Have you ever answered a vague but very attractive help wanted ad and come down for the interview only to find out it's not a job ad at all, but instead is a business opportunity they have to take an hour or so to sell to you? A company called Vector Marketing has been doing this for years deceiving tens of thousands of young students and a group called Students Against Vector Exploitation (SAVE) is getting together because they are not going to take it anymore.
Lauren, the co-founder of SAVE just recently won a case with the NY Dept. of Labor alleging Vector to have breached the independent contractor- client relationship making her an employee, and Vector has sent her a check to compensate her work during unpaid training. She says "I know others can win too, it's just a matter of standing up for your rights."
Vector Marketing is a company that targets students nation-wide to sell Cutco kitchen knives with in-home demonstrations. They are encouraged to sell to their family and friends to start out with and are pretty successful in the beginning, since it's easy to sell to people that care about you and feel obligated to help out. But after that they must rely on referrals, which can be difficult since not too many people want to let stangers into their house to get a sales pitch on knife sets that typically cost several hundred dollars. David Tatar, a supervisor with the Wisconsin Consumer Protection Dept. was quoted in 1996 by the Washington Post as saying "that state surveyed 940 Vector recruits in 1992 and found that almost half either earned nothing or lost money working for Vector" and "workers in that state earned less than a day on average selling cutlery for Vector."
Workers are hired as independent contractors, but must follow strict rules as to who they can sell to and how to give the presentation in order to get paid if they don't sell, and they must work under a manager often having to check in to the office and go to conferences. They must either buy or put down a deposit for at least 5 for a set to give demostrations with. And some optional conferences they need to pay to attend.
Further research shows that they were sued by the Arizona Attorney General in 1990, ordered by the state of Wisconsin not to decieve it's recruits in 1994, and sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 1999. Each time their legal trouble revolved around fraudulant recruiting tactics and each time they settled and promised not to mislead their recruits anymore. The Toronto Star wrote an article about fraudulant job advertising in 1994 and wrote that they decided not to run Vector's ads anymore. Lewis & Clark's college student newspaper in Oregon wrote an article in 1997 calling the company a scam and interviewed a receptionist alleging she was told to deceive students over the phone. SAVE doesn't believe they have cleaned up their act, members see these type of complaints about the company all over the internet all the time.
Kay Bible believes Vector shows their recruits fabricated ads of their top competitor Henckels and gives them loaded information to make their knives seem the best. She also says she was told their product appeared in severals articles like Consumer Reports magazine leading her to believe they got favorable reviews but upon researching them she found out they found issues with things like rusting and potentially uncomforable handles. She said she was told they were a fortune 500 company when they hadn't been owned by Alcoa, a fortune 500 company, for more than 20 years.
SAVE believes tens of thousands of students lose their time and many of them lose their money buying demo kits for this company. An anti-Vector petition on the internet has over 1400 signatures.
To find out more about SAVE and information on joining, you can look it up on their webpage at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/savecampaign