Vector Marketing: Scam or legit?
Company featured at MRU career fair subject of many complaints
Vector Marketing is a company that prides itself upon helping students learn entrepreneurial experience and other skill sets. However, if you look up Vector Marketing on Wikipedia, you will find that the company has been accused of unsavory business practices by some.
During the Mount Royal University career fair held on Main Street in March, Vector Marketing was one of the companies on site looking to hire students.
The job, at a basic level, is an entrepreneurial job. Students start out by paying $99 plus GST as a security deposit for their first set of Cutco knives. They start a training session for sales. From there, students are encouraged to sell the knives on an appointment-with-clients basis rather than door-to-door selling or group selling.
The more they sell, the more rewards they “unlock,” and the more bonuses they get — a percentage increase of what they sell.
Shabniz Hirji, a Calgary student who worked for Vector Marketing for a little over a month describes the experience as a “terrible time.”
“I first started with Vector Marketing because I really needed a job and I didn’t care which job,” Hirji said. “They didn’t tell me what the name of the company was, so I went to the first meeting. They sat me down and that’s when I found out I was selling knives.
“They gave you barely any training; they gave you a little booklet and that was basically your training – telling you about each knife and how good it was.”
Numerous online complaints against Vector indicate that the company is controversial for reasons similar to what Hirji experienced. YouTube video blogger Gregor Wilke created a blog called Vector Marketing Is A Scam.
“The one thing that I hate most was that they break out saying that they have this flexible schedule,” Wilke said.
“But they want you in the office every other day for a team meeting, a phone jam, where all your friends come in and you call people that you would give demos to use on your cell phone. That’s the other thing — they don’t even let you use an office phone, they don’t even have office phones.”
Hirji agreed, noting that she found the atmosphere at Vector to be unpleasant. “They don’t support you — it’s not even a proper office,” she said. “It was an uncomfortable environment. I had people breathing down my neck all the time. It was like a cult, like I couldn’t get out.”
Patsy Valenzuela, a representative of MRU’s Career Services, explained in an email that the most important thing to remember is that regardless of the company, students need to do their own research and reach their own conclusions to stay out of trouble.
“This can include internet research, unresolved complaints, and, if possible, connecting with current student staff at the organization to discuss their experiences,” Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela also said the reason Vector was at the career fair is that the school is trying to showcase a variety of different job opportunities.
“This year I met with the lead Vector staff, as well as four MRU students that are currently employed by Vector,” she said. “Although very different, they each reported positive results from their employment. In addition, a scholarship donation was presented to Mount Royal as a result of MRU students exceeding some of their sales targets.”
She also explained that jobs are a very personal decision and what one student may enjoy and learn from, another may strongly dislike.
“Entrepreneurial sales-driven employment may not be a positive fit for all students. However, some do very well and find great career success with those types of jobs,” Valenzuela said.
Although Hirji said she understands that there may be some who love the job, her reasons for disliking it didn’t stem from a distaste for selling in general.
“It was probably the worst job that I’ve ever been to, and I’ve done a lot of marketing,” Hirji said. “At least with those, they provide you with support so you can learn to sell that product. ”
Angie Macdougall, a Calgary representative for Vector Marketing, said she understands that entrepreneurial work may not be for everyone, and it may seem intimidating, but she encourages students to give Vector a try.
She said she encourages students that this is a good opportunity for them to try, for them to learn really great skills. She noted that she wouldn’t recommend it or have spent 19 years working for Vector Marketing if she didn’t believe in the company and the opportunities it has for students.
“There’s just no way that I could continue to work with colleges and universities if I felt that in any way, shape or form we weren’t doing something that was good business practice,” said Macdougall.
In regards to the comments accusing Vector of “unsavoury” business practices Macdougall said, “It’s usually because of misinformation or an uneducated viewpoint because they have never actually done the job. They might do an interview but they don’t do the training or get any further to see what the opportunity really is.”
However, the main comments being made are with regards to the company not giving information in advance about what the job actually entails.
Typically, that kind of information would be found after doing the actual interview for the job. However in the case of Vector Marketing, Hirji and other students commenting online said that despite doing their research and talking to Vector representatives, when it came to actually doing the job, they faced a lot of surprises.
Any company will try to make their job look appealing, but, as Valenzuela pointed out, it is really up to the student to do their homework about it and determine whether they want to give the company a try.
“Students should always consider their comfort level with an organization’s pay structure, work hours, work environment, industry, client type, etcetera,” Valenzuela said. “This is very personal and subjective and it’s really about the individuals fit with the job.”
Bottom line: Vector Marketing is not a scam; it is a real company. But, when it comes to how much students have to pay out of pocket, and how much time they actually have to put in, it may be more than they bargained for.