ED Magedson – Founder
Marc Soto, Phoenix Management GroupNationwide USA
Marc Soto, Phoenix Management Group Mike Terrinoni, Michael Meryash, Smart Circle SCAM, LIES, BRAINWASHING Nationwide
Working for this company for the better part of 2 years, I feel I have a lot of insight into its inner-workings. I was an assistant manager, recruiting young, naive, job-desperate individuals to the "elite Smart Circle group", thinking that I was providing them with the opportunity of a life time, only to find that I had not only misled them into a total scam, but that I myself had fallen victim to it.
Upon first interview... they will tell you that they are a promotional marketing firm with big deal clients such as Directv, Vizio, and Home Depot to "name a few"... this is to talk up the image of the firm. They then explain that "out here", (whatever city it is you're interviewing in this is a nationwide scam), its "mostly Directv." Then they explain that they do it in the "big box dealers like Sams Club, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy - just to name a few!".
Then they tell you how much money they made Directv last year which is usually something insane, like $60 million dollars, and that Directv is so excited about it, that they want these firms set up in every city and state across the country. Furthermore, they're looking to open up about 4 to 5 new offices in the next six months, and people to head up those offices.
Then they ask - "Does that sound like something you'd be excited about?" of course everyone says "yes!"
Next you'll be asked, how you heard about the company, so that they know which website is drawing the most traffic. They will ask you what you're looking for in a company. This is a catch. In the business this is referred to as a "hot spot", which is used on both customers and recruits. A "hot spot", is a topic that is sensitive and personal to that particular person, and once its identified we address it non stop for that person whenever relating to them. For example, in the field when set up inside a major retailer, if a customer has an interest in HD service and not DVR service, then we will talk non-stop about HD. When in the office, if a recruit is interested in growth opportunity, or management, then that is what will be addressed, but its different for each person, and none of the promises can be delivered. It's just to know what each persons soft spots are. We call it the five F's. Family, fortune, fame, freedom, or faith. Everyone falls into at least one category and you have to know which your customer or recruit falls into so you can guide them into thinking that our company is the only means of reaching it.
They ask you what your strengths are, but we don't write those down. We do ask you for one weakness, and that will be written down. They'll ask you if you're seeking full time or part time, however whether you're working full-time or not its irrelevent, because they do not pay you for hourly, its commission based only. They tell you that there is a base-pay, but in reality that base-pay is an advance, that is taken out of future commissions. Now they have implemented a new system where they claim that you are paid both, but the truth is, that most offices require you to work enough hours to cover a $400 base mininum, which is about 40 hours. It's only after you've surpassed that $400 minimum that your commissions come into play, and if your commissions do not exceed the hourly, guess what, you owe money.
The kiosk is set up inside the major retailers in the front of the store towards the registers, or in the electronics department, and we have a complex and advanced psychological system set up for engaging each and every individual that walks past. We train our recruits how to attract people of all ages using catch phrases like "quick question!" and "have you seen the big event?", in order to coax them into either buying our product, or recruiting onto a team and working for us. The product, Directv, is a legit service, with millions of satisfied customers. The marketing firms delivering it face-to-face in the retailers, are not Directv, they're essentially mercenaries for hire, who will say and do anything to sell the product, and find desperate recruits.
Road trips are a huge part of this business, you will travel, and you will travel alot, whether you like to or not. They tell you its not mandatory, but if you refuse to travel, you will quickly be let go for "low production." When you travel you will be sent to an outside market in another city, more often then not in another state. My first road trip I was given 24 hour notice and we were not provided with the address that we were going to. We only knew the city, which was 8 hours away, and the name of the hotel. They literally sent us out there and said "figure it out." Three words which later I would find are the main theme behind this business.
Gas is not compensated. I have never seen it happen, for any rep, and there have been many to complain to me about it. Being a manager and a leader, upset reps would come to me and I would have to send them to my owner. Owners tell you that road trips will be compensated for gas, but I have never seen it happen. I myself have been on over a dozen road trips to outside offices and markets, and not once have I ever seen anyone, ever, be compensated for gas, receipts or not. They will tell you later, after you've returned, that you have to spend money to make money.
The same goes for bonuses. They throw bonuses at least once a week, sometimes more. Bonuses range from cash bonuses, to pizza parties, to movie tickets. Again, I have never, ever, ever, seen any rep receive any bonus that was promised to them. They receive nothing in writing, these are verbal promises that are intended to create competition within the office, and a "winning-attitude", however there are no fruits to that labor unfortunately. Many a time, I have watched my recruits tell their families, wives, children about a big exciting bonus that won that day at work, only to be crushed later by the reality that it was never going to happen.
This is all still the entry level aspects. As you climb the next level up to management the problems only increase and the brainwashing intensifies. You as a leader, are forced to learn word for word interviews, impacts (speeches), and countless other build-break-build coaching methods, that literally brainwash your victim (recruit or customer) into thinking that this is actually something that is for their benefit. It's not. The management track's main focus is team building, so similar to sales in the field, managers will say anything to retain people on there team, because the more people they have, the closer they become to owner where they will then make income off all the sales their reps make, receive a "six-figure salary raise", and "never have to work the field again." Lies. Again, brainwashing.
Managers will promise you that within 3 months, you will be running your own office in a city of your choice. They'll have a map on the wall and say "pick a city" as if that's actually possible to open you up there with a phone call or two. Owners promise their reps that upon opening up their new markets, ten grand will be insured in the bank as start-up money for that new business. The cold reality is that more often than not, when a recruit makes it to management and is finally set out to a new city to run that market, there is no ten grand in the bank to back them up. More often then not, there is NO money in the bank, because owners live high-end lifestyles off the bonuses they don't pay you, and the gas they don't compensate you for, and because its a pyramid from the ground up, there is nothing you can do about it except attempt to climb the ladder for yourself.
I have seen several poor saps, including myself, pack up all their belongings, relocate to remote and desolate locations, believing that all that hard work and sacrifice would finally pay off only to be abandoned and cut off from the rest of the firm. They'll tell you to "figure it out", even though they promised you from the beginning that you would always have back up.
Furthermore, this business is rife with favoritism, under the table favors, politics and unethical practices. Whether you're a working single mother, or college graduate looking for opportunity, or a 20-year sales veteran, they will cater to each and everyone of your desires verbally, then fail miserably on the delivery part.
Also most people only last about 6 weeks in this business, and its a grueling six weeks. I cannot stress enough, what a waste of time it is.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/16/2014 01:41 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/marc-soto-phoenix-management-group/nationwide/marc-soto-phoenix-management-group-mike-terrinoni-michael-meryash-smart-circle-scam-l-1139206. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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