Bait And Switch

I’ve been reading on Craigslist here in Pinellas County that US Direct, another company that hawks magazines here in Pinellas County, is looking for employees.

I worked for US Direct in 2007, and lasted one day.  But I had cause.

What US Direct didn’t tell me was not only did they have the magazine program there, but another program on top of it.  Some kind of “Life Alert” kind of spiel.  So one summer day six years ago, I go in and get hired on a Wednesday, thinking I was going to sell magazines, applying to an ad in the then-St. Petersburg Times for their magazine program.

Turns out that when into training on Monday, I wasn’t going to sell magazines, but this “Life Alert” crap, or whatever it was.  I sat through the first part of their training, and when the first break came, I got the hell out of there.  If they were going to pull this bait and switch routine with employees, it didn’t bode well for what they did to their customers, I supposed.

They had another draconian rule there.  If you took an unscheduled day off, the only way you could not have your hourly pay rate reduced is if you had a doctor’s note.  If you had no note, the only way you made more dough is if you sold enough to make commission.

A bunch of heartless people over there, currently at 4950 Park Boulevard in Pinellas Park.  I may “infiltrate” them soon.  Would make a good story, wouldn’t it?


Legalized Extortion

Another problem with being a telemarketer in Florida is what the state is doing with this whole licensing business.

First off, let me state clearly that there are scumbags running these call centers.  But they are not ALL scumbags.  Not only do they attempt to bleed the people dry on the otther end of the phone, they do likewise to their own employees.

In the middle of the 2000’s decade, the state of Florida decided that if you’re going to be a telemarketer in the state, you’re going to have to shell out 50 bucks or so to be licensed.  When I first ran into this at Suntasia Marketing in 2004 (where I thought the rules were so predatory against employees I left training after about an hour and never came back), I thought it was a joke.  It wasn’t.  I started running into more and more firms that starting kissing the state’s collective ass.

You may think that licensing telemarketers is a good thing.  On the surface, this would be true.  But licensing does not protect the customers from fraud, nor the employees from being fleeced by their own bosses.  Nor does it improve working conditions at these boiler rooms or other such offices.

To get a license to be a telemarketer in Florida, you have to tell them everywhere you’ve worked, plus every telemarketing firm, office, or boiler room you’ve worked in the past three years.  So this appears to be nothing more than information gathering.  Every telemarketer has probably been a few other places, because of the high turnover rate the business seems to have.  So the state gets that information and can check who is licensed and who is not.

In the spring of 2012, the state busted some firms in central Pinellas County, such as United Marketing Solutions, where I was once employed in 2004 when they were United Marketing.  If you’re licensed, you’re good.  If you’re not, you’re deemed illegal.

My mission on Monday: to apply at a place where a telemarketing license is advertised as not being required.  Seems to be a good place to begin.