern Atlanta-suburb subdivision) with the same type of pitch. Distilled down, she:
    1. “Was visiting all of the homes in our area,and had many left on her list”
    2. Had visited one of our neighbors down the street (citing their names and kids names), who had bought SW’s educational materials to help their children.
    3. Addressed my 9 year old daughter directly, asking her how old she was and if she attended the nearby elementary school (she knew it by name).
    4. Said that the materials were focused on Georgia’s core educational standards.
    5. Asked if my wife was home, as “normally the women make the educational decisions”, which totally irritated me, as I am capable of making decisions about my daughter (and usually do).
    6. Seemed to know a lot about the immediate area, but had no idea where Buckhead is (my wife works there), nor knew the term “Inside The Perimeter” (where Buckhead is located). Anyone who’s been in Atlanta for a couple of days would know what locals refer to as The Perimeter, and that the affluent live in Buckhead, including the Governor.
    7. Opened an example book (age appropriate for my 9 year old) and showed examples of basic geometery and number lines. The material looked well made.
    8. When asked about a “general price”, she evaded the question and said it depends on which modules we would be interested in.
    9. She asked which of my neighbors had children.

    I used her own “ask the female” tactic against her, and suggested that she come back tomorrow when my wife would be home. Of course, we will just ignore the doorbell tomorrow…

  201. We had one salesperson come to our door yesterday, and unfortunately, we bought a series of books from her. Luckily, we were flipping through the books and saw a section on Noah’s Ark. I mean, which serious science book has stories on Noah’s Ark?? We are a secular family, so I questioned her about this. She told me that it was included as just a folk tale, and that there were folk tales from other traditions in the books, as well. In the glossary, there were allusions to “Jews” and “Jerusalem.” Not for us. We cancelled today.

  202. Hahah this forum has provided me with a lot of amusement. I am a student doing this as a summer job.

    We are running our own business and therefore can choose the hours we work. Yes they suggest what time we should work but nobody forces us to do anything. All the students knew what they were getting into before they went out to sales school in Nashville. It’s not for everyone and some people will not be able to handle the stress. But it is an amazing opportunity for students to be put out of their comfort zone which any successful person knows is how you go forward and grow. The program teaches us things we can use for the rest of our lives and is amazing for example dealing with rejection, having a positive attitude no matter what, actually hearing people out, not giving up ect ect ect the list goes on. they allow you to excel at a much faster rate than any other job I have ever heard of as if you come back for a second year you are instantly a student manager. Apart from all the amazing thing the company does for its recruits it also allows us to go out everyday and do an amazing thing. We get to sit down with families and talk about education. A lot of families wont sit down together and think of that too often and it just gives people a chance to do so. We go out everyday and show people resources that will benefit their situation and their kids education and if they don’t buy then it doesn’t matter one bit to us. In fact you probably heard a line similar to this ” If you like them, go ahead and order a set they are great books but honestly if you don’t like them don’t buy them. I wouldn’t want you to spend money on something that will just sit around and collect dust” and we mean it like seriously I don’t understand where this “pushiness” has came from. A lot of people misunderstand when we are explaining what we are doing at the door which is why the company encourages us to say “I’m not from the schools so its nothing your required to get…” it’s also written on the order form where the customer signs to complete the order which people who have sense will read before they sign up. The website: this is the monthly billing thing you guys were moaning about. For one thing you can cancel at ANY time and that is done by you on the site. Another thing for your information to actually be in our website you and the dealer would have actually had to do it right there when you were making the order.

    Our hand drawn maps are used so we can tell what doors we have been to, what families asked to come back and what doors we should probably miss out. We have to see 30 families everyday so missing out the doors of young couples with no kids, families with college kids and older people with no kids or grand kids is pretty important and I don’t particularly want to be disturbing people who work at nights and sleep days so that is why we ask if there are certain houses we should skip out. We want to make sure EVERY family out there with school age kid at least knows what is out there to help out their kids whether they buy or not. I do understand why people may feel uncomfortable giving information on their neighbours and if you do just say that. We are normal human beings we will understand.

    talking about being normal human beings, we need water to function and when its 100 degrees outside we need lots of it. I don’t think asking someone to fill up my water bottle is too much to ask. I have never had anyone refuse me water and I get my water bottle filled up about 6 or 7 times a day. With that much water consumption as well of course we are going to need to use the restroom. What are you expecting us to do? I always make sure I ask if its ok to leave all my belongings just on their porch as well.

    When we sit down with families yes we ask them question but in a conversational way. Like two normal people talking. I don’t see why that is a big deal. The questions we ask about how the kids are doing in school ect if so we can be able to tell what product we have would best suit your situation. There Is no point showing a family the kids books if they have high school aged kids or showing them the math section if they have to put a bit more effort into reading.

    To be totally honest I think some of the people writing here will have had either a nervous first year at their door who perhaps forgot how to explain what he/she was doing in an understandable way or have just been so sceptical and close minded that they have not quite fully listened.

  203. I was visited today by a salesman from this company. He was very polite and did not pretend to be apart of our school system, but was very eager to get inside my house. I had no problem with looking over the products and listening to him explain them, but found it to be very odd that I could only order though him. It seems to me that a company that believes its products are the best for learning and care so much about the educational success of its customers should have online ordering available. I told the salesman that I couldn’t make the decision without speaking to my husband, he was then very pushy to come back when my husband was home. I told him my husband wasn’t really into door to door sales and didn’t think he would be very receptive, but I would talk to him about it and asked if there was a number or email or if he had a business card that I could use to contact him. He informed me that he does not have business cards, does not have an email, and is not allowed to use his phone during the day due to company policy.
    I was interested in the products, I love educational materials for my kids and would have really considered purchasing something had things not gotten so weird. In a legitamate business, sales people would have contact information and a business card. They would be open to taking orders any way possible because thats what keeps businesses alive.

    While I though nothing of it at the time, he also asked me for a glass of water which I got him since it was so hot out. Now after reading about other peoples experiences I am totally creeped out.

  204. thanks! especially for the very last part – I’m one of those new people you keep the info posted for who was just approached by a SWA salesperson tonight, searched online and found TONS of sites (but this one tidy and the most inclusive!), shared it on FB and in email to local friends (received comments from friends all over the country about their experiences), and contacted my local PD (unfortunately the sales rep is legit to solicit locally). appreciate the info and can say my experience was similar to everyone else’s – didn’t let the guy in, said I was new in town and didn’t know any neighbors he asked about, and sent him on his way when he could provide no literature or contact info. last step will be a refresher lesson with my 4 year old about why she is never, ever to answer the door without a parent present!

  205. I just had one of these people come to my house he was from Lithuania. I asked for a business card or brochure in case I decided to buy later. he rudely explained he didn’t ” do that” And tried to push immediate sale. apparently he took. offense to no And quickly left. then i come inside (bc I made him do his sales pitch on the front , strangers don’t come in my house, idc if you have met my neighbors. I haven’t) to Google the company and find this. I’m glad I didn’t buy anything.

  206. Just 15 minutes or so ago a young man claiming to be an exchange student from Missouri (I am in Pa) came to my front door with a backpack- wouldn’t make eye contact and claiming to have talked to local people – naming some of them. I only recognized two names and he had a drawn map of the houses surrounding the area alot were crossed off. He said he was there to talk about books that teach core learning minus the fluff. He had a laminated brochure with pictures of books no names on the books no prices – no real pitch either just curiosity about how old my children were etc etc. He made me uneasy but I was a bit off due to the fact that he arrived while we were poolside and I was in my swimsuit. I told him after revealing some information I wish I hadn’t that if he was selling something I didn’t have money. He promptly got up and inquired about my neighbors. .. then left and asked that I wave if I saw him again. He drove off and all I could think was that guy was full of it. Now I feel really uncomfortable about my children being outside. All I remember was his backpack said Ozark. I never heard him say hos company name and for the life if me I can’t remember his name. I am debating what I should do next.

  207. I recently had someone post this to my Facebook but it included a bit about the students scouting the neighborhood and then kidnapping kids for sex trafficking. It was the same pushy attitude, same crappy books and same info about the students knowing a lot about the families in the neighborhood. It’s social engineering, plain and simple. And you’d be surprised how much you can find out about people from free sites on the internet. 😦 I’ve not been able to find anything to back up the kidnapping part of it but the deceptive sales techniques are enough to make me want to punch anyone in the face who tries to push their way into my home.

  208. It’s started happening here in SD. I told her no. We have a sign up, NO SOLICITORS. I also have no children. She kept dropping names of my neighbors and their kids (weird) and said she was staying with a member in the school district. What? There’s six districts here… Told her to leave. Nope. Told her again. NOPE. My big dog started growling at her through the screen door and suddenly, FINALLY she left. Got her LP number and noticed it was registered in ND. Called a deputy friend of mine to let him know, he said several calls have come in about it. While she was here, she asked all kinds of weird, pushy questions like, are your neighbors home? Where do they work? How many children do they have?

    I hate door-to-door stuff but this one takes the cake.

  209. Daddy Bob,
    Just had a young man from Texas try to sell me some books to help the kids.
    Same thing … engaging commenting on local people who purchased and how much help the info would be. While he was chatting with my daughter I got on line and researched them! Needless to say he did not make a sale, I told him NO! escorted him to the door. Funny he had no accent !
    These companies have such good legal teams and they know to beat everything but the speed of the internet….PEOPLE WAKE UP if it sounds too good to be true , guess what? It is !
    Armstrong School District….. BEWARE!

  210. A foreign college student working for this company came to my door. I have 2 small children. She said that my neighbors told her to stop by. I have only lived here a month and have yet meet any neighbors. She was very friendly so I just listened to her. She said almost exactly what you wrote here. She made it seem like the school across the street was having her come by to see if my kids were needing help with their learning. I googled afterward and found this and another page saying they believe they are scoping the houses out. Scoping the kids too! She asked me when my husband gets home from work and I stupidly told her. Now she knows I’m home alone all day with 2 small kids until 7 at night. Great going! I know!!! I’m so upset. I needed to write a post so that others know its still happening. I don’t know what they want but this is scary.

  211. As most of the people that have posted on this site, I too had a representative from South Western Books knock on my door (Leslie Williams) about the beginning of June. To Leslie’s credit she did immediately identify herself as a sales representative from South Western Books and informed my wife and I that she was a college student from some other state, I think Washington. Leslie displayed a sales permit and explained that she was working the summer selling educational books door to door for South Western to help off set the cost of college tuition. Leslie gave a quick verbal presentation about the line of books that she sells and explained the “sales process” that South Western uses along with the prices. Keep in mind, they are just using a standard “door to door” sales techniques and in regards to the lists of people, addresses and asking neighbors questions, yes it is prying, but it is also how sales work. You need to generate leads and acquire blue print information on your potential customers in your market. In the art of door to door sales, asking open ended, fact finding questions is very effective. By no means do I agree that it is the best practice, but it is effective and as pointed out by many other people above postings, it is technically legal. After all was said and done for around $23 a book, we ordered a set of 6 books on various topics. I paid her approximately half of the cost $70 up front (cash, I try not to use credit cards with door to door sales) with the agreement for the rest of the payment upon delivery. So, tonight the books were delivered as promised and all in all the information contained in the books appear to be age appropriate and factual. Leslie did give us the pitch for the online portion from South Western, but did not “hard sell” it, we did take a look at it, but did decline paying $20 monthly, as we have a similar web product from my mother who is a school teacher. So to wrap up my rambling, I do agree with much of the sentiment expressed from previous people on this page, but at the end of the day, it appears that South Western is just like any sales company, except instead of collecting your personal information behind out backs via buying it from other companies or tracking our web search habits. South Western utilizes college students (sales reps) in our communities to collect our information and develop their sales strategy based off what they collect. Is the whole South Western books sales kind of shady? Yes. Is it really any different than what the majority of other major corporations do to us? Probably not. In the end, they all want to sell us “stuff” to get our money, I don’t think any company out there really cares that much about how they make the money or the actual quality of the product that is sold, they just want to make the sale and get our hard earned money. If you have read this far, thank you for letting me vent. Have a great day!

  212. I had been “independent consultant” for this BS company in 2011, I believe. When It beginning of August, I filled gas tank and having 20 bucks for food that week that I had enough of this crap. When looking at this now, I had expensive boot camp. :)) I would not recommend Southwestern experience to anyone. I am quite strong character person myself and I had mixed feelings and guilt for over a half a year after quitting it. To a weaker person, I imagine it would do some serious harm. They have their cult going very well.

  213. As a former top producer of the company, I still agree with everything here and your views on the subject. Kids want to sell, and just don´t know how. Picked up at a rebellious age they trust SW as it it were their own new dad. All they get taught is sugarcoated lies and deception techniques. Thankfully I found religious teachings for myself and started practicing them. This slowly broke down the shell of deception in my head.

  214. A weird guy with a smooth demeanor come into the City parks and Recs office where I work and captivated my boss enough to call me out of a private tutoring session with a child to meet this snake oil salesman. This guy is supposed to bring a whole group in on Sunday to get a tour of the facility. I am sure worried about this and how drawn in my superiors are.

  215. I did the Southwestern thing for a summer in College. So did my now-husband. Yes, the corporation seems to take license with fine-print business models. Yes, it was pretty weird- as sales can be. Yes, I gleaned information from people in the neighborhood as I made my way knocking door-to-door, as sales people do. That was between the 20+ door slams a day and periodic crying on the curb after being called a “yankee” (seriously? I’m from Montana…). Consider this: if your child decided to try Southwestern in college, would you not hope someone would err on the side of kindness and showed some level of basic respect for their chosen summer work? College student or not, people sometimes do jobs that others disdain, which is why we can’t all be garbage collectors.

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  217. I actually did SW for a summer- and the products are real- for those of you who like them and just aren’t sure if you will actually get books- you will. And you are describing the approach accurately- however the information is for the student to make a buck and skip over the houses that don’t have kids- not to harm anyone. I don’t know if that’s helpful. I wasn’t super fond of my expensive with SW- it was hard. But I really did care about the families I met and still have relationships with some of them. I’m sorry you were hurt by the program.

  218. I did SW for a summer and the books are real- for those of you that like the books but don’t know if you will actually get them- you will. You describe the approach accurately- however the information is used to earn a buck and skip over houses that don’t have kids- not to harm anyone. I wasn’t particularly find of my SW experience- it was hard but I really did care about the families I met and still have relationships with some of them today 4 years later. I’m sorry you were hurt by the program- I am now a mother of 2 and there is nothing more important than protecting our children- I get that.

  219. This entire website makes me sick. I AM a Southwestern Intern and I will be the FIRST on this website to tell you something you’ve never heard before. The company IS NOT a scam. How could a “scam” be around for over 150 years? It started in 1855, if you weren’t aware. The interns ARE NOT forced to work 80 hours a week. We are our own business owners, we work however we want, when we want. Hard workers work long hours to get the results they want. The students that gave the “cow” example is because we have a SALES TALK, this is to help students feel confident in their knowledge of a product they’ve never used before….we are college students selling books to families with high schoolers on down, therefore we don’t need high school text books. As for the students who work with Southwestern, if they’re pushy—that’s on their own accord. Southwestern encourages a “hands off” tactic as to not pressure families. It’s door-to-door on purpose, to help build hard working, character filled young people. I’ve never grown more as a person and in my faith with any other experience as I did with Southwestern in 3 months. I was a top salesperson my first year with the company and I’m currently going to school to be a Christian Missionary. (Oh yeah, super crazy, door-to-door salespeople have souls. weird.) It’s super unfortunate that there are so many adults out there that have nothing better to do than make up things about hard working college students who are trying new experiences to make their lives better.

    I sell books door-to-door on my summer vacations so I never end up bitter like you.

  220. How they recruit college students.
    They have a list of people that they get from college career services. From that list of students they call each and one of them letting them know “come to our. Information session and learn how to make 9000 or more in the summer.”

    Once you go into the information session they give you a green sheet where they specifically ask you to fill it out but most importantly recommend other students that are hardworking like yourself. So people that fill the green sheet are literally signing up other college students to fall into this scam.

    They basically show you the book that you will be selling, you have to do an intense five day training in nashville, you have to pay for your own expenses. They also show you a book of all the people that have made tons of money selling the books.

  221. I recently received a phone call from someone who works for this company telling me that someone from Texas A&M (the school I go to) recommended me for an internship that is completely Agriculture based (my major) and will be paid. I was interested because everyone tells me that internships are the way to get your foot in the door of a company once you graduate. She told me she had an opening to interview me the following afternoon so I agreed.I showed up for my interview thinking it would be one on one like most interviews. Instead, I’m approached by a guy asking my name, age, major, job, and a couple other personal questions as soon as I set foot in the building. I just told him my name and who I was looking for. He directed me to her “office” where I was met by her and another woman who then again asked the same questions, handed me a questionnaire(two questions that had anything to do with an internship and they rest were contact questions and room to “leave your friends name, number, and major) and a clipboard and sent me into a room where there were about 20 other college aged students. There was a guy at the front asking each person as they walked in what their name was, major, job, future goals,blah blah blah. Turns out only two of those 20 were any sort of Ag major. I sat through about half of it the lecture then a lady pulled me and another guy out into the hall, said we didn’t look interested and that we were pulling the mood of the whole group down. The guy made the excuse that he was just tired (he had come along with his brother…they called his brother saying it was an interview for people in his major yet his brother who is in a different major can come too?) I openly told the lady that I was not interested and that the woman who called to schedule this “interview” lied to me. I added that it is not an internship but a sales job. (I’ve worked in sales before: Cutco knives/vector…an actual legit company that does not go door to door…we aren’t allowed to go door to door). I called my sister (she also attends A&M and told her what happened and she said she was the one who gave the lady my info and that she had gone to this “interview”. My sweet innocent sister (she was in her freshman year, we are from a small town where you can trust everyone….I’ve been living on my own for 3 years so I knew a bit more than her…not that I know everything but surely enough, more than her) fell for this act of theirs. I told her what it really was and that they lied to get me in there. She proceeded with the company and they eventually told her that she just so happened to get picked for the last spot available this summer. Low and behold she told her twin (a student at Abilene Christian University) about all this and got her interested…well somehow a spot happened to open for her too. Hmmm interesting. I kind of said whatever, y’alls loss until my mom frantically called me one evening. She’s been talking to a couple people and no one has anything good to say about this and those who haven’t researched or come in contact with it don’t think it’s a good idea for my sisters. The lady they are working with talked to them then my mom and there are a lot of lies/things that don’t add up. She told my sisters they could work together, she told my mom they would be separate. She told my sisters that they will be taking them out to Louisville Kentucky to the rural areas and that they will have to drive their own cars there. She again told my mom they would be in groups. She sent a paper home with them that needed to be signed by my parents?? My sisters are almost 19…legal adults….why is my mom’s involvement required? My mom didn’t think much of it and signed. Next day she did research and that’s when I got her call. Come to find out the week before they are supposed to go to Kentucky, they are having all these students drive to Tennessee for an informational…Why? Oh, and they don’t cover any expenses. It is up to the student to cover gas, food, and housing. Gas from College Station to Tennessee and home will run my sisters about $300 each. They are freshmen in college. Where will they get this money? The lady says if they can just get through the summer they will get that average $8k pay check at the end? Why three months later? When I worked with Vector we got paid weekly. My mom asked this lady why they can’t sell in Texas. She said that the government charges some sort of fee that is 23% of taxation something or another for being an independent contractor. Lie! Working with Vector, I was an independent contractor…I never had to pay that. Not only is this dangerous because they are all alone in some state they have never been to out in the rural areas, but it’s all lies. This lady claims to be Christian and the God pointed her in this direction and that being all alone brought her closer to Him. I’m from a Christian home, I grew up in an amazing church. I know when God is telling me something and so do my sisters. This lady has them so brainwashed that they are now saying God is telling them to do this….I can’t believe it hasn’t even started yet and they are already falling away. I don’t doubt you get closer to God if you do this…some of theses situations I was reading about and being all along leaves you with only Him. You can tell if someone is being honest about the “Christian thing to do” and what not and the way this lady talks, I just don’t see it. I’m not judging, that’s not my place, but doesn’t God say not to lie? What has she been doing? I’m sorry. It’s sketchy. I worry about my sisters. Bottom line….don’t let your kids do this…don’t sign that paper. I’m still trying to talk my sisters out of it…I’ve got two weeks. If anyone has any more help please contact me.

    • I know some people can do really good at this, but do you really want to work for a company who lies, sneaks around, and does faulty business? Sales jobs are hit and miss. Some people are great, others not so much. I learned with Vector than I’m not the salesman type. I know the value of a dollar, I’ve been working my whole life. My parents taught me young. Why would I push something on someone when they clearly state they can’t afford it. Another lie from these people. They told my sisters it’s not pushy at all and that if someone says no you should move on. From my experience with salesmen of any type, that’s not how you do it. I’m not bashing salesmen. Some are great at what they do. I’ve had a couple of them talk me into stuff I didn’t really want, but they did such a great job I thought I wanted it…but they do have a rep.

  222. I just want to say how much I appreciate your blog post. Southwestern is a massive scam and having so nearly fallen into the trap of their summer programme I am glad that they are being exposed. Really well written post.

    Cheers

  223. I just had 2 guys come to my house but only one of them talked. He never pressured me to let him in. My 2 yr old played on the front porch while he gave his speech. The main thing that drew me in was the app and website access as well as what the average cost per book would be. I had paid part of what I owed and then talked to my husband and immediately went to cancel everything. The customer service lady was very nice about everything. I’m a sucker for books so it was my own fault. The example this guy used for me was dinosaur, while not scientific, it was funny like something a kid would say. I am way too trusting of people and I should know better but it was my own fault for actually listening to the kid.

  224. THIS IS A WARNING TO ALL PARENTS OF COLLEGE AGE STUDENTS. MY DAUGHTER DANI GOT INVOLVED WITH A COMPANY CALLED SOUTHWEST ADVANTAGE. A SO CALLED FRIEND OF HERS FROM THE UNIVERSITY (LESLEY) TALKED HER INTO DOING THIS, LESLEY TOLD DANI SHE COULD MAKE ANYWHERE FROM 9,000-12,000 DOLLARS DURING THE SUMMER. THIS COMPANY LIES AND BRAINWASHES THESE INNOCENT YOUNG COLLEGE KIDS. THEY ARE TOLD TO GET UP AT 6AM, TAKE A 1-MINUTE COLD SHOWER, EAT AT A LOCAL PLACE AND BY 8 OR 9 AM THEY GO ALONE TO CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE THEY GO DOOR TO DOOR TRYING TO SELL THESE OVERPRICED EDUCATIONAL BOOKS. MY DAUGHTER IS VERY PRETTY AND HAS A FABULOUS FIGURE. I AM WORRIED ABOUT WHAT KIND OF PERSON WILL BE ANSWERING THAT DOOR. MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT VERY KIND TO PEOPLE GOING DOOR TO DOOR SOLICITING. THESE COLLEGE KIDS ARE TOLD TO EAT PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES TO SUSTAIN THEM DURING THE DAY. THEY ARE OUT THERE DOING THIS UNTIL 9 OR 10 AT NIGHT. THEN THEY HAVE TO REPORT EVERYTHING TO THEIR MANAGER AND NORMALLY DON’T GET TO BED UNTIL MIDNIGHT. ALSO, THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THEY WILL BE LIVING UNTIL AFTER THEY GET THERE. THEY DO THIS MONDAY TO SATURDAY, 6 DAYS A WEEK. SUNDAYS THEY HAVE MEETINGS AND ARE ALLOWED TO CALL THEIR FAMILY AND FRIENDS IF THEY HAVE TIME. THEY ALSO SHIP THESE KIDS TO PLACES FAR FAR AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES, SO THEY HAVE NO INTERFERENCE FROM THEIR FAMILY OR FRIENDS. THEY WANT MY DAUGHTER TO GO 2600 MILES FROM HOME. SHE WILL HAVE TO PAY HER OWN WAY TO GET THERE, PLUS A WEEK OF SO CALLED TRAINING (BRAINWASHING) IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE WHERE SOUTHWEST ADVANTAGE IS BASED.
    THESE KIDS SELL THESE BOOKS FOR WHATEVER PRICE THEY WANT TO. MEANING THEY CAN CHEAT THESE YOUNG COUPLES WITH KIDS OUT OF MONEY. DURING THE 12 WEEKS OF SUMMER THEY MIGHT SELL $20,000 WORTH OF BOOKS. THEY SUPPOSEDLY GET 40% OF THAT. BUT OUT OF THAT 40% THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR ALL THEIR EXPENSES ROOM, BOARD, GAS ETC. SO THERE GOES ABOUT HALF OF THAT MONEY. AS AN ESTIMATE THEY HAVE THEY HAVE EARNED MAYBE $4000 FOR THEIR 70 TO 80 HOURS OF WORK A WEEK. I AM SURE YOU CAN DO THE MATH THEY MAKE WAY LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE. SO IF YOUR DAUGHTER OR SON COMES HOME WITH THIS GRAND IDEA OF MAKING ALL THIS MONEY, PLEASE DO ALL YOU CAN TO STOP THEM FROM MAKING THIS BIG MISTAKE. FROM A DESPERATE MOTHER WHO IS WORRIED ABOUT HER ONLY CHILD.

  225. Thanks for letting us know the well is poisoned. Darn it, though! I thought the books looked nice and the saleswoman was extremely pleasant as well. We didn’t purchase due to the extreme delay in delivery. We’re lucky that we’re moving soon, I guess! Thanks again for having this blog entry still available.

  226. Thank you so much for this blog post! A young University student came to my door today and was really pushing these Southwestern books! She kept emphasizing how important education is to me, which it is, and how this would better benefit my children. I can’t believe I even considered spending $500 on the set of books she was selling! When I asked for a pamphlet or a website I could order from she could provide me with neither. Then when I told her I would have to discuss such a big purchase with my husband first she still tried to get me to sign up anyway stating that she would no longer be in the area after today. Finally she gave me her Facebook page.
    I’m so glad I found this post and others. It seems Southwestern has MANY dissatisfied customers, I’ll stick to buying my books off Amazon or Chapters!
    Thanks Again,
    Rae
    Calgary, Alberta

  227. Good grief people, this is NOT a scam. It is called sales and whether you walk into a store or have someone come to your door, the same tactics are employed. Ever been to a car dealership? If you don’t want to buy the product, don’t buy it! Is that so hard? I read most of the posts by so many of you scared and “victimized” people. It’s hilarious. Don’t open your doors, keep them locked, hide your children and buy a doberman. LOL

  228. UnhappyMomma! I live in WV, our local state police are currently attempting to find the young men who were just here trying way too hard to enter my home, it was a truly scary experience! You can sell scam books all you want, but we can talk on the front porch!! I’m not sure why they were pushing so hard to enter our home, other than wanting to scope it out oft future reference!! This blog has helped calm my nerves, knowing it’s happening to a lot of other people. I do have children but they aren’t of school age, I’m not familiar with the local school and names of teachers. Just as you’ve stated they started speaking of them and asking if I knew them. I asked them to leave and come back to talk to my husband at a later date! I’m hoping they return so the cops can explain to them (if it isn’t a scam) the proper ways to introduce themselves and pitch a product, and leave when asked!

  229. I just wanted to check-in and state that a young lady from Europe knocked on my door this morning. I didn’t let her in as I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to get into a situation where I couldn’t get her out of my house. She did show me a list of names in a book, supposedly of my neighbors, and name-dropped that she had spoken with certain neighbors letting me know how many children they had. However, I have not lived here long and don’t know very many of them. She also showed me a book in which the object was to show the child a word and have them match the word (printed in both English and Spanish) from a selection of words at the bottom of the page. This is to help them learn how to read. It didn’t seem that impressive to me. She was insistent that it would only take 10 minutes, but I refused to let her in. She asked if I knew if my neighbor across the street would be home during the day, but I honestly don’t know. I really just felt bad for her. I had similar jobs when I was young and that’s a lot of hard work for pay that’s too inconsistent and probably not worth all of the effort.

  230. A college student rode up to my house on her bicycle today. She looked and sounded to be of Indian descent. Her first words to me were “Hi, are you mom?” And with my baby crying in the next room waiting to eat, I told her yes. She showed me her badge, told me her name and said she is an intern from North Dakota who is “visiting with all the families in (our school district)” to talk about education. She implied that she was part of the district and her badge made her seem legit so I politely listened to her. She wanted to come in, but I did not let her. She told me she just finished speaking with “Jared” from (the next street over) as though that would comfort me to know another neighbor trusted her. Although the screen door was shut between us, she held her hand out insisting that we shake hands. I felt very uncomfortable. She showed me her clipboard of all the names of the neighbors and addresses she “visited”with. This was very odd, because it did the opposite of comfort me- there’s no way I want to be on her list of names to show the next neighbor! She quickly showed me a picture of some educational products “we have products for the ABCs all the way to SATs” she said. I told her I wasn’t interested. She ignored this and kept smiling and talking, asking me how old my child was. I wouldn’t tell her his age. I tried to politely let her know I had to go. I said over and over that I had to go feed my child and I couldn’t get her to leave my doorstep. I felt uneasy that she was collecting data about the families and children in my neighborhood. After she left I felt sick and unsafe that this person was wandering the neighborhood. I called the police and they showed up to take my complaint, they said they would revoke her permit when they found her.. It turns out she has a permit to go door to door. I was glad to find this webpage, it’s sick what this company is doing!

  231. July 2014 here, and I’m very glad that you’ve kept this page up. The girl who came to my door was European and seemed very nice. I have recently started homeschooling and honestly thought the books looked great. Bottom line was money. Also, when I was just barely 18, I got suckered into a ridiculous encyclopedia scam and needed good ol’ mom’s help to get me out of a multi-1000 dollar trap. So, to this day, I am wary. I asked for a card and got one with the company website and the girl’s own Facebook page, set up for selling these books. I asked the prices and said I doubted it but I’d let her know. I had her talk to me on the porch so I did not have the trouble of getting a sales person out of the house. Normally, I don’t open the door for solicitors, but my son had helped me out on this one. I feel bad for the kids trying to sell this stuff, but reading about the shady practices on here seals the deal. No books from them for me.

  232. A young student from Germany stopped by selling these books. I looked through the science and social studies sections of the sample she had…nothing but liberal garbage – climate change, founders wanted a large central government. I can think of better ways to spend $600 than to indoctrinate my kids with these liberal lies.

  233. I just had someone form Southwestern Advantage at my door and immediately was reminded about a scam I remembered hearing about.. in the scam that I read about maybe a year ago it was almost identical except the sales ppl had a foreign accent and it turned out that they were scoping the area to find out where children resided in an effort to kidnap for such evils as sex slavery.
    I have a 3 mos old and I live across country from my family so when I need to sleep longer than 3 very interrupted hours and I need to clean house and accomplish at home office work for my business I have a sitter come over. She answered the door and woke me when he came.
    I immediately didn’t like what he was telling or asking me. I didn’t know if he was legit or not and I did not care I was NOT going to give him any information about myself or my neighbors!
    This is exactly what I told him repeatedly. That I had no desire to sit here and discern his legitimacy. That he seemed nice but I was unwilling to participate with his conversation.
    His introduction was that he was a college student from Texas currently doing an internship. He attempted to show me a list of ppl in my community with which he had already communicated. Listing names of local business owners and police officers and even my own neighbor.
    Everytime he presented information I turned it down saying I did not want to participate in whatever he was doing.
    He became somewhat upset when I told him how I felt. He was calm but said he was worried now that I would send the police after him and that I was going to ruin his day and the day of the children he wanted to provide this great opportunity to. He showed his business card. He showed a badge, he showed a permit to peddle or something.. I did not care what he was going to show me.. I had ZERO interest! None of these items legitimized him in my mind as any one of them could have been fabricated and I simply did not know.
    I tried to explain to him that I was not making a call one way or the other that he was legit or not legit. I SIMPLY DID NOT WANT TO PARTICIPATE. This was stated over and over.. and he kept saying that it bothered him.. he felt uncomfortable.. he stated that his hands were shaking… etc……. He wanted to convince me of something that I was never going to be convinced of. Finally he told me that there was defamation online towards what he does and he was worried I was going to participate in such defamation.
    The entire time I was polite, I reassured him that I did not think ill of him but that I was not going to spend my time discerning if I felt he was legit or not. AGAIN.. I was not going to participate. He then moved on to asking me about my neighbors and I again said I was not going to give ANY information, not about myself, my family OR my neighbors. I even told him that his approach and tactics were identical to a scam I had heard of on more than one occasion and although I could not say with certainty that he was a scammer or that he was legit.. I was not willing to participate. That is when he began talking about defamation. *rolls eyes* He finally left and I then googled Southwestern Advantage. That was my experience with them. Now armed with the info on this blog I will have a bit more to say if they ever darken my door stoop again! I do not feel inclined to call the police because it appears to me that they are operating in a way that though deceitful and slimy is technically legal. I am definitely not happy about this encounter to say the least. When he attempted to show me his wares I would not look. so I cannot vouch for content.

  234. On Thursday I heard a knock at the door at 9:00 am. Was stupid enough to allow the “sales rep” into my home and bathroom because she was young and I didn’t feel threatened. Ultimately I was taken aback at her persistence, and told her that I wouldn’t be purchasing anything until I talked things over with my husband. After she left, I googled “door to door book sales” and was absolutely stunned at the stories that are so similar to my own. Part of me feels sorry for these “contracted” employees, the rest is very angered at how this situation has been perpetuated for years. The girl who came to my door was very deceptive and has been going into garages and backyards of my neighbors homes. She also pressed me for the information of a new mom in my neighborhood who has a newborn asking me, “when the mom was at home…” which literally made my mouth fall open.

    It’s only a matter of time before one of these kids is killed as a result of trespassing on a person’s property which is why there is NO WAY I will purchase the books that are being sold. Any person who defends this company and the contracted workers needs to think very carefully about what they are supporting. Something is very clearly wrong here, and when that girl comes to my door again (I know she will) I’m going to tell her that the Sheriff has been contacted because soliciting is not legal in my neighborhood without a permit. I urge anyone else in my position to do the same thing.

  235. Wow, Southwestern is a piece of work. Just had a “student” on and “internship” at my door as well… but he left rather quickly when I got up in his face. His last question was, “can you point out who on your street has school-aged children at home? It would really save me some time.” He’s lucky I didn’t have my bat close by!

  236. A sales lady came by early this morning…from Southwestern advantage…in fact she gave a business card..Siret Reinart is her name. Not sure if that is really her name. This same company came by last year but I just simply said I’m not interested…whatever she’s selling. And yes they can br very persistent….I hate to be rude but my time is precious and has no time for BS. If I’m interested to buy a book I would go to the bookstore or order online if I’m really interested on a certain book. My husband mentioned that my son is college bound and would not need the books they are selling…thought the message was clear but then she came back again this afternoon. I saw her walking to our door so told the boys I’m not home and she still asked what car I drive. That’s really invasive. No means No.

  237. Today, A “Southwestern Advantage” representative came to my house, not an hour ago. Having never heard of this company, I stepped outside and wanted to see what she wanted. She had woken me up from a nap so I wasn’t pleased. Only to find out that she was foreign. FROM ESTONIA.

    I am an 18 year old girl, who is still living at home while waiting to go to college. She wouldnt really tell me anything and just kept asking for my parents, specifically “who was in charge of education”. She wouldnt really tell me anything and I finally said that I would go get my dad.(Also taking a nap) He refused to go down stairs to talk to her and told me to send her away.

    Not knowing I was being sales-pitched, she asked if she could come back later and talk to my dad. I made the clear mistake of telling her yes.

    Now, after reading this blog I feel bad for the poor girl. Shes in a foreign country clearing trying to earn money for own education, only to be taken advantage of by a corporation like this. It seems almost impossible for her to know better considering that fact that when she spoke to me, she wasnt registering my answers, leading me to believe that most of the English that she knew was scripted from the sales pitch.

    Im at a loss on what to do. Rather than being angry at the kids who are selling, shouldnt we want to do something about the company? If they are as young as everyone says, its almost a guarantee that they dont have much job experience. What if they dont know that jobs shouldnt be like this? Clearly in my case it was a foreigner being taken advantage of. But others is sounds like are American, who are just as young as me, and trying to earn money. At this point, Im not so much angry at the salesman/women now, but horrified that a company like this is allowed to exist.

    • Was her name Eike? I just signed up for their online resources. I had researched SW Advantage before so I recognized the company name as soon as she came to the door. She was very professional and honestly I was completely comfortable letting her into my home (my husband is a police officer so we are well protected) to give her spiel. I can easily cancel my account or even the card I used, if necessary, so I’m not worried about being scammed. Basically, whether or not you approve of this company or their methods, some of these young people are trying their best to do their job and there’s no reason to be hateful or rude towards them. I offered her water but did not refer her to anyone else as I am not comfortable giving out someone else’s information.

      • I just realized my comment may come across like I was accusing you, Madison, of being rude. I was addressing that to others who have complained in the past, not you specifically. 🙂

      • The majority of the kids doing this are honestly trying to work hard and help pay for school; going into it I had the best of intentions as I just wanted to help my family. As much as you may want to help, buying anything from this company will continue to put these workers in danger. The best way to help them is to let them just calm down, maybe give them some food or a ride and encourage them to go home and do something else. I’m not sure if you read my story from a few years ago, but I had the cops beg me to go home after I was attacked by a sex offender. The company did nothing to help or protect me; later on I found out the company was banned from recruiting from my school because my school didn’t want to support their unethical ways. I know you had the best intentions, but this company is dangerous for its poor workers.

  238. Wow. I’m reading this as the young man just left my house. He used the name dropping techniques and named many towns in Louisiana that everyone knows just to make it sound like he was familiar with the state. Claims he was from Iowa. We told him we were Pentecostal and we home school our child and he backed off slightly. Used a flamingo example to prove the intelligence of his literature. He seemed like a nice guy with manners and such but his protocol fits this blog perfectly. Such a shame how a “Christian” company could be so corrupt.

  239. ripoff. The only reason i even considered purchasing these overpriced books because i felt sorry for the girl-i thought it was admirable that she came from where she did to earn money, when it came time to pay her i told her i was unable as i was unemployed and was unable to scrape up $45 for books i could get at the local thrift store. as i told her if she had left me a phone# i would have cancelled. she would not leave. started to unwrap the books and i told her to stop i was not taking them. she said “but you ordered them” i said but have have no money right now. said she would have to pay for them. i told her again i was sorry. these people could care less if your bills are due as long as they make the sale. definitely a cult. these “christians” ought to be ashamed/

  240. Just fyi… this happened in our neighborhood this summer in Bucks Co, Pa. Young girl, from “Colorado”, lists of neighbors names, very hot day, super pushy, would not take no for an answer, showed books on my porch, insinuated knowing neighbors who knew our kids, sweaty, desperate, kind of creepy after you got over feeling sorry for her. After the 5th no, I literally (but politely) closed the door in her face. This blog is an eye opener for sure.

  241. Thank you for all you’ve put into this post. I’ve been researching SW myself and I intend to publish my findings as well, to reach as many people possible. Here is my personal experience: I was visited yesterday by a SW “intern” from Estonia. This is the 2nd time. The first time was about 5 years ago, when a young man from Estonia stopped to sell me books. It was a hot summer day and he was riding a bike, carrying a heavy book bag. Under my shade tree, we talked for a long time about education (I was new homeschooler), his plans for the future, homemade cookies. I just loved him and so, against my better judgement, wrote him a check for the 1st of 2 installments on an insanely priced book package. I promised to have cookies for him when he came back to collect the 2nd payment and deliver my books. After he left, I googled Southwest and was shocked to read how similar other experiences were to mine all over the country. I put a stop-payment on the check. About a month later he returned, this time in an old clunker of a car. I don’t remember exactly what transpired but I’ll never forget his face when I told him I couldn’t and wouldn’t buy anything from him (I wasn’t expecting him, so there were no cookies, either). I do remembered that I cried because I know he was counting on that money. I had all but forgotten about Southwest until Monika, a sweet, young woman with a beautiful smile and sad eyes, showed up yesterday. I noticed right away that she was wearing a shirt and visor with the SW logo and had business cards. That was different. Also, I don’t remember the name of the company being Southwest *Advantage*. They must have been working on their image in the past few years. I told Monika right away that I was not going to buy any books from her but that she was welcome to give me her sales pitch while she cooled off with some ice water. After only a few minutes of conversation about her “opportunity,” she opened up and tearfully told me how she was deceived into doing this, and she just wants to go home. I was heartbroken. I can’t believe this company is getting away with this, summer after summer. It truly is a form of human trafficking, and I wish there was something I could do to stop it. Sincerely, Rachael B., Northern California

  242. We just had a suspicious visit in our neighborhood tonite. The whole approach and interragation, serious of 50 questions, as in very personal family questions. She kept showing us a list over and over of people, locals and neighbors.tying in A 3rd grade teacher at my son’s school repetively.. when I asked anythg having to do with the actual books and products, she kept going back to the list of my neighbors and more questions.
    But never answering or showing me the product.finally, a large book was brought out..so this is supposed to help my middle schooler thru his senior year? A magic book it must be. I am in sales and I know I was getting played. Although the exchange student seemed sweet, the whole experience was creepy, intrusive and unsettling. After speaking to my neighbors who got sucker punched (this company knows how to horn swaggle with innocent looking young people and their set up ploys) and now reading some blogs here and there I will be educating this young lady when she comes back by this wkend. Yes, she had names and appts to come back next door. I will have reading materials and names of websites about the company she works for on hand and they will be free.
    At least she will be educated on the type of company she works for.

  243. I am so glad I Google this company. This is the 3rd time the salesman came to my door. First time I was not home, second time he came at 8 o’clock in the evening, third time was this morning a little before 9 in the morning. I was still in bed. I had one of my kids turn him away. I am fed up with salespeople. He better be ready for me later today as I am not in the best mind being 3 weeks from delivery my 8th child. I am in no mood to deal with this pushy salesperson. I despise sales pitches.

  244. I previously posted my story on here about what happened when I tried to do the internship. I just wanted to give an update to what has happened in the years since then. I’m now a Senior in University. I returned to school when I was a Sophomore after this whole fiasco I was extremely emotionally unstable. I was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had horrible issues with depression. I almost ended up dropping out of school and my GPA dropped steeply. I feel like an entire year was stolen from me as I was pretty much unable to function. As for the other students from my program, one of the other ones who quit not to long after I did tried to commit suicide and got very heavily into substance abuse. One of the girls who did actually complete the program, when I asked her how her summer went just started to sob.

    This might seem extreme, but the company is extremely effective at psychologically manipulating their workers. Leaving the company was one of the hardest things I ever did because they programmed me to believe I would never be capable to do anything again. I haven’t met anyone who did the program and who wasn’t seriously messed up afterwards.

    I’m fortunate, my school had previously banned SW from recruiting there. When they found out the SW was breaking their legal agreement, my school completely supported me and helped me get the resources I needed. I wish more people knew about this company and to stay away. I had SW call me repeatedly and threaten me for posting my story online; I was called a whore because apparently I made the person who tried to sexually assault me want to do it. However, I believe it is important for people to know the truth so that other students don’t have to go through what I did and so that families can stay safe. I tried to get this story featured on the news since I knew that SW was selling in my home area, but it never made it.

    I’ve seen people say a lot of nasty things about the “interns” who do this. Trust me, most of us have good intentions but have been very misguided. Please let us open up emotionally and encourage us to go home, we honestly believe that is not an option. Please though, don’t buy anything from this company, as doing so will only continue to hurt the students. Also, please warn your neighbors, friends and family about this company.

    • I was also an intern a few years ago with SW. I experienced almost word-for-word what you described and I am still struggling with depression on a day-to-day basis. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing family that almost drug me out of Louisiana because I thought I didn’t have a choice to leave. Even after a dangerous incident I thought I couldn’t tell anyone and I couldn’t go back home because that would mean that I was a failure. And they told us over and over that if we failed at this job we were going to acquire a habit to fail and for the rest of our life it would only be a domino effect. The disguise they use on the public is a mythological costume that conjures values, activity and experiences that are false, but popularly believed by the individuals who are sucked into their cultish schemes. These companies need to change their morals or legal action needs to be made in order to regulate the requirements and policies these companies are encouraging their “interns” to be expected of.

      I am a journalist and I am taking action with this issue. If you are interested in helping me write this story please contact me at my email provided. This is an issue that is easily overlooked and something needs to be done.

      • Hey, this blog is old and hasn’t been updated in awhile, but as I’ve read extensively about this company and now my own brother has been sucked in, I wish so badly someone would pursue these people and expose them for the scheme they are. For all the bad reviews, how the fuck do they have a 4.3 rating on glassdoor? They’re a cult…theyve also filled the reviews with dedicated employees who respond with the same bullshit on each review and complaint. its incredibly dangerous. Have you made any progress exposing this issue? If youre a journalist, maybe you could connect with an independent news source like The Young Turks or The Humanist Report and share what you know so more kids don’t fall for this awful scheme.

  245. Just got hit here in very rural Eastern Washington. She had tons of names. I listened to her, also from Estonia. Very nice girl, I declined, too expensive. I had to say no three times then she picked up fast and left. She was driving a VERY expensive Buick car with Washington plates. Said she went to Central Wa University. She did ask for other names, I said no one else has kids. I wasn’t threatened, all the questions she asked were very generic, typical sales questions. She only asked for water, we are way out in the boonies so I gave her iced tea for the road. Now I’m sad for her, hope she realizes she’s being screwed.

  246. Someone came to my home Saturday. I couldn’t get very far talking to him because my kids needed a nap and were melting down. He said he’d come back this morning and now I’m pretending not to be home after reading so much about this company! But he hasn’t come by… Maybe because he saw our 2 85+ lbs dogs on Saturday afternoon 😉 but yes, they are still out and about, and sadly I gave them my kids names. Hopefully they don’t use our names to successfully scam someone else!!

  247. I sold books with the Southwestern company for 2 years around 1995 and 96. considering how hard it was I don’t think I would be rude to these young college students, but I do believe it is a scam, especially to the poor kids who decide to do it as many never make any money. The company still makes money from the books sold, regardless of whether a student makes money. Most of those kids are not bad people.

    Many of the stories about techniques used are the same techniques we were taught to canvas the neighborhood so we could come back at “gravy” time after families came home and make money. It never worked for me, but we asked about families so that we could spend our time with people who might actually be interested in our books at a time when they would be home. We did not want to spend a lot of time knocking on a door if that house had no kids to avoid wasting our time. In this day and age I can see how some might be creeped out but most of these kids really aren’t trying to clean you out. They are trying to do their jobs efficiently.

    It has been almost 20 years since I did this summer “job” and I am still unhappy with the company. I feel that do to the unrealistic expectations, I was unprepared to return to school as I was emotionally and physically exhausted from 80 plus hours a week knocking on doors and no break from the end of the sales season to the beginning of school. I wound up dropping out for the semester because I was already burnt out on the first day of class. I am convinced I could have graduated years before I did had I chosen a different summer job. Unfortunately I was brainwashed into doing it not one summer but two. Neither summer did I make any money, although I tried all summer long. On the first year my houses were about 30 minutes to 1 hour apart driving time. We were taught that we needed to talk to someone every 15-30 minutes. If you do the math, there were times when I would drive for several hours as people were not home. Then I had problems mapping so I got confused at the time I needed to be going back for “gravy”. I found myself miserable and unable to sell much, but the company still took money from my parents as they were asked to cosign even though my car blew up on the interstate boarder between Kentucky and Tennessee and I had almost no money to get back to Nashville where the headquarters were. So I wound up working the whole summer with nothing to show for it but a worn out mind, broken spirit, and physically exhausted body.

  248. I lived in Estonia and I knew a bunch of the booksellers (“interns” it appears they are called). The process of recruiting booksellers is basically an MLM where you start out going door-to-door, then if you get a few booksellers working under you, you become a manager and then you get a cut of the sales revenue from all your “employees”. So the big payoff comes once you are in your 2nd or 3rd summer of doing this. In the 1st year, most people earn just barely enough to cover expenses.

    I see a lot of the comments refer to salespeople from Estonia. I read in an Estonian newspaper that Estonians represent the largest group of sellers working for the company. The pay is decent by Estonian standards if you are willing to work 70+ hours per week, and the job prospects for college students in Estonia aren’t that great.

    My concern about any products sold door-to-door is this: if the product is so great, why do they need people to go door-to-door to sell it? You don’t see major book publishers doing this — they sell on Amazon and in legitimate bookstores. Why doesn’t Southwestern do the same?

  249. A Southwestern Advantage salesperson came to my house today, but instead of selling me books, she spun me a tale that her company had brought her and several other interns to the area but didn’t properly set up accommodations for them all. She was looking for extra rooms in the neighborhood for her and/or some of her colleagues to stay in for a few months. Mentioned that they found a couple of beds yesterday for some of the interns, but they are all doubled up in hotels right now, and I or anybody I knew with a spare room could make an easy $300/month for a few months. It was so weird and creepy. She had a business card and seemed nice, but honestly, who goes door-to-door looking for a bed in a stranger’s home? Like I would really invite a total stranger to sleep in my home with my 2 preschool-aged kids. I sent her away with a half-sincere, “Good luck.” If she comes back to sell me books, I’m going to ask for the cow entry!

  250. I came upon this site this am. After googling this company. They are very annoying. And don’t take no for answer.
    I had been nursing my 3 month and my older boys and daughter were playing when they came aknocking.
    It was raining. I wouldn’t allow them in our home. They kept saying can I come in a moment. I dodged that said I’m busy I was nursing my child and as you see I’m holding her snd my dog who is trying to jump on you. We live in a very rural area. And I don’t allow strangers into my home. Whats this show my children if I did. Yes kids because these nice people have name badges I’m gonna believe who they say they are and allow them in. NO freaking way. I asked for brochure I was told they have none but they can afford to drive a company suv up my drive. I again said I’m not interested
    NO is NO what don’t they get. They tried to find out what school my children attended in local district. I said they don’t attend schools were they are transfered. Lol this must have shocked them because then they had no info to shoot out the mouth about knowing anyone. Were new to area as well they named my neighboors or supposedly neighboors as we only speak to elderly lady next door. I knew they were full of crap and thats when I said no thanks an slammed the door. I watched they proceeded to drive by five times.

  251. Although this is old and it’s been months since the last comment, I wanted to say thank you for this post. Live in middle TN here and had someone from Southwestern Advantage drop by this morning. Husband spoke with her and told her I wouldn’t be interested, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she returns later after reading your blog. I detest companies like this and pity the customers and employers who get sucked into these scams.

  252. Just had a Southwestern Advantage salesperson leave my home after giving me the pitch on the 26 books for $432 and some change. I didn’t get to look over anything too closely. I was interested in what this person was representing but now I’m not sure it would be all it could be thanks to this blog. I decided my money would be better used elsewhere and proceeded to attempt to cancel the transaction within the 3 business days allowed. I read the cancellation instructions and happened to look up at the date the salesperson printed… then it hit me; it’s 4:00pm and today is the 2nd of July; the paperwork is dated the 1st.

    Maybe it was an honest mistake. Um, no. A bright college age (?) (23) person who has been selling all day filling out paperwork who carries a smartphone, a tablet, and wears a chronograph (didn’t think anyone used those anymore) in all likelihood, knows the date.

    I was just second guessing my purchase in case I changed my mind but now I am fairly upset about all of the misrepresentation(s) and am definitely cancelling.

    Well, I had better get to it since now I have one less day to get it done.

  253. Well, I worked one summer for the SW Book Company back in ’75. They’ve must have changed because I was not an “intern” nor was I instructed to use any deceptive manner. I was trained, went door to door, and presented myself as working for the company. I did ok. But it was terribly hot and I asked for water all the time. I’m saddened to hear about these stories. I busted my rear to pay for my education and sympathize with students who are struggling to make ends meet.

  254. They are still at it in Colorado Springs. The gentleman came to the door tell me all the neighbors he had helped and I was next on the list. I said I wasn’t interested and he kept going. I said have a nice day and shut the door on his face. Luckily I had known about these people from Alaska. They are all over trying to sell books. Thank you for your post. It give me more insight to the books and the sellers.

  255. I sold books for Southwestern for three summers – 1971 through 1973. I paid my way through college doing this and I was also on a work/study program during the school year which also helped meet college expenses. I was very frugal in college which enabled me to save enough money to buy my own graduation present of a brand new car and I paid for the whole thing at time of purchase with my own money. I am the second woman to have ever finished a summer and I made the top 100 student dealers.
    It seems that selling books for Southwestern has changed a lot since I did this although I did put in 80 weeks and I rode a bicycle, walked or hitch-hiked my first summer. I remember being so tired that I occasionally fell asleep in someone’s house.
    I never represented myself in an inappropriate way. I didn’t bring up that I was a college student earning money for school. I just sold books, door-to-door, going down each street, house by house and not skipping over any. I never asked for any info about neighbors. The sales presentation focused on the features of the books and I sold an assortment of books.
    I had lots of experiences doing this. My first summer I was hit by a car when I was riding my bike home late one night, around 11:30 pm. I slid across two lanes but at that hour of the night, there was little traffic. I just picked up my scattered books, got back on my bike and rode several more miles to what was home for me that summer. Sometimes I would hitch-hike due to the distance I was going and yep, I got into some jams with that too, like when I was taken off to be raped late, late one night when I was trying to get home. I got out of that one by jumping out of the car and running into a gas station that luckily still had it’s lights on. I survivied unharmed. The weather didn’t stop me either. I went out, on foot, to sell even during tornado alerts, with high winds blowing and heavy rain pouring down in sheets. I had no raincoat. I just got very wet.
    I found myself on the wrong end of gun more than one time too and once it was a shot gun. I survivied them all. My second summer, I walked through rattlesnakes twice in the Ozarks of Arkansas. I survived unharmed. During my three summers, I met all kind of dogs and was run out, growled at, nipped at and occasionally even peed on. I didn’t skip houses because of the dogs and I’ve been toted around in the jaws of more than one Shutzhund trained dog (pet level). I loved ’em all! I found that I am naturally just very comfortalbe around dogs, all sorts, no matter what they do. This was the only thing about this job that I had any natural ability for.
    Selling for Southwestern wasn’t an easy job. I felt like I put my life on the line every day I went out to sell. But, I did learn invaluable lessons. I learned how to be tougher than my circumstances. I learned the value of self-discipline and I learned that I can do a good job even when I don’t feel like it. I learned the principles of running a small business which is what running a household is. I learned that what I become is more important than the amount of money I make. I never want to do this job again or anything like it, but I am glad that I did it when I was young.

  256. Hello. I was actually one of the “intern’s” that got manipulated into working for Southwestern Company. It was an absolutely horrible experience. The company is a cult by all definitions. I had wanted to help relieve my parents financial burden and help support them. Southwestern exploited this. As they are all salesmen themselves, they are all very good at manipulated young adults. The summer I spent selling books was quite traumatic and I spent two years trying to overcome the trauma. All that I can say is, if you find a young kid from that company on your doorstep, don’t buy the books, but be kind to them and try to convince them to quit. That kid is depressed and alone for 85 hours a week in often dangerous neighborhoods, hundreds of miles from anyone they know. And they were manipulated into being there themselves. The best thing you can do is to show them kindness and convince them to call their mother. And tell them to quit.

  257. I sold for SW for 2 years and paid for college. So HaH! and i helped students get into college. If you dont want them dont buy them, its funny how some people think Southwestern is a scam but can justify buying McDonald’s.

    Or Pulling a shotgun on a student. Or attacking them with a pair of hedge clippers. There is a lot you dont know about it. But im glad you sat through ONE 14 minute presentation 4 years ago. You certainly know a lot about SW.

  258. I just had a similar experience that left me feeling uneasy. At 10:00 this morning I had a young guy that claimed to be a college student from Iowa (I’m in Louisiana) knock on my door wanting to sell books to me. He gave me his name and said that he was doing his “internship” here in my parish, although he attends college in the state of Iowa. He wanted to come in, but of course, I did not allow that. He then asked how many children I had and what ages and grades they are in and if he could show me the books he was selling. I told him I was not giving info on my children and that I was not interested in hearing about his books. He then proceeds to take a notepad out of his bag and asked if I would mind helping him with a map! He had a map drawn out of my neighborhood and wanted the names of families around me that have children! I told him no way would I help him with that! He wanted my name, and I told him no, he didn’t need my name and that I was definitely not interested and he needed to leave. He had just came from my neighbors house, who is an elderly lady. He went to her carport door instead of her front door and asked to go inside her house as well. She didn’t allow that, but did give him a glass of water when he asked her for one. There are several stores not far from here that he could have gotten a drink from! He was very pushy and if not for my Boxer dog standing by my side, I felt like he would have tried harder to get in my house. Glad I found this website……now I don’t feel as if my unease was unfounded!

  259. They are showing up in our town, where they see there are kids outside or kids toys outside asking to take pictures of the kids & toys to use for their project.. I find this extremely unsettling and highly inappropriate for a supposed sales person.

  260. I think that this is the company that I went to an “interview” for in college. It was about 20 years ago, but a great deal of the details sound familiar here. There was a woman who kept smiling at us and talking in platitudes about working hard. She told us all about how the company had some great training for sales work and how we would be having a great time in the internship.

    And then the other sales representative gave us the pitch which involved talking for awhile and then showing us the book which looked like a bad Encyclopedia knockoff. All the verbiage about being part of the local school district and knowing all the families was there – as well as questions about anyone that we might know who would be interested.

    I was complimented for being “cynical” when I said that I didn’t think I would buy the book – even after the hour long sales pitch. My questions about what we would do if we sold NOTHING were not answered (or were glossed over by assurance that we would be trained so well that there would be no way we could fail).

    The only part that seemed like a high pressure sales came at the end when me and another girl both said that we would need time to think about it and the original smiling woman told us that we were already half-decided and that she knew that we had answers for her and that it would just be better to answer then.

    We managed to get out of there without answering but I do remember that this sales rep called me up again and she was all smiling and cheer until I said that I decided not to do this job. Then she sounded pissed and couldn’t wait to get me off the phone.

  261. I am so upset about this! I had a girl come to my house, so pushy and wouldn’t go away. Yes it’s my fault for not getting mad and telling her to get off my property. But when I called to say “hey look, we really don’t want this, can’t afford this right now” the woman said well there’s nothing you can do its past 3 days and it’s a binding contract? How about I just close the bank account and you get nothing! Uggghhhh! I am so angry! This is fraud and needs to be shut down! If I give them enough time and she didn’t tell me I only had 3 days to get out of it, it’s a scam just like everything else! This is what is wrong with this world!
    -Mad Mom!

  262. currently scamming in buckeye az our local crime page run by citizens on fb is reporting it but our police dont care

  263. They are still making the rounds. Just had a girl at my house try to get info on the whole neighborhood. Cancelling order which she post dated for last Sunday. She almost had my husband for $300

  264. Well it is official, I felt bad for the sales people before but now no longer. For the past 3 years we have had one of their sales people show up to our neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods every September. The first student that came to our door was awkward and definitely put us on edge but after telling him he could not come in our house repeatedly he finally gave in and showed us what he was selling. However, he never let it go that we wouldn’t let him into our home and kept mentioning women in the area he spoke with, how many children they have, what work they do and how much they loved is educational materials. All of which was a bit much. We know he meant to seem less threatening by mentioning “neighbors,” but I didn’t know any of the people he mentioned and him listing how many children they had, etc just came off as creepy. We saw him occasionally over the next few days in our area going door to door and generally looking beaten down. While they experience was uncomfortable we felt he was harmless. Last year, the student at our door was bright, friendly and personable. We listened to him explain the product (still on our front porch for safety, which he was fine with) and in the end determined that it was not for us. He was difficult to get to leave but we get a lot of door to door sellers around our neighborhood and they all have their moments. The student that came to my home yesterday was combative, edgy, evasive and rude. As soon as I saw his clip board, backpack and badge I new what the product was, I stated that I knew what he was selling and that we aren’t interested. This went on for another 5 minutes, in which he kept saying “Oh really, when did you hear about it? When did the other sellers come.?” I realized I was being interrogated over the simple fact that I had previously had other door to door sales people at my home every fall for the past two years and his visit made three. At this point I again stated, “Well, I know what it is and its not right for me and my family but I wish you well.” So he broke into the standard script, it occurred to me that this was all the same script. Everything from general observations of the area, observations regarding people in the are and even down to the names of the women and their kids that had just purchased their product, only this time he had a tablet with pictures of the happy parents and himself. I continued to interject where I could and state that we were not interested, at some point I made the mistake of mentioning that we already use various educational outlets and even some small sets. This was a huge mistake, not only would he not leave or stop talking, he then made off the wall comments that “you get what you pay for,” and other strangely defensive and aggressive comments that were highly questionable. I continued to state I am not interested in your product, we don’t need it, thank you and have a nice day. He finally got it and then asked if I would fill his water bottle for him. I shut the door, filled it and returned it to him. That was it. It took me 30 minutes to get a total stranger selling something I repeatedly said I did not want to leave my property. He tried to pick fights with me, he was extremely agitated and aggressive. The next morning a black unmarked van pulled into our neighborhood and dropped him off… I hope the other people he sees today are treated better though with this individual I would not be surprised if he gets the cops called on him. He seemed to be looking for a fight and when I wouldn’t give in and simply continued stating I’m not interested have a good day he would move on to yet another aggressive and ill conceived statement. After this experience we will be putting up a no soliciting sign and will no longer answer the door for any door to door sales. You just never know who will be on the other side.

  265. I did this job in the late nineties. We were trained in the various sales pitched in Nashville, TN, the sent out across the land with a bag of their books (which we had to pay for). The company merely sell you the books at around $25 as I recall and the RRP was $55.
    I couldn’t be so economical with the truth as some of the pros, so I’d be lucky to get one or two sales a day (out of 100 cold calls).
    You are right that we were trained to get information on neighbors etc. I remember hating the job. Some of my friends were in tears every day and eventually gave up.
    I did feel exploited – a good awakening to the excesses of capitalism. On the plus side I made enough money to do an unforgettable road trip around the states before returning home to the UK from whence we were ‘recruited’ (at college) with tales of riches. A scam?…a borderline yes. There’s a lot of being economical with the truth, cascading down from the shady SW company, through team leaders (who seemed to have been ‘chipped’). But a least I know I never want to do door-to-door sales ever again, especially not in 100 degree heat, 12 hours per day on foot. I thought the books were okay albeit on the pricey side to customers. (I gave a lot of discounts off the RRP!) Anyway, thought I’d share my experience….

  266. Thank you for this blog. Thank you for making this information accessible. My neice worked for Southwestern advantage in the summer of 2013. The experience left her completely wrecked, emotionally, physically and financially. I don’t know if they are “scammers” per se. At best, this company operates on the fringes of legality. At worst, they are a cult with extremely exploitative business practices. Its hard to believe that what they do is legal, but it is. In more recent years, they have been relying more heavily on foreign “interns”. I guess it makes the exploitation of workers easier when these college kids are seperated from family and friends by a vast ocean. Its harder for them to leave. My neice “escaped” from her brainwashers after her car broke down and she could no longer stick to her schedule. Since they do not allow these kids access to their money until their “internship” is over, she had difficulty fixing her car. She was absolutely hysterical, which is not at all like her. So, I became extremely concerned, especially when she told me she really wasn’t allowed to speak to me about what was happening to her out there in the “bookfield”. Poor thing. She’d never given up or “failed” at anything before in her life and she was under a tremendous amount of pressure to do what was expected of her. She literally had to sneak away in the wee hours of the morning to avoid the group intervention that would result if her group had known she was leaving. Also, the company would hold her finances captive if she left before the end…I had to work hard to convince her to get away. When she finally arrived, I was blown away at what I saw. She was in very poor health–anemic, sunburned, dehydrated and she’d lost so much weight she was unrecognizable. Awful, since she was only about 110 lbs to start with. Worse than that, her once very positive, cheerful, go-getter spirit was completely broken. This company should be stopped. Their system of cult brainwashing, exploitation and holding these kids financially captive is sickening and just wrong–legal or not. These kids leave the company with something akin to Stockholm Syndrome, which just adds to the creepiness of it all.

  267. I dd it for 2 weeks during the summer 2011… And, believe me, it is a scam for the “interns” too. Everything a I went through is written here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/the-southwestern-company/nashville-tennessee/the-southwestern-company-the-southwestern-company-deceives-foreign-students-into-slave-lab-368272

    I am from Slovakia, Europe… and you do not know what is really going to be, until you are not thrown into it, already with at least 2000 USD debt (tickets, visas,… etc). They are brainwashing European students with fake infos, statistics, and other sh*t… And back in 2011 you got only bag full of books (you have PAY for it, and the also charge some additonal charges like “bag insurance” without telling us) and map with your locations, no list of names or something like that, you have to take notes or remember.

    Also they are making a huge pressure and a lot of emotional pressure on you every single day, you have to work 13 hours for 6 days… Disgusting. I quit after I realised the truth about their books, about the real school system, about everything and after I had some really harsh conversations with people from company as I quit, I also realised that on that visa (they told us its only way to get working student visa is with them so quickly) you can do LITERALLY nothing.

    These kids have no intentions to collect informations about you, they are only trying to make some money with practices, they were told to use, because “Americans” are used to it. (Maybe with american students its different, but as students from not very rich regions from Europe you are trapped – if you do so, you are hyena, if you quit you have to pay another extra money to get home or stay until the date of your return ticket and do try to find some “gap” in their useless visa to do something so you can sleep somewhere and eat something until you go home).

    Im sad everytime I think about it.
    I had only one luck – and that was the great family from California (where I was supposed to sell door to door 13 hours a day in 80/90° degrees 6 days a week) who take care of 3 of us who quit with this madness, and they took us as their own children.

    Do not be so judgemental about everyone who works for this hell company, most of the foreigners trying their first time doing it have no idea, what is all about.

    (And sorry for my english, I was trying to put down all my thougths very quickly).

  268. Thank you for this blog post. My daughter is a sophomore at San Diego State and just got recruited for an “internship” with Southwestern Advantage My older son was recruited in high school several years ago in a letter from Vector trying to get him to sell expensive knives door to door, so I am very suspicious of these types of things. These companies praise the kids and make them feel like they are being recruited by some elite company because the student is the cream of the crop and that only certain students are good enough to be selected, so the student thinks it’s a great opportunity. So glad I decided to check out SA on the internet. Their facebook page is suspiciously “too good to be true”. I figured they must be deleting negative comments quickly. Your post, Yelp, and some other reviews confirmed my suspicions that this was not something my daughter should do. I sent her multiple links to reviews, so hopefully she and her friends will not get duped by this company.

  269. My brother has just fallen for this scam. They’ve told him hes going to make a bunch of money and that hes going to learn how to run his own business and that this will get him ahead by having it on his resume. Its all bullshit. On top of that, they have “intelligent design theory’ in the biology section of the books they sell. I’m disgusted that my brother, being educated in science, is okay with selling these shite books, but I know they’ve brainwashed him already and I wish someone could talk to him about this so he would realize how bad this is and how hes selling his morals for a scam. So frustrating. I cannot believe companies like this are allowed to operate. He gave up two well paying jobs because of these disgusting peoples lies.

  270. This company is still abusing their “independent contractors”. This time in South Dakota. My biggest gripe is how are these companies allowed to do business in this country? I wonder, do the baptists have such political power that they are allowed to do what amount to nothing short of indentured servitude?

  271. We have been dealing with this girl claiming to be an “intern” for the past week. She is described completely by this article.
    Asking about neighbors, asking to use the bathroom almost immediately, knocking and knocking from sun up to dark, gone to several homes 3-4 times, shows you pictures on her iPad of her being in others homes, pictures with her and a police officer and her appearance could be cleaned up.
    We have all communicated via “Nextdoor” so most of the neighborhood (if they check the app or email) have been informed. Next door has neighborhoods that are linked to areas so other neighborhoods were allowed to communicate where she was.

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