During April of 2008, I attended training for a job as a fire safety consultant with American Home Fire Safety (AHFS). I had to pay $397.50 for this training, which was to take 15 hours spread over two days. I told that it was imperative that I be on time both days, and yet both days I was kept waiting for close to an hour before training began. Mitch Landau, the trainer and owner of the company, spent the entire afternoon of the first day sharing his personal beliefs about success and other topics. He also discussed his family problems at some length.
He also told us that one of the main rules of the company was that we had to laugh at his jokes, none of which were funny to me. I am not exaggerating when I say that he spent about 45 minutes telling us about how nice he is to people who work in supermarkets. For some reason, he would ask us individually personal questions such as where we shopped and whether or not we went to church. He also told spoke to us at length about his honest and integrity. At this point, I should have become suspicious, because it is my experience that honesty and integrity are more evident in actions than in words.
When I first applied for the job, I was told that we would not have to make "cold calls" to set up our appointments, and that the company would contact individuals who wanted a home fire safety consultation in advance for us. At the training, however, we were told that the company would not by any means provide leads for us. All leads would be obtained through their "referral program." which Mr. Landau refused to explain to me. At this point, I began to become upset, because I had worked briefly as a sales representative for a company that operated in a similar manner. I soon found out that AHFS and the company I had worked for had the same parent company. Once again, Mr. Landau refused to answer my questions.
At this point, having paid a deposit of $90 for the training, we were asked to pay the balance of $307.50 for a total of $397.50. We were also told that we would not get paid at all until we had done our first 40 demonstrations in people's homes, after which we would get paid about $18 for each demonstration. We were also told that if we wanted to make money sooner, we would have to pay an additional fee for materials such as fire extinguishers. At this point, it seemed to be that at every turn they kept asking me for more money. I decided to pay the balance for the training but not a cent more until I did some demonstrations and had a sense of what the job would be like. By the end of this part of the training I was baffled because I had learned nothing at all about fire safety.
For the evening session one of Mr. Landau's employees took over. He did teach us something about fire safety, but his main concern seemed to be to cover the material as quickly as possible regardless of whether or not we fully understood him. At one point, we took a five minute break, during which I attempted to use the restroom. One of the other employees followed me in, insisted that the break was over, and told me that it was time to return to the training room, though I was certain that five minutes had not passed.
I went home from the first day of training very confused and upset. On the second day of training, we were once again kept waiting for a very long time. Almost all of the participants in the training--there were about ten of us--were sharing their feelings of apprehension and confusion. I encouraged everyone to ask questions and make sure that their concerns were addressed. As we were talking, employees of the company were listening to us. One man came in and told us that we were being negative, which violated one of the company's rules. Then Mr. Landau came in and called one of the other participants to his office, again keeping us waiting for another ten or fifteen minutes. When he returned, I asked him some questions about my concerns. Rather than addressing them in a respectful way, he dismissed my concerns and tried to make them seem ridiculous.
Then he suddenly told me to pack up all of my things and come to his office. Once there, he became defensive and angry and accused me of questioning his integrity. He interrupted me anytime I spoke, put words in my mouth, and showed no interest at all in listening to me to hear my side of the story. He then told me that he would refund my training fee. He dictated a letter to me and asked that I mail it to him the next day. Because my initial deposit was paid by check and the balance of my training fee was paid using a debit card, I was also asked to also send verification from my bank that both of these charges were made on the same account. Mr. Landau assured me that I would receive a full refund within ninety days.
The next day, I took great pains to follow his instructions to the letter. At this point, over seven months have passed since this meeting, and I have yet to receive a refund from AHFS. It now appears that Mr. Landau told me he would give me a refund just to get rid of me. Although it may be true that you have to spend money to make money, I advise other consumers to avoid spending it for job training at American Home Fire Safety.