If you are between the ages of 17 and 24, you might have heard of Vector Marketing. They recruit students between these ages for “$12-20 an hour” summer jobs. Beware, we all know about things that are too good to be true… do you expect to get $12-20 an hour with zero experience? Read on to find the dirt on Vector Marketing.
Is Vector Marketing REALLY a Scam?
For my disclaimer, I’ll say this: legally speaking (though I’m not a lawyer), I wouldn’t accuse Vector Marketing of being illegal or for breaking any official codes, laws, etc. The reason I use the term “scam” is because of the whole system involved. It’s not necessarily illegal, but the whole protocol questionable. The program hides some important issues from the participants, then the participants have to sell in a “Tupperware-style” setting (which can often strain relationships), then participants inevitably make less money than what was “implied” to them during training, and finally, the end consumer gets an over-priced product which smacks of “unethical-ness”. That’s all, but what the heck, you’re an adult and you can jump right in if you like. This is just my humble opinion! 😉
About 2 years ago, my son was looking for a summer job and seen an ad on CraigsList that guaranteed $12-20 an hour jobs for students. The ad stated that you needed to be 17+ with a high school diploma or 18+ without a diploma. It did not include a list of daily activities and was very, very vague. The ad was more like a landing page telling my son to fill out a form and apply. If you’ve been working for awhile and are a professional, you will realize that a $12-20 an hour job with no real requirement (GED) is a little far-fetched.
**[Update May 10, 2018] Vector Marketing is Trying to Manipulate You Online **
This post picked up quite a bit of traffic because our SEO man is very good at search engine optimization (SEO). He informed me to inform you of Vector Marketing’s “reputation management” campaign. Reputation management, the long name “online reputation management” (ORM), is when a company attempts to drown out negative reviews on the search engines. For example, let’s say the CEO googles “vector marketing scam” or “Cutco knives scam” and sees tons and tons of *real* people stating how Vector Marketing is a scam. This is bad news because around 8,100 people google “vector marketing scam” every month. That is 270 people a day! Wow, Vector Marketing must be scamming a lot of people! That number is obtained from Google’s Keyword Tool, a tool that shows how many people google which keywords (mainly used by SEOs and advertisers).
So, to the CEO, 270 people a day are finding out the *real* image of Vector. That is not good for recruitment (read rest of post for why). That is 270 potential contractors who are not going to become workers. Because their business model involves having college kids selling to family and friends, this really means 270 lead sources are lost. That is a huge drop in advertising reach.
Therefore, Vector does what any other shady company does: hides their dirt. Instead of listening to the outcries and changing, they are only manipulating information. Below is a screenshot of the search engine results page as of May 27, 2013. The sites I highlighted as fake are sites operated under the purse of Vector Marketing. Do not listen to the claims on these websites. Also, Vector Marketing has been posting in the comment section of this page as well as other pages online with fake testimonials. Basically, if someone seems to be *too* happy to be working at Vector, it is fake. (Why else are they taking their time to promote their employers? It is not like they are getting paid… oh wait, they are).
Here’s Something That’s Definitely not a Scam! We think it’s very cool! Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE!?
Fast Forward to 2018!
Here’s a screenshot from May, 2018 and not much has changed. The list of critical reviews is growing, and though www.vectormarketingscam.com did not appear in a search for “Vector Marketing Scam”, it did appear when I actually searched for “vectormarketingscam.com”.
You Can Help Stop Vector Marketing Scam!
If you don’t want Vector misleading other people, you can end this by sharing this page on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and any other social networking account you have. Social signals are used by search engines to determine rankings and, therefore, if this post becomes #1, Vector losses ;-). If you have a blog, you can also blog about Vector Marketing and link to this post within the blog post. That, a backlink, also helps rank sites.
Now, back to the rest of the article…
When I read it my mind screamed BizOp. That is industry speak for a business opportunity. It is a niche where people sell to other people the idea of making money. They get your hopes up on living the life you want and then feed off of your work. Or they sell you junk. Vector Marketing does both.
I told him what I thought about it and told him he should just go to the interview anyway (surprise, he got an interview… ). He might learn a few things about marketing from seeing how they work–like how they can get young folks motivated to work for them without telling them what they are going to be doing.
The interviews are all group interviews and that all the company has about 3-4 group interviews a week. The interviews had about 10 people. That is 30-40 new employees earning $12-20 an hour a week! Again, this sounds like either the company is 1.) a non-profit, 2.) super bad at finance, or 3.) a scam… the company says it has annual sales of over $200 million and is based in 250+ locations… if a company is that big, I’m sure they know how to manage their finances, so it is probably option 3.
Once you arrive at the nondescript business building, you will be given an intro to the company, Vector Marketing. Vector Marketing is the child of Cutco Knives. What Vector Marketing does is market Cutco products. You, the new sales rep, will go around and find leads, conduct in-home demonstrations, and sell Cutco knives.
What are Cutco Knives?
Cutco is an old US knife maker that used to go by the name Alcas. Cutco owns the Cutco Knives line, Kabar knives, Vector Marketing, as well as a few other companies. Cutco is privately owned and based in New York. Cutco makes pocket knives, folders, kitchen knives, machetes, balisongs, tomahawks, and a ton of other blades.
What is Vector Marketing?
Vector Marketing is a multilevel marketing company that sells Cutco Knives. You can not buy Cutco Knives from retailers like Sears–hence it is “exclusive.” Vector Marketing targets college students as well as recent high school graduates to sell knives for them. In my son’s group interview, the interviewer talked about how easy it is to sell to parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, and friends. He paints a clear picture of how you can easily make money selling knives to people you already know.
You get a cut of the sale and, as you increase in sales, your cut increases. You also get a cut from sales done by people under you. What this means is if I tell my brother about Vector and he signs up and starts selling, I’ll get a cut of his sales. “It’s a great way to earn passive income,” they say.
The company also has cool things like trips to Cancun and scholarships. Wow, what a great job for a college kid!
How are Cutco Knives Made?
Cutco sells overpriced knives in my opinion. They use 440A steel which, for their three-digit price, is very expensive. You can find 440A steel in budget knives at Wal-Mart.
What Cutco does that other knife manufacturers do not is that they offer a free sharpening program. You can get your knives sharpened by the factory for as long as you want. This makes the 440A steel a lot better because, as I’m sure Vector knows, most people never both to sharpen their knives.
No matter how great the steel is or how amazing the kitchen knife is, it will need to be sharpened sooner or later. Kitchen knives are almost always made of stainless steel. Stainless steel resists rust very well but dulls quickly. Sharpening it will bring the edge back.
How does Vector Marketing Train Young People to Sell Knives?
First, you start with people immediately near you like parents and close relatives. You show them a 1-hour long presentation. You are paid a base rate of $12-20 per presentation. Yes, of course, your relatives will sit there and listen to your 1-hour presentation.
The presentation will show you a $200 set of Cutco Knives (that the salesperson must buy with their own money). They often compare it to your kitchen knives. Most Americans do not sharpen their kitchen knives so the brand new set of Cutco Knives wins by a long shot.
They then go into the Forever Sharp guarantee and a few other great sales tactics. Basically, the person is reciting what they heard from their boss.
If the target buys or not, the seller will ask for 10 referrals (What?! I didn’t even buy your product so why should I tell my friends about you?). Most people agree because they are too nice. Then the process happens all over again.
More Reasons to be Wary
- The scam with Vector Marketing and Cutco Knives is that you won’t make $12-20 an hour. That is the base rate for an appointment but most salespeople do not take the base rate because that is like saying “I am inept.” Cutco feeds off of your desire to get a job and make money so that they can get you to promote their brand for almost nothing.
- You also must spend $200 on knives. Have you ever seen a college kid who needed a $200 knife set? Or have you ever seen a college kid who cooks? Me neither! They could have just given out demos to their employees. That is at least 10 appointments (or 2 weeks of work) for a new employee to break even.
- You are using the niceness of your family. How can an uncle say no to a niece? That is how Cutco gets you to buy their knives. Most people don’t need a new set of knives (most people just need to sharpen theirs).
- There is nothing special about their kitchen knives. Yes, Ka-bar is one of my favorite knife brands but Cutco kitchen knives are overpriced. You are better off buying a professional knife set for the same amount of money.
- You are not reimbursed for travel expenses. Yup, if you drive across the state, you won’t be paid for it and, for in-home sales, you will do a lot of driving.
Conclusion on Cutco Knife Scam
Don’t do it! If you are a college student looking for a part time job, I recommend you get a REAL job or, better yet, do something that will be a stepping stone for your career. Keep the long-term goal in mind, and save yourself the negative stigma and potentially strained relationships resulting from your involvement in network marketing programs.
Real College Jobs
Good college jobs that pay well and are often overlooked are:
- Lawn work. You can cut grass for residential and commercial properties. They are always looking for English speaking summer help. You will easily get 40 hours a week and a good tan. Look for places like golf courses if you want to earn a lot. I’ve seen ads for $12 an hour (as of summer 2012).
- Kitchen work. You might need to start doing dish work but, after being there for awhile, you can move up to a waiter/waitress. Tips can earn you easily $100 a night. It all depends on your ability to befriend/flirt with your customers.
- Pizza driver. $20 an hour at least, guaranteed. Most pizza orders are $20+ and, with a $2 tip and 10 stops an hour, you will get at least $20 in tips. If you want to make more, be a driver for a high end pizza joint.
- Grow house. If it is legal in your state, work in a grow house trimming MMJ. One of the best jobs ever. Flexible hours and everyone is very laid back.
- Bartending. This is the ultimate college job. You might need to start bartending at restaurants before you can move up to bars and clubs. Most bars will not hire people without experience. Bartenders can make $100+ a night in tips.
- Lab work. If you want to work in the sciences like medicine, psychology, or chemistry, look for lab work at your school. You might need to be a volunteer at first but there are paid positions for students. It is a great thing to have on grad school resumes.
- Donating plasma. You can earn $100/week for two 30 minute sessions.
Just be wary of job offers that say you can make a lot of money with little work. If that was true, everyone would be rich. Also stay away from unpaid “internships” at companies (unless they are santioned by your college)–they are just using you for free labor ;-).