On Monday, we noted that San Franciscans were reporting door-to-door booksellers claiming to be fund-raising for UCSF Children's Hospital -- which was news to hospital officials.
The UCSF Police have since confirmed that Terry Brisendine of the Michigan-based magazine clearinghouse World Wide Circulation reported to them that the still-unidentified young men were selling literature on behalf of the company. She stressed that the receipts given to those purchasing from the door-to-door sellers note the company is not affiliated with any schools or hospitals, and said that anyone who felt he or she has been misled can send in the receipts for a refund.
If this is supposed to settle the matter, it doesn't: Sellers for World Wide have a nasty habit of misrepresenting themselves as charity cases when they're really only out to make a buck. A decade ago
, Atlanta-area journalism professor William Lee was shocked to find out that World Wide booksellers had been telling would-be buyers that they were hawking magazines to benefit Lee's internship program. Media calls to World Wide were answered by -- guess who? -- Terry Brisendine, who assured everyone that the company wasn't affiliated with any educational institutions. Sound familiar?
More recently, in Philadelphia
, World Wide sellers told their customers that they were selling literature in part to benefit Children's Hospital of Philadelphia -- which, again, was news to the hospital.
The same thing happened in Nashville
, North Carolina
, New Jersey
-- we could go on. Locally, Internet users reported
World Wide booksellers making bogus claims about fund-raising for a number of area hospitals, not just UCSF.
phoned World Wide in Michigan and asked for Terry Brisendine several times. Finally, a receptionist informed us that she'd left the building without returning our call. Working on a "crew"
of young magazine sellers, incidentally, is just about the worst job a person can have that doesn't involve handling sewage or answering to Carole Migden. The pay is abysmal, the conditions often resemble indentured servitude, and lying, cheating, and stealing are all part of a day's work. Companies like World Wide will probably eventually send customers the magazines and literature -- but the young folks who sell it to you lie with abandon, have for years, and there's no end in sight. World Wide and its competitors take pains to keep themselves neatly insulated from the folks actually selling the books. Very convenient.
The Better Business Bureau gives World Wide an "F."
They probably would have liked to do differently -- but that's the lowest grade you can give.