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Vector Marketing And Direct Sales: A Waste of Time and Money, Or A Great Opportunity?

March 11, 2013 by admin


By Daniel Natale
   Lately you may have noticed ads popping up around campus, even in The Stall, that offer “$18 base pay” and a “flexible work schedule.” If you thought that sounded too good to be true, you may have been right.
   The ads are for Vector Marketing, which sells Cutco cutlery, through direct marketing sales, and uses a sales force made up largely of college students to do it. 
   Mention Vector at Brookdale and you’re likely to get a passionate response.
   “I f*&$ing hate Vector!” said Meghan Rooney, 21, of Howell. “They can believe whatever they want, but from my point of view, they don’t care about their employees.”
   The fifth-semester science major was associated with Vector for two weeks, which she said was one of the worst experiences of her life. Rooney said that contrary to the advertisements that promised students high wages, the pay was very poor. Instead of receiving an hourly wage, she was paid $18 per appointment. 
   If she made a sale, she was paid a commission based on the number of knives that she sold. If the commission was higher than the base pay, she only received the commission and vice versa. However, she rarely made sales, and meetings could last for more than two hours, almost ensuring that her cut would not compensate her time.
   “When I wanted to quit, they told me that I had to give them two weeks notice. My manager ended up talking on the phone for upward of two hours while I waited there,” she said. 
   Rooney said that her experience was not unique, and that she does not know anybody that has had a good experience with Vector.
   Ash Natarajin, 20, of Marlboro, is another student who speaks adamantly against the company. Natarajan sold Cutco Cutlery for two months, and says that she wasted her time and money driving door to door to sell knives.
   “They’re not going to buy knives,” said Natarajan. “When they asked me to call people that I knew to sell, nobody was interested.” 
   The chemical engineering student said that she called about 75 family members and friends, who all rejected her sales pitch. 
   “There was an ad there that I responded to. After I talked to them, they called me within an hour. I was shocked that they called me so fast,” she said of her initial experience with Vector.
   Natarajin also said that her managers at Vector would call her almost obsessively. “It’s not like I’m working for my country’s military,” she said. “They technically wanted to produce humanoids – to sell their products – who only need batteries and electricity to run.” 
   Natarajin was most angry about the fact that the company forced her to pay for a set of knives before she made any sales. The set cost more than $100.
   Both students said that the salesmen from the company gave them a long sales presentation that outlined the potential for success under Vector Marketing, which they both decided was not accurate to their experiences. 
   Unpaid training for Vector takes three consecutive days with each session lasting eight hours, the students said.
   The complaints of Rooney and Natarajin are commonplace, and bore similarities to accusations that Alicia Harris filed against Vector in 2008 under a class action lawsuit.
  The California resident claimed that Vector violated California and federal labor laws by failing to pay sales representatives for their time in training, and by making sales representatives pay for their starter kit of display knives. Vector agreed to pay a maximum of $13 million to compensate the representatives’ losses, which is still pending.
   When contacted by The Stall, Vector responded to students’ complaints by saying that the company hires independent contractors, rather than employees. This means that the people who work for Vector are basically small business owners, who must create their own work and generate their own sales. 
   “We have over 40,000 independent contractors, and employees. Not everyone is going to have a good experience. This is true with any company,” said Stephanie Weisner, a sales development specialist at the external relations department for Vector Marketing. Weisner says that many college students are not mature enough to handle this type of responsibility and may function better at a traditional retail job.
   As for the complaints students had about buying the starter kit, Weisner responded that Vector no longer requires students to pay a “refundable deposit,” on the kit. This changed  in February 2011 in order to remove a barrier that stopped a lot of students from entering the business.
    This change also had nothing to do with the lawsuit filed in 2008, and sales representatives still do not get paid for training.
   Weisner was not the only person to respond to complaints in this manner. Robert McGuinness, manager of Vector headquarters in Eatontown, and Ana Ventura, an independent contractor for the company who had positive reviews of Vector, both said that every big business has people who complain. They also said that many people in college are not ready to run their own business as independent contractors.
   “I remember feeling that it was a scam,” said Ventura, a third-semester, 21-year-old business administration major from Lakewood. “I think it’s because a lot of people feel that it is too good to be true.” 
   Ventura has been working for the company for three years and says that taking the job was one of the best decisions of her life.
   “There are lots of scams in our generation. I read an article that said 60 percent of our culture closes the door on good opportunities because of their fear of being ripped off,” said Ventura, who was referred to The Stall by Weisner
   The business administration major says that she has a better job than all of her friends, and is currently competing with about 1,000 other students for ‘The All American scholarship,  which the top 25 percent of sellers receive.
   She said she is also paying her tuition at Brookdale with the money that she makes from Vector. 
   Ventura says that working for the company helped build her confidence, and people skills. Vector is a good choice for anyone positive and motivated who wants to enrich their lives professionally and personally, she said.
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