While the whole National Magazine Exchange fiasco was going on in my life, something pretty odd has been happening on Craigslist, or at least here in the Tampa Bay area.
The number of sales jobs advertised has been reduced by at least 50%, if not more. Did all the boiler rooms get a little gun shy over the 2012 Presidential elections? Is the economy and the so called “fiscal cliff” the country now faces the culprit in the job freeze I’m perceiving?
For instance, here in Pinellas County there was an abundance of telemarketing jobs in the electric industry. If the economy gets worse before it gets better as many currently speculate, look for the electric jobs to rapidly disappear if oil and gas prices climb.
There’s a travel office in Pinellas County that claims their business is recession proof. That cannot not true. If people don’t have any money, they aren’t going to go on vacation, are they?
So maybe things get worse before they get better. But it doesn’t deter my efforts.
It hasn’t escaped my attention that I may be beating a dead horse here, but after doing a little Internet browsing this morning, I’m discovering yet another reason why not continuing on with National Magazine Exchange was a fortuitous move on my part.
It gets back to the whole licensing issue yet again. According to a page I’m reading on Ehow this morning, it is illegal for a company to state a preference as to how to pay for a good or service.
That’s exactly what NME does, or so I’m led to believe by what I saw and heard Monday. They do not give employees any other option but to ask for payment of magazines by a credit card. If NME offered other options, they did not reveal that to me as an employee on Monday. And since the business they do originates from Florida, that’s a violation of state law. It’d be a violation of state law even if they were in another state and called Florida residents.
Also, all sales scripts have to be submitted to the state of Florida for their review and approval. I had no idea prior to this morning that this was a requirement, nor do I know if NME does this. Since they’re violating state regulations in one area, I would doubt they would comply in another area.
I don’t wish any of the long time employees at NME any ill will. But they should know that if the Florida Department of Argiculture and Consumer Services can crack down once, as they did in March of this year, they very well will crack down again.
If you’re an employee there (or anywhere else) and you’re reading this blog, get out while you can. YOU can be charged or fined for continuing to work under these conditions. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So I sat in one of these cubicles in a classroom series at high noon yesterday. They give you this manila folder and sign a whole bunch of papers that you never see again, nor do they give you the time to read the information in depth. The words are never spoken to us, but you get the impression you’re there to sign, sign, sign, and shut up about what you sign.
They go over this script you use that has so many ifs, ands, whens, and buts in it that it looks like a Chinese puzzle written in English. They want to establish rapport with the caller, to be their temporary buddy.
If the sucker…I mean caller… doesn’t get any cute ideas about just hanging up in the ten minutes or so you have with them, the employee is required to use four rebuttals in a certain order to try an encourage a sale. Once they agree, you hand the call over to a verifier, who might spend another 30-40 minutes talking the caller’s head off.
Now here was another “deal killer” for me: As a employee at National Magazine Exchange, should I fail to do my job properly after a two week grace period, I’m subject to having my pay docked per infraction from $2 to $12 depending on the severity of my transgression, which could be anything from inappropriate conversation to badgering and profanity. While NME may have a Code of Ethics (which, oddly enough, doesn’t include getting a telemarketing license or being licensed), a fine system seems like it could be easily abused without some kind of appeals process for the employee. If such a process exists, it wasn’t mentioned in the first day of training, which leads me to believe it does not exist.
If you’re there to make money, how focused can you be if you have to worry about losing money? Time to regroup and re-evaluate the game plan for me.
I know this is becoming a bit of a bad habit, but completed one day of training of National Magazine Exchange and have already decided not to return. History repeats itself, as this is exactly what happened in 1997, by my choice.
Why couldn’t I commit? While I hate the idea of telemarketing licenses here in Florida, any place who doesn’t offer those is a sitting duck. Think Direct Marketing is one of those places. I could do well there, no doubt in my mind about that, but everything doesn’t matter if the state of Florida decides to bust this place. Not being a licensed established only assures that has a chance of happening. If I get caught selling with no license, as was proven with the Universal Marketing Solutions bust back in March, I would be at risk of being fined or criminally charged.
There are numerous other reasons that I decided this would be a no go that I’ll go into this week in depth. I’ll give you one now though. I was told coming into today that after the first day that I would be coming in to work at 1pm. During the first day of training today, I was told that wasn’t true: that I’d have to come in at 12:45 at the latest.
So why couldn’t they have told me that from the onset? I could get to their offices at Bryan Dairy Road in Largo at 1pm. But the way the buses run in Central Pinellas, 12:45 would be another matter entirely. Seems as if I accepted this moving of the goal posts, it sets the precedent to where I’d have to accept other attempts to tamper with my hours. Unacceptable.
I knew I shouldn’t have answered that call a week ago Monday…
So tomorrow is the day. I get thoroughly trained at the National Magazine Exchange tomorrow, then I may go one the phones Tuesday, no later than Wednesday. They actually let you get information and study it before they put you on! A remarkable concept.
NME is one of the few telemarketing outfits that seems to take training of its employees seriously. Most places you’re lucky if you get an hour to figure things out, which is baffling to me.
Compare it to other lines of work. I’m about 6 feet one and around 275 pounds on a good day. Say I went to International Mall in Tampa one day, not too far from Raymond James Stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play. Say the Bucs needed an offensive lineman, and their line coach was roaming the mall looking for big men. And say THEY gave me a mere hour of training before I suited up against another NFL team.
What would likely happen? The defensive line on the opposing team would in all likelihood find all sorts of ways to evade my blocking, because I only had one hour to learn how to block. The players an the opposing defensive line have been trained since childhood on how to evade and get around offensive linemen, so because they have experience and I don’t, they would be more likely to carry the day.
This won’t be a problem for me tomorrow. The Pinellas County transit system proves to be a bigger obstacle in the days ahead.
So I’m two days away from my start at National Magazine Exchange, aka Think Direct Marketing Group.
I have no idea whether or not this job will last a day or a decade. Many factors come into play that I can’t control. I’m beginning this job using public transit to get around, with getting my own transportation as my first goal. Other priorities may come into play, however.
Know this: if I lose my job over this blog, so be it. If I am caught or asked about it, I intend to surrender immediately and speak freely when asked. I am taking precautions not to reveal my identity, but anyone who wants to figure it out probably can.
While it may be true that I am “biting the hand the feeds me” in a sense, it may be also true that the hand that feeds me may be biting me by operating illegally or unethically. I ask you all to consider that.
So let me go over what I’m doing come Monday in greater detail.
I will start out as a Subscription Sales Associate at National Magazine Exchange, which is now part of Think Direct Marketing Group.
My first two weeks, I work five consecutive days, Monday thru Friday. After that, I work Monday to Wednesday, get a day off, then work Friday (also payday from the second Friday onward) and Saturday. I get Sunday off, then the week begins anew.
For the first two weeks, I get $8.50 an hour, unless I do well enough to qualify for the other pay programs which would be greater than the hourly wage. I also get issued headsets, for which $50 is deducted from pay at $25 each from the first two checks.
Also, I have to adhere to a dress code which is simplified. Simply, blue jeans can’t be worn unless it is Friday, Saturday, or any day deemed permitted by the powers that be.
So that’s what I know.
It does strike me a little strange that once I get out of training, you don’t get any more than one day off in a row at any given time. But hey, they’re giving me a chance. Why not go for it?