I got SCAMMED looking for a job

Personal Development, Rex Reviews | | November 2, 2009 at 17:04

Like a lot of other poor slobs, I have been unable to find a job since graduation from UNLV May 09.  Not hearing back from employers or temp agencies that have no jobs, I am definitely feeling the effects of the 15% unemployment rate.

I looked in the Sunday Review-Journal Classifieds.  In the Miscellaneous section I found several job postings that didn’t really describe the job, but pretty much said “want friendly people, no experience required, $500 a week etc.”  One ad had “FREE BEER” in big font.  “What the hell, I’ll try anything at this point.”  It’s called DESPERATION.

After getting a busy signal over the course of an hour, I finally got through when a man answered the phone (sounded like the Billy I would later meet). Told him I was calling about the job in the Classifieds, and he just said “Oh sorry bro, job’s been filled.” – kind of chuckling as he said it.  About a week later, I was looking online at the R-J Classifieds and saw the FREE BEER ad again.

“Huh that’s strange,” I thought, “he said the position was filled, but here’s the post again today.  I’ll call them.”  I got through after about 15 minutes and a girl answered and asked me a few questions like “Am I 18 or over?” “Do I have my own vehicle?”  She then said they had several positions open including managers and assistant managers, and asked if I would be able to come in that day for an interview. Kind of stunned, I agreed.

I quickly ironed my suit, took a shower and tried to do some quick research online, googling what info I had. Nothing really turned up and it was time to go.  I showed up 25 minutes early to my 4pm interview.  Located in an industrial section of town on Polaris with a series of garages, mechanics and other random businesses, I pulled up in front of the window where it said “O. W. O.” in big letters with ”all-star motivation” underneath.

I was getting some weird vibes, but still walked in. There was a young woman sitting at very plain desk with just a telephone and some magazines. No computer? She told me to sign my name under “Billy” and fill out a form. She led me to a small, very austere waiting room with a bunch of chairs and no table.  There was a shelf in the corner with a mini TV and a bunch of perfume and cologne bottles.  She turned on the TV, hit play, tuning in on Anchorman about 1/3 of the way through.

The form looked like it had been made on MS Word, very basic, with just an underline after the questions.  Another guy came in and started filling out the same “paperwork.” After we handed in the forms, the two of us speculated about what kind of job we thought this was. An optimist and admittedly more than naive, I said I thought it was a liquor distributor (free beer?).  He was way savvier and pointed out the perfume bottles.

Next came the “interview” with Billy in another bare basics office. Billy was wearing a white t-shirt with a chain around his neck (tucked under the shirt) – kind of under-dressed for a job interview.  Not to mention that he was interviewing both of us at the same time.

His shtick was that O.W.O. is a rapidly expanding company selling fragrances, opening offices in Las Vegas, Arizona and California, and looking for people to run the outlets.  He claimed they get their perfume from their own factory in Holland where they have a vertical operation including packaging and bottle production as well as the perfume itself.  With no middle men, they could get the products cheap – very cheap.  I was skeptical; wouldn’t it have to be a pretty impressive factory, especially the glass part?  Seems it would be cheaper to outsource it.

He then went on to explain that this wasn’t a telemarketing job, or door to door sales, or cold calls; it was definitely not multi-level marketing. He asked the other gentleman several questions about his availability, in what job he was interested, and then told him “Thank you very much,” gave him a card and said someone would contact him shortly.  Dismissed.

He asked me similar questions and I told him that I’m a recent college grad; I’m excellent with people and willing to train and do whatever it takes to learn the job.  He seemed pleased and asked if I could come in for a second interview at 10am the next day.  He said it was a suit-and-tie kind of thing and that there would be several other people there.  I went home extremely pleased thinking I had a legitimate shot at getting into some kind of management training program.  I KNOW – I SHOULD HAVE GOT IT.

I was anxious about the interview and couldn’t sleep, so I researched the company a bit to show I have some initiative for the second interview.  I admit that some other things bothered me, like the fact the ad said “free beer” and the job didn’t have anything to do with beer. If you are trying to find managers is that really the best way to attract them – beer?  The location of the office and its setup were also suspect. I googled O. W. O. world perfume with the top hits www.ripoffreport.com, www.complaintsboard.com, www.shamscam.com, www.rippedoffemployees.com.  You get the idea.

I was immediately like “Uh oh, this is bad.” Clicking the first link, I read an experience that sounded like mine: newspaper ad, called, got same day interview, asked to come back at 10am for second.  He then went on to describe the second “interview” and how it was just a scam – and then that he didn’t even get paid for the work he eventually did do.

No longer nervous but wary, I went to the interview the next day.  When I arrived there were several men in suits, “bosses” I guess, who shook my hand and told me to sign in and go on in.  There were 60 some chairs, and a TV playing the movie “Old School.”  The room was fairly full with most people looking very unprofessional.  I felt way overdressed in my suit; I was the only one other than the company guys.

A guy named Eric did a kind of a stand up comedy routine for 30 minutes while people were showing up, giving a spiel about the company and himself.  I was shocked the last person strolled in at 10:25. In what world can you show up 30 minutes late for a management interview?

Billy was up next and did a lot of talking about the company and vast amounts of money.  He introduced several young men in suits, but they all had a ghetto appearance – their haircuts, the way they spoke, their body language.  Their language was –well – colorful.  These were not college grads and definitely not corporate material.

Billy explained that all these branches are opening up, how they need managers to staff them, and it’s just an 8 to 16 week program.  He played to the crowd extremely well.  He was entertaining, I’ll give him that.  His own story about himself and how he started – had no experience – and all he was looking for was someone to give him a chance to show that he could do the work and become management etc. was right on the money for the crowd. It was something that everyone in the room, including myself, was struggling with, so after baiting everyone with the whole management opportunity, “we don’t judge people,” “prove yourself” speech, he began to explain the “training” program.

The company’s divided into 3 parts:  marketing, management, and administration.  And here’s where the scam comes in full force.  Their hype is that there is no middle man because everything is produced in a factory in Holland and all the perfumes are “exclusive,” giving them a monopoly on the product line.  “The perfume dealers” supposedly sell an average of 10 to 20 bottles a day and make $5 to $10 CASH (he emphasized “cash”) commission on $25 to $35 bottles of perfume.  This is the base of the company: the grunts running around and selling.  We, however, were going to be managers, but needed to understand all aspects of the business first and that’s where the “training” comes in.

The “marketing” aspect of training consists of door-to-door hustling of the products.  The sales quota is 100 bottles of perfume in two weeks; “paid training” is by commission on sales.  Successful at that, we would graduate to the “management” portion of the training.

Off go the flags in my head.  First off, I was told this is not door-to-door sales, or cold calls. But you would have to go door-to-door in order to sell the product, because I certainly don’t know anyone I could sell a hundred bottles too. That was Lie #1 – no door-to-door?

Next I ran some numbers in my head.  50 bottles a week would be almost impossible to reach.  Who realistically can sell overpriced perfume to 50 different people in a week?  My heart sank into my feet.  They were talking about near impossible goals and the “paid training” I was expecting was commission-based.  The $500 a week that was originally promised is attainable if you manage to meet your quota, but you if don’t sell, you don’t get paid.  Lie #2 – paid training?

It was a trap.  People sign up, making money for the higher ups for every bottle they sell, never reach their hundred bottle quota, and keep restarting, never reaching the second “management” phase of the training.

Billy did a good job of making these numbers seem easy and factual like the average sales are this blah blah, so it sounded like a really good deal.  Most people in the room were nodding and agreeing like 100 bottles was an easily attainable goal.

When you graduate to management, you are given a crew of 4 to 6 people who sell, with you getting a commission based on their sales.  He claimed the average crew sold 200 to 300 bottles per day and explained a complex commission system. If a crew of 4 to 6 sells 250 a day, that’s 40 bottles a person in a 6 man crew – hard for me to believe that’s ever going to happen.  Lie #3 – 40 bottles per day?

He passed around some samples of the product so we could see the cool looking bottles and smell some of the fragrances.  I must admit they had some attractive and creative looking bottles that you could probably promote, but the perfumes didn’t really smell that great – the proverbial cheap perfume.  Can’t see anyone spending $35 on anything they passed around.  I noticed a sticker on the bottom of a bottle with some info about the importer so I jotted it down.

Once you hit a certain amount with your crew, you move into administration which involves test-running an office. After 5 days of successful operations, you are given your own “company” as he called it and you start running 2 to 3 crews out of your office.  Running a bunch of numbers with all the crews and the complex commission system, the payback equaled a minimum of $2000 a week.  Lie #4 – that’s a LOT of perfume!

Billy then finished up the number crunching and said, “So you can clearly see that this isn’t some kind of multilevel marking scheme. You don’t have to pay anything to join us, and you get paid for how much work you put in.”  Lie #5 – not MLM?

I almost burst out laughing, while everyone else in the room seemed mesmerized and eating out of Billy’s hand.

“Hey, dude, you just explained your company structure to us, which is the very textbook definition of multi level marketing, and then with a straight face, you’re going to say that it’s clear you aren’t running a pyramid scheme?”

Billy then laid out the big carrot, claiming he has had a 100% success rate for the past 5 years of everyone completing training – and that you’re not getting a new job, but a new life.  Lie #6 – who ever has a 100% success rate at anything?

Everyone in the room is now commenting like, “I could use that money!” or “Oh man, my kids would be so happy!” – all completely suckered in.  Now, of course, there are 50 or so people in the room and he says “We obviously can’t hire all of you, but here’s a phone number to call within the next hour and we’re going to conduct a phone interview. If we like you, there’s a 3rd session tomorrow where you will begin training under your new manager.”

“Clever,” I thought, “you could hire everyone in this room, just split them up with different trainers in different locations, and they think the 7 or 8 people they are with are the ones who “made” it.  Lie #7 – it’s an exclusive job.

I, of course, just left and didn’t call.  I pitied all those who were stupid enough to believe the spiel by Billy and his ridiculous sales numbers that supposedly banked thousands of dollars for you.  Billy must have been doing well for himself though; he drove a Maserati, and claimed he had a huge house.  He’s on the top of the pyramid – he gets a commission on everyone in that room that signs up.  It doesn’t matter if they fail to meet their quota.  If 30 people sign up and only manage to sell 10 bottles each, he still is making probably about $3K for himself, while the individual apparently sometimes doesn’t even get paid.

So very disappointed and sad, I decide to investigate the company more – the internet had been right on with all the scam warnings.  The company is a bunch of lies or at best, serious bending of the truth.

I looked up the info I got from the perfume bottle. The company is based in Holland but imports the perfumes from a factory in China.  SURPRISE.  I found the factory website; all the perfumes they produce are the products that O. W. O. sells – so yet another lie.  Lie #8 – made in Holland?.

To top it off, I called some of the other telephone numbers from the Classifieds to discover they all lead to these guys.  Pretty much every job posting in the miscellaneous section is just O. W. O.  Lie #9 – 6 different ads, same place.

They managed to get my hopes up twice now, first making me think I was getting a management-training job and second suckering me into thinking that there were several jobs available in the classifieds when they were all just dead ends.  Don’t fall for these scammers. I think it’s disgusting how in this economy, with so many people struggling, that these guys prey on people’s desperation.

Hey – anybody got any leads on a job for an eager and now lot smarter college grad?

Las Vegas, NV United States 10/28/2009 (See Ad for Details) FREE BEER Plus up to $500/wk. Intl Wholesale Co. has several positions avail. No exp necessary. Call 257-9557…

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