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Vector not all it's cracked up to be

Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, December 5, 2003

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 16:08

There is an insert that runs each year in The Daily Campus and you no doubt have seen these colorful flyers scattered around campus or in your classrooms: "SEMESTER BREAK WORK! Earn $17.25-$17.50 Base/Appt." The flier is not clear as to what kind of work exactly you'd be doing and whatever "Base/Appt" is, it sounds like a lot of money. Before you get excited; listen to my story of how my social trust has been forever changed after working for Vector Marketing Corp., selling Cutco knives. Two weeks before Thanksgiving break, I knew that I'd need to get a good job for the winter. I didn't care what line of work as long as the money was good; I was willing to work hard and earn it. I called the number, and scheduled an interview. When I got to the office building a few days later I was surprised to see many other individuals there for the same reason. After an hour and a half of "ooing" and "ahhing," these people were led to believe a number of things. The $17.50 Base/Appt. is how much Vector will pay you for each knife presentation that you produce. Each appointment, we were led to believe lasts about an hour. Therefore, working full time we'd be making close to $700 a week! The job is based on commission. But wait; isn't it $17.50 per appointment? Yes and no. If you do not sell any knives at an appointment you will get at least $17.50, however appointments are identical to the initial interview and the pitch takes at least two hours if you move fast. Your commission level rises as you sell more and more knives. The way you set up appointments is you start with everyone that you know. Family, friends and neighbors will all know what your job is this winter break. The flier says "1-6 work program for all majors." This is true, they will hold onto you until you don't sell enough knives at each presentation or you quit. "Cutco sells itself" is the idea. The knives are great; it's solely the marketing corporation that signed a treaty with the knife company. The idea that they have "flexible day, evening and weekend schedules available" is true. However, you are expected to work every day, evening and weekend over winter break. Mention of scholarships and anything to do with "all majors" is plain trickery to get kids to think they are learning skills and can get an internship that has to do with their major. The reason why "all majors" are accepted is because your studies have nothing to do with working for Vector Marketing. Twice a week we had to go into the office (off the clock) to land presentations for the following weeks ahead, hitting the phones for three to four hours each time. When you run out of friends, family and neighbors, you are pressured to always ask for a list of people that you can call and do a presentation at the houses of people they know. They make it seem like you always get more and more names, endless lists of potential money making couples that you can swindle into buying thousand dollar sets of fine cutlery from your confident, inexperienced self. I am comfortable with people and I worked very hard that cold winter break of 2002. I was the fifth top selling sales rep in Hartford County and I did make some money. I was even asked to think about becoming assistant manager for the spring and summer months. I found it incessantly harder to sleep at night. The deceitful phone conversations and sordid sales tactics made it hard for me to feel good about myself. I attended two regional sales conferences that were like cheesy Tony Robbins motivational symposiums. I never went to the national sales conference and I still have the knives I paid for myself. So that's all I have to say about my semester break work experience. If I learned anything, all I can say is don't take my word for it. People lie. Give them a call; go to the interview, maybe this job is for you. The Hartford branch isn't there anymore and Big Tom moved on to do other things. I don't know exactly what he's up to this year but I'm sure he's making bank. There are more honest ways to earn your keep this winter break.

-Vergil Mickelson-Decker, 3rd semester political science Major

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