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Vector marketing makes false promises

A job that pays well, has flexible hours, and offers skills that will be useful in almost every career. Does this sound like the perfect summer job? This is what Vector Marketing promises to college students, according to Sarah Baker Andrus, Vector’s director of academic programs.

Vector Marketing offers college students a job as an independent sales representative of Cutco Cutlery, according to Andrus.Recently, Vector Marketing has been accused of using deceptive practices to con employees into selling Cutco knives for little or no profit.

“Representatives have the opportunity to set up their own appointments, budget their time, take and process customer orders and deal with customer relation issues,” a company statement provided by Andrus said.

In order to sell Cutco products, all potential applicants must go through the company’s “Skills for Life” training program. The program lasts several days and attendance is unpaid, according to Andrus.

Senior Patrick Crotty went to training with Vector Marketing, but quit before he sold any knives.

“The whole [training program] setup is really professional,” Crotty said. “The whole scam is they want you to start selling to your family.”

Since college students who start working for Vector do not have a customer base, the company encourages new employees to begin with family, according to Andrus.

Crotty said he did not want to pressure his friends and family to buy expensive Cutco products.

Because Vector Marketing employees work as independent representatives, they are required to put a deposit down on the knives used for show.

“The only requirement of the student is a security deposit of a $135 (plus tax) sample kit, which can be returned to the company at any time for a full refund,” according to a company statement.

“The gimmick is that you have to pay money up front, and then you are supposed to make it back later,” Crotty said.

Crotty is not alone in his feelings about Vector Marketing. Several Online groups have created petitions against Vector Marketing’s exploitation of students, such as www.petitiononline.com. Other groups get together once a month to talk about Vector Marketing through www.meetup.com, a Web site linking people with similar interests. Thirteen groups meet every month nationwide to bring together “local people who are interested in organizing and exposing the exploitative nature of Vector Marketing,” according to the group at www.meetup.com.

Another group, Students Against Vector’s Exploitation, has brought lawsuits against Vector Marketing, according to a press release by SAVE.

“The co-founder of SAVE just recently won a case with the New York Department 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,” the press release said.

Vector Marketing responds to the complaints from groups like SAVE by speaking about the company’s success.

“Cutco had revenues of more than $200 million in 2003, which is a reflection of the success of its sales reps and high quality products,” according to a company statement. “Cutco currently has thousands of active and satisfied sales reps. However, as with any large workforce, there are a handful of dissatisfied individuals.”

Cutco does not pay its sales representatives on an hourly basis, according to Andrus.

“Students are guaranteed a minimum income of $10-15 for each qualified appointment, even if they do not make a sale,” a Vector statement said.

“Vector Marketing recruits new employees on Loyola’s campus every year,” Crotty said.

“Cutco recruits students through a variety of methods depending on the policy of the college,” a statement provided by Andrus said. “Students are recruited through campus fairs, advertising, word of mouth, etc. We value our relationship with college faculty and administrators, and do our best to ensure that our recruiting methods meet their approval.”

The recruitment process of Vector Marketing has caused the company legal trouble on multiple occasions, according to SAVE.

“Vector was sued by the Arizona attorney general in 1990, ordered by the state of Wisconsin not to deceive recruits in 1994, and sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 1999,” according to a statement by SAVE. “Each time their legal trouble revolved around allegedly fraudulent recruiting tactics and each time they settled and promised not to mislead their recruits anymore.”

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