This is a copy of the letter I sent to
I worked my last day as a talent scout for Wilhelmina Scouting Network today. I just finished my second week with the company, and today was about as bad a day as it comes. I had heard something about a Dateline report when I first started, but it was pretty easy to dismiss it as the kind of standard news that often surrounds large successful companies. I figured that a couple of talent scouts had abused their positions (or something to that effect) and didn't investigate any further. It wasn't until today that I decided to open my eyes. I'll share with you my adventures today.
I live in upstate New York, and every year they have a very popular Renaissance Faire in Sterling, complete with armored jousts, acrobats, and axe-throwing. I went with several of my close friends (as it is something of an annual tradition), and I had told my scout manager that I would be going. He told me it would be a great place to scout (and he's right because it's always teeming with people). Furthermore, he said he used to work there, was friends with the manager, that he had talked to said manager, and that it was perfectly acceptable to scout there. What could possibly go wrong?
Note: I'm not a professional writer by any means, so forgive the changes in tenses and all the other grammatical mistakes I'll no doubt make in the following account.
When I arrive at the Faire, I stop by their office to let them know I'm there, thinking that everything is okay. The girl behind the counter doesn't seem to know any better, either, and the "story" I weave is believable because I didn't know it wasn't true at the time, so she doesn't bother calling in and verifying my status. I go about my normal business, scouting a few employees and tourists.
While I'm conversing with a younger lady, another woman starts yelling at me. She says that I'm a predator of young people and a scam artist. She's very vehement, and when I try to protest my innocence, she is only more incensed and tells me to get away from her. The "Dateline" report that I had heard mentioned in passing before is brought up again, and I resolve to investigate it that evening (tonight), because she is very passionate, almost hateful.
Slightly later that afternoon, I approach a very beautiful girl, one of the Renaissance Faire employees. I'm immediately stopped by the head of security, who asks me if I'm soliciting on Faire grounds, which is against regulations. He's very civil, if a bit assertive, and I politely reply that I'm there representing WSN, that the manager knows about it because my scout manager talked to him and that I stopped by at the office.
He promptly calls in on his walkie-talkie and contacts the manager who doesn't seem to recognize my scout manager's name. I spell it out in case that might help. It doesn't. He mentions that he caught someone with a WSN card about a week ago, and that they had tried to contact the Buffalo office, telling them not to send any scouts to the Faire. Naturally, this is the first I've heard of this. He lets me go with a verbal warning because I seem even before baffled than he is, and I did make a genuine attempt to let them know I was here from the very beginning.
I tried to enjoy the rest of the Faire with my friends, but I was made a fool of by my own company. I shrug it off when they ask what happened, and again I resolve to further investigate matters when I return home. I ignore the company site and do what I should have from the very beginning (although there probably wouldn't have been as much material when I first started working there). Google searches on "Wilhelmina+Dateline" and "Wilhelmina+scam" turn out to be very enlightening. I felt like throwing up.
They had offered me a position as a scout manager, which would basically entail hiring and training a whole new line of dupes to act as scouts. When I told my Dad about my new job and its pay structure, he mentioned that the company would basically get a free month of slave labor before they actually started paying an actual salary. He told me that the numbers didn't seem to add up, and that I should investigate the paper trail, so to speak. He had his suspicions about the company from the very beginning, but I was too eager to please my bosses at my new job, too gullible to believe that such nice people (many of them also victims) would be a party to anything of that nature.
I've worked more than forty hours each week for the past two weeks, and my first paycheck will be in the range of $100-$150. I would have been better off working for McDonald's. And I wouldn't feel completely disgusted with myself right now, either. Fortunately, I stumbled upon your website before accepting their offer of becoming another scout manager, because then I would become horribly guilty of further perpetuating WSN's myriad crimes.
I plan on sending copies of this letter to the US Department of Justice and Rip-Off Report in hopes that others won't fall into the same trap. Incidentally, I first saw this job posting through Monster.com. I wasn't feeling this cynical when I woke up this morning.
Rochester, New York
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