I answered an ad in Craigslist for a fireworks store manager position with USA Fireworks and was hired. Was promised to make 8% commission on fireworks sales for 45 days. They told me I was going to be in a high volume store that makes around $55,000 in sales. Sounds good, $4400 for 45 days of work.
They had me sign an Independent Contractor agreement, and gave me the keys to my location. This is when I started to have my doubts because during orientation they stated that I had to hire my own employees and pay them out of my commission with mandatory staffing requirements. This was odd to me considering as an "Independant Contractor" not an "Employee" I should have some control over how I run the store. So I did what most people do, I hired family to help me.
After about two weeks I realised I was in trouble, my store had more days with $0 sales than days with minimal sales and I was stuck in this store for 9-15 hours a day without any relief because my sales were not enough to pay for any relief. Even though I still had to pay a mandatory street dancer out of my pocket or be replaced. Then came the fireworks bans. Panic set in and I realised that there was no way I would be able to even make enough money to cover the $600 in draws against my commission, let alone the out of pocket money for a street dancer and all the promises to family members and I already had over $900 that I had to pay out for street dancer, gas, babysitter etc. After 30 days of almost no sales I had spent over 300 hours in this store and over $900 invested I started to try to get answers about what USA Fireworks intended to do about this problem that was not only affecting me, but other stores as well. Not only was I told that even with zero sales I had to keep working 11-15 hours plus an hour and a half of driving a day because I was under contract I was told I had to have a crew of 2 cashiers, 2 floor people, baggers and a street dancer all paid for by me. I e-mailed the company and the only one who would answer my e-mails was the accountant who said that any compensation would be up to the owners who weren't talking to me. My regional manager was no help, he tried to make me extend my already long hours and told me it was the nature of the business.
On July 3rd I realised that my family was in the hole and that every day was costing us more money and the other managers I was in contact with were telling me that the company was not going to compensate us because sales were bad and I was facing having my family work for free as well. USA Fireworks refusal to communicate with me forced me to do what I did next.
After 400 hours of working for $1.39 an hour before personal expenses and mandatory labor requirements and being told that I would not see another penny from USA Fireworks, and facing another 100 hours of free labor I decided to close the store.
I made the last deposit on July 3rd with only $55 in sales packed up my drawer money and personal items and left. The drawer money is being held until USA Fireworks finds the time to contact me which to this point they still have not. (they will probably try to have me arrested "imagine that"). I did a final inventory so that they could not say that I stole any fireworks, because I did not.
I don't understand how a company can have you sign a contract that states that you are an Independant Contractor and then treat you like an employee without even paying minimum wage. They thought by ignoring me that I would just keep running their store so they can make money when I am not. USA is a heartless company that never intended on doing the right thing for the people who slaved in their stores for no or very little pay. The amount of control they have on you while holding their stupid contract over your head should be illegal, everyone at least deserves a fair wage for an honest days work especially working over 500 hours for 46 days straight.
Now I am stuck picking up the pieces of my life caused by spending money I didn't have, to earn money that does'nt exist and explain to my family why the promises I made for them will never be fulfilled. Thanks for Nothing USA Fireworks. I am no longer a customer or employee, and definitely not a fan.