I fell into merchandising after a sudden divorce that made me a "displaced homemaker." Merchandising jobs were nearly all that was availabe, immediately, in a tough economy last spring, so I leaped at the chance of employment after being out of work for nearly 6 months.
The lure of the high wages these companies pay per hour is enticing, not to mention the number of hours the recruiters who represent them claim you can get in a given week: 32 hours a week seems to be the industry standard.
For those of you who don't know, large companies hire "merchandisers" throughout the nation to go into major retail chains, from grocery stores to department stores, to perform tasks for the manufacturers of products that they represent. Most of what you see displayed in retail outlets is, generally, done by a merchandiser and not an employee of the store.
All of these positions are part time, and it's a rare merchandising company that offers sick/vacation days and/or benefits. Furthermore, they have figured out a way to avoid paying employees for their drive time/mileage, even though these employees work out of their homes and must travel daily to and from a job site in a retail outlet.
Merchandising is a huge industry, to be sure, and I have worked for three of them in the last year alone.
The jobs are fairly easy to get, and that's a bonus when you're desperate for work.
Still, the recruiters of these companies promise job security in the form of hours that they cannot deliver. The recruiter at the first company for which I worked said I'd be working 32 hours a week. You don't find out until you're hired, though, once you actually talk to the person who will be your boss, that they cannot guarantee you'll get ANY hours every week, let alone the maximum of 32.
What was worse, by hiring me and others at that time, the employees who'd been there for years had their hours reduced by half. This created such a hostile work environment, it was difficult to do the job. I couldn't blame those employees: My existence took bread from their mouths.
I finally got another, better, merchandising job, and was finally able to quit that one.
Although I am on a dedicated team, which means I am assured a certain number of hours and constant work, not to mention a decent hourly wage, we're getting ripped off because they do not pay mileage/drive time unless you travel more than 40 miles or drive an hour to the job site.
I've been on this job for nearly nine months, and I love it. I'm good at it, have earned bonuses and recently received a pay raise of $1 more per hour. I have no reason to complain.
Still, this company takes advantage of my willingness to drive nearly 450 miles a week to service my assigned stores without providing even half of what it costs to operate my vehicle for the job. I've put nearly 20,000 miles on the car I bought on Feb. 5 because of this job.
My beef is this: We are not paid mileage/drive time to get from our homes, our offices, as it were, to the job sites. This should be illegal, given the fact that we cannot possibly go to a regular office first (the HQs are in Florida, Texas etc.) before hitting the road to perform our work. We should be paid mileage/drive time the second we leave our home offices.
Secondary to that main issue, we also aren't able to accrue sick days or vacation days. If we cannot work, we lose money. Plus, at least in my position, you are chastised for needing time off. It comes across as a threat to your job, basically, when you are ill or need personal time. Illness or personal needs aren't allowed. We're expected to make up the time for those circumstances by rescheduling our tasks, which means we have to work six or seven jobs in one day. We should be able to ask for time off or help to cover tasks that we cannot do.
Although I love my job, my employer takes whatever I let him allow from me every single day.
If I were paid for ALL of my time that I spend on my employer's behalf, I would have no reason to complain. What my company is expecting from me, ultimately, though, is unfair and possibly illegal, especially when it comes to drive time/mileage.
All retail merchandisers work out of their homes, and their homes should be treated like the home office. I'd be paid mileage and be on the clock if I left the HQ to go do a job in the field. We should be paid drive time/mileage from the minute we leave our "offices" to work in the field, regardless of the fact that our HQ is our own home.
How these companies get away with this policy is baffling.