The Investigators: Who's The Boss? - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Who's The Boss?

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By Andy Wise - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - The company's motive is pure:  recruit college students to sell quality cutlery and to help them get a head start on their careers.

But when the college students are in charge of Vector Marketing's East Memphis office, 5050 Poplar Ave./Suite 1015, they can make mistakes.

Like the call one of them made to a recruit we'll call 'Heather.' A college student who is also employed full-time, 'Heather' received what she described as a strange call on her cell phone.

"The guy didn't identify himself or the company he represents, but he said I had a job interview," said 'Heather.' "They knew my first name.  They didn't know my last. It was almost like he was talking so fast to get in his sales pitch that I didn't even have time to ask questions."

She agreed to attend the interview, but asked The Action News 5 Investigators to tag along under hidden camera.

It was only when she arrived that she discovered the position was offered by Vector Marketing, retailer of Cutco Cutlery (for Vector Marketing's Better Business Bureau record, please click here:  http://www.bbb.org/upstate-new-york/business-reviews/cutlery/vector-marketing-corporation-in-olean-ny-1105/. For a separate record on Cutco Cutlery, please click here:  http://www.santabarbara.bbb.org/Business-Report/Cutco-Cutlery-15000940).

The scene was like a fraternity-sorority swap. College students with clipboards slipped in and out of offices while rock music blared in the waiting room. A Vector promotional video looped on a television screen.

Even the gentleman designated by a greeter as the "manager" and the person assigned to interview 'Heather' -- was a 19-year-old student from the University of Memphis.

"We only call people we get recommended to through our representatives," said the interviewer, whom Action News 5 has chosen not to identify because there is no evidence he committed a crime, nor did he demonstrate any malicious intent.

At first, he said the representative who recommended 'Heather' works for Vector Marketing:

"(Interviewer) Yeah."

"('Heather') Does she actually work here?"

"(Interviewer) Mmm, hmm."

"('Heather') OK, because that's weird..."

"(Interviewer, interrupting) ...uh, no, Andrea doesn't actually work here."

He contradicted himself, saying 'Heather's' reference actually doesn't work for Vector Marketing.

"And I was thinking to myself, well, the whole conversation is uncomfortable right now," said 'Heather.'

The interviewer explained that she's interviewing for a sales position, demonstrating and selling Cutco products.

"For each appointment, you get $15, no matter what," he said. "But if you sell something, we have an incentive program to where you can make a lot more."

'Heather' eventually asked to cut the interview short and leave, still without any straight answers about who recommended her to Vector Marketing and how they got her cell phone number.

"I was a bit freaked out by how much they knew about me and how little I knew about what was going on," said 'Heather.'

"Her name was provided by someone who is working for us, but there was some confusion," said Sarah Andrus, Vector Marketing's director of external relations & academic programs. "The confusion was a married couple who is working for us, and their lists were combined. One of them had worked with her previously. That's what I've been told."

Andrus said the East Memphis offices is run by a division manager with lengthy experience, but he was not in attendance the evening of the interview.

"There might have been a more relaxed atmosphere that day," she said.

Andrus added that the 19-year-old interviewer was taken off the interview schedule for additional training.

"We are very proud that we offer young students an opportunity to run their own business, especially in this economic climate," she said. "We really regret that ('Heather') was made uncomfortable, but that doesn't take away the experience we provide college students to get business and management training before they graduate so they can learn from the experience."

Marcus Eaves, a Vector Marketing recruit whom Action News 5 caught up with after his second interview, said he enjoyed his experience with Vector Marketing after it responded to his resume, posted on a job site.

"I believe it was fairly professional," said Eaves, whom the company offered a sales position. "When I came in, I didn't find anything misleading about the interview process or anything like that based on the information that I received from them."

Vector Marketing is by all accounts a good company with a motivation to mentor college students.

But if you get a blind call from any prospective employer, you should be able to get straight answers about what's the job, who referred you and who's the boss. 

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