I had a very similar experience as Former Dirtsucker Salesman. Desperate for a job, I answered the ad on Craigslist. The ad itself was ridiculously vague, said nothing about Kirby or even cleaning, just "lots of advancement!", "big pay!", "on the job training!". First red flag.
When I went for my interview, I found myself in a shady business building with nondescript signs and virtually no cars in the lot. The office itself had only one sign that read "WA Associates". Red Flag #2.
Once inside, everything was ridiculously bare and it couldn't be more obvious that they were trying to suck all the Kirby out of their own office (though I didn't know that at the time). Four or five other people were sitting there with me, and we all filled out a couple forms while waiting for our interviews. A guy at the front desk said we were waiting for the "Hiring Manager".
When my name was called, I walked in and the "Hiring Manager" immediately launched into a high-paced assault of buzzwords. "Full on-the-job training!" "Grassroots campaign!" "Whole-home cleaning!" She told me I was gonna LOVE being a customer service rep for WA (notice she didn't say Kirby). "That's nice," I replied. "But what will I be doing?"
She danced around this question several times. "Customer service," she said again and again. Red Flag #3. Finally, when pressed, she explained they were part of Kirby- but that was it. NOT what I would be doing, JUST that they were affiliated. She ended the "interview" with several compliments on my hair and clothes (flattery will get you anywhere!) and said that she was "sure" the VIP would love me. "I'm going to tell him all about YOU!" she said, as if I were a precocious toddler. "Expect a call!"
That call? Came an hour later. I'd barely taken off my interview clothes [wool skirt in August = awful]. It was the godly VIP that she kept telling me about! Strange...his voice was so similar to that guy taking calls at the front desk... Red Flag #4.
He told me to come back for a second interview the next day. He neglected to mention that it was a GROUP interview. I was crammed into a tiny room in that godawful office with twelve other people, mostly young men and a couple older guys. I was the only female. The young guys looked like they should be trashing a frat house, not playing dress-up in their dad's suits. But I digress.
When "The VIP!!! OMG!!!" came in, surprise, surprise, it was Front Desk Guy. Of course. For an hour and a half, he talked of ***nothing*** but what Kirby could do for you. Still not what YOU would have to do for KIRBY, mind. Just a fabulous overview of all the amazing prizes you could win from Kirby (great, a Razor Scooter. I have bills to pay, you ****.) Finally, what the pay was. "At least $500 a week, NO MATTER WHAT." He said it OVER and OVER. Even if we won NO prizes, NO trips (that was another big incentive, the two-day trips to Niagara Falls or whatever), NO Razor Scooters, we were GUARANTEED that $500 a week if we worked for them. Okay. Fine.
Thing is, I really needed that $500. OMGVIP then handed out "real" checks that he had received when he first started working for Kirby. $850 his first week! By the end of the month, $2,000! Awesome! I'm in!
All this time, Red Flag #5 is lurking in the back of my mind. Why...is this so-called VIP trying to sell me a job? Sell me. Not tell me.
The night winded down with OMGVIP talking reverently about his "business partner" that would help us with our training, apparently the "A" in "WA Associates". His fiance, it turned out much later. Also, the Hiring Manager. There's Flag Six, ladies and gents!! If we wanted to meet awesome goddess fiance/training/hiring manager, though, we'd have to come back tomorrow for training! At eight a.m.!
I'm sorry, what? It was eight p.m. as he said this. You want us back in twelve hours? For real? I refused. I said I wouldn't be available until next week, fully expecting to be told that I was out of a job (okay, hoping). No problem, it turns out. "You can train with the new people NEXT week!! (YES! JOY! KITTENS!)"
....New people. Next week. I looked around at the dozen or so men around me. How many open spots *were* there? The office consisted of four rooms, so no way were all of us getting a cozy cubicle.
Still, like a horse after that dangling carrot, I agreed. Next Monday it was.
The first thing that happened upon my arrival that godawful Monday morning was that I had to sign an independent-vendor contract. Basically, the form stated that I was NOT an employee of Kirby, but my own individual business vendor, and that Kirby had NO liability over me. Also (fun fact), independent vendors don't get taxes and Social Security taken out of their paychecks. No, instead they have to pay a large sum of money to the government come next April. That sounds like fun!
Next, myself and the five or six other "new non-employees" went into the small room where the second interview took place. WHOA! This room looks totes different! Now there are... wait... are those vacuum cleaners on the wall? Wait, what? And is that... a vacuum cleaner on the carpet there? ... In pieces???
WHAT THE CUCKOO BANANAS? I kept telling myself, "That has nothing to do with me. I'm a customer service person, all I'll have to do is answer the phone. That stuff is for the guys, certainly they're not making a tiny girl like me work with all that heavy equipment. Any minute now, they'll take me aside and teach me how to move papers all day..." Oh, how the innocents have dreamed. Red Flag #7, the vanishing and re-appearing of Kirby merchandise.
You all know what came next. I found out that my job was to be a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. Showing this huge vacuum and cleaning rooms for free, hoping that the customer will pay $2000 for a Kirby. All I had to do was an hour-long demonstration, and then spend a half hour steam-cleaning an extra room for free. The whole process was a "call". Fifteen "calls" a week- without any sales- made you $500.
That's three calls a day for five days, right? Three times an hour and half is four and a half hours, right? Plus driving, maybe five? Wow! That's a short workweek!
Can I just say... lugging a 50-pound box with the Kirby and steam cleaner into the customer's house, going through the 8,000 different demos, calling the "home office" again and again to "lower the price", and then steam-cleaning with that wretched machine, not to mention packing it all up again and lugging it back out to the car.. took an average of two hours and forty-five minutes each. NOT including driving.
Three "calls" (also known as "shows") in a day is really nine hours of work. Plus travel. Nine hours five days a week comes out to 45 hours. $500 for 45 hours is less than you make as a full-time liquor store cashier. (I've done that, too.) *Significantly* less.
Oh well, I thought to myself. That's what being young is for. Better get these *** jobs out of the way. $500 is $500 I didn't have before, right? Three days of unpaid training - eight-hour days - leaves four more to squeeze in my first "Family and Friends" shows. Oh, yes. The infamous "Wait, this is a pyramid scheme" Red Flag #8. Before starting my REAL demos, I had to show family and friends. Six times in four days.
That alone was exhausting. I don't know enough people who could sit through that. The driving to get to a patient relative's house was bad enough. Having them laugh at me added an extra half-hour to every "call". Then the obligatory "How's your mom?" Yada yada, for a total of 4+ hours per family show. Six times four = 24. A full 24 hours of showing that thing in four days.
At the end of that week, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. All I could think about was my $500. (No one I knew could afford a $2,000 or even "priced down" $800 vacuum, no matter what the "financing plan" was). I had no intention of ever doing hard sells on people I knew didn't have the money for the Kirby. It humiliated me to have to play on people's emotions that way, so I told every customer over and over, "I don't want to pressure you. I get paid just to show the vacuum. Don't worry."
Since my week of demos started with the family shows, I only had 9 more to do to get my $500. Three a day for three days, I was beyond exhausted by the end.
Still trying to make the best of a bad situation, I showed up for my first week's end meeting with high hopes for my paycheck. Having not sold only Kirbys I wouldn't qualify for more than the set demo rate. I didn't care.
Here come the checks! Here they are- one for young greasy salesman #1, one for guileless money-grubbing salesman #2, one for... wait, he skipped me. What the deuce?
I have been lugging this freaker around for a week! I did my fifteen demos! I sat through three days of training! (There was no air-conditioning in the building during that training, I might add. 90+ degrees outside at the time).
WHERE IS MY MEASLY FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS?!?!?!
It's not coming.
Those six shows for family, they didn't count. You were supposed to either sell one or do 15 MORE demos in three days. No money at all. No money at all.
I just want people to know my story. If you are a good salesman, work for Kirby. But personally, I CANNOT justify to myself trying to make people pay hundreds of dollars that they JUST DO NOT HAVE. (Oh yeah- if you or your family or your friends are from money, go for Kirby. Or Cutco.) If you are honestly in need and so is your family, do not waste time with Kirby.
Product or Service Mentioned: Kirby Vacuum Cleaner.