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Report: #104760

Complaint Review: Vector Marketing Aka Cutco - Olean New York

  • Submitted: Sat, August 21, 2004
  • Updated: Wed, July 02, 2008
  • Reported By: Salem Oregon
  • Vector Marketing Aka Cutco
    1116 E. State St.
    Olean, New York
    U.S.A.
  • Phone: 716-373-6141
  • Web:
  • Category: Employers

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Working for Vector Marketing is costly and frustrating, they say


Jan Margosian, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Attorney General's Office, said that the state will act if complaints against Vector Marketing are substantiated.

POLYANA DA COSTA
Statesman Journal
August 21, 2004

The help-wanted advertisements are widespread, posted on college campuses throughout the nation.

The ads, for Vector Marketing and Cutco cutlery products, offer great pay and flexible hours with no experience necessary for college-age youths.

It sounds like a great job, Marcus Emry of Multnomah County said minutes after he accepted an offer from Vector to sell Cutco knives.

For some young people, the sales jobs are an opportunity to make money and to succeed. Some report making good money and developing leadership and communication skills.

But for others, working for Vector has become a frustrating and costly experience.

Vector, which has more than 300 offices in the United States and Canada, including Salem, Eugene, Portland and Medford, has outraged students nationwide with its recruiting and employment-related practices:

The Complaint Station, a Web site where consumers can post messages with concerns regarding a product or company, has logged more than 2,000 complaints against Vector Marketing and Cutco.

An online group called Students Against Vector Exploitation, or SAVE, has an online petition against the companies with almost 3,000 signatures since it began last year.

Vector has settled several wage claims that were filed at the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries last year, although it did not acknowledge any law violation.

A Marion County court ordered Vector to stop deceptive recruiting practices as a result of a 1994 investigation.

Most of the complaints refer to recruiting ads, long hours of unpaid training, work pressures and ethical concerns within the firm.

Sarah Andrus, a spokeswoman for Vector, said that it is hard to verify the truth of complaints not tested in court and that many of these are historical records.

Andrus said Vector operates under high ethical standards and that its representatives, which are considered independent contractors, are told all about the job and the work conditions during the interview process.

But some Oregon students who have worked for the company disagree.

They make the job sound really good, said Justin Stover from Eugene, who worked for Vector for about two months last year.

But the truth is that it is hard pressure, time consuming and you don't get nearly what they say you'll make when you first start the job, he said.

It was a tough learning experience for Stover.

That often is the case for young people looking for their first jobs, said Jane Guajardo, a job specialist at Chemeketa Community College.

Some of the students that come in here to look for a job don't have any work experience besides, maybe, some volunteer work, she said.

So any of these ads highlighting flexible hours and good pay become more appealing to those who are young, naive and inexperienced because they are not used to do the research and ask questions that adults would, she said.

The job and its critics

People who accept positions with Vector Marketing attend three half-days of unpaid training, during which they are taught how to make sales presentations.

They are instructed to make a list of friends and relatives who are 25 or older and have full-time jobs so that they can set up their initial appointments and start a reference list.

Time spent to make telephone calls and travel expenses are not reimbursed, according to Vector.

Former representatives also said they were required to buy sets of cutlery products for $145 to use in their sales presentations.

After going through this process, Stover said he learned that selling sets of knives costing from $200 to $2,000 wasn't as easy as he thought it would be.

He worked about five to six hours per day, and his weekly paycheck was about $100, he said.

Stover said the money wasn't worth the pressure he felt.

I had to call them every day at 8 o'clock in the morning to tell them how many appointments I had scheduled for that day, he said. If I said, None,' my manager would say, All right, get two appointments and call me back.'

Stover also said he attended mandatory meetings and training, although he was classified as an independent contractor.

When he decided to quit, Stover said he was told to wait for his final paycheck to be sent in the mail.

My paycheck never came, Stover said. I even called their headquarters in New York, and they said it would be taken care of, but it wasn't.

After filing a wage claim at the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Stover said he received the check about two weeks later.

The Oregon Attorney General's Office has handled several other complaints and wage claims against Vector Marketing filed within the past two years.

Vector's response

Sarah Andrus of Vector Marketing said that she was not aware of the wage claims and said that matters brought to the attention of the company are solved immediately.

Andrus also said that independent contractors are not required to do things.

They are asked to call to keep the office informed, and their managers probably let them know when it's the best time to call, Andrus said. But we have people who don't even call at all.

Vector says that the $145 fee for the display knives is charged as a deposit although sales taxes are included in states where such taxes apply in case representatives don't return the knives when they leave the job.

Some Vector offices also are in the process of eliminating the deposit charges, said Jeremy Bell, district manager for Vector Marketing in Salem.

As of last month, his office stopped charging the fees, and Bell said he expects all other Vector offices to do the same by next month.

An insider's view

Emily Puterbaugh of Salem, who worked for Vector in Tacoma, Wash., during two summers as a representative and later as an assistant manager said she has mixed feelings about her experiences with the company.

She said she enjoyed working for Vector and learned skills that she uses in her sales job today. During her first summer as a representative, she said she earned about $10,000 more than what she earned as a manager the next summer.

However, Puterbaugh said she decided to quit when she found herself working more than 90 hours per week in her management position and when she started to see a lot of wrong things at Vector.

Puterbaugh, 21, said that when she answered inquiry calls about the job, she was given a script to read, which provided little information about the job, emphasizing that it didn't involve door-to-door sales or telemarketing.

If people insisted on more details, she said she was instructed to reply that she didn't know any further information and urge callers to schedule an interview.

It is a high-pressure job like any other sales job, but the thing with Vector is that they make it sound more flexible and easy than it actually is.

Puterbaugh, a recent Willamette University graduate, said she maintained a 4.0 grade-point average while working for Vector because of the time-management skills she gained at the company.

Still, Puterbaugh said Vector should change its practices.

It all comes back to the way they present things, she said. If they made it sound as good as it is, people wouldn't get upset, but they make it sound better than it is, so people get upset.

About the law

Vector Marketing and Cutco have been sued several times by the Arizona attorney general in 1990 and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 1999. In 1994, a court in Wisconsin ordered Vector to not deceive recruits.

Andrus said that past lawsuits are historical records, and they don't represent the Vector of today.

Nevertheless, Vector still is operating under a 1994 Marion County court order in which the company agreed to be truthful in representations made to induce persons to sell Vector's products.

That includes telling people exactly what the job is about before they get there, said Jan Margosian, who has been a spokeswoman for the Oregon Attorney General's Office for more than 20 years and is familiar with the complaints against Vector.

Vector officials insist that they are obeying the law despite complaints from former employees.

Margosian said the state stands ready to act if such complaints are substantiated.

If they are breaking that agreement, not only they are violating the law, but they're violating an agreement with the court, Margosian said. So people need to speak up and let us know about it.

Andrus said Vector is changing its recruiting practices to reveal more information about the job.

We are very proud of our progress with those changes, and we feel confident that we've been moving in the right direction, she said.

polyana@sfsu.edu or (503) 399-6739
http://news.statesmanjournal.com/article.cfm?i=85450

Polyana
Salem, Oregon
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/21/2004 11:48 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/vector-marketing-aka-cutco/olean-new-york/vector-marketing-cutco-ripoff-firm-misled-sales-recruits-to-sell-knives-students-say-ole-104760. 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
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0Employee/Owner

#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Misleading Recruiting and Business Practices still going on

AUTHOR: Rav Thomas - (U.S.A.)

I have recently read your article about Vector Marketing and Cutco Knives on the Rip Off Report. I recently quit selling Cutco Knives for Vector. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I would like to confirm your article.

First off, the recruiter over the phone did use a script and misinformed me that it was NOT telemarketing and door to door sales. Since I was inclined to ask questions during this phone interview, I was asked not to ask any questions because she was only allowed to give so much information. Next was the training, unpaid, five hours a day, for three days, in which each of these days I had to travel 30 miles to the closest office.

During the interview, the manager, told us that it was an exclusive job and a "decision" would be made at the end of the interview. Despite this "decision", everyone in that interview was hired. During the first day of training, we received a Training Manual, which confused me beyond belief why there was so many "fill-in-the-blank" spaces in the script we were apparently supposed to read. Later i found out that it was used as a legal loophole, the information was obtained at CutcoComplaints at BlogSpot. I know that information is not usable, but it would make since, since the blank spots were basically intended for supposed information about their product and their prices for themselves, and Henckels.

We were given a price comparison sheet for Henckels which i later found out that their prices on the sheet were highly exaggerated to support themselves. I was also required to drive to Indianapolis twice in one month reguardless whether or not I could afford it. I however did not go, but a manager-given guilt trip followed. I decided to decline to sell Cutco any further.

In your article, you had stated that "A Marion County court ordered Vector to stop deceptive recruiting practices as a result of a 1994 investigation." Despite this, the "New Vector" still does this in my area today. I would also like to state that EVERYTHING mentioned about Vector and Cutco in your article is completely TRUE to this day(excluding what they have been saying to protect themselves), as I have experienced this in the last few weeks June 13th-July 2nd.

Although I had informed my manager of my departure for the practices yesterday, July 1st, she has still attempted to get a hold of me today and has now had other peers from the office try to get a hold of me for her. I have left the job, but I feel a vibe of continuous harassment to try to get me to come back.

I probably have more information to help your cause so if you have any questions reguarding Vector and Cutco, I would be happy to give you the information you need.

I am also, waiting on my last check, we'll see whether or not it actually comes.

Thank you for reading
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Great Experience

AUTHOR: Kevin - (U.S.A.)

I had a great experience working with Vector. As a student I won scholarship money to help me with college. I made around $10,000 my first summer and then went on to make another $12,000 my first semester in college while selling knives. During my time with Vector my organization was responsible for selling over 16,000,000 worth of Cutco Knives and I made over $1,000,000 while working with them. (There were quite a few who did better than me) This opportunity, like all sales opportunities, is what you make of it. No it isn't easy, it is work. It won't be handed to you just because you get your samples and show up for a few meetings. But the truth is anyone, and I mean anyone, can make a lot of money if they apply themselves and work hard for it. It is funny to me that there are people out there who think that they deserve to get paid well for mediocre performance. And even worse is when they don't have the self disicipline or inner motivation to sell a particular product and so their solution is to try to sell another product as if "magically" their "skills" will appear and they will be great at selling another product. If you can't sell Cutco the answer isn't "maybe I should go sell Henkels or cars", the answer is you may want to take a break from all sales jobs until you learn some self disicipline and work ethic. You need a 9 to 5'er for now where you can punch in and have someone who tells you what to do every hour. That is ok. The economy needs those people too.

On another note, when I was interviewed with Vector I was told exactly what the job was going to be. Nothing was hidden by the people interviewing me. Now, were they able to convey every single nuance of day to day working and presenting the cutlery? No. But it is unfair to say that any job interview does that for a new employee or sales person. But what I learned after taking the job was how naive I was to sales and the sales industry, not things that weren't diclosed in the interview that I didn't know I would be doing. I was told eveything, as is eveyone that is interviewed. If you don't like what you see then don't take the job. But it is unfair to take the job, give it a half hearted effort for a few weeks or months, and then criticize as if it was the company's fault you failed.

Vector is a great place to get real world skills. Sales skills are an incredible asset to have. Even if you only use them one time in your life and that is to sell yourself to your future employer to get your dream job they will be worth having. Chances are you will use them far more than that. IF you want a great experience, working with some of the brightest and most ambitious young people around, then I would recommend Vector to you. It is the most positive atmosphere I have ever been involved in. I loved almost every minute of it!
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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Cutco should remove Vector and deal with public directly

AUTHOR: Linda - (U.S.A.)

I got caught up in this in 1997, recently I looked into selling again.(seems I would only consider it when I'm down on my luck and broke) I guess I'm a sucker through and through. I more recently found out that the competition that Vector Marketing used to upsell their product (Henkels) is not over priced as reported by Vector marketing! misrepresentation and clearly lies being told to people interviewing for jobs. I never made any money selling especially not what I was promised to make rather I was encouraged to turn over the profits into more products in order to boost my sales.. never any monetary gain from this ordeal rather family and friends were to buy over priced over rates on shipping. Granted the product is decent but the prices and the tactics really need to be improved and a total overhaul of company policy needs to be revamped in order to compete with the competition today since I find that Henkels is really cheaper than CUTCO!!! huh lies lies lies!
the prices are higher than Henkels... I wonder if I can sell for Henkels instead of Cutco.. I wonder if they lie to sales reps the way Cutco does. What is our world coming to when you try to make an honest living and people prey on those who need to survive.
From my understanding the people who are on the top make the money, because those on the bottom boost there sales up and they get more and more bonuses.. they don't care how many people they burn on the bottom.. they take the best sales rep and promote them to be as dishonest as they are. How can they live with themselves?
I was even told I could not sell online, that Vector/Cutco had a policy banning online sales..Funny but I see a ton of people selling online most trying to recoup money lost and getting out from under them! others underselling the product got me how they do it.. but look on eBay!
I was thinking maybe if I get to the 10,000 sales and get a 30% discount I might make money,, but hey I think I was through this before and figured I would have to have a ton of money to get to that point and then would I really make anything? NOPE WHO AM I KIDDING! I doubt very much unless I stole from the company and got to management and was handed telephone sales from the corporate office like they all do! and learned to lie to people the way they all do. I would be far better off selling cars: at least I know I would get paid doing it and not have to lie!
Selling is about listening to what the customer is looking for and most often the best business is when the people come to you looking for a product not when you have to HUNT them down and shove it in their faces! Proving to them it is worth what you are asking for.. a GREAT product speaks for itself .. so why then does CUTCO require such tactics as to train people to sell the product by lies and deceit? they would be best to get away from Vector and deal with the public directly the product is not the problem it is the manner in which the product is represented to the public and the manner in which the people are approached to sell the product... surely they will survive without VECTOR!
live4me@se.rr.com
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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Misleading

AUTHOR: John - (U.S.A.)

Transparency is a current buzzword within the company and they say they're changing. Well they've said they're changing for about a decade now, and they're still misleading and deceiving people. Try calling up a Vector Marketing office and getting them to tell you it's actually a contract for you you to call people up starting with everybody you know and solicit appointments then go over to their house and sell them knives, you will have to purchase or put a deposit on a set to demonstrate with, or that instead of getting paid by the hour you will get paid either commission or a flat rate for each appointment meeting their requirements; and you'll see exactly how transparent they really are. Because, afterall, who'd even come in for an "interview" sales pitch if they knew the truth upfront?

About making $10,000 in one summer, did you know that in 1994 the Wisconsin Consumer Protection Dept surveyed 940 Vector Marketing recruits in 1992 and found that almost half either earned nothing or lost money and workers in that state earned less than $3 a day on average selling cutlery for Vector.

It isn't even a "position" they are offering as Matt wrote above, it's a contract which is completely different from a position because those with a position in a company are employees legally required to be paid for all their work including training and phone time, are entitled to certain benefits, and rights such as not being forced to purchase samples. Calling a contract to work for yourself a "position" is the kind of fraud Vector's been sued several times by the authorities for. People come into a Vector office looking for a legitimate job interview and end up getting a sales pitch for a business opportunity and Vector wonders why they get called a scam!

The young lady who was overworked in the assistant manager role and told to be vague and misleading to potential applicants, and the disgruntled rep who only lasted 2 months because he was misled about the job and didn't even get his last paycheck until filing a complaint with the Dept of Labor are just the tip of the iceburg. You can find too many complaints to even count by looking up The Complaint Station and Students Against Vector Exploitation, which this ripoff report refers to.

The bottom line is that reputable companies don't have all the complaints Vector Marketing has, they don't even have to mention the word "transparency" becase it's just common sense to them, and they don't repeatedly get sued for and admit to fraud. There are clearly better places to work out there.
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#5 UPDATE Employee

A different perspective on Vector Marketing / CUTCO

AUTHOR: Matt - (U.S.A.)

To whom it may concern,

After reading the article titled "Vector Marketing - Cutco ripoff Firm misled sales recruits to sell knives students say Olean New York" I could understand some of the feelings of those who complain about their experience with Vector. But in all fairness, I felt it necessary to offer another perspective. I feel quite qualified as I've been with the company longer than most (6 years) and have found success as well as challange along the way.

For the record, Vector is currently hard at work to be completely transparent both to the reps they hire and to our valued customers (of which I have over 1000). I know from experience that it is very challanging to manage oneself on a consistant basis.

The company does not mislead new reps when they say they can make $10,000 their first summer, some reps do, but most do not. I've seen alot of reps come and go, but that is the nature of the beast with this job in sales. And it takes more than a month or two at the job, even if you are good, to see the fruit of your labors. I think that reps should consider themselves to still be in training untell they have sold at least 25k worth of product.

I don't believe Vector misleads anyone who comes in for an interview. They fully disclose the position but I do agree that they should emphasize a little more the degree of challange the new reps face. Maybe throw out some hard stats like only 1 out of 10 reps make it longer than 3 months in the job (I made this one up as an example).

It is always easier to be a complainer than an overcomer however and those complaints mentioned in the article are from those that would rather find fault than overcome adversity. I can understand the young lady who was overworked in the assistant manager role, but the discruntled rep who only lasted 2 months? He failed at it because he did not follow the clear instruction of his manager. And the meetings they are encouraged to attend are so they can become excellent and make the money they wish to make their first summer. If one actually does what they are trained to do, they will make 10k their 1st summer and provide a product to folks that they can be proud of for a lifetime.

I support a wife and three children on nothing but selling Cutco through Vector and although I know a hundred ways the company could improve, I think I could list 1000 reasons to be thankful for the position they afford me. The product is the absolute finest, the management I've been in contact with are both kind and professional, and the training they provide is both instructional and enlightening. Call Vector Marketing challanging, but it is surely not a rip-off to anyone. The reps who stick with it, find it one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
I will probably go onto another sales position in a year or so, but I would be nowhere close to where I am without Vector and Cutco Cutlery. And by the way, if you've never used a Cutco knife, your missing out, they are really the finest (see www.cutco.com)

Thanks for your time. Hopefully this will balance the scales a little.

Truly, Matt Hansen
Senior Field Sales Representative
(Currently at $400,000+ in career sales)
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