Please BEWARE of Exclusive Advertising, located in Dallas, TX, off of Coit Rd. This company is a pyramid scheme in sheep's clothing. My comprehensive report reflects my disgust with this company and the humiliation I feel after going in for the "second interview." I reveal EVERYTHING about this company along with brief analysis.
Allow me to explain. Showing up for the second interview was one of the worst mistakes I have made in my entire life. Please read this entire report if you have even a minute inclination to pursue this company. I will be as detailed as possible because there were many sketchy stories, business practices, and instances that I experienced through email, "interviews," and conversations I had with this company and its representatives.
A synopsis of what follows below: I responded to ad on Yahoo Hotjobs. Went in for interview. Received call same day inviting me to return the next day from 9-6 to shadow an "account executive." Returned the next day and was immediately ushered to the care of an "account rep." Account rep, her trainee ("distributor"), and I immediately went to her car and left the site. Turned out they were soliciting that day, door-to-door, at places that explicitly post "No Soliciting" signs. I ended this day early, after the free lunch and business model, compensation method, and ladder of ascension through the company were revealed. Read on if you would like all the details about this terrible experience and why Exclusive Advertising IS A RIPOFF.
FIRST, I responded to Exclusive Advertising's ad on Yahoo Hotjobs and received an email the following day. I have pasted the first email I received for your consideration. They referred to themselves as a "Sports Ad Firm," but they may have other aliases:
"Good Morning !
We have reviewed the resume you submitted to us, and you have the qualifications we are looking for. We are hiring honest, hardworking, career minded people that want to start earning a professional income immediately. I'd like to invite you to interview for an account executive or management trainee position. The initial interview is a one-on-one interview with a member of our management team. You will be given an outline of the history of our company, the services we provide for our clients and where you could fit into our goals for the future. Due to a rapidly expanding client base, our business is booming and we need to fill these positions now. If you are interested in interviewing for one of these positions, contact me at 214-281-8946. The interviews will take place at our North Dallas location or Tulsa location. To ensure your success, training is provided. Previous experience is welcome, but not required. You will meet with our Personnel Director to discuss more specific details such as requirements, qualifications, compensation, company training, products, etc. There are advancement opportunities as we promote from within. If you decide to give this career opportunity serious consideration, please contact us today or Monday between 9-5.Check out our website www.exadv.com for an extensive list of our clientele and company background. We hope you enjoy it.
Exclusive Advertising Management Team
stacey at exadv.com
P.S. If this isn't the right time for you then please let me know via email:)"
SECONDLY, I called the number in the email. No one answered so I left a voicemail. I received a call back from Julia Baeza, who scheduled me for an interview the following day. I feel stupid for not doing a search about the company before beginning this interview process. I will provide a very detailed description. I do not want anyone to get trapped, and I wish these people could be reprimanded for deceiving job seekers.
Their offices were located in a fairly nice office building in an upper scale area of the northern Dallas area (right by the "High 5" bridges). Their name was listed as "Exclusive Advertising" on the directory inside the building, and their suite was number 225.
As I entered the suite I immediately noticed a blue lit fish tank, glass walls enclosing a waiting room, and a late-twenties female receptionist. The furniture in the waiting room can be described as modern and uncomfortable. It was very reminiscient of IKEA. A booming flat panel TV adorned a wall in the waiting room, while detailed elements like fancy car books were heavily used. I include these details because the office seemed very makeshift and cheaply decorated for "the number one marketing company in the world."
Upon arriving, I was given a very generic and simple application to fill out. Other poor souls were already in the waiting room awaiting their interviews (They didn't make the cut, so they should actually be considered lucky). Anyways, I noticed that I was much better dressed than they were; I was business professional with shirt and tie while they wore jeans and more casual attire. Since bus prof is how people involved with Exclusive Advertising dress, I'm sure my attire flagged attention for a callback.
After not waiting very long, "Jay," whom I later learned from the "Account Rep" I shadowed is the "Director" of this branch, led me into his office. The office was fairly empty, and I noticed the only piece of electronics in the room was a silver Gateway laptop computer that was partially opened (Otherwise, I would have believed it to be a fake model). If this company was as profitable and renowned as they claim, I would expect them to have Thinkpads or even peripherals like keyboards, mice, printers, etc.
Anyways, Jay is also in his late-twenties and I noticed his front teeth are a bit crooked. Now, I hesitate including such materialistic and vain details but I want to iterate the fact that the Account Rep iterated to me: The Director makes a six figure income. It seems odd someone with that much income would not invest in appearance--especially when face-to-face marketing is one of Exclusive Advertising's primary roles. However, the Account Rep told me Jay has only been with the company for a year and a half so I suppose more time is required before vanity takes the front seat. Please, excuse my cynicism.
The interview with Jay was short. We talked as much about the weather as we did about the company, my qualifications, his position, the position being offered, and what the hiring process would be like. The only substantive material I collected from this meeting with Jay was that approx. 30 candidates were being interviewed that day, the company is ever expending and needs to fill positions fast, only 3-4 people would be called back for a second interview, the job and advancement are performance based, and if I missed the call for the second interview (if they even called me) I WOULD lose the opportunity then and there. I also recall him going on about his company's affiliation with BIG names like Domino's, various professional sports teams, among others. He seemed intent on planting the seed that teams outsource to this company the empty seats in their stadium. He also asked me who my favorite baseball team was. It wasn't the Texas Rangers, who I later found out this company is anticipating working with. In any case, I wish my phone had been off that night.
I received the call and was excited. I have no marketing experience, but I felt that I must have really impressed Jay since I made the cut. When I arrived the next morning, the waiting room was filled with people who had returned for a second "interview" and "shadowing of an account executive." Notice the change in terminology: Suddenly, on Day 2, account executives became "account reps." I have noticed a variety of terminology for the approx 4 positions on the ladder in other reports about this company.
So, I arrive for day two. I was well dressed in bus prof again. The other approx 8-10 people were dressed likewise. There were many people in the office suite as well, and much commotion could be heard coming from another room. We were waiting in the waiting room approx twenty minutes--much too long in my opinion for any reputable company. This gave me much time to make observations, and I recall hearing the receptionist answering phone calls and scheduling interview times. I found this strange since Jay made it seem as though I would be a member of a select few if I received an invite to return for a second interview.
Suddenly, about fifteen noisey people filed out of some room and all entered into a room adjacent to the waiting room. Brian Endsly came in and greeted everyone. His face is the one on the company's website. Perhaps he is the mastermind behind this scheme. He informed us that only 3-4 of us would make it past today's cut at the end of the day. We could, then, potentially be working for Exclusive Advertising the very next day. A sense of urgency and competitiveness silently filled the room.
Shortly, us, the job seekers, were each assigned to an account rep. Brian came into the waiting room, got me, and led me into the adjacent room. The "trainers," "account reps," or whatever theyre called were all in there. I was teamed up with a young female. Brian told me that I would be shown only 10% of the business today and that my actions, questions, and ability to generate conversation would be evaluated by this account rep and she would make the decision whether or not to recommend me for the job.
I will not reveal the account reps name out of sympathy for her. For, she has only been with the company less than six weeks! I thought this was odd because her position in the company was pitched to me as one of prestige and stature. I imagined the account rep was someone above Jay himself; this was probably what he wanted me to believe, as well.
OK, next the account rep and her trainee (distributor) led me outside to her car. It was the first day those two had met since she had just returned from a trip to new york. On the way to her car, she asked me if I could please turn off my cell phone if i had one. I told her I already had it on silent, and thankfully she didn't press the issue. I thought this was rather unprofessional of her. I was somewhat offended since I had no idea where we would be traveling to, how well she could drive, and the fact that she even asked me to turn off me phone when it should be expected that I would have it on silent since I am interested in a job with this company!
In the car ride, she missed her turn or something and I was disoriented as to where we were actually located. She was also spilling the beans on the history of this company at this time. I hope this was no more than coincidence. I apologize for speculating, but after feeling very rushed and uninformed I feel very cautious about everything that occured this day. (More on the history shortly)
She had a map that showed the location we would be traveling to, and she was looking at it while she was driving. This made me nervous. She had made me sit in the front seat and the taller trainee sit in the back seat of her compact ford coupe. I don't understand why, for the sake of safety, if I couldnt be handed the map, could he not assist in navigating? Of things handed me to hold throughout the day, the map was always placed on the dash on the driver's side--folded. I found this odd. I did collect that we had travelled to a business park in coppell / irving, texas. I was told this was new territory for them.
Anyways, the history of the company. I knew right then and there this was some pyramid scheme or something of the sort. She told me that the company was like twenty six years old and was started by a Black J** guy who decided to make a profit off of pots and pans he had bought at Wal-Mart. This Black J** guy was not in the United States at the time, but she didn't reveal where he had originated. I'm guessing he comes from Wally World--pun intended--since Wal-Mart has only really begun globalizing its stores very recently. In any case, he purchased the pots and pans from Wal-Mart and went door-to-door selling them at a markup of five dollars. This number seemed arbitrary when she said it--as did many things.
Black J** guy ran this scheme out of his garage until he made his way to Canada. From there, he pervaded the USA with his entourage of solicitors. Now, why in the world would "Black J** guy" be used in any professional setting? Because it immediately gets your mind thinking about a Black J** since it seems like an odd thing. That's only my opinion, though, so make of the story what you will.
We arrived at a business park, and we all got out of the car. I then noticed these books of coupons piled in the back seat of the car. She had said her job today was to promote D.A.R.E. Yes, the anti-drug campaign. She and her trainee had a professional looking (key work looking) name badge each. D.A.R.E. was written much larger than the actual name of the company, Exclusive Advertising.
I found this odd because 1) D.A.R.E. is not that popular of a coalition any more; 2) I couldn't see how DARE would allow solicitors to display it's name on someone's name badge who really has no affiliation with the message or cause of DARE; 3) The badge was nothing more than a computer generated image that had DARE and the acronym spelled out, a picture of the individual, and the actual name of the company located at the bottom of the 2 x 3 inch piece of perforated paper slipped into a clear plastic badge case.
The badge must have been freshly generated as both of their badges were perfect. Paper bends very easily inside of plastic badges worn on ones shirt--especially when it slightly hangs out of the top! This led me to believe they must generate a badge for whatever campaign they are repesenting that day. This does not seem professional whatsoever--especially not for the number one marketing company in the world!
Supposedly they are located in 97 countries. That must mean the company has at least 97 different names.
Anyways, we were threatened with security at this first stop whenever she and the trainee approached some smokers outside the building with their soliciting tactics. I had no clue what was going on! All of a sudden I was with solicitors?! Even being considered by others as being a solicitor?! All for NO pay?! I thought this was outrageous. I felt kidnapped, deceived, and helpless.
I was NEVER told exactly what I was going to be involved with. Of course, no one forced me to go to this "interview" and "shadowing" of an "account executive," but some courtesy would have been nice. Like, youre going to be with these solicitors today to observe how soliciting works. Not to mention, I was dressed well and had on dress shoes. I had to walk at least a two miles on rugged terrain out in the middle of nowhere. I was seriously waiting for the black van to roll up and people gang up and throw me inside.
Actually, all I did was follow around the "account rep" all day. Her trainee chose to go off on his own (Im guessing because he actually wanted to make some money since there is no pay except for the commission you generate for yourself!). She asked me questions like what do I think she actually does, how would I describe her job.. all obviously preplanned and practiced. In fact, thats what those people must have been doing in that room while we were waiting forever not knowing what was going on that morning.. all while these reps were practicing how they were going to try to sell this pyramid scheme to us.
She sold one (1) coupon book that morning. We probably visited around 30 businesses. The only person who bought the book did so because his kids had gone through the DARE program.
I continued to ask more and more questions as I became more and more impatient. The entire time i was trying to figure out which way to best escape! This is because I had to wait until lunch in order to learn anyhting substantive about the business. Luckily, the lunch was bought for me :) But, her common response to many of my questions was "Let me go over that with you at lunch and it will all be much clearer then."
Nothing was clear. At lunch I went in the bathroom and checked my voicemail. I had snuck my phone from my jacket into my pocket. Yes, this is how fearful she and her bosses had made me about making a good impression. Especially since she had rquested i switch it off before i get into the car with a seeming stranger. i had gotten a call for the job i really wanted from a REAL COMPANY that PAYS REAL WAGES.
I knew i had to call that job back to secure my position. So, i sat through lunch, where she proceded to explain things i wanted to know, like: how are people in this business compensated?! Turns out, she gets a cut off the coupon books she's selling for $20. The director, Jay, gets a fat cut himself out of each twenty collected. Thus it was revealed, it's a pyramid. She even gets more prestige by bringing people into the company--namely, me! Something tells me she was probably making money off of her trainee, as well.
So, basically you have a compnay where people are money hungry and so they are going to try whatever they can to bring people on to do the most humiliating work in the world: door-to-door sales. If you can stand that long enough, maybe you will get moved up. Supposedly, she has reacher tier two of four in only five and a half weeks.
a year is how long it takes tomake it to the top, a director. at that point, you get to create your own branch and, im guessing, name it whatever you want to. then youve got to convince innocent people that they should quit their jobs to come sell coupon books for you.
sure, training is provided. but, i observed the trainee claiming to people that he was "with DARE" and that the government is not funding the program anymore and that it is his job to help raise money to keep dare in schools. excuse me, but schools are public and so is the police department who runs dare. i doubt they would outsource to this company to collect money on their behalf.
IN FACT, only 50 CENTS of the procedes goes to DARE. Seven of the twenty dollars goes to the supplier of the coupon book, and the rest is split of between the solicitor and the director.
they may claim that they are supporting the economy with these books, but really, they are lining their own pockets while appearing as if they are truly supporting a worthy cause. and actually, the guy at the top of the pyramid is sucking up all the money while all he does is interview people to do the dirty work. then the brainwashing begins.
MY FINAL POINT
I got out of the scenario I had become trapped in. I employed the great acting skills I had employed all morning while i tried to seem interested while all i was doing was thinking of a way to escape!
i told the rep after we had eaten and i had sat through her spill about the company that i needed to check my voicemail. she was alarmed and said, "i thought you said you werent expecting any calls." i said, "no, i never said that." i hadnt, and i read the uneasiness in her body language. but, how could she object?
i pretended to receive a voicemail about an ill family member. i turned on the sprinklers and they bought it like no one would buy their stupid coupon books. she promptly returned me to the office building.
this is how scared they made me. this is how deceitful and disgusting their business practices are. i regret that such businesses exist. and that they abuse the honorable names of such worthy causes as DARE. the trainee actually said he couldnt wait to unload all of his crap.
they care nothing about DARE or probably any cause and are only out their to broaden the bottom of the pyramid. this pushes the top of thepyramid higher in the air.
they use lies to sell innocent people on this scheme. the rep even told me that Jay himself had left a Phd program he was about to finish to pursue this company! Jay has these people brainwashed. No one would make it that far and give up to pursue door-to-door sales and work their way up the ladder. i imagine he is the pawn of brian endsly, who was mysteriously at the office, on the web site, but never really mentioned to me at all!